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Village council repeals approval for Zombiefest

August 7, 2013

A letter to the editor published today in the Times Leader entitled “Zombie Vote” is from Village of Bellaire Councilman James B. Piatt explaining the Council’s recent votes:

At a recent meeting of council, a proposal was presented to by a local businessman that a program by the name of Zombiefest ,who asked for the use of our City Park to present such a presentation, complete with childrens games, food and music next year.

In June the Times Leader reported on this vote in “Bellaire code enforcer reporting progress” by Mike Hughes:

– Resident Dan Brown sought and was approved for use of the village park for Saturday, Aug. 2, 2014 to hold the Bellaire Zombie-Fest. Similar in function to the zombie event successfully held in Moundsville, there will be: live entertainment, vendors, a car show, zombie walk, a staged Thriller dance, giveaways and other prizes. Zombie movies will also be shown at dusk. Councilman Jim Piatt was for the idea, nothing that he wanted to see insurance papers depicting coverage that Brown has purchased for the event. Brown said that wouldn’t be an issue. Approval was granted 4-1

But in today’s letter Piatt says the “Council WAS DUPED.”:

On August 1, several well informed and knowledgeable citizens appeared before council and presented facts, pictures, and other items, including R rated movies, which apparently is included in the games, food and music.

R-rated movies at a ZombieFest?! Say it aint’t so! (or as a recent comment on this blog said: Oh No! A Rat!) And see YahooAnswers: “Is there any zombie movies that are not rated R?” – the best answer as chosen by 44% of raters:

after a few minutes of research and thinking off the top of my head, I’d say no.

Now, “World War Z” is PG-13 and so is “Warm Bodies“; and “ParaNorman” was PG. And another comment on that YahooAnswers identifies Bob Balaban‘s “My Boyfriend’s Back“, “Night of the Comet” and “I Am Legend“; and another mentions “Carriers“. Some people seem to erroneously think “ZombieLand“, but it’s rated R. So is “Shaun of the Dead“. The 1968 “Night of the Living Dead” is not unrated but the 1990 version is R. And of course there’s other early movies before ratings and some like the 1943 “I Walked with a Zombie” are “approved”.

So there are a few zombie films appropriate for children’s games and Piatt says the council felt duped;

After hearing these facts and comments, council, without delay, called for a vote to repeal the previous motion which was passed by all members.

Bubba Kupral, Times Leader Managing Editor, wrote two days ago “Bellaire council made the right call“:

Council wisely voted again, nixing Zombiefest for the park. They made the right call. At first glance, I was in favor of zombies roaming the park and village. It would have been a boon to Bellaire businesses. But I, like council, am opposed to an R-rated public film fest.

It sounds like this “All-American Town” in Ohio has some interesting politics. Note also in that article from June (above), there was another moment of controversy in Bellaire council politics – the zoning inspector resigned over disagreement with the new code enforcer:

Wallace stated that he needed the cooperation of a knowledgeable and experienced code enforcement person to effectively do his job. Wallace went on to write that “at your June 20 council meeting, you chose a person who cannot and will not work within this capacity. I feel the candidate lacks knowledge, experience and time required. I submit my resignation as zoning inspector.”

I doubt this has any connection to the dispute about the R-rated movies in public festivals, but maybe?

Why should the MPAA have so much power to control public speech?? Sounds like the council delegating it’s code enforcement and censoring based on content recommendations from a private non-government entity. Have you seen the movie “This Film Is Not Yet Rated“, you should. It’s rated NC-17, but still everyone should see it. Ratings are not necessarily the best way to assess the quality of the information.

Also Zombies are arguably political speech. So this could be the most protected of all kinds of speech. While time, place and manner restrictions can be Constitutional, can the village council really say that there is no time at all in which any R-rated content can be presented in the public park? Will this restriction survive intermediate scrutiny? Unless, maybe zombies are obscene…?

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