5 Censorships That Were Good Ideas

Censorship is generally a bad thing, especially when you've got a government trying to keep any... unpatriotic thoughts under wraps in order to maintain its own power over the national dialogue. I'm not saying that has never happened in good old 'Merica, but I will say that it's not really the norm here.

No, we have preferred to censor things because showing people blood or tits causes them to become murder mutants that roam the streets looking for a good night of ultra-violence. God only knows what a bloody tit does to them. They probably level up like Satanic Pokémon.

So everything cool has nannies making it less cool, but every once in a while, those nannies take something gory or sexy and make it much better through censorship. Here are five of the best.

Appetite for Destruction Album Cover

The debut album from Guns n' Roses has rightfully gone down in history as one of the best rock and roll records ever released. It birthed three top ten singles and has gone platinum more than 18 times. Undeniably it's a classic.

The album's title came from a Robert Williams painting showing some kind of monster descending on a robotic rapist. Retailers refused to carry the album because of the image, and it was hastily replaced by the famous skull and cross image that every male from 25 to 45 has had hanging on a wall at least.

Look, I'm not saying that Williams's work isn't a fine example of pop art, or even that it doesn't fit the overall feel of the album. The cross and skulls, though? That thing is an image that has lasted down through the years as a symbol of genius. It's like an engraving on the cover of a rock and roll Book of Shadows. Would Appetite have succeeded without it? Probably, but I wouldn't put money on it.

People vs. Larry Flynt Poster

Oh the delicious, sweet irony. It's so thick you can drizzle it on pancakes or a particularly adventuress girlfriend. Yes, a movie that was all about the censorship of art suffered itself from a little censorship.

The above poster was nixed by the MPAA as offensive, even though Harrelson is adequately clothed. It was just too much for the squares, what with the flag diaper, the panties and the poking of fun at the religious right. Instead, they went with the poster that we're more familiar with.

The thing is...as cool as this poster is, it doesn't really sum up the movie as well as the one where Harrelson is simply gagged by an Old Glory. This image is overkill, kind of how like Hustler usually is. The stark boldness of having a perfectly ordinary, well-dressed man being so completely silenced is twice as shocking because of its subtlety, and was a far better choice.

ICP's, "Tilt-a-Whirl

For guys that refused to appear anywhere without their trademark makeup, you'd think that Violent J and Shaggy would be hard-core adherents of the "You can't censor my lyrics!" camp. Folks that dedicated to a persona usually flip out over the slightest mention of altering their visions.

Actually, the duo has always been extremely reasonable when it came to doing radio edits, not that you'd ever hear them on the radio. Over the years they've been very willing to try and soften their work if someone asked, and the video for "Tilt-a-Whirl" is a prime example.

The song in its uncensored version is fine. If I had to pick a song to define the group's style, this is the one I would. The censored one, though, actually drives them into some interesting lyric directions that make it a bit more poetic and interesting. It's always a good exercise to lay off the fucks and try out another way.

Mortal Kombat Fatalities

When Mortal Kombat hit home systems in September of 1993 on a day we'll always remember as Mortal Monday, gamers were faced with a choice: Go with the technically inferior but uncensored Genesis version, or the superior but censored SNES version. Nintendo was still desperately hanging onto the idea that every game it licensed had to fit for all audiences, and this battle between the two systems was what finally ended that policy.

Which is somewhat sad because the censored fatalities were actually much cooler than the uncensored. Without the cheap decapitations and copious amount of blood, designers had to get creative. Sub-Zero and Raiden especially benefited, losing what are in retrospect really boring head removals with a clever ice smash and a damned incineration!

As for the rest, Scorpion and Sonya didn't really lose anything, Liu Kang's finisher was always bloodless (and stupid), Kano still does the heart rip, albeit less clearly, and Johnny Cage sinks his foot calf deep in his opponent's body! That's much better than a stupid uppercut. I kind of wish they'd bring that one back now that blood is no issue.

Nick Fury, Agent of Shield #2

Ah, the Comic Code Authority... famous for telling Neil Gaiman, "There's no masturbation in the DC Universe." It was a body designed to neuter the comic medium into as inoffensive and sterile an art form as possible. Sometimes it succeeded, and sometimes it failed hilariously.

Jim Steranko started writing books on pre-Samuel L. Jackson Nick Fury back in the 1960s, and his goal was to make a smooth, sexy spy that even Jackson can't top. Marvel went to great lengths to keep Steranko in line, changing whole panels to avoid any undue sex or violence.

That up there is from Agent of Shield #2, and Fury is totally about to nail the Countess, whose curves and cleavage were a favorite CCA target. The last panel was originally a shot of the fully clothed couple embracing and kissing. It was deemed unacceptable, and Marvel substituted an image of Fury's hard, well-oiled gun slid deeply and firmly into a sleek, supple leather holster...

Yeah, that's like a million times more erotic. That's the sort of thing they used to do in Emmanuelle films. Good work, Marvel.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >