The BBFC vs. UK Independent Labels

Milestone, Flicker Alley, Oscilloscope, Cinema Guild...they're all here.
Post Reply
Message
Author
User avatar
McCrutchy
Joined: Mon Feb 25, 2008 4:57 am
Location: East Coast, USA

The BBFC vs. UK Independent Labels

#1 Post by McCrutchy » Mon Feb 25, 2008 6:44 am

Hi, I was wondering what the Eureka would do if it wanted to release a film through this collection that was only granted a BBFC certificate in a cut version. I realize that this would happen very rarely, but I'm thinking in particular of the films which were cut to get an '18'. Would Eureka simply release the version as cut, or would they trash the edition since they couldn't release it in its uncut form in the UK?

User avatar
Awesome Welles
Joined: Fri Apr 27, 2007 6:02 am
Location: London

#2 Post by Awesome Welles » Mon Feb 25, 2008 6:49 am

When would that happen these days? I imagine they would release all or nothing, it wouldn't make sense to release something cut if the full version was available. That's my opinion anyway I can't speak for MoC. I just know I wouldn't buy something that was cut, I'd rent it and wait for the real version to come out. But to come to my original point when would this ever happen?

User avatar
jt
Joined: Thu Nov 30, 2006 9:47 am
Location: zurich

#3 Post by jt » Mon Feb 25, 2008 6:56 am

Well, if it were cut for explicit sex they would have the option of a limited release with an R18 certificate.

The sort of things still banned in R18 films are unlikely to be appearing on an MoC film I'd guess.

User avatar
david hare
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 8:01 pm
Location: WellyYeller

#4 Post by david hare » Mon Feb 25, 2008 6:58 am

Im trying to imagine an MoC SE of Behind the Green Door.

I cant.

User avatar
MichaelB
Joined: Fri Aug 11, 2006 6:20 pm
Location: Worthing
Contact:

Re: The BBFC and the MoC

#5 Post by MichaelB » Mon Feb 25, 2008 7:01 am

muddycrutchboy wrote:I was wondering what the Eureka would do if it wanted to release a film through this collection that was only granted a BBFC certificate in a cut version. I realize that this would happen very rarely, but I'm thinking in particular of the films which were cut to get an '18'. Would Eureka simply release the version as cut, or would they trash the edition since they couldn't release it in its uncut form in the UK?
I can't speak for Eureka, but as a general note it's extraordinarily unlikely that a distributor would write off what might well be a considerable investment for the sake of a few seconds of footage. Purism is all very well, but this is a business decision in a field where margins are painfully tight.

For instance, Second Run was doubly screwed with Knights of the Teutonic Order - having already been supplied with a dreadful, cropped master from the rightsholders (who claimed that no superior one existed - the Polish DVD is equally terrible), they were then required to make compulsory cuts for animal cruelty. (These are the worst kind of cuts to deal with, as the BBFC's hands are tied by the 1937 Animals Act, where artistic merit doesn't provide a legal defence).

I wouldn't be at all surprised if the question of writing off the entire release hadn't come up at some point - but they'd have been hit hard regardless of where they chose to jump. (What would make life far easier is the ability to examine the master and gain BBFC approval before spending any money on the rights, but it just doesn't work like that!)
FSimeoni wrote:When would that happen these days?
Animal cruelty and sexual activity involving children, where the BBFC's hands are tied by the criminal law. The BBFC also comes down hard on certain types of sexual violence, though in this case they'll probably be swayed by artistic merit.
I imagine they would release all or nothing, it wouldn't make sense to release something cut if the full version was available.
It depends on whether you're talking about artistic or business sense - and the latter usually trumps the former.
jt wrote:Well, if it were cut for explicit sex they would have the option of a limited release with an R18 certificate.
This isn't a realistic option, as such titles can only be sold in licensed sex shops in Britain - you can't even supply them via mail order.

So you'd effectively kill off all your usual distribution channels and replace them with one whose clientele probably wouldn't be interested. In other words, commercial suicide.
Last edited by MichaelB on Mon Feb 25, 2008 7:07 am, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
McCrutchy
Joined: Mon Feb 25, 2008 4:57 am
Location: East Coast, USA

#6 Post by McCrutchy » Mon Feb 25, 2008 7:21 am

Andrei Rublev comes to mind. There's a shot of a horse falling down some steps. I read in an essay on the film that they shot the horse in order to get it to fall. This kind of footage would never get past the BBFC

User avatar
MichaelB
Joined: Fri Aug 11, 2006 6:20 pm
Location: Worthing
Contact:

#7 Post by MichaelB » Mon Feb 25, 2008 7:27 am

muddycrutchboy wrote:Andrei Rublev comes to mind. There's a shot of a horse falling down some steps. I read in an essay on the film that they shot the horse in order to get it to fall. This kind of footage would never get past the BBFC
It's not so much the BBFC as the 1937 Cinematograph Films (Animals) Act, which the 1984 Video Recordings Act requires the BBFC to take into consideration (along with all other content-related legislation) when passing films as suitable for video release.

Although overt animal cruelty is very rare in films these days - the American Humane Association is one of the busier lobbying groups in the US (even to the point of sending me a form to complete and sign guaranteeing no animal cruelty in a British film whose start of production had been announced in the trade press just days earlier) - it's a different matter altogether when dealing with older films from Eastern Europe and Asia where standards are somewhat different.

But the Act's only loopholes are:

(1) if the cruelty was simulated (and can be proved to have been simulated);
(2) if the cruelty would have happened anyway, regardless of the cameras' presence (what I call the David Attenborough defence).

There also seems to be an unofficial (3), which is that the BBFC's interpretation of the Act purely covers the causing of prolonged distress and pain - a clean kill seems to be OK (two of Michael Haneke's films being cases in point).

User avatar
McCrutchy
Joined: Mon Feb 25, 2008 4:57 am
Location: East Coast, USA

#8 Post by McCrutchy » Mon Feb 25, 2008 7:33 am

MichaelB wrote:It's not so much the BBFC as the 1937 Cinematograph Films (Animals) Act, which the 1984 Video Recordings Act requires the BBFC to take into consideration (along with all other content-related legislation) when passing films as suitable for video release.
Ah...the 1984 VRA...makes me think of the term 'video nasties'.

And I never thought about it but the scenes with the chicken in Cache (Hidden) being passed makes sense now.

User avatar
peerpee
not perpee
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 3:41 pm

Re: The BBFC and the MoC

#9 Post by peerpee » Mon Feb 25, 2008 10:17 am

muddycrutchboy wrote:I was wondering what the Eureka would do if it wanted to release a film through this collection that was only granted a BBFC certificate in a cut version. I realize that this would happen very rarely, but I'm thinking in particular of the films which were cut to get an '18'. Would Eureka simply release the version as cut, or would they trash the edition since they couldn't release it in its uncut form in the UK?
I can't speak for Eureka, but as far as MoC are concerned we would not want to release the film if the BBFC insisted it had to be cut. I would see whether there was some way of working within the BBFC's rules to allow the uncut version (time-consuming, but it's worked before).

The BBFC are more and more redundant and reviled in this modern age. Far from thinking that they do a "great and necessary" job, I believe that the job they do is completely without purpose (thanks to the internet) and that the restrictive and costly BBFC practices to which all UK distributors are forced to comply can now be challenged in the European courts. At the very least, by government decree their work should be carried out for free.

I'm not a fan, and even less so since they decided that all commentary tracks had to be certificated due to being "further video content". This is at a cost of around £1,000 GBP for a 95 minute film, and again, another £1,000 GBP for a commentary track -- and the delays involved in the production process while they certificate prevent us from getting things out more quickly.

Audio books, radio shows, and other audio content released on CD in the UK is not certificated by the BBFC, and a DVD audio commentary does not constitute "further video content" in our book because it is audio content, so I am strongly against this inane ruling.
MichaelB wrote:I can't speak for Eureka, but as a general note it's extraordinarily unlikely that a distributor would write off what might well be a considerable investment for the sake of a few seconds of footage. Purism is all very well, but this is a business decision in a field where margins are painfully tight.
We'd generally be aware of any moments in the film that might cause the BBFC any problems beforehand, so we're rarely surprised at the last moment.

It's fair to say we could release films more quickly for less money if the BBFC was "opt-in" like in other progressive countries.

User avatar
MichaelB
Joined: Fri Aug 11, 2006 6:20 pm
Location: Worthing
Contact:

#10 Post by MichaelB » Mon Feb 25, 2008 10:39 am

The basic problem is that the 1984 Video Recordings Act needs to be repealed - it was drafted too hastily (as a result of the "video nasties" moral panic), and it established a situation that favours the majors at the (often considerable) expense of independent distributors.

It also enshrined a messy compromise into law - which is that the BBFC is a private company (hence the need to support itself through fee-charging) which is nonetheless charged by law as the only state-approved classification body. (That said, I'm not convinced a genuinely state-run organisation would be an improvement, and might well be worse - one of the fascinating upshots of the Crash row was that it revealed the near-total impotence of the Government on the issue of film censorship!)

BBFC classification is optional in British cinemas, and I see no reason why the same shouldn't be true of video - especially given that the landscape has changed beyond recognition in 1984. By all means stick to a generally accepted classification system for mainstream releases (as a parent, I can readily concede that it has some value) - but it's highly unlikely MoC's customer base is going to be that bothered.

Mind you, this would leave individual distributors open to prosecution under the Animals Act and the Child Protection Act - but other businesses have to make similar decisions all the time.

User avatar
colinr0380
Joined: Mon Nov 08, 2004 4:30 pm
Location: Chapel-en-le-Frith, Derbyshire, UK

#11 Post by colinr0380 » Mon Feb 25, 2008 11:09 am

MichaelB wrote:
muddycrutchboy wrote:Andrei Rublev comes to mind. There's a shot of a horse falling down some steps. I read in an essay on the film that they shot the horse in order to get it to fall. This kind of footage would never get past the BBFC
It's not so much the BBFC as the 1937 Cinematograph Films (Animals) Act, which the 1984 Video Recordings Act requires the BBFC to take into consideration (along with all other content-related legislation) when passing films as suitable for video release.
I'm a bit of a hypocrite on this subject since I have a lot of sympathy with the idea that showing scenes of real animal violence or cruelty just for the purposes of a film is terribly wrong (doesn't the BBFC consider the replaying of scenes of animal violence as being similar to replaying a crime? That making images of real violence available is sort of like being an accessory after the fact?)

However I do have Cannibal Holocaust and El Topo on my shelves and consider the horse scenes in Andrei Rublev incredibly powerful. Given the choice however I'd rather have had them find some other way of faking it - after all is that not what movies do? I also find real violent acts (outside of documentary films, where I am more lenient) are sort of an 'easy' method of gaining sympathy - it takes a hard heart not to be appalled at an animal struggling in pain - and often derails sympathy for, and in some ways cheapens, the themes of the film itself.

If the filmmakers are half-decent they can usually manage to create the idea of violence without actually having to cause it themselves, such as in the dog fighting scenes of Amores Perros.
Although overt animal cruelty is very rare in films these days - the American Humane Association is one of the busier lobbying groups in the US (even to the point of sending me a form to complete and sign guaranteeing no animal cruelty in a British film whose start of production had been announced in the trade press just days earlier) - it's a different matter altogether when dealing with older films from Eastern Europe and Asia where standards are somewhat different.
I remember reading somewhere that a lot of the BBFC cuts are to Bollywood films that use the old horse-tripping technique to simulate the animal getting shot and that the BBFC do not like the idea of the animal being made to run at full pelt and suddenly get tripped up.

I wonder if they apply the same rules to older Hollywood films where that practice used to be common. For example I recently rewatched my US DVD of Major Dundee which has a final sequence involving a battle in a river being repelled by cannons. A trench was dug in the middle of the river so that when the horses were charged and suddenly lost their footing it seemed as if they had been hit. I'm not sure whether that would get through under the BBFC rules now (or maybe they had a member of the Humane Association there - were they around in 1964?)
But the Act's only loopholes are:

(1) if the cruelty was simulated (and can be proved to have been simulated);
(2) if the cruelty would have happened anyway, regardless of the cameras' presence (what I call the David Attenborough defence).

There also seems to be an unofficial (3), which is that the BBFC's interpretation of the Act purely covers the causing of prolonged distress and pain - a clean kill seems to be OK (two of Michael Haneke's films being cases in point).
(1) I'm most happy with that solution, although it might unofficially support filmmakers with the resources and technology to fake it convincingly (e.g. CGI-ing horse trips or bullet shots etc) while demonising the Monte Hellmans of the world who film actual cockfights.

(2)I would broadly agree with that - I mean you can't do a film about a slaughterhouse and then pussyfoot around how the process works! (Though on another note I do find that "let's watch the leopard chase and kill the gazelle because we are dispassionate observers of the natural order" a bit distasteful, even in documentary films. Mainly because I get the feeling the programme makers have to include these scenes to inject a bit of action and pathos into what they might be afraid might just be a dry wildlife film - the cumshot of nature documentaries? I end up finding a film like Africa Addio, in which the camera crew are explictly identified with the hunters - the camera zooming in harshly at the same time as the bullet hits an elephant, almost as if the camera itself is doing the damage - less questionable in a strange way. Though others would likely feel the opposite! That's the grey area of varying degrees of personal moral offence rearing its ugly head!)

(3) That seems to be the same thing they used to apply to fictional acts (i.e. no seeming enjoyment of prolonged terrorisation allowed in Texas Chain Saw Massacre). Now that they seemed to have dropped those kind of moral rulings for fiction (the latest Rambo being a case in point) they are allowing a few brief real acts through in context (was the other Haneke film the killing of the horse for its meat by the settlers at the waystation in Time Of The Wolf? I assume they picked up the horse that was going to be butchered anyway and then after it was killed in the film they let the horse be taken away to really be used for meat? Though this of course raises other questions such as if we allow the French their culturally specific meats, why are we so fussy about dog meat? Could those acts be allowed under being culturally specific? :wink: )

Anyway I don't really have a point one way or other in this argument, but I hope my struggles with moral hypocrisy (of eating burgers but being in no way prepared to kill a cow for it!) were fun to read!
peerpee wrote:The BBFC are more and more redundant and reviled in this modern age. Far from thinking that they do a "great and necessary" job, I believe that the job they do is completely without purpose (thanks to the internet) and that the restrictive and costly BBFC practices to which all UK distributors are forced to comply can now be challenged in the European courts. At the very least, by government decree their work should be carried out for free.

I'm not a fan, and even less so since they decided that all commentary tracks had to be certificated due to being "further video content". This is at a cost of around £1,000 GBP for a 95 minute film, and again, another £1,000 GBP for a commentary track -- and the delays involved in the production process while they certificate prevent us from getting things out more quickly.

Audio books, radio shows, and other audio content released on CD in the UK is not certificated by the BBFC, and a DVD audio commentary does not constitute "further video content" in our book because it is audio content, so I am strongly against this inane ruling.
I sympathise a lot with peerpee's view but I am actually glad the BBFC is there and most importantly is relatively independent (though with a mandate) from the government, being an industry body set up under fears that the government would otherwise do the job itself. A fair few whipped up moral panics have been stymied by the BBFC simply saying "you are being stupid" and refusing to take allegations seriously.

Even their sitting on the video release of a film like Natural Born Killers seems to have been taken with trying to protect the filmmaking community from the opportunity for outrage it would have caused at the time. (Though I agree that I have read about situations where the BBFC would just make it economically impossible for you to get a rating for a film if you had caused trouble for them previously - death for a small distributor. They are as prone to pettiness as any other organisation I suppose.)

I would love to think a fully integrated government body would act the same way but recent fiascos suggest things might have been even worse - the last thing you want is to be subject (any more than these things always are) to short termist political changes and whims or to have your department used as a sacrificial pawn during in-fighting.
Last edited by colinr0380 on Mon Feb 25, 2008 3:03 pm, edited 2 times in total.

User avatar
MichaelB
Joined: Fri Aug 11, 2006 6:20 pm
Location: Worthing
Contact:

#12 Post by MichaelB » Mon Feb 25, 2008 11:33 am

colinr0380 wrote:I wonder if they apply the same rules to older Hollywood films where that practice used to be common. For example I recently rewatched my US DVD of Major Dundee which has a final sequence involving a battle in a river being repelled by cannons. A trench was dug in the middle of the river so that when the horses were charged and suddenly lost their footing it seemed as if they had been hit. I'm not sure whether that would get through under the BBFC rules now (or maybe they had a member of the Humane Association there - were they around in 1964?)
Just to clarify, this isn't a matter of BBFC policy, it's a matter of British criminal law. The 1984 VRA requires the BBFC to assess whether or not the law has been broken, and to make appropriate changes if this is the case. The age of a film is immaterial.

As for the American Humane Association, if I remember rightly they started becoming seriously influential at about the time of Heaven's Gate, where there was such an outcry about animal mistreatment that it became a major news story in its own right.

If my experience is anything to go by, they routinely send forms to every film whose production is formally announced in the trade press. Since the film I was involved with didn't feature any animals at any stage, I simply ticked all the "no" boxes, sent it back and never heard from them again - I'm not sure what would happen if there was a potential animal cruelty issue. I mean, one could always lie, but I suspect lying to the AHA would have repercussions - at least in terms of unwelcome publicity, if not specific legal problems.
(1) I'm most happy with that solution, although it might unofficially support filmmakers with the resources and technology to fake it convincingly (e.g. CGI-ing horse trips or bullet shots etc) while demonising the Monte Hellmans of the world who film actual cockfights.
...and as a result, Cockfighter is effectively undistributable in Britain. Even the Edinburgh Film Festival (where the BBFC has no influence) had to withdraw a planned screening after it was pointed out that the cinema was risking its operating licence by announcing its plans to screen a film that unarguably breached the Animals Act. It wouldn't even require a formal prosecution to get the cinema effectively closed down - just a complaint to the local authority would do the trick. And since animal rights activists have never been shy about making their views heard, it's not a risk that's really worth taking.

A more recent French film, Claire Denis' S'en fout la mort, wasn't picked up for UK distribution for the same reason - I know someone who'd distributed her other films and who was very keen, but she knew it would be impossible to get it shown legally in Britain.

I agree with the thrust of your argument, though the reason why there's a distinction between simulated and unsimulated cruelty is that the law is only concerned with what amounts to the recording of a crime being committed (the Protection of Children Act has a similar distinction). It just so happens that this ends up penalising people who can't afford convincing fakery.

User avatar
McCrutchy
Joined: Mon Feb 25, 2008 4:57 am
Location: East Coast, USA

#13 Post by McCrutchy » Mon Feb 25, 2008 5:16 pm

colinr0380 wrote:I remember reading somewhere that a lot of the BBFC cuts are to Bollywood films that use the old horse-tripping technique to simulate the animal getting shot and that the BBFC do not like the idea of the animal being made to run at full pelt and suddenly get tripped up.
Yes, the BBFC likes to get the fangs out about tripwires. More audaciously, the also despise a lot of martial arts weapons (especially in the certificates intended for kids and teens)...Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was one such film, although they have relaxed their position on this...

Headbutts (?!) were also an extreme point of contention. The Matrix had to cut some out to stay at a '15'! Kind of strange (especially when headbutting in football can be an essential tactic). Is the presence of another head being hit really only appropriate for an '18' audience???
However, according to the BBFC website, all cuts were waived in the Video from 02/05/2006 at the '15' certificate....

User avatar
MichaelB
Joined: Fri Aug 11, 2006 6:20 pm
Location: Worthing
Contact:

#14 Post by MichaelB » Mon Feb 25, 2008 5:25 pm

muddycrutchboy wrote:Yes, the BBFC likes to get the fangs out about tripwires.
As I've said more than once above, it's not their decision. If it's genuine animal cruelty and the producer can't prove otherwise, out it comes - and the only way round this will be a repeal of the Animals Act and the VRA.
More audaciously, the also despise a lot of martial arts weapons (especially in the certificates intended for kids and teens)...Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was one such film, although they have relaxed their position on this...
The relaxation happened a decade ago - this was an eccentric personal bugbear of former BBFC director James Ferman, and the policy changed with his retirement in 1998.
Headbutts (?!) were also an extreme point of contention. The Matrix had to cut some out to stay at a '15'! Kind of strange (especially when headbutting in football can be an essential tactic). Is the presence of another head being hit really only appropriate for an '18' audience???
However, according to the BBFC website, all cuts were waived in the Video from 02/05/2006 at the '15' certificate....
You need to bear in mind that the BBFC of 2008 is very different from the BBFC of 1998. The immediate upshot of Ferman's retirement was that his successor Robin Duval conducted a root-and-branch study of BBFC policy and accountability - and that, coupled with them losing some high-profile cases regarding pornographic DVDs, led to a wholesale reform of the entire system, to the point where films are very very rarely cut at 18.

That's why I don't have much of a beef with the BBFC per se any more, as their decisions are generally pretty sensible - and easily accessible, another dramatic contrast from the ultra-secretive Ferman era. My major issue is with the underlying legislation, which fails to take a radically different media landscape into account, but I accept that the BBFC has no control over this.

User avatar
colinr0380
Joined: Mon Nov 08, 2004 4:30 pm
Location: Chapel-en-le-Frith, Derbyshire, UK

#15 Post by colinr0380 » Mon Feb 25, 2008 5:47 pm

MichaelB wrote:You need to bear in mind that the BBFC of 2008 is very different from the BBFC of 1998. The immediate upshot of Ferman's retirement was that his successor Robin Duval conducted a root-and-branch study of BBFC policy and accountability - and that, coupled with them losing some high-profile cases regarding pornographic DVDs, led to a wholesale reform of the entire system, to the point where films are very very rarely cut at 18.
True, I think James Ferman proved the need for constant turnover in high level positions to keep personal foibles leaking into professional life (or at least when they do leak out they don't have the time to become permanent). I remember that BBC 'Empire of the Censors' documentary from 1995 in which one of the female examiners described how Ferman cut the rape scene in Emmanuelle without consultation and described himself in all seriousness as being "more feminist than the feminists" as an example of the way he felt he knew best and was not afraid to overrule if wished - the bans on The Exorcist and Texas Chain Saw Massacre being examples of films that might have been released earlier if there had not been an almost personal grudge held against them. (I think the documentary suggested that the films, along with Straw Dogs, scared Ferman as they were the ones that had caused his predecessor Stephen Murphy such trouble during their cinema releases. At least A Clockwork Orange was suppressed for him!)

Since Ferman left lots of things were relaxed - (straight) hardcore scenes in justifiable circumstances (i.e. French films at first and then just 'arty' films in general :) ), nunchakus in Bruce Lee films, Jared Leto having his face beaten off in Fight Club was restored for later DVD reissues (and quite rightly since the excessiveness was the whole point of the scene), Salo on DVD in 2000 and The Matrix had its headbuts and a number of seconds of tinkling spent gun cartridges restored (which had been seen as revelling too much in the pornography of gunplay for the first video and DVD releases - I see their point but again it is kind of the point of the scene).

I can't really imagine too much that would be restricted these days unless it was some kind of obviously illegal real activity - though I think Last House On The Left may still be edited by a few seconds.

(But then never say never - one good moral panic and everything could be restricted again! :wink: )
That's why I don't have much of a beef with the BBFC per se any more, as their decisions are generally pretty sensible - and easily accessible, another dramatic contrast from the ultra-secretive Ferman era. My major issue is with the underlying legislation, which fails to take a radically different media landscape into account, but I accept that the BBFC has no control over this.
I remember that same 1995 documentary ending by commenting on how all these restrictions would be made to seem ludicrous with the Internet, so I'm sure everyone was aware - they seem to have just been unable to figure out what to do about it or have been ignoring it in the hopes it will go away!
Last edited by colinr0380 on Mon Sep 08, 2014 11:43 am, edited 2 times in total.

Cinesimilitude
Joined: Tue Jul 09, 2013 12:43 am

#16 Post by Cinesimilitude » Mon Feb 25, 2008 6:05 pm

Just curious, what is their stance on Drug Use? I assume it has to be proven to be fakery, but how would one prove it?

User avatar
colinr0380
Joined: Mon Nov 08, 2004 4:30 pm
Location: Chapel-en-le-Frith, Derbyshire, UK

#17 Post by colinr0380 » Mon Feb 25, 2008 6:13 pm

SncDthMnky wrote:Just curious, what is their stance on Drug Use? I assume it has to be proven to be fakery, but how would one prove it?
They didn't like 'instructional' scenes of how to shoot up or the needle-shot very much from what I can recall of the Ferman period. Bad Lieutenant was edited for some of that during its first release (I guess it is uncut now?)

I remember Ferman causing controversy as he retired in 1999 by saying he should have probably edited Pulp Fiction (John Travolta shooting up had the needle shot reframed but not removed) and Trainspotting's drug scenes. That obviously upset quite a few people both on the pro- and anti-censorship sides of the debate! (and seemed especially ludicrous as both films had already been shown on national television with those scenes included!)
Last edited by colinr0380 on Fri Mar 07, 2008 1:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
MichaelB
Joined: Fri Aug 11, 2006 6:20 pm
Location: Worthing
Contact:

#18 Post by MichaelB » Mon Feb 25, 2008 8:13 pm

SncDthMnky wrote:Just curious, what is their stance on Drug Use? I assume it has to be proven to be fakery, but how would one prove it?
I think they're pretty relaxed at 18 (as with most things), but much tougher with younger age categories.

This actually came about from their public consultation, where they found a general consensus that adults should be allowed to see what they wanted, but drugs was an issue that cropped up time and again as something that parents in particular were very concerned about - so post-2000 they've been coming down much harder on drug use at 12 and 15 certificate levels.

As for whether it's real or not, I don't think they're that bothered - unlike animal cruelty or sexual activity involving children, on-screen drug use isn't covered by the criminal law.

User avatar
david hare
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 8:01 pm
Location: WellyYeller

#19 Post by david hare » Mon Feb 25, 2008 8:37 pm

I agree with Nick's view of the BBFC and by inference it's bastard twin the OLFC.

If nothing else the nanny state paternalism that gave rise to these dinosaurs back when is deeply offensive per se, in that the role of these effective law enforecment agencies goes way beyond mere classification/consumer advice.

Equally they have become serious revenue raisers in an era of home video that simply didn't exist more than 25 years ago. And the impact this can have on film distribution is as cruelling and obstructive as the sorts of big Studio machinations Rosenbaum describes so well in the USA.

This comes from the Australian experience and may not reflect the British one but whenever a classic right wing governemnt comes along , like our previous mob for 11 years, it 's accompanied by a debauching of the Public Service, just as other Federal agencies become ideological tools of their Deprtmental Bureaucracies and the Minister of the day, with all the baggage these people carry, including debts to entreneched lobbysist like fucking Hillsong and other religious fundie groups and more. Not the least consequence of these things is total inconsistency in even day to day classifcation criteria.
Even worse, in Australia the whole structure is amplified by our very flaky Federation which somewho allows State governments (a total pox on the facbric of Australina public life and a waste ot literally trillions of dollars a year) are given unlimited rights to override and contradict any Federal classification decision. Thus the well meaning but completely stupid Attorney General in South Australia for instance is able to ban the exhibition and sale of movies like Nine Songs, or Henry Portrait of a Serial Killer or Mysterious Skin in that state while they have unfettered disttirbution every where else

Another problem is the white anting of the formerly "liberal" X classification for hard core pron (excluding children, animals and "sexual violence" and certain "fetishes - whatever these may be deemd to be on any day of the week.) To the point where things that were totally legal to sell or hire nationwide prior ot 1985 are now restricted to mail order/download only from the Federeal territories. This of course has opened up a brand new window of corruption to people like the State Police and various other "unofficial" standover agencies (like the Triad mobs in Sydney) who maintain the supply of x-rated video sales in adult shops (now technically illegal) going with generous handouts to the usual suspects, with occasional "raids" executed as stunts (with prewarning phone calls) to keep the loonies of the ultra right and the christians at bay.

It all needs to be limited by law to nothing but a classificatory and consumer advice function, very much like the French system (these are people who in their wisdom can give Salo an "over 12 years" rating...)

Similarly, as Nick says the fees for reclass of everything down to the trailer or supplements or resumbmissions within five years should be mandated by government to cease charging fees.

My underlying point about this is you can never trust governments. Evrythin may seem rosy one day but it won't be another day. And new technology has made the entire concept of censorship Boards a farce.

User avatar
The Fanciful Norwegian
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 2:24 pm
Location: Teegeeack

#20 Post by The Fanciful Norwegian » Tue Feb 26, 2008 3:23 am

While I think they're both pretty odious, it's not entirely fair to lump the BBFC with the OFLC . The OFLC is a federal organization directly answerable to the government, which is why their staff and policy tends to change as new administrations come and go (e.g. the relatively rapid unbanning and rebanning of Salo). The Attorney General can also request a "review" of any OFLC decision (which in practice amounts to an overturn) and I don't believe the UK government has any analogous power with respect to the BBFC -- local councils can overturn BBFC decisions, which is problematic, but less so than the ability of state governments to override OFLC decisions. The BBFC is a non-governmental body that has been effectively given some statutory powers by legislation, but they're far less susceptible to day-to-day government interference than the OFLC is.

User avatar
david hare
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 8:01 pm
Location: WellyYeller

#21 Post by david hare » Tue Feb 26, 2008 4:17 am

That's undoubtedly true, and I think I made sure I wasn't necessarily making a direct comp, although the way the two organizations try to "appear" at arms length, user friendly and socially "progressive" puts the wind up me frankly.

I do think however even a semi autonomous body like the OFLC (thanx for correction!!) does not and cannot withstand the PC and associated horror pressures of the day from their true masters. Viz the totally inexplicable and undefined pseudo "ban" outta the blue in 2000 on "fetishized" material in Australia for legal Porn. Nobody knows what on earth this means or doesn't mean. Rubber? Daffodils? Spanking? Fisting? Vomit sex? Nobody knows!

It was a just another sop to the fucking christians. And this is all done under the umbrella of community input. When you get that you get every crazy under the sun pushing agendas, just as we have here now with literature, where if somebody takes offence ot Koranic texts which appear to be anti Semitic, (which they undoubtedly are) historically (as though Christian texts aren't specifically so, sectioning out here the fucking New Testament and ST Paul as the progenitor for the Holocaust) the book gets banned. Believe me it makes ya smile! Well at my age it does.
But this is all history!

Symbolism is everything when it comes to real power kiddo. Social enginereeing at its most sinister.

If it's not patently obvious the continuing existence of things like government appointed (or historically appointed/pseudo market friendly) Censorhsip boards are total anathema to me.

User avatar
MichaelB
Joined: Fri Aug 11, 2006 6:20 pm
Location: Worthing
Contact:

#22 Post by MichaelB » Tue Feb 26, 2008 9:34 am

The Fanciful Norwegian wrote:I don't believe the UK government has any analogous power with respect to the BBFC
None whatsoever, short of changing legislation. The then National Heritage Secretary (the equivalent of today's Culture Secretary) Virginia Bottomley famously urged local authorities to refuse Cronenberg's Crash a certificate, but that was all she could do: she had no direct powers of her own. Quite rightly, in my view.
-- local councils can overturn BBFC decisions, which is problematic, but less so than the ability of state governments to override OFLC decisions.
Just to be clear, local authorities only have power over what's shown in cinemas. As soon as Crash came out on video, Westminster's notorious ban on cinema screenings was pretty much overturned, as there was nothing to stop shops in Westminster selling it.

And the reverse side of the coin is that sympathetic local authorities can grant permission to screen films that haven't been BBFC approved - something I took full advantage of on many, many occasions. (And Camden Council never once said no - they presumably thought the downside of being called cretinous philistines wasn't worth the hassle!)
The BBFC is a non-governmental body that has been effectively given some statutory powers by legislation, but they're far less susceptible to day-to-day government interference than the OFLC is.
For most of the BBFC's existence, it was an entirely private organisation established by the film industry in the wake of the 1909 Cinematograph Act, which granted local authorities powers to vet films - the industry realised that this could conceivably lead to fifty different standards being applied, and so the BBFC was created to provide a one-stop shop that offers advice broadly acceptable to the (mainstream) film industry and local authorities alike.

This broadly remains the position today - the crucial change happening in 1984, when the Video Recordings Act explicitly established the BBFC as the sole video vetting authority. But it remains a private organisation, and is not subject to direct political pressure - famously illustrated by the case of Crash, where the BBFC was assailed on three simultaneous fronts by national government, local government and the media. I even wrote an essay about this for my undergraduate degree's cultural policy module (in 1998, so some of it will unavoidably have dated).

User avatar
colinr0380
Joined: Mon Nov 08, 2004 4:30 pm
Location: Chapel-en-le-Frith, Derbyshire, UK

#23 Post by colinr0380 » Fri Feb 29, 2008 4:47 pm

MichaelB wrote:
The Fanciful Norwegian wrote:I don't believe the UK government has any analogous power with respect to the BBFC
None whatsoever, short of changing legislation. The then National Heritage Secretary (the equivalent of today's Culture Secretary) Virginia Bottomley famously urged local authorities to refuse Cronenberg's Crash a certificate, but that was all she could do: she had no direct powers of her own. Quite rightly, in my view.
Thankfully! Here was this week's latest attempt.

(By the way in case you are interested here is the BBFC rejection of TLA's proposed release of Murder Set Pieces as well as a NSFW DVD Maniacs review to show where the BBFC is currently drawing the line)
Last edited by colinr0380 on Fri Feb 29, 2008 5:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
arsonfilms
Joined: Wed Nov 02, 2005 12:53 pm
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Contact:

#24 Post by arsonfilms » Fri Feb 29, 2008 5:01 pm

The only way that I can imagine any reasonable adult making the argument that Irreversible (mentioned in the previously linked article) somehow actually glamorizes rape, is if the person making the argument didn't see the film. Certainly a nine-minute rape scene could SOUND like it glamorizes rape, but if anyone could sit through half an hour of that low-frequency, nausea inducing earthquake tone, see a man get his face smashed in, sit through the infamous scene and THEN think somehow that anyone might misconstrue rape as a good thing... Well, lets just say that the degenerate elements in question may be the MPs themselves, rather than the film.

User avatar
MichaelB
Joined: Fri Aug 11, 2006 6:20 pm
Location: Worthing
Contact:

#25 Post by MichaelB » Fri Feb 29, 2008 5:18 pm

Brazier is one of a very long line of MPs who've tried and failed to censor films and TV - I remember a glorious discussion programme that pitted Michael Grade (then in charge of the BBC) against Gerald Howarth (far-right Conservative MP), and Grade made mincemeat of him in a deeply satisfying way.

Largely because it became very clear very quickly that Howarth had barely switched on a television throughout his entire adult life and was so completely out of his depth that it was hilarious. His inability to name a single specific BBC programme that he objected to (after ranting about length about the BBC's depravity in general) was especially funny.
Last edited by MichaelB on Sun Mar 02, 2008 4:42 am, edited 1 time in total.

Post Reply