Censorship Ms Begum
Who are the BBFC and what is their role?
The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) is an independent body which was originally established in 1912. Their role is to protect the public from anything offensive or that can cause any harm in a specific film. They decide the age rating of the film, and they also decide of a film needs to be cut or banned.
Why is the role of BBFC important to the film industry?
The role of the BBFC is important to the film industry because the film industry needs to be aware that the content of the film that they are producing isn't offensive or harmful to the public, therefore it would lead to the film being cut, or even worse banned by the BBFC.
What things get censored, and why?
Some of the main factors that lead to a film to be censored are:
- Sex and nudity
- Drug use
The first reason as to why films get censored is because of the use of gory violence. The reason as to why the BBFC censor violence is because children shouldn’t be exposed to violent acts at a young age. Spider-man is a well-known superhero from comic books. Children all over the world read the spider-man comic books and watch the cartoons, so therefore if a film was released there would be a high demand for children to want to watch it. As displayed in the example spider-man is shown as using violent acts towards the villain and the scene finally results in the death of the villain. Is it correct to show a children’s superhero as killing another person?
Sex and nudity is another common reason as to why films get censored. people at a young age might not be mentally ready to witness nudity and watch sexual acts in films. Moreover children might witness sexual acts on films and they might want to copy the actions without considering the moral side of it.
Religion is also a factor that can lead to a film being censored. Religion is a very sensitive topic on its own. When a film is based on religion it would be censored by the BBFC because some religious films could be offensive to people. As shown in the example, the film ‘ the last temptation of Christ ‘ has been heavily criticised by religious people because it portrays Jesus as being tempted to engage in sexual activities. Moreover this lead to thousands of people from religious communities to protest against this film being produced.
The language that’s used in certain films also get censored. Films that are rated 12A contain inappropriate language and they have been censored by the BBFC. The film ‘ghost town’ starring Ricky Gervais contains two uses of the f-word and four used of the s-word had to be censored before it could be released.
The frequent use of drugs is also a reason as to why the BBFC censor films. Some films show frquent drug use which wouldn’t be suitable for children and people under the age of 18 to be seeing. As shown in the example a teenager from the film ‘ kidulthood ‘ is shown as taking drugs. This needs to be censored because teenagers that watch this film might think that drugs are ‘cool’ and it could lead them to try it out themselves
What is the difference between films being cut and banned?
When a film is cut, this is when the film is edited or has had scenes taken out of it so that it would be appropriate to go on viewing. As displayed in the example, the film ‘saw’ had been cut so many times so that it could be appropriate to go on viewing.
When a film is banned, it means that a film is taken away from cinema viewing completely due to indecent, harmful or offensive material. The film ‘ a clockwork orange ‘ was banned due to the disturbing violent images.
Forna and Kamode debate
Aminatta Forna argues for censorship. Some of the reasons as to why she thinks censorship should be allowed is firstly because ‘the public associate themselves with the characters they see.’ This means that for example if a child’s favourite character is shown as a violent character, then the child would want to copy the actions of their favourite character. Forna also suggests that ‘undesirable acts such as rape encourages the audience to carry out these acts.’ The explanation for this is that if people are witnessing scenes such as rape they would unconsciously want to carry out the same as what they are seeing.
On the other hand, Kermode argues against censorship. Karmode says that ‘if a film is censored, that takes away the originality of the film.’ This means that if a film has been censored or cut, the original aim of the film would no longer exist. Kamode also suggests that ‘the public should be able to distinguish between fiction and non-fiction. Karmode is implying that the viewer should be able to know what's real in the film and what isn’t real.
In my opinion, I agree with Forna and I think that censorship should occur. This is because if there wasn’t censorship in films an innocent child could be exposed to violence and sexual acts at an age when they aren’t mentally stable to understand the morals of such a sensitive issue. Moreover, censorship stops people from taking part in undesirable acts such as rape.
To conclude, this research on censorship has helped me understand what the BBFC is and their role, the appropriate time when a film needs to be censored, the difference between a cut and a ban, and finally I was knowledgeable about arguments for and against censorship. Now I know what kind of material that would be suitable to use in my own thriller.