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Wednesday, 27 September, 2000, 11:55 GMT 12:55 UK
Have the film censors got it right?
Censors in Britain are relaxing restrictions on 18-rated films.
The move comes after a survey showed that most adults want to be allowed to make up their own minds about what they watch.
But at the same time, the The British Board of Film Classification say the rules for what can be shown to younger viewers will be tightened up, particularly regarding the portrayal of drug use, bad language and sex.
Some have already criticised the move, saying teenagers should not be prevented from seeing things that are part of their everyday lives.
Who's right? Here are your comments.
I have only to say that I have watched porno films, surfed x-rated websites a number of times but I am not aware of any negative contribution to the society from my side.
"What you see is what you get" if censorship is just for teenager's or children, why not apply to adults as well? It seems that adults are the largest group of people who are under the biggest negative influence of those nasty films. It is this group of people who turn the society into a poorer place, and constitute a real threat to our society as well.
I'm sick and tired of being told what I can and cannot watch by some committee! Banning movies, and censorship only make people more interested in the film rather then being put off! You will always have violent, offensive and pornographic movies, and people will watch them at any age no matter how harsh censorship is, and to those people who don't like these movies, don't watch them!
Andrew Allen, UK
I think that the public viewing of the television should be monitored for suitable material. We should all be concerned about what is easily viewed by our children, they are the ones who should be protected. There are plenty of material outside of the TV that can be viewed by those that want to. Let us have more consideration for the children of this world.
Of what business of anyone else is it what another adult chooses to watch/read? When it leads to greater promiscuity and violence, particularly against women and children, it is everyone's business. Too much evil is committed by people saying 'If you don't want to do it fine, but don't tell me or anyone else what to do.
Rob Wilson, England
One could say it's not the gun that's dangerous, it's the person holding it. I'm sure it must be the same with films.
As adults, we are capable of discerning between make-believe and reality. However children are often unable to separate the two and should be protected from seeing films that glamorise violence. Too many parents think it's ok to let their children watch "18" rated films and it is this that causes the problems. How will changing the censorship laws deal with this?
Jeff Patrick, UK
We have yet to see the results of this liberalisation, and I shall await it with baited breath. I am a great fan of horror films, one of the greater victims of censorship along with porn and martial arts films. It has always seemed ridiculous to me that the British public has had so many of its films filtered by an undemocratic institution. Hopefully this will be coming to an end.
Supply is equal to demand. There is nothing wrong with films; there might be something wrong with the people that want to watch them.
Adam Crossley, Japan
Fred West was obsessed with Disney films. I rest my case.
Censorship is not created by morality - it is the product of fear. A better ratings system is needed, whereby the viewer is aware of the points that will make a movie an 18 certificate, for example. Then they can make their own minds up, rather than having fuddy-duddies or (at the other end of the scale) radicals in BBFC's Soho tower decide for them. The individual has a human right to make these decisions for themselves.
Cinema and society reflect each other. The question is which one reflects or exaggerates the other?
I believe that the censors are broadly right in that adults should be allowed to watch what they like and that C5's habit of announcing a rating before a film, drama, etc is a step in the right direction. However, I also agree that some topics need to be kept from our children and that parents can't always be watching over their shoulders. How about rating all material and adding a facility to TV software that allows parents to place 'filters' on their TV that prevent certain ratings from being accessible (i.e. similar to web-page filters)?
Instead of restricting what is available to watch
we should be trying to figure out what it is in our
culture which makes people "want"
to watch violent films. Then, through education
and by example, we should seek to change it.
Philip S Hall, UK
The state has no right to censor what adults see or hear.
Of course, anyone abusing children should be punished -but only for the abuse itself.
Why should scenes in classics such as 'Titus Andronicus' or 'Edward II' be thought unsuitable for us?
If we can watch murder films, why not sex films?
If sex films don't corrupt the censors, why would they corrupt other adults?
If your child goes to a friends house and his or her parent's are not at home how would "you" stop your child from seeing things an TV? Or your 16-18 years old baby sitter watching your 8 and 10 year old and how do "you" know what is she or better what are they watching on your TV?
There is no doubt that film does promote violence. Even when there is love, it is a result of violence. I think that is because the world finds love boring and violence gets the adrenaline flowing. You cannot blame the film industry, but the population that it depends on.
As adults we know what we want. If we want to enjoy pornography we can get it from the internet. Why should there be any restriction? Can't we decide which is good and which is not good for us? Are you going to prevent children from viewing obscene movies and pornography? It is not possible. The world is changing. The adults have freedom to choose what they want. Let the out-dated censor board of Britain or any other country not bother us. Let us be bold enough to bid bye to our hypocritical culture.
Sarah Collins, England
In one of the best Latin American novels, "Cien anos de soledad", the author Gabriel Garcia Marques tells, among others, about a boy who wanted to see a man get executed very much (the time was a civil war in Columbia); after he finally saw one man shot, he became a convinced pacifist and humanist. So does violence and sex on the TV screen give birth to rapist and killers? Some food for thought from literary classics.
It is never possible for a film censor to say what is acceptable and what is not. It would be a better system if they made the ratings into warnings and let the parents decide themselves.
Yes, let adults watch what they like but it's no good saying that the youngsters know more than they are likely to see for it is a sad fact that we have in this country the greatest teenager pregnancy rate in the world. It is no secret that children are great copiers and whatever is seen on the tv or other forms of media, is emulated by them. Let the youngsters grow up without showing them how to be old before their time.
Morgan O'Conner, USA
To quote a famouse movie 'Did we all just go and get amnesia?' What violence exactly are we letting our children watch? It is not real, people! It is made up. Please credit us with the ability to be able to distinguish between fantasy and reality. I agree young children should not be allowed to watch films with adult content, but that is what we have a ratings system for.
The age of innocence as a child is a special time in our lives which can never be repeated. It is only a small part of our life-span but one where magic can really happen and we remember this magical time for the rest of our lives. The lack of censorship can damage beyond repair the hopes and dreams that young minds would otherwise develop.
J. Woodford, France
I have often thought that the BBFC
lives on another planet. Films rated
PG and 15 contain highly glamorised
depictions of violence, but anything
that shows the real effects of
violence is rated 18. However,
almost any depiction of sexual
activity leads to an 18 certificate.
The primary criterion for award of a
15 certificate is the presence of a
particular four letter word that
Talking Point is too refined to
publish, but which everyone over
the age of ten is familiar with. The
new rules sound even sillier.
Like so many issues this comes down to the balancing of rights vs. responsibilities.
Modern culture emphasises the former, ignoring the later. Many people seem to have strange ideas of what constitutes their "right" - yet scant understanding of the need to exercise responsibility to society.
Young kids don't get anything out of porn except a laugh. Let's face it, the whole hypocritical business of censorship started with parents who were embarrassed as hell their kids might see what it was their mum and dad must have done to get them in the first place. As for banning porn for consenting adults, some people obviously don't want their partners to know there are better -endowed and raunchier men and women out there. It's about as simple as that.
Jonathan Todd, Britain
It seems today that British males (in particular) are generally regarded as an ignorant and violent lot who aren't allowed to watch sexual material in case they turn into mad rapists or something. The "Nanny State" has done none of us any good. I'm not proud to be British when abroad these days.
Those who doubt that violence in media contributes to real-life violence should know that it has long been acknowledged by many armies. Indeed, the US army (and no doubt the UK army) base training on this fact to make soldiers less reluctant killers.
We are told that films are censured so that we are not mentally damaged by some of the things that can be seen. It seems that if we see these films we are all so stupid and easily influenced that we will suddenly go crazy and start raping and killing people. If this is true then surely the people who watch these uncut films, are on the verge of a savage madness. I suggest the police move in immediately and detain these individuals for the good of the nation because it is surely just a matter of time before they act out what they have seen. Sounds stupid? Of course it is. As adults we should be able make informed decisions about what we want to watch.
The film censors have got it right in principal; I don't believe any films or other media that is being viewed by adults should be censored at all. That is irrespective of the content.
It does, however, make sense to limit the material that is seen by children. I think the main problem we have here is the "age 18" concept. It has always been totally ridiculous that someone is allowed to get married at the age of 16 (albeit with parental consent, but still, they are allowed to marry nonetheless) but is not allowed to view a certificate 18 film!
What has learned cannot be unlearned, that which is once seen, is seen in the mind forever. It is our responsibility to protect the innocence of young people.
How long has it been plain to see that other European countries with more relaxed censorship have far less sex crime than we do in the UK? Having said all that, I have always found sex in movies extremely dull anyway. Surely it's only for the voyeuristic?
It may be a somewhat clumsy point, but the 'potential' for damage to individuals as a result of viewing violent/pornographic material is nothing compared to the amount of misery that has been caused by the Bible. More people die in one year as a result of the Bible than will ever die as a direct result of any violent or pornographic images.
It's sensationalist rubbish. The problem stems from poor education, a mismanaged welfare system, and half a dozen other sources. Attacking the media like this is just scape-goating from a system that is incapable or unwilling to tackle the real issues, but wishes to be viewed as being pro-active in the eyes of a concerned public. To hold the media to blame for the problems in our society is simplistic at best, at worst, idiotic.
If violence on TV truly encouraged violence off TV surely we would be noticing it on the news everyday. In fact the horrors shown on the news are surely much more vivid and effective.
I am glad that the adults of this "democratic" country may at last be being treated as adults.
For a happy and balanced society, people need to be provided with information to make their own life choices, not 'mind-controlled' into being what (a certain percentage) of the population wants them to be. As a gay man who grew up in an age where 'gay' was censored, my happiness and my productivity in society was damaged by censorship. With the arrival of the internet, censorship of information is fast becoming completely impossible.
By the age of ten the average child will have seen numerous acts of physical violence, drug-taking and so forth in real life. In addition to this, news broadcasts show sickening atrocities from across the world. So long as violence and drugs are not glamorised, they should still be shown to younger people, if not very young children. As for sex, why does this country have such a hang up about such imagery? Is it not better to watch two people in a passionate embrace than blowing each other's brains out?
Too many have dirty sick sordid minds. Preserve us from them!
Robert, Suffolk, England
I have always found it odd that this country will allow a heterosexual couple to engage in sexual activities at the age of 16 yet they must wait a further two years for the privilege of watching a watered down censored version in the privacy of their own homes.
A step in the right direction, but when are we going to get hardcore porn on the cable channels?
Violence is much more common these days because it is shown on TV and at the cinema as exciting and dramatic etc. I would ask what sort of twisted mind have the people who actually get pleasure from watching it? If they are so inclined then they could perhaps offer their services to the local casualty department or the ambulance service on a Saturday night.
On the subject of pornography, I have access to these 'continental movies'. For anybody with half a brain cell and a grain of imagination they are one big yawn after you have watched a couple of them.
Jane Bloggs, UK
It amazes me that people will fuss endlessly over what they put into their stomachs, worrying about GM foods and increasingly preferring
to buy organic, but will happily put any filth into their minds in the name
of 'entertainment'. If junk food is bad for your body, aren't junk images
bad for your mind?
I feel it is correct to allow ADULTS to make up their own minds, as opposed to being told what they can and can't watch.
The real problem is the undereducated and uncultivated minds that write and produce the oceans of entertainment sewage that we all have to wade through in order to find an interesting film to watch. Sex, violence, drugs etc are the only experiences that register as significant with these talent-free media careerists. They impoverish us all.
This is all very well, but will it also effect broadcast TV? The 9pm watershed seems to be open to the interpretation of whoever decides to edit a movie before it is aired. I particular, I remember RoboCop on C4 at midnight (I think) and heavily cut. BBC loves to dub movies at all hour of the day. How to ruin a movie one easy step...
Don't let anyone be fooled, we all agree with some degree of censorship that accords with our own particular tastes. Just don't pretend that the world would be a better place without any form of censorship - obviously, it wouldn't.
David K, England
If at the age of 18 we are deemed responsible enough to vote, consume alcohol (in the UK), smoke tobacco, serve in the armed forces, own and operate a motor vehicle, and own a firearm (in the US), isn't it reasonable to assume that we are responsible enough to decide what we want to see?
We as a people are well known for role modelling. The media and indeed all, have the right to follow the dictates of our own conscience. As a society we need role models that portray high morals. Society and indeed the 'Family' is under tremendous increasing pressure from influences that can result in the break-up of the Home and Families. We need help in the form of wholesome family values.
Instead of removing from people the right to choose what they watch, why don't they try making sure people don't sell adult material to juveniles? And what about the parents? I appreciate it's not easy for them, but I fail to see why a person should miss out on a basic civil liberty because of people they have never met? And what's more...if sex drugs and violence are part of your teenagers everyday life you're doing something wrong!!
Don't you think that pandering to the wishes of religious groups will be more harmful than showing on screen what everyone under 30 has grown up with.
Martin von Rosenberg, USA
Violence and drugs should not be shown to young people as they are very easily influenced.
Let's be honest here - the business about "children might be harmed by the sight of sex" is total rubbish and everyone knows so. It's a pseudo-science fig leaf for the real reason: that the harm feared is "oh no, they might not think sex is bad anymore".
Official censorship is no more and no less than an attempt to legislate religion, as the comments on "blasphemy" show. Let's wake up, people - this is the twenty-first century, not the middle ages.
We need a total removal of censorship.
Provided string ratings are kept too we should all be allowed to make our own choice.
Censorship is so undemocratic.
Laura P, UK
Speaking of censorship: read the disclaimer at the end of this page: Disclaimer: "The BBC will put up as many of your comments as possible but we cannot guarantee that all e-mails will be published. The BBC reserves the right to edit comments that are published."
Well, we finally got an acknowledgement that adults should be treated as adults, and not nannied by censors. But what's this? Strengthening the Blasphemy laws? Ah, so moviemakers can depict as much violence, drugs and sex as they want - but they can't risk offending the Anglican church?
England, glorious country that it is, is in deep trouble if they are attempting to become more and more like Holland.
Censorship is counter-productive: the more illegal you make sex and drugs, the more kids will want it.
Mark B, UK
Yes, sex and drugs and violence should be banned
from the screen. We used to go to
the movies to be entertained, to escape from the ugly side of reality.
Now the screen projects all the filth in
the world with the result that crime is
on the increase. We are still in time
to correct it, if only the powers that be
take measures to reverse the situation.
It's nice to see that the BBFC are changing their attitude to censorship. Adults should have had the freedom to choose many years ago. Movies for younger people, looks like it might be a little more difficult. Perhaps for under 15's, there should not be sex, but for older youths, sex is already part of life. I guess the same can be said for drugs, but violence in films perhaps might need some supervision. It's strange to notice that violence is acceptable in many American movies, yet sex is taboo?
I agree that younger people should not be exposed to certain acts of sex, drug use or violence in films, but with society heading rapidly down the pan, are we really protecting them if they see exactly that kind of thing on the news or in papers every day?
Mark Roberts, England
It's about time the censors realised that adults should be free to choose what they want to watch. It is a very strange censorship system that allows teenagers to watch people being stabbed, shot beaten up etc all of which are illegal, but stops adults watching other adults having sex which is perfectly legal. As for the moral issue? Which would you rather teenagers grew up with a clear understanding of sex or a clear understanding of murder and violence because I know which I would choose.
This is a step in the right direction.
I would say, though, but it does not go
far enough. Furthermore it still does not
properly address the imbalance in attitudes
to violence and sex. Pornography tends
on the whole to portray consensual sex,
whereas violence as a consensual act is
a rather rare phenomenon! Violence, in my
mind, is far more harmful to society than
pornography. There should be far
more censorship of needless violence but far less
censorship of pornography. Regardless of this,
yes, making it harder for youngster to
view such material should always be a goal.
I don't see why that sex and violence in films should be considered "dangerous" if the age ratings are kept to. Sex and violence will not just "go away" if they are not shown on films, in civilisations past there is always a shadow of violence somewhere, its part of human nature, just suppressing images of it will not suppress these feelings rising from time to time.
It is the ease with which the minds of children are impressed and manipulated that is the key problem, although people remain open to suggestion to varying extents throughout their lives. Teenagers, whatever the classification system, are likely to get to see the films that are deemed not to be suitable for them, so perhaps it isn't worth altering the censorship rules for this age group.
Mark, England (Birmingham)
More sex please... Our obscenity laws are the most Victorian of any Western nation I can think of. They are a sham!
About time - at last some common sense in the UK. Adults should be able to watch what they like without someone else taking the moral high-ground on their behalf. My fear is the relaxation is a bit of a smokescreen and wont go far enough.
Yes - adults should be able to make adult decisions about the type of film they want to see.
Adults over 18 should be allowed to see whatever they want to. To prevent children seeing unsuitable material more work needs to go into targeting unscrupulous video shops and cinemas which allow in underage customers, and parents who allow their children to watch it at home.
14 Sep 00 | Entertainment
Censors relax film guidelines
12 Sep 00 | Americas
Hollywood denies 'selling violence'
22 May 00 | UK
Green light for porn films
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