Banning: Aren't We Past This?
If you didn't already know, this afternoon the BBFC (British Board of Film Classification) has decided to ban 'The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence)' because it is "sexually violent, potentially obscene and is likely to cause harm to viewers".
SPOILER ALERT! The film has been banned for three main reasons in particular:
- An early sequence in which the leading man wraps sandpaper around his penis and masturbates to the original 'Human Centipede' picture.
- The man gains psychically evident pleasure from watching the people 'attached' defecate in each other's mouths.
- The man wraps barbed wire around his penis and anally rapes the last person 'attached' to the centipede line.
Now I can agree that these things are 'sexually violent' and certainly 'obscene' but is it just me or does the idea of banning films nowadays seem slightly silly? Although this film clearly presents 'graphic' content, it's hardly anything new in cinema and certainly not as 'extreme' as sequences in other films - particularly features from the Japanese studio, Tartan. To me, the content in 'THC2' seems to be only in placed to shock and appal, rather than engross viewers in the foul and terrifying scenario they should be in. Shocking people is one thing, but it's certainly not as affective nor 'damaging' as psychologically disturbing an audience.
Take a film like Gaspar Noe's 'Irreversible' (2002); a film so notorious for all the wrong reasons that 'morbid curiosity' makes so many more people want to watch it. The film should be viewed for it's cinematic merits, wonderfully weird storytelling and dizzying direction, not just because some bloke gets his face smashed to a pulp with a fire extinguisher or because a poor woman is brutally raped for 9 gruelling minutes. These are just small factors that add up to a dramatic conclusion - they are critical for the narrative progression.
Now I find films like 'THC2' annoying; there's no brains behind the gore making it seem pointless - realistically, nobody 'needs' to see a barbed wire rape scene, but at least if it had a valid point to a narrative then it can be 'justifiably viewed' rather than just being stuck in there to get people talking. But even though I don't think highly of silly films about people who have their faces attached to another's anus, I still feel that it should be my choice to watch it if I please. I don't need some right-wing organisation to tell me I'm 'wrong' or 'sick' or 'strange' for wanting to watch something that another may not approve of. I don't particularly want to see the new 'Human Centipede' film, but if it was theatrically released, I'm sure I would have seen it with my mates and we would have laughed about how absurd it is. I don't believe the film-going public should have to put up with pictures being banned just because the BBFC thinks they may receive some complaints, or that one loony will think sewing a friend's face to their behind is 'funny'.
We have moved on since Thatcher, since Mary Whitehouse and are now far more resilient to 'graphic' or 'extreme' content so why are the BBFC still stressing? I agree that censorship is great and certainly vital; films like these should only be viewed by those over 18, but I still feel that if I wanted to watch it, why can't I? Why should a collection of parents and politicians decide what is 'socially exceptable' for an average Joe like me to see? I've seen a lot of films - films that are far more 'poisionous' and 'dangerous' than this. I've sat through the 'August Underground' trilogy - some of the most depraved and sinister low-budget pictures that verge on 'Snuff' filmmaking, yet, I don't feel like replicating anything in these films, nor do I care about them in the slightest, but I was recommended them and out of intrigue I watched them and found them to be a fairly depressing and amateurish experience.
But coming back onto point; to me, banning films seems so stone age - you rarely hear about books getting banned even though a large quantity of literature is filled with despicable content but that's because reading is still seen as an 'upper-class' activity and sadly, cinema is still seen as a fairly 'slobbish' activity. Also, you never hear people moaning about things that are actually dangerous like propaganda or 'spin-stories' in newspapers like The Daily Mail for example. You can still buy Nazi films on DVD and even watch 'Jud Suss' ('The Evil Jew') - the film that promoted Nazism, in full on YouTube. You can also be instantly subjected to stereotypes and false allegations in newspapers that promote hate and hysteria - It hardly seems fair to me but then again, maybe I'm just bias. Yes, I agree that 'THC2' isn't a film to be praised or promoted, but do people not have bigger things to worry about apart from a crappy low-budget Horror movie with a guy who have strange penis fetishes?
Anyway, the point of this post was to put my two cents across about banning feature films, and I'd now like to pose the question to you. Please leave me a comment with you thoughts - whether you agree or disagree, please whack a comment below! :)