While reading all the palaver about Stuart Goldsmith’s calling himself a prick in the Edinburgh Fringe programme, I thought ‘an official person from the Fringe should really make a detailed statement explaining the whole situation’. Then I remembered that I am myself an official person from the Fringe! As you all already know, I’m a member of the illustrious and revered Participants Council1.
So here begins my official statement2 on behalf of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. As with many things the Fringe does, this has been a case of good intention but poor execution. But there is literally more than one reason why censorship might be a good idea…
Firstly the Fringe is an event for everyone, so the programme should be suitable to be left anywhere (e.g. in a school). If I were a teacher, I probably wouldn’t want my students flicking through a programme with the words ‘Prick’ and ‘Cock’ on show to see in all their uncensored obscenity. But then again I certainly wouldn’t want my students seeing ‘Kunt and the Gang’ and assume the word cunt is entirely fine as long as you’ve ‘self-censored’ by replacing one letter with another identical sounding letter3.
Secondly the Fringe want shows listed in publications as far and wide as possible. For example if The Scotsman decided the listings were too obscene to print - that would be a disaster! Obviously that’s very unlikely to happen and the newspaper’s editor could simply censor the listings themselves instead of printing whatever the Fringe gives them verbatim. But still if it happened – disaster!
So in principal there are excellent/adequate reasons for censorship. Though picking where to draw the line of censorship is impossible if you’re aim to remain fair and effective. It goes without saying that where it is drawn currently is hypocritical in many ways.
If I was trying to mastermind an evil plan to scar children in Edinburgh during the festival, then I wouldn’t be interested in a few words. Every kid has seen the words ‘prick’ and ‘cock’ (partly because they have innocuous dual meanings) and so have very little impact.
I’d forget about listings all together and instead focus on creating graphically violent imagery to put on my posters. A picture says 1,000 words, and those pictures are plastered all over Edinburgh and are impossible not to see.
I would’ve thought, if anything, parents would be more worried by last year’s image of Richard Herring’s heart ripped from his chest being plastered around the Meadows. Plenty of shows have disturbing posters with blasé depiction of violence, self-harm or bizarre sexual shit.
If the aim of censorship is to protect the children then the Fringe has already lost, as it can’t impose its particular calibration of censorship on posters; they have no remit over the advertising space around the city. Censorship of the listings is a bit pointless when anyone can still print a giant billboard poster saying whatever the cunt they like.
If you’ve got kids in Edinburgh, I think you’ve just going to have to accept they might see some weird or disturbing shit.
So if I were the Fringe I would save face; give up the unwinnable war on censorship. Just whack a warning label on the main programme, and if you care that much about distributing the programme to schools, how about making a special child friendly censored version. You could even just not include any of the 18+ shows, which will make the programme considerably lighter and save yourself the work of censoring lots of shows4!
So while we’re on the subject of shamelessly self promoting yourself at the end of an article… I have pioneered a whole new way5 of getting yourself noticed – creating a sub-Fringe based entirely around yourself! You will see no less than 7 listings in the programme as part of the ‘Gareth Morinan Fringe’.
So who’s the prick really? Stuart Goldsmith for declaring himself a Prick? Or is it Gareth Morinan for creating a sub-Fringe entirely in my honour and telling you about it? I know which prick I’d censor, luckily the Fringe thinks differently.
- Gareth Morinan will be performing on the Gareth Morinan Fringe
1 I don’t know what the purpose of the council is, but it does definitely exist.
2 My views are not officially sanctioned by, or even vaguely endorsed by, the Edinburgh Fringe.
3 I definitely wouldn’t want my kids seeing ‘Kunt the Nigga in the adventures of Nigga-rock ranch, featuring Kunts’ which I imagine will be the title of a 2013 Fringe show courtesy of some subversive genius.
4This would actually create a lot of extra work in having to do the lay out a second programme, but this isn’t my concern. I’m more a visionary than a pragmatist.
5 This is almost certainly not an original idea.