UI Flashes Cash, Orders Bijou to Suck It

theater seatsYet another statement in support of the First Amendment and the Bijou’s right to bare skin

Ah, Valentine’s Day, the Hallmark-approved day to celebrate love in all its many forms. Well, not all, if you’re the University of Iowa’s Tom Rocklin. Rocklin recently decided to cancel the Bijou Theatre’s showing of the 3-D camp porn classic “Disco Dolls in Hot Skin.” Showing pornography, he said in a statement, was “clearly not in the public interest for a public facility at a public institution.”

While concerns over pornographic films certainly have merit, the film in question is considered by many to be a camp classic, not a modern plotless humpfest. In fact, the Bijou has shown the same film before,  filling every seat in the theater. Other art house and campus cinemas, from New York City, to the University of Kentucky to Oregon University have done the same.

Rocklin argues that the film has no educational value. But, film studies majors certainly know that porn films, old-school 3D films,  and (by the mathematical law of addition) 3D porn films, have influenced our current film culture for better or worse and therefore do have SOME educational value.

But, forget all that for a minute, let’s look beyond “educational value.” The Bijou may be a student-run organization but, due to much publicized changes in the local cinemascape, it is now charged with providing an entire community with alternative films. While we may not all need to go to the cinema for our porn fix, we do NEED the Bijou to be free to bring alternative films (whatever they may be) to a community that prides itself on its open mind. The UI administration’s censorship (and it is that, make no mistake) is a dangerous thing.

Unfortunately, this could only be the beginning.  It seems the leverage employed last week while negotiating the Bijou’s budget – literally threatening to withhold funds if they showed this film – gave Rocklin a really terrible, regressive idea that will hurt the community and severely damage the university’s reputation if it is allowed to persist: The creation of a supervisory board with the power to censor the Bijou.

According to the DI on Friday:

Evan Meaney, Bijou’s executive director, said he spoke with Thomas Rocklin, UI interim vice president for Student Services, about a new agreement that would require screening by UI officials.

The Bijou may act in mysterious ways but in this case Rocklin himself has proven their point for them: Discomfort with (and desire to suppress) this film is just one of the ways the Bijou demonstrates that it is the only theater in town that is serious about making you (yes you, Tom Rocklin) think.

There is a reason that University policy does not allow such censorship, and Rocklin’s dirty use of funding as leverage to circumvent that policy is totally unacceptable.

So, since you cant go watch 3D porn this Valentine’s, do the next best thing, fire up the internet and enjoy some 70s camp for free and mail a $5 bill to the Bijou to show your support.

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