If you’re wondering where this country is headed, all you have to do is watch some public television. NET, a channel operated by the Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation (otherwise known as ERT) deleted a scene from a “Downton Abbey” episode aired on October 11, for the sole reason it contained a kiss between two men! It’s plain to see, contemporary Greek society has fallen prey to an authority – be it the government or public television – determined to purge the country from anything that’s “different”.
A few days after the despicable incidents outside the Chytirio Theater and extreme right-wingers “Golden Dawn” officially declaring there will be “no more performances of this sort on the Greek stage from now on”, public television falls into step plunging the country back into the Middle Ages.
There’s no other possible explanation why “Downton Abbey”, one of the best British television series of the past few years, premiered at NET after being subjected to censorship, which saw fit to delete a kissing scene between two men – specifically Thomas the footman and a visiting aristocrat.
Has Greece reached the point of no return? Is this the dawn of a “brave new world”, where anything out of the ordinary – be it people’s sexual orientation or whatever else does not fit in with Christian Orthodox values – will be abolished, silenced, edited out or, worse still, fall prey to violent attacks?
If we want to be realistic, the answer is unfortunately yes. In a country ruled by a coalition government without a leg to stand on, where freedom of expression (artistic or otherwise) has already been violated by extreme right-wing parties newly elected into Parliament, representing a considerable slice of the Greek public, disrupting a stage play like “Corpus Christi” and deleting the homosexual kiss from “Downton Abbey” is only the beginning of a tragic relapse into darkness with no end in sight.
The fact that the Council of State had previously cancelled a fine imposed on private broadcaster MEGA for a similarly homosexual kiss in homegrown series “Klise ta Matia” (Close your Eyes) no longer counts for anything, nor does the fact that the Constitution of Greece – which we’d like to believe is still in effect – does not consider the depiction of homosexual behavior in television, cinema or theater to be unsuitable or offensive in any way.
It seems that what some of us take for granted, a larger slice of the Greek society is obviously opposed to, finding the perfect ally in the face of extreme right-wingers “Golden Dawn”, even if they didn’t go so far as to vote for them in the last elections. Their political manifesto seems to have awakened the dormant racist in every last one of them, with the blessings of church and state.
I guess this way the Greek National Council for Radio and Television (NCRTV) won’t feel the need to deal with the “repercussions” of a homosexual kiss, because no one will get to see it in the first place!
Considering that “Downton Abbey” has more displays of affection in store, involving Thomas and various other male characters, it’s likely NET will edit out his personal life altogether! Who knows, in a little while we might not even be able to see homosexuals on the stage – nor foreign actors and directors for that matter – as anyone with a “different” voice will automatically silence themselves in fear of violent retribution.
It took a credit crunch to reveal the real face of Greece, a country plagued by ignorance, lack of culture and a blind faith in the (tax-exempt) Orthodox Church with a complete disregard for rules and regulations, human rights and the freedom speech. This is no brave new world, this is the Golden Dawn of fascist obscurantism.
At least the next time you get an electricity bill [a fixed percentage of which goes towards funding the Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation, whether you own a TV set or not], you’ll know your money is well spent: the infamously ineffective ERT staff you’re helping pay might not be bothered to actually do their jobs right, but they will spend their precious time editing out scenes that might offend public sentiment – and by God we don’t want to do that!
So, to get back to our initial question, if you’re wondering where this country is headed to, don’t. We’ve already reached the point of no return, so let’s just stop pretending we’re worried about the future, when there’s a real-life thriller taking place in front of our very eyes, right here, right now. And nobody’s willing to “edit” that one out!
UPDATE: After the controversy caused by the "Downton Abbey" censorship, ERT general director Kostas Spyropoulos released the following statement:
"The romantic relationship between the two men wasn’t censored as a dramatic development. The kiss was not broadcast because of the time slot and the corresponding programme rating. The evening rerun will include the scene in its entirety, with a content-appropriate rating. The rest of the episodes from the first, second and third seasons will be broadcast regularly Mondays and Fridays at 22:05"