Over at Geeks of Doom, Jenny Sanders is upset at the bloody, rape-filled fantasies she has been enduring in the guise of watching recent direct-to-video horror titles like INSANITARIUM, LILITH, and OTIS. One can hardly blame, except for the fact that her solution to the problem is – how shall we say it? – a bit outdated. After acknowledging that currents trends are nothing new – just a recycling of stuff scene in the ’70s and ’80s, she goes on to make an argument in favor of the days when the British government banned the video release of certain objectionable films:
But the difference now is that where we once had laws to prevent this material reaching our screens, we now have laws that seem to look on and approve. The BBFC is not only passing everything it can get its hands on, it’s letting us all know about it in the form of its ridiculous categories (“Ooh look: ‘Violence, frequent, some sexualised’ – let’s hire this one!”). The 74 films banned back in the Eighties are now no longer ‘bad’, despite being exactly the same as they were before, and so we’re getting mega-edition six-DVD box-sets and some nice new modern versions to boot. Wander into HMV and you too could own footage of a teenager being raped while her attacker carves his name into her chest. Wonderful.
It begs a question about what’s changed between then and now. If it was down to Wes Craven et al, you’ve believe it was a reaction to the increase in violent worldwide events – torture at Guantanamo Bay, for example. Craven maintains that films like Last House were a reflection of the horrors of the Vietnam War, and that he was trying to capture this in his film-making. Watching him being interviewed on a documentary last year, it would have been perfectly fair to come the conclusion that he was actually capturing his own puerile and depraved thoughts in order to make a bag of cash. (Of course, I can’t say that, because it’s ‘art’.)
More likely we’re just sliding further down the slope than we’ve previously managed, having nothing like the Video Recordings Act 1984 to save us this time around. It seemed to start, at least publicly, with franchises like Hostel – a combination of porn and torture which with huge intelligence produced the phrase ‘torture porn’. In the original Eli Roth picked on men and women alike, but Part II was more obviously heading into ‘violence as rape’ territory and both films equated mutilation with sexual excitement. The House of Commons even pointed out that owning stills of Part II could be against the law as examples of ‘extreme pornography’. (Action taken: none.)
It strikes me as rather bizarre that, in the 21st century, someone is lamenting the demise of the Video Recordings Act. Why would anyone be nostalgic for censorship? No matter how bad films are, do they need to be banned? Is civilization going to fall if the government doesn’t step in to protect its citizens from outrageous art?
I don’t know. Maybe it’s a “British Thing.”