Sunday, September 12, 2010

Local councils and (anti) censorship

Maybe it's something that everyone else knows, but I didn't. At the tail-end of this old-ish film clip about Shane Meadows 'This is England' film from a few years ago .....

... (now being sequeled with a TV series), Mark Kermode raises the question of why a film that incorporates an educational message should be given an '18' classification by the BBFC - on the grounds that it includes a bit of racist language and a few violent scenes.

Meadows makes the point that there are plenty of all-action flicks that qualify for a '15' cert while involving slaughter on a vast scale, and I'm sure I don't need to rehearse all sides of this argument for you again.

But for me, the interesting revelation is that a lot of local authorities chose to overturn the BBFC decision and instead apply a '15' certificate for local showings.

It's news to me that this can happen - and I think that it opens up all kinds of possibilities in terms of cultural autonomy. What I'd like to know (and I'll look into it if I get time - unless someone wants to explain it to me) is this: What is the process by which a local authority reviews the BBFC's classification, changes it and then communicates it to local cinemas?


Mil said...

It's an interesting example of localism in action. Not sure whether any government would dare to implement it now, though.

You *could* contemplate devolving it even further - to, for example, individual (free?) schools or even parents themselves.

The latter is how it's done in Spain. There's a rating for all films but as far as I know, anyone can see any film they like, whatever their age. And they generally do. With the explicit approval of their parents. (Well, actually, they simply don't care.)

MatGB said...

"It's news to me that this can happen "

That's because you didn't grow up in Torbay and turn 18 when Tarantino was at his peak.

Don't know the process, but several councils banned Dogs and Fiction outright, necessitating a trip to Plymouth to get a viewing.

There were also instances the other way around a few times, IIRC a Spiderman film got a reduced certificate for some reason. And of course there's the notable campaign by the mayor of Aberystwyth to ensure the citizens of her town could see her naked on screen (in Life of Brian).