Video Nasties Version 2.0

For those of you who do not know what England's video nasties were, I'm a bit surprised. It was the ultimate in censorship and suppression of film. During the 1980s England banned or released heavily edited versions of dozens of American and European horror films over a multitude of reasons from too much of the red stuff to too much of the sex stuff. Well, forum member Marts turned us onto a story that looks like the nasties are still causing people to get a bit annoyed.

England's The Daily Express broke the news about the fear that violent video games and movies can be purchased by those under 18. The Express got their hands on four notorious films for the article, Cannibal Holocaust, I Spit on Your Grave, SS Experiment Camp, and Faces of Death. Not the most tame of films as we know. The big brouhaha is seeming to stem from two companies in England who distribute the film, HMV and Zawi.

Two of the films (Holocaust and SS) that Express procured were found instantly offensive to the Jewish groups in Britain; one reason is because that they find that the Holocaust is being used for entertainment. The Community Security Trust (which represents British Jews on policy matters) had this to say:

"The film was previously banned because it glamorizes Nazism and sexual violence; neither of which should be more acceptable today."

Meanwhile I think we can applaud the comment made by HMV: "As a retailer, we do not censor content that has been cleared by the British Board of Film Classification. However, we recognize the importance of merchandising film titles responsibly and seek to do this in a manner that is sensitive to the film's content and BBFC's rating."

Lavina Carey director general of the British Video Association gets her a high five from me: "Public opinion varies. Tastes do change over the decades and but people don't have to watch it if they don't want to."

However, it was the comment made by a BBFC member that caught my eye. She admitted that while the films were tasteless, they were legal but this is the kicker: "...I personally found Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ tasteless, but that does not mean it should be banned."

So, its good to see with the last two comments there are people up in the establishment that support the right of the distributor to distribute the films that they have. The big issue as as always is these films getting into the hands of young people and then it causing them to become little Nazis, sadists, murderers etc. Of course these are teens they speak of as I cannot image even the most bored-at-their job clerk selling Cannibal Holocaust to a 10 year old. I personally don't prescribe to that "watch horror films and you become a killer" bullcrap, I watch the extreme stuff but I'm not Charles Manson or Heinrich Himmler. However, its the slimmest of percent of the people that watch these films who are already unstable that gets them going. But for those of us who are perfectly normal, shouldn't stop us from getting the films we like.

What is also goes right down to is the people who work in the stores and the parents to keep these out of the hands of young people. I do support keeping violent films and games out of the hands of young kids and it should be someone's maturity, not their age that determines if they are ready for the hard stuff.

If the Brits are afraid of these things getting into the hands of young people, what it boils down to is the clerk at the store asking for ID when the customer comes up to buy the product. If that doesn't happen, oh well. It also falls to the parent being responsible and making sure their child isn't buying the hard stuff in the store or online. But God forbid the parent's actually do the censorship in their family, better to ban it or censor the whole country so they don't have to do the work.

However, if anyone who works for the BBFC or knows someone who does, I counter the statement that Holocaust is tasteless. The film is a cinema landmark as it was one of the films that really showed and pioneered the strength of the cinéma-vérité style of shooting. Hell, the great Sergio Leone (Once Upon A Time In The West, Good, Bad and the Ugly) praised Deodato on the film: "Dear Ruggero, what a movie! The second part is a masterpiece of cinematographic realism, but everything seems so real I think you will get in trouble with all the world."

So, while many of these were exploitations, at least one has some big name support and some historical value. A big thanks to Marts for turning us onto this story. Sound off on the boards on what you all think.

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