For my final review in the Censorship series, I’m looking at one of the most controversial video games ever. For a change, though, instead of looking at the Censor failing in their duty, I’m picking a very high profile example, Bully (Canis Canem Edit in the UK), that demonstrates the BBFC acting in a sensible, responsible, adult fashion and resisting the whims and fads that have caused so much of their stupidity in the past.
For the final part of my censorship series, I’m going to take a look at the thorny subject of censorship of video games. Unlike the cinema, which has clear regulatory bodies and legislative instruments in place, the Video Game industry has been mostly allowed to go on its merry way corrupting fragile young minds for fun and profit. This is partially because of the video game industry is a technology driven entity and as such a relatively recent phenomena, but it is also due to the accelerating rate of technology and now video games are fast approaching almost cinematic levels of realism. Nevertheless, various government bodies have tried to be seen to be “doing something” about what they believe to be the most potentially harmful branch of the entertainment industry. As recently as February 2012, the Supreme Court threw out a piece of fascist nonsense from California on the grounds that, quite rightly, it violated the first Amendment. Here in the UK, however, due to spectacular legislative incompetence, video games were never considered, although the BBFC retains some power to classify them, based on an interpretation of our old friend the 1984 Video Recordings Act.
The Exorcist, William Friedkin’s astonishingly powerful 1973 classic is one of my favourite films of all time. Unlike Reservoir Dogs, I haven’t got an amusing anecdote regarding it, nevertheless this is a film I didn’t see until 1999, when it received a 25th Anniversary cinema run in the UK. Why was that? Because, inexplicably, The Exorcist never received a video classification (although the BBFC claim, somewhat disingenuously, that it was not banned as a video nasty). Looking at it now, I find it astonishing that this intelligent, frightening and adult movie was lumped into the same category as juvenile trash by the likes of Franco, but nevertheless, The Exorcist was completely banned for most of my upbringing. As such, it had attained near mythic status as being the most frightening and extreme mainstream movie of all time, and I, quite frankly, couldn’t wait to see it in the cinema. I was not disappointed, as it was certainly the most terrifying movie I had seen on the big screen, but even as a 21 year old, I did wonder about the legitimacy of the ban.
As per usual, all citations come from the BBFC’s excellent case study, available here. This, incidentally, is a superb resource, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading a lot of these case studies for this series.
Contains pea soup and spoilers below. Read More…
I’ve been thinking about how to write up this violence essay, and I’m essentially going to split it into two parts. There’s a serious distinction to be made to the BBFC’s attitude and evolution of said attitude towards horror films, and general violence in other genres. To be honest, for the most part the horse has bolted on this topic, with the BBFC admitting in 2007 that violence in 18 rated films is no longer something that they look for. They, actually, seem to be taking a common sense view on the matter, and therefore almost all violence in action movies will at least get a certificate. Horror, on the other hand, is an entirely different kettle of fish, and a far more problematic subject.
Therefore, this week’s examination of Censorship will contain no references to horror movies, instead this contains my thoughts on the censorship of violence in other genres.
Every week after I publish the censorship essay, I’m going to look at 1 film that fell foul of the Great British Censor. Last week’s topic was the sweaty-palm inducing sex, available here, and so this week I’m reviewing a film that upset the BBFC and had serious problems obtaining a certificate due to sexual content. As attitudes have changed, almost all of the films on this series have a received a full uncut release, but at the time they were either banned outright, banned on video, or slashed to ribbons. First up is pretentious French art-house soft-core porno Emmanuelle.
Welcome to part 2 in what is going to now be my censorship series. The title has been cribbed from the Cruise and Kidman voyeurism vehicle, as I think it is amazingly fitting for an article about sex in the movies.
Sex is one of the hot topics of censorship. It’s astonishing that in the modern world films that contain relatively graphic violence can be passed with either a low rating or completely uncut at a higher one, but consensual fornication between two adults causes the various bodies to explode. Admittedly, the standards are now relaxed, with a tide of erect penises on screen from the likes of France, Spain and Italy, but these are countries that have always had a more, shall we say, laissez-faire attitude towards depictions of sex. Not so here in good old Blighty, where historically the censor has come down on it with the wrath of a vengeful god.
Incidentally, Sex is unique in this series in that I can place the exact film that caused the change in the censor’s attitude in the UK.
This essay is completely safe for work.
In the light of recent terrible events the debate about violence in film and censorship has arisen again. The British press has been full of stories about the BBFC, and commentary on the subject of censorship in general. So with that as background, here are my thoughts on the problems that any, hopefully, developed society should have with censorship. Before we start, for the most part, I am not pro-censor, and to some extent that does colour my viewpoint, although I do feel some sympathy for what is an often untenable position.
This is the first time I’ve attempted an essay, and it is very long. Apologies in advance. Read More…