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Monday, 1 May 2017

BBFC background and cases

Main blogging is on the MediaReg blog (BBFC tag), eg this overview post.
A new overview will be added.

SAMPLE BBFC RATING: THE 12A

Question: why is there is a separate 12A for cinema only (12 for DVD/Blu-Ray)? [BBFC guide]

THE BBFC WEBSITE
Very student-friendly, and also intended to be highly parent friendly, this has details on every new rating, detailed explanations of the current ratings, and case studies on controversial rulings.
For now, visit the site and note:
  1. the names of each BBFC age rating
  2. the key differences between the 12/12A, 15 and 18 rating: focus on the issues of SEX, VIOLENCE, SWEARING

PAST CONTROVERSIES
Some useful historical examples to illustrate how ratings systems evolve over time.
Take each trailer below and note which rating you'd give it (explaining why).
Afterwards you can check out the BBFC site links on these, but have a go at rating them first.

1: THE WILD ONE (1953)
2: PSYCHO (SHOWER SCENE) (1960)
BBFC notes. Current rating notes. 1998 remake notes (same rating, one particular added detail)

3: THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT (1972)
4: ENTER THE DRAGON (1973) [NUNCHUKA SCENE]

5: A CLOCKWORK ORANGE (1975)
BBFC case study.


MATCH THE FILM TO THE BBFC DESCRIPTION:
BBFC COMMENTS 1:
... one of the most controversial of its era, as it was released in the time of a ‘moral panic’.  Post war American and British teenagers alarmed their elders in a way that was probably unprecedented and from which we still see some of the ripples in popular culture today. 
The film was banned by the BBFC upon its release here and remained so (except for screenings in film societies where local councils overturned the BBFC’s decision) until 1967 when it was released with an X certificate (suitable for 16 year olds and above). The initial ban was prompted mostly by a fear that the very real problem of burgeoning juvenile delinquency, and a seemingly increasing lack of respect for authority, could only be aggravated by young people seeing this film. 


It was passed PG on video in 1988, where it sits today on DVD.  By today’s standards the film appears quite tame, and it is fairly obvious that its inherent ‘message’ is that people such as Johnny and his ilk turn to gangs as a surrogate family and that society needs to embrace them, rather than push them further into the margins. It is a debate that troubles us still.

BBFC COMMENTS 2:
Prior to 1984 it was possible for unclassified films to be released on video tape without approval by the BBFC. Nonetheless, the release of various uncensored and banned films on a format that allowed them to be viewed in the home by persons of any age led to public concern and ultimately political action. Video cassettes of [THE FILM!] , together with other horror titles, were seized by the police and the film was placed on the first iteration of the Director of Public Prosecutions' list of potentially obscene 'video nasties'. Indeed, the title was never formally removed from the DPP list and received a number of convictions in the lead up to the introduction of the Video Recordings Act 1984, which introduced mandatory classification of video works from 1985.
In 2008, the BBFC was once again asked to look at [THE FILM!] for a proposed three disc box set of the film. On this occasion, in line with the Video Appeals Committee's findings, the BBFC was able to discount the work's previous history as a convicted video nasty and look at the film afresh. Although still very disturbing, it seemed that the film had been largely overtaken by more recent 'torture porn' horrors such as the Saw and Hostel films, Wolf Creek and The Devil's Rejects. Given that these films had been passed 18 uncut for cinema release and enjoyed a degree of popularity, without any clear evidence of harm, it seemed inconsistent not to finally allow the much earlier film to be passed uncut. Accordingly, [THE FILM!] was finally classified 18 uncut on 17 March 2008.

BBFC COMMENTS 3:
[It] was cut for an X certificate. It was the famous bathroom scene that concerned the BBFC Examiners and the cuts list notes several shots that they asked to be removed, including “all shots of her breasts or navel” and a reduction in the “sounds” of the attack. [THE FILM!] was released on video, uncut, in 1986 with a 15 certificate and it remains at that category still.


BBFC COMMENTS 4:
Stephen Murphy, the then BBFC Secretary, felt that the film ... exploited violence purely for the sake of entertainment. He therefore considered such a presentation of violence without any qualifying context to be potentially harmful to teenage boys, to whom the BBFC recognised such films would be very attractive. While the highly choreographed fighting was viewed as a 'fantasy', the level of aggression, sadism and violence in the film could only be accommodated at the adult level: the X category, restricting the audience to those aged 18 years and over.
... an extensive cuts list was drawn up. Cuts were required to almost every reel and covered every aspect of the violent action in the film. The success of Enter The Dragon, and the kung-fu genre in general, saw public concerns arise at the concurrent spread of the use of chainsticks (or nunchaku) and other martial arts weaponry among London youths. Media coverage of the issue caught the eye of Murphy’s successor as BBFC Secretary, James Ferman. In December 1979, Ferman recalled Enter The Dragon for another look in the light of these anxieties. Ferman asked the film’s distributor to remove sight of chainsticks in the fight sequence between Bruce Lee and his attackers. The images of chainsticks were also requested to be removed from the film’s trailer and its promotional posters.
[THE FILM!] was classified at 18 for video in 2001, with all previous cuts (both to violence and weapons) fully restored.


BBFC COMMENTS 5:
... the BBFC's Secretary, Stephen Murphy, defended the film by stating that:
"Disturbed though we were by the first half of the film, which is basically a statement of some of the problems of violence, we were, nonetheless, satisfied by the end of the film that it could not be accused of exploitation: quite the contrary, it is a valuable contribution to the whole debate about violence".
There was nonethless a strong body of press and public opinion that the criminal and anti-social actions of the film's main character, Alex, would be copied by young people, inspired by his charismatic example to break the law. Indeed, reports in the papers suggested that some attacks now occurring were inspired by the film. In fact, however, no such behaviour by anyone over the age of 18 was ever reliably established as being related to the film.
In 1973, allegedly concerned about reports of copycat violence, and threats made to the safety of himself and his family, Kubrick withdrew the film from circulation in the UK. This was in spite of the fact that the film had been judged by the BBFC to be acceptable for public viewing for adults over the age of 18. At no time did the BBFC reject the film - although this is a common misconception - and it continued to be available throughout much of the rest of the world.
It was not until after Kubrick's death that his family agreed to permit the release of the film again. It was submitted to the BBFC in 1999 for a modern classification certificate and received an 18, without cuts, to replace its old X certificate. There was a muted response from the public, and the video version of 2000 was also rated 18 uncut.






SUMMARY: 
What issues have caused controversy in the past?
Do these remain relevant today?
Does it matter if ratings and censorship regimes change over time?


APPLYING RATINGS THROUGH IMDB PARENTAL GUIDES
These are user-added, and not perfect, but mostly a clear overview of the content involved which is relevant to the rating provided. They use explicit terms in noting the explicit language used. Using these, state which rating YOU would give each and explain why.




I've provided links below, but only use these after the exercise for reference and additional note-taking.
FILM 1. (BBFC)
FILM 2. (BBFC)
FILM 3. (BBFC)
FILM 4. (BBFC)
FILM 5. (BBFC) (see related CT franchise film: BBFC)
FILM 6. (BBFC)

Wiki of films banned in the UK (scroll down for more recent examples).


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