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Author Topic: Keep the Sex R-Rated, N.Y.U. Tells Film Students  (Read 1149 times)

Brent

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Keep the Sex R-Rated, N.Y.U. Tells Film Students
« on: Dec 04, 2003, 10:58:03 AM »
And they say kids don't earn anything important in college! Almost makes me wish I'd gone to NYU, their curriculum sounds so....stimulating.


Keep the Sex R-Rated, N.Y.U. Tells Film Students
By DANIEL J. WAKIN

Published: December 4, 2003

In October, a film student at New York University pitched an idea for her video-making class: a four-minute portrayal of the contrast between unbridled human lust and banal everyday behavior.

Her professor approved. The student, Paula Carmicino, found two actor friends willing to have sex on camera in front of the class. The other students expressed their support. But then the professor thought he should double-check with the administration, which immediately pulled the plug on the project.

What's more, university officials said they would issue a written policy requiring student films and videos to follow the ratings guidelines of the Motion Picture Association of America, with nothing racier than R-rated fare allowed, according to Ms. Carmicino and her professor, Carlos de Jesus. The association says R-rated films may include "nudity within sensual scenes."

The matter has raised a mini-tempest on campus. Yesterday, the school newspaper, The Washington Square News, published a front-page article about it, as well as an editorial critical of the administration.

Ms. Carmicino and Professor de Jesus say the issue raises far-reaching questions of censorship and academic and artistic freedom. "This is where you unfold as a creative artist," Ms. Carmicino, 21, said. "You need people to bounce your ideas off of, or else you won't evolve as an artist." Ms. Carmicino is a junior in the film and television department at the university's Tisch School of the Arts.

The department head and deans involved in the decision did not respond to telephone messages yesterday, and a spokesman for the Tisch School, Richard Pierce, said they would not be available to comment. He said he doubted the matter had reached the university president, John Sexton.

Mr. Pierce said the school had long had an unwritten policy that student films should follow industry standards and was now considering putting that policy in writing. defending the university, he said N.Y.U. was considered very broad-minded on questions of artistic freedom, but had to draw the line at videotaping real sex before a class of students. He compared that to a filmmaker committing arson for a movie about firefighters.

"Someone give me a list of universities that allow sex acts in the classroom," Mr. Pierce said. "We're not going to be the first."

He also praised Ms. Carmicino as a "serious and valued" student. "The history of art is replete with examples of artists producing great art under limitations," he said.

Christopher Dunn, an associate legal director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, said there was no First Amendment issue involved because the university is a private institution. But, he said, the decision ran counter to the tradition of academic freedom. "Students should be able to make films, write books or compose paintings without their university acting as a moral censor," he said.

Professor de Jesus said he supported the film from the start. "It did have redeeming values, and it was fine with me, especially having seen her previous work. She's a young woman with lots of integrity." But when he checked with the administration, he said, "All I kept hearing was, `No, no, no, she can't do this.' " Ms. Carmicino said that she then withdrew the idea to avoid putting her professor on the spot.

In Ms. Carmicino's view, the university was censoring a work about how people censor their own behavior. She said her video, titled "Animal," was supposed to depict the contrast between public and private behavior: "The whole concept of it was to compare the normal behavior of people in their everyday lives versus the animalistic behavior that comes out when they are having sex."

She planned to intersperse 30-second clips of passionate sex with scenes of the couple engaged in more mundane activities, like watching television and reading a newspaper.

Simulating the sex would have defeated her purpose, she said. "That's censoring the sex part. My thing is how we censor ourselves during the day when we're not having sex."


 

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