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Spanish Shilling

Some stories and experiences after a lifetime spent in Spain

It's All a Blur
Thursday, February 10, 2022 @ 6:30 PM

So what are the rules about blurring out faces in press photographs and TV news and documentaries? Are we protecting the innocent, or maybe the guilty? I’m confused. Is it the perpetuators, the criminals and the revolutionaries we shouldn’t see, or the police who catch them, or the innocent parties that happen to be in the picture? When ex-President Aznar flipped the bird the other day at some students who said he was a monster, we were treated in the Spanish press to Aznar, his raised second finger and the students, but not the surprised fellow with the computer-generated re-touch standing next to the truculent politician.

In England, they would have edited the offending digit.

When they remove the prisoners’ faces in those tedious documentaries about life behind bars in Alabama, I can’t help wondering (as I search for the TV control) why they don’t want us to see them. We might recognise them if we saw them again?

This would be a bad thing?

Sometimes – for our benefit and viewing pleasure – children’s faces will be blurred, if we are talking about children, or perhaps we see them modestly just from the waist down, or then again, the children just appear in the photograph, or video, because we were talking about something else. They are children, nothing more, except on news shows when they become victims or, just sometimes, future prisoners in Wandsworth. Conversely, why could we see Jon Venables as a child, but not as an adult?

Are we protecting them from these sex-lunatics we hear about, who will commit foul crimes upon themselves if left to contemplate this photo (but not that one)? So why are we occasionally covering or distorting their faces and why is it the other way round on the American shows? Or is it?

Lawyers, in a word. Don’t get me started.

I imagine fortunes were lost with the arrival of the face-mask. Not just for facial recognition technology, which was certainly put back by several years, but also those who have the job of blurring out people's mugs. There's probably a button, anyway. What is a member of the legal profession to do? You can't sue when you can's see Sue!

It gets worse, the producers now blur out bits of the decoration they don’t like. The fellow’s tee-shirt on the Discovery Channel might have a brand-name written on it, or his cap, for Goodness sake (better not swear!). And what did that footballer just do? Heavens-to-Betsy! Blur it out!

This explains the fuss with Justin Timberlake revealing one of the boobies from that Jackson girl during the Super Bowl a mere twenty years ago now (some things can never be forgotten!). We had already contemplated the horror that day before the producers could hit the Red Button.

Indeed, thanks to that, ah 'accident', now live entertainment has something called the ‘one minute delay’.

And, as I think further, why do we suppress the sound of swearing in Anglo shows, with a LOUD BLEEP to make sure that the viewers will know that the censors and defenders of public morals are ever vigilant. Now they even put a blurry bit over the mouth so we can appreciate the censor’s zeal – unless you, the viewer, happens to be one of those rare people who can read lips closely enough to have the sound turned off (with the added advantage of not being pestered by those irritating BLEEPs), yet is somehow stirred to violence, wrath and the Old Testament by the prospect of a naughty word.

If not, let me tell you all about subtitles.

Of course, beyond a previous agreement with the Eye on Spain editor, I must abide by the Anglo rules of printing swear-words in my article with an absurd substitution of asterisks with just the first letter appearing before to give clever adults a guide as to what I might mean, yet confuse those children who look forward to my weekly output and would read them all in one go if only the adults ‘ud let them.

Those same kids are expected to be in bed by 10.00pm as something called a ‘watershed’ is passed at this time. I am sure that they have watched enough ‘grown-ups’ telly’ long before they blossom into discovering the superior diversions of booze, sex and the other manifold attractions of young adulthood. In Spain, at least, the government control on our viewing is considerably more relaxed – and they don’t usually wait until 10.00pm before switching on ‘the better stuff’. In fact here, even some of the adverts are downright risqué. Unfortunately, the European parliament, again concerned about public decency, has managed to hold in check quite a bit of Spain and Italy’s more lusty output on the ‘little screen’, no doubt to keep those sweet little kids pure – those that bother to stay in and watch the box. Telly, come to think of it, is now no longer used at all by the eight to eighteen demographic, which prefers the endless attractions of the Internet where, despite the best efforts of Mrs Whitehouse’s continental successor, we can still pretty much find anything we want and, with a clever doodabby called the vpn, pretend that we live in some other country entirely, where downloading something of interest isn't a sin. 

Spain has nevertheless picked up a few ideas from the Anglos and will now blur things it doesn’t approve of. Policeman’s faces are often pixelated here and on occasion can sometimes be covered by a sinister looking black balaclava – particularly in the Basque Country – as if the local population would tear them apart if they only knew who it was that was marching their handcuffed second-cousins from their homes during a dawn raid.

We also have the 'Protection of Data' act which basically means each company in Spain has to send an annual cheque to some agency that has the authority to sue - as far as I can see - those who don't pixelate where they should.

So, as the blurry figures from the TV – and, who knows, maybe YouTube – together with the silly expurgated BLEEPs, flicker and echo through the household, what about Hollywood? Have you ever seen a movie with a swear-word and a blurred mouth? No, you haven’t.

You won’t on Spanish TV either – here, they are not afraid of their language. All those expressive four (five and eight) letter words which pepper the idiom are given their full value, not hidden behind those silly asterisks. Honestly, the children don’t mind. Indeed, the Leader of the opposition Pablo Casado just last month asked the President of Spain during a parliamentary session what the heck he thought he was doing. Only, he didn't say 'heck'.

And, whether we can join the dots or not I don’t really know, but there is a lot less crime and disrespect here in Spain than you will find in Britain

Perhaps because the populace isn’t treated entirely like an idiot.

Like 1


roberto123 said:
Sunday, February 13, 2022 @ 9:51 PM

I am fed up with being told what to like or dislike by the media, they think they know everything.

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