When it comes to film, a number of topics are considered either controversial or even taboo. These subjects tend to arouse emotional responses from viewers and critics alike and have been known in the past to cause films to be banned from appearing in certain regions. Sometimes, entire countries have pulled together to ban a single film.
Many wonder why any film would be seen as controversial, and it is a fair question. There are several subjects that people consider almost taboo to feature in a work of fiction, including religion, politics, and sexuality. Each of these subjects can be broken down into several more distinct categories that may be too risky for any filmmaker to consider. More often than not, though, any film that is labeled as controversial is likely to gain criticism that has to do with one of those three subjects.
Religion is one of the most obvious controversies that can be found in film. It has been and continues to be debated whether any religion that makes its way into film is being represented properly. More often than not, if a film features religion as its main theme, the accuracy with which that religion is handled will determine whether it is well-received or reviled by the viewing public. Films such as "The Da Vinci Code," "Stigmata," and even the action movie "End of Days" have been widely criticized for their sensationalist look at Catholicism.
Politics are always a hot topic and one to carefully tread on. From the vintage "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" to more recent hits such as "Zero Dark Thirty," politics have a way of conforming to the film they are featured in. The reason for this subject being so touchy is in the handling of the politics in particular and the accuracy of what is revealed. Just as with religion it is necessary to keep an objective view of what is being used to create a film so as to keep from upsetting viewers, critics, and the media in general.
Sexuality is a subject that has been evolving in film for many years. As societal taboos have come and gone the demand for sexual content in films has continued to rise. At one point it was considered indecent to film a woman in the nude, and now it is considered an art form that is shown on network television at late night hours. What was once taboo is still frowned upon by many when shown in film, but has become far less controversial than it was in previous decades. One has only to watch the film "Fifty Shades of Grey," or television shows such as "Animal Kingdom" or "Sons of Anarchy," to know that nudity and sexual intimacy have become far more accepted than ever before.
What makes a film controversial isn't really the subject matter, but the way in which it is presented to the viewing public. As times have changed so has the manner in which filmmakers and TV stations present such content.
Jensen, Jeff. "What makes films controversial?" Entertainment Weekly. 9 June 2006. Web. 7 July 2016.