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lolcensors....(BBFC whats the point?)

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Posted 18th May 2011 at 02:09 PM by keirarts

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So, the bbfc have passed cannibal holocaust with only a few seconds worth of cuts of a muskrat being killed, as suitable for release in the uk.
Unfortunately to little to late considering most people saw the uncut version either on bootleg vhs or imported special edition dvd years ago.
Dont get me wrong, I'm glad their relenting, but it does beg the question 'whats the point of the bbfc?' Especially in the age of the internet.

Once upon a time the BBFC were known as the british board of film censors. There was no 'home entertainment' that could match the big screen and films were easy to regulate. Of course people could always travel abroad and see foreign screenings of films or attend a film club and view innocuous material privately, but the working classes were well protected from the evils of screen violence.

Of course state censorship smelled suspiciously of communism so the bbfc became the board of film CLASSIFICATION, so now they never censored or banned any films, just refused them classification, so they couldent carry a bbfc certificate. Of course no films were legally allowed to be screened outside of private film clubs without a bbfc certificate so effectively the films were bannned but at face value british society was free of the evils of censorship. When in 1984 bbfc powers were extended to home video the same system applied, however in my opinion this was the beginning of the end for the relevance and effectiveness of the bbfc in this country.

The board changed somewhat after the video recordings act and the ratings system recieved a massive overhaul, but essentially what applied to cinema applied to home video only more so because of the 'dangers' of watching subversive material at home.

However, videotapes were easy to replicate. Players were getting steadily cheaper and anyone with two recorders and some blank tapes could easily replicate the films cleared off the shelves in the name of public safety and make a small bundle selling the copies at car boot sales or collectors fairs. All it really needed was one cassette that had either been imported and slipped through the customs net, or missed when the tapes were being destroyed, and thousands of copies were potentially available making the canny video pirate a fair sum of cash. Certainly the copies that did the rounds were often poor quality, especially when the collector looking to make a bit of cash on his investment copied the copy and began selling them themselves! When laser disc players hit the streets anyone looking to fund their collections could run off a few vhs copies (with much better picture quality) and make enough cash to fund their film habit! Mail order and jolly boy outings to europe were usually the best ways to get hold of tapes, though many people scoured charity shops and car boots religiously as one good condition tape of a video nasty was not only a win from a collectors perspective, it could also help you net a few extra quid on the sly running off a few copies and selling them to mates.
(not that I approve you understand )

The key to the further errosion of the bbfc's ability to regulate our viewing habits came with the advent of dvd. Multi-region players were available reletively early in dvd's lifespan, though like most current blu-ray players they needed chipping. And thank to the other wonderful breakthrough, home internet, ordering the discs became much easier. I was living down in stoke in the early days of dvd and bought my first multi-region capeable player from curry's. Sure, I imported my fair share of special edition banned horror from comapnies like anchor bay and grindhouse, but most of the shops in stoke sold them over the counter at inflated prices. When Fight club was released, cut by the bbfc, I bought the american disc (uncut) for a staggering 25quid. I also picked up the anchor bay us release of dont torture a ducling and all the early hammer stuff as well for a lot less. Very quickly it had become all to easy to get uncut goodies for hiome viewing, the bbfc's autocratic overprotective attitude to home cinema began to wither and die as a result.

The first major change was the resignation of james ferman, possibly one of the most hated figures around outside of mary whitehouse by opponents of censorship. Ferman loved himself to much, and considered himself a lot smarter than the average film goer, consequently this attitude mixed with his overbearing autocratic leadership meant film censorship usually was based on his own theories and opinions rather than the board of experts under him, whose opinions he was more than prepared to ignore when it suited him. He contineued to refuse the certification of films like evil dead or the exorcist while championing the works of filmmakers like david cronenberg, whose work was often just as disturbing and effective, but who also had artistic merit in fermans critical view.

When JF left the bbfc fans got a lot better treatment, evil dead, Texas chainsaw and the exorcist were released quickly, though other films like last house on the left remained cut a while longer. The BBFC had relaxed its attitude, mainly in response to advances in technology making it harder to surpress films it didn't want the public to see.

So what now for the bbfc?
Well as technology progresses their influence continues to wane. We still see the occasional ban, namely the japanese torture porn movie Grotesque.
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The bbfc fet the film, which involves a nutcase kidnapping, torturing and eventually murdering a young couple was too much for british audiences. So if you want to see it heres a helpful link to where you can buy it..
so knock yourself out, its not great but i've seen worse.

Of course its easy enough just to download, so even if customs decided to drop the war on drugs and stick to opening every dvd-shaped packet they came across the fans would still get to watch it!
Hell you can get films on your phone these days!

As a censorship body the bbfc are dead in the water. They still have guidelines to follow and still have to take the archaic and vague obscen publications act into account in their decisions. But the act itsel needs removing from the lawbooks, as the definition 'to deprave and corrupt' is far to vague and open to interpretation to work in the modern media literate age.

They still have a place as a classification body, so long as they realise that actually refusing classification to adult material is pointless. AS a consumer I want to know what i'm getting with a film. I'd certainly have been embarressed watching lars von tirers antichrist with my aging parents, and when I rent or buy a horror I do like to know if i'm getting gore or not.

Otherwise the bbfc are irrelevant, and getting more so each passing year.
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  1. Old Comment
    Kyle's Avatar
    great read thank you you still live in stoke?
    Comment with Quote permalink
    Posted 19th May 2011 at 06:41 AM by Kyle Kyle is offline
  2. Old Comment
    keirarts's Avatar
    Not anymore, back oop north in cumbria, working a dead end job at the minute Still, own my own home actually have a job (getting less common these days) and a little spare cash to keep up with all the dvd's. The writings more a hobby than anything.
    Glad you liked it though, thanks!
    Comment with Quote permalink
    Posted 21st May 2011 at 12:01 AM by keirarts keirarts is offline
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