Censorship is a textbook technique to curb two kinds of voices: of the protesting and of the dominant’s ‘other’. In a way, both of them come together to ideally form the oppositional view. Thus, censorship basically sells the democratic voice in the name of maintaining the zeitgeist: kindly, shut the hell up or we’ll make you an offer you cannot refuse!
Cinema and other visual media like TV shows, serials, etc., come under the recent radar of this offer. Film critic Anupama Chopra, in her piece on censorship, quotes Ethan Hawke and suggests the Trojan Horse method of art for visual media:
That is, content which seems on the surface to be standard genre fare but is actually subversive and provocative.
The techniques in which the Trojan Horse method works is:
Change the genre!
When a genre is quintessentially political, or something like in-your-face-protest: two things happen. First, heavy chances that it reaches only a certain niche of audience. Second, it definitely reaches the power.
In such a scenario, subtlety is the key. The examples flood in: Joker, Bulbbul, etc.
A show like Riverdale, where an entire generation is crushing on Bughead and marvelling over (and at times cribbing too) its crime-thriller nature: it is basically a show which questions capitalism unabashedly, through the constant tiff between the writer-journalist duo: Betty and Jughead v/s the capitalist power: Hiram Lodge.
Similarly, a film like Hera Pheri which tickled the entire nation to laughter on dhoti jokes, the greatest comedy film of our generation, is in fact, a satire: it has its underlying theme as city-life and money crunch: every character suffers a majboori which blinds them to the thickened irreparable glasses of Baburao to be mean, competitive, and even criminals.
Make it dystopia!
Films like Avatar and Elysium: the setting is futuristic, characters are sometimes not even of the same species, but regardless, question power, knowledge control, the extent to which a government/systems go on to control expression: these films are basically hide-and-seek films about hushed down topics. Trick here: remove them from their time and space, add toys/robots, YES ROBOTS (watch I, Robot!), or animate it away or perhaps Spirited Away!
This one’s my favourite: films like Enola Holmes, Little Women, etc., which essentially took you back to the 1800s, spoke about constraints of patriarchy, and gave feminist dialogues in the passing as if to be consumed like water with your meal! One of the most quotable remains: “Politics does not interest you. Because you have no interest in changing a world that suits you so well” (Enola Holmes, 2020). Hamilton is an equally brilliant historic callback example with quotes like: “Immigrants! We get the work done!”
Bridgerton, in fact, also did wonders: a Fifty Shades kind steamy romance, with the scandals of Gossip Girl, and a definite grandeur of Pride and Prejudice like Regency period, it spoke about feminism, racial injustice, and ensured a definite watch amongst the masses! Thus, it served protesting voices with mousse and champagne in crystal crockery: translucently!
These techniques are so essential at any given point of time: that fantasies become the only way out to question the absolutely absurd realities, and escapism then becomes the answer: the real, poignant, and inescapable. The Trojan Horse then penetrates the impenetrable walls of the censoring Troy (if you know, you know!)