Saturday, June 25, 2005


(Hopefully) Brief Censorship Updates

They'll have to be pretty brief. The reason I haven't posted a whole load the last couple of days is because my lease on my tenement apartment expires at five this afternoon. It is currently 3.28 in the morning, I had no sleep last night, and I'm nowhere near packed. The result of this is that I'm just a tad pushed for time. Consequently, I'll try not to rant and rave too much, although some of these issues have really, really annoyed me over the last couple of days. Oh well, you win some, you lose some. Here we go:

1) According to the Melonfarmers, the government are considering implememting a scheme to give greater parental knowledge about the computer games their sproglings are playing. This sounds fine on paper, but there are several flaws in the proposal:

i) As the writer of the link points out, by the age of seventeen, teenagers are nearly totally independent. They can marry, leave home, buy a house, play the lottery, drive a car, and indulge in heterosexual intercourse. Consequently, the idea that parents are likely to have much of a say in what their sons and daughters are buying is pretty laughable.

ii) Protecting the kids seems reasonable enough, but this initiative seems, from the BBC article linked to at any rate, to be a knee-jerk reaction to the 'Manhunt' case, a computer game that was alleged to have inspired a fourteen year old to commit a murder. However, as the BBC article points out, this claim was dismissed by the Police investigating the case.

iii) Check out this quote from Patricia Hewitt, Secretary of State for Trade & Industry:

'Adults can make informed choices about what games to play. Children can't and they deserve to be protected.'

This is undoubtedly true in the case of younger children, but older children, certainly by the time of their teenage years, are well aware of what the content of games is going to be like. I know I was - many of my friends and I used to purchase gaming magazines by the armload, so we knew exactly what we were getting into. I know this is a tired, hackneyed and cliched old argument, but I was playing Wolf-3D by the time I left primary school, and it hasn't turned me into a maniac.

2) Another Mondo documentary has been banned by the BBFC. This one, made in 1993, but only just submitted, going by the title 'Traces Of Death', has had a long and detailed explanation of its rejection, as the BBFC are righly wont to do these days. What is really noticeable is how similar the rejection statement is to those made for 'Bumfights', 'Banned From Television', and 'Terrorists, Killers And Other Wackos' (the details of all can be found here). My standpoint on Mondo is this: it is stupid, and I don't see the point, but with the proliferation of such websites as Ogrish and Rotten and others like it (which are all easy for minors to access), bans may be inevitable, but they're pretty ineffectual.

3) All of which brings me neatly to the final piece of news: Rotten is shutting down a significant part of its operations, due to new US legislation requiring the registration of all participants in hard core pornography, in order to, amongst other things, ascertain that they are not minors. For several great reasons to hate this piece of legislation, read this. The point is not that the actresses at Rotten were minors - how would I know if they were or weren't? - merely, that it is simply not possible to prove this in every case. Furthermore, as Gavin M points out, it seems somewhat ironic that the comparatively acceptable porn has bitten the dust while the Mondo stuff lives on (as it were) (so to speak).

Interestingly, I went to the cinema today to watch 'Inside Deep Throat', which I know I've mentioned here before. At the end of the film, the interviewer asks the prosecutor in the obscenity trial of Harry Reems, the male lead of 'Deep Throat', if a trial like that could happen today. He answers that the 'climate is perhaps even better today for obsenity trials than it was then.' How ironic.

Something is brewing in the US, and I don't like the look of it. To hand it over to Mr M again:

'You just get that familiar, Bush Presidency feeling of tanks rumbling into formation in the distance -- of Something being Up, except you won't know what it is until the battalions are in place and the air support is droning overhead with bomb racks laden.'

Sadly, yes.

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