The issues related to CENSORSHIP and REGULATION of film are huge. You will only have the time to present a brief argument – an opinion – an engagement with the question. YOU DO NOT NEED TO KNOW THE HISTORY OF CENSORSHIP BUT IT HELPS You should carry out research outside the classroom – here we will touch upon the issues – but I will not give you the answer – you will need to form an OPINION – based on case studies – on real practices of censorship and regulation. You will need to know about the UK and US contemporary scene.
ADVOCATES vs CRITICS Claim it reflects and protects standards of morality generally held in society Rather than reflecting standards – it imposes them. Depiction of graphic violence – shapes social behaviour especially in the young – and therefore its circulation needs control Critics argue that film censorship is only one example of where ideals and morals are imposed on the public by powerful groups. Can you think of any examples that add to each viewpoint?
US UK scenario contemporary contemporary scenario
US: Film protected under the first amendment Individual states have power to censor adult material – only if deemed obscene. Ratings introduced in 1968 – ‘voluntary’ self regulation [MPAA] Whilst there is little censorship in the US – there is a need to deliver films to a wide PG-13/ R audience. THIS FILM IS NOT YET RATED dir. Dick King – sums it up best. UK: Film classification carried out by the BBFC [industry supported board] – only local councils have the power to censor films and refuse certificates. BBFC funded entirely by the film industry – its president and director are appointed through agreement of local authorities, industry associations and the home secretary – is this really as independent as it seems? [see R-18 issue] BBFC consults public through forums an questionnaires
contemporary moral panics Religious groups often campaign against films they feel are an affront to their religion, obviously the Church of England called for a ban on the showing of Life OF Brian  but catholic groups in the US have protested over Priest , Dogma  and most recently The Da Vinci Code  Newspapers often take the moral high ground when it comes to film – and the DAILY MAIL has been instrumental in whipping up moral outrage when it comes to the depiction of violence or sex in the cinema. For example: 1984 Video Act – outlawed video nasties – see documentary Ban these Evil Films CRASH dir David Cronenberg 1996
our case studies Saturday Night Sunday Morning Life of Brian Spiderman The Da Vinci Code This is England WE WILL NOT WATCH THE WHOLE FILMS – YOU WILL NEED TO KNOW THE FULL SYNOPSIS
is there a need for fucking censorship? There is no question that in the past dominant groups were able to exert and impose their moral will on what films were consumed by US and UK audiences. However, whilst film makers may have engaged in self censorship it does not mean that films did not engage with sensitive, taboo or moral issues of the day. Today, the diversification of the media, accessibility [through satellite and the internet] alongside the democratisation of culture makes a mockery any attempt to fashion such a dogmatic policy. Although it’s worth considering the Middle East and China. Nevertheless, the shaping of film texts to prescribed notions of what is suitable for children or what is obscene still goes on. Will this ever change?