Film and Video Censorship in Modern Britain by Julian Petley

00412aa1_medium.jpg Author Julian Petley
Isbn 748625399
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Year 2011
Pages 192
Language English
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Film and Video Censorship in Contemporary Britain J I ,I r I , 5" Gil ~ I '. j •• • • • • "It's a Government crackdown to protect children from exposure to violence © Mirrorpix Film and Video Censorship in Contemporary Britain Julian Petley Edinburgh University Press For Mary © Julian Petley, 201 I © in Chapters 6 and 12 is retained by Sight and Sound © in Chapter 8 is retained by British Journalism Review Edinburgh University Press Ltd 22 George Square, Edinburgh Typeset in Monotype Ehrhardt by Iolaire Typesetting, Newtonmore, and printed and bound in Great Britain by CPI Antony Rowe, Chippenham and Eastbourne A CIP record for this book is available from the British Library ISBN 978 ISBN 978 0 0 7486 2538 3 (hardback) 7486 2539 0 (paperback) The right of Julian Petley to be identified as author of this work has been asserted in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. Contents Acknowledgements Introduction Part I 'Censorious Rigtnarole and Legalistic Overkill' Introduction to Part I I A Nasty Story 2 Nastier Still 3 Two or Three Things I Know About 'Video Nasties' Part II After the Deluge Introduction to Part II 4 'The Tenor of the Times': An Interview With James Ferman 5 'Reading Society Aright': Five Years after the Video Recordings Act 6 The Video Image Part ill Nineties Nightmares Introduction to Part III 7 'Not Suitable for Home Viewing' 8 Vicious Drivel and Lazy Sluts 9 Doing Harm 10 The Anatomy of a Newspaper Campaign: Crash II The Last Battle, or Why Makin' Whoopee! Matters •• VB I 17 23 33 44 51 55 83 87 102 109 II5 129 CONTENTS • VI Part IV New Millennium, New Beginning? Introduction to Part IV 12 'The Way Things Are Now': An Interview with Robin Duval 13 The Limits of the Possible 14 Full Circle 161 163 173 197 Appendix: The DPP List of 'Video Nasties' 213 Bibliography Index 217 221 Acknowledgements I would like to thank the following publishers for granting me permission to reprint material: Sage, for 'Vicious Drivel and Lazy Sluts', originally published under the title 'In Defence of "Video Nasties'" in British Journalism Review, 5: 3,1994; the British Film Institute for 'The Video Image', Sight and Sound, Winter 1989-90, and 'The Way Things Are Now: An Interview with Robin Duval', originally published under the title 'Raising the Bar' in Sight and Sound, December 2001; and Mirror Group Newspapers for the 'Griffin's Eye' cartoon, Daily Mirror, 12 April 1994. This book would not have been possible in its present form without considerable assistance from the staff of the British Board of Film Classification. They have never been other than friendly and helpful, whatever I may have written about the institution for which they work. In particular I would like to thank Janet Burgis, Sue Clarke, David Cooke, Robin Duval, the late James Ferman, Edward Lamberti, Craig Lapper and Murray Perkins. For inputs into this book of all sorts and kinds I would like to thank Norman Abbott, Martin Barker, Lavinia Carey, Paddie Collyer, Richard Combs, Philip French, Nick James, Stefan Jaworzyn, Alan Jones, Mark Kermode, Tanya Krzywinska, Tom Dewe Mathews, David McGillivray, Xavier Mendik, Paul Moody, Marc Morris, Kim Newman, James Robertson, Judith Vidal-Hall, Jake West and Nigel Wingrove. A great deal more is at stake in the censorship of films than cuts, bans and boards of censors. Annette Kuhn, Cinema, Censorship and Sexuality Igo9-I925 A state which carries out its routine operations behind closed doors is not a democracy. Enlightenment which requires cover of darkness is not real enlightenment. Censors who call themselves by other names are still censors. Sue Curry Jansen, Censorship: The Knot That Binds Power and Knowledge Introduction ritain, along with the Republic ofIreiand, has the strictest film and video censorship in the European Union. This book will attempt to explain how this situation has been maintained, and indeed strengthened, in recent times, how the censorship system actually works, and why it is maintained. Part I examines the origins of the Video Recordings Act 1984 (VRA), and situates these firmly in the moral panic about 'video nasties' which commenced in 1981. Part II looks at how the Act was interpreted in the second part of the decade, and at some of its consequences for the video industry. Part III, the longest part, deals with the I990S, and begins by focusing on why and how the Act was amended in the wake of the murder of James Bulger; it then goes on to analyse how the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) interpreted the amended Act. Much of the book thus far will have been taken up by accounts of how the majority of British newspapers played a key role in the processes that resulted in the Video Recordings Act coming about in the first place, and then being tightened. However, Chapter 10 shows how the Daily Mail and its stable-mate the London Evening Standard signally failed in their campaign to get David Cronenberg's film Crash banned from cinemas nationally. And Chapter I I, too, charts the failure of an attempt, this time by government (albeit aided by newspapers), to impose stricter censorship on the already heavily regulated 'RI8' category of videos (those which may be sold only in licensed sex shops). The contents of the videos concerned in this case may be absolutely negligible in themselves, but the light this affair sheds on the relationship between the BBFC, the Home Office and the wider state apparatus makes this one of the key chapters in the book. Finally, Part IV brings the story up to date, and focuses in particular on isolating the kinds of material which the BBFC refuses to pass today even in the adults-only '18' and 'RI8' categories. The final chapter, by examining events subsequent to the discovery in August 2009 that the VRA was in fact unenforceable - events B 2 FILM AND VIDEO CENSORSHIP IN CONTEMPORARY BRITAIN which have received virtually no press coverage and no analysis of any kindshows why the VRA, for all the many problems associated with it and all the criticisms which have been aimed at it, looks set to be a permanent feature on the statute book. Film and Video Censorship in Contemporary Britain consists largely of newly published material. However, Chapters I, 3, 4, 6 and 8 were published at the time of the events which they describe and are reproduced here unchanged (except for the addition of a few explanatory footnotes) in the spirit of reports from the front line. Chapters 5, 9, 10, II and 12 have as their basis alreadypublished pieces, but have been substantially, and mostly very substantially, expanded. This was not in order to take advantage of the undoubted benefits of 20/20 hindsight but simply to add material for which there was not sufficient space in the original publication, or to complete a narrative that was still playing itself out at the time of writing. Chapters 2, 7, 13 and 14 are entirely original to the present work. THE PERSISTENCE OF CENSORSHIP In 1984 the British Board of Film Censors changed its name to the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC). This did not mean, however, that it ceased to be a censor and henceforward performed only a classificatory function. Indeed, quite the reverse, as the Video Recordings Act 1984 (VRA) endowed it with statutory powers in the video domain, and, as explained in Parts I and II of this book, it used these to cut, and in some cases ban outright, a remarkable number of videos. Parts III and IV show that the BBFC gradually became more liberal from the second half of the 1990S onwards, but it is still extremely strict by continental European standards. For example, at the time of writing it has just insisted on seventeen cuts totalling forty-three seconds of running time in the remake of I Spit on Your Grave before it can be shown in cinemas; it is worth pointing out that when the original version was submitted on video in 2001, it was cut by seven minutes and two seconds, and when it was resubmitted on DVD in 2010 the BBFC still required cuts of two minutes and fifty-four seconds. Meanwhile, the BBFC has insisted on forty-nine cuts totalling three minutes and forty-eight seconds to the DVD of A Serbian Film, which at first caused the distributors to think twice about releasing it in the UK. And when in August London's FrightFest film festival attempted to screen the film at the Empire cinema in Leicester Square, the organisers were prevented from doing so by Westminster council (as the result of a process which is explained in Chapter 10). In this book, I have concentrated primarily on the Board's censorship functions and activities, because my main aim is to pinpoint the kinds of INTRODUCTION 3 material which may not be shown legally even to adults, to explore the mechanisms by which such material is banned, and to uncover the reasoning behind and justifications offered for such acts of censorship. This means that, for the most part, I have concentrated on the fate of films and videosjDVDs in the '18' and 'RI8' classification categories, although Chapters 5 and 9 do discuss other categories too. (Those interested in exploring further this aspect of the BBFC's activities are recommended to read Robertson and Nicol (2008) and Mathews (1994).) This is not, of course, to deny the fact that a fair amount of cutting takes place within the lower-age classifications, but it does need to be understood that this is because distributors tend to indicate to the BBFC the classification which they would like a particular film or DVD to receive and the BBFC then judges the work in terms of its guidelines for that specific category. So, for example, in 2009, the films Dorian Gray, Shifty and The Hangover were cut to achieve the 'IS' classification desired by the distributor, and Dragonball Evolution, Paul Blart - Mall Cop, and St Trinians - the Legend oj Fritton's Gold were modified by the distributors themselves (an extremely common practice) before formal submission to the BBFC in order to achieve the desired 'PG' classification. The extent to which this form of horse trading amounts to outright censorship is a matter for debate (although it certainly demonstrates how deeply complicit is the film industry in the censorship process), but the fact that a cinema film or DVD classified at 'IS' may not legally be viewed by anyone under that age could be seen as a limited form of censorship since this distinctly curbs their film-viewing activities. Geoffrey Robertson and Andrew Nicol are undoubtedly right to argue that 'children of all ages are the real victims of obsessive BBFC censorship decisions taken ostensibly in their interests, but without much expert insight into what might cause them harm' (2008: 850) and to complain about 'busy, nit-picking censorship' (ibid.: 851); it is also quite remarkable the extent to which the BBFC's annual reports reveal throughout a concern that films to which young people have access deliver the 'right' moral message (or at least do not deliver the 'wrong' one). But what is not open to debate is that banning the distribution of certain kinds of filmic material even to adults constitutes censorship in its purest and most direct form, and that this takes place in contemporary Britain with considerable frequency. In this respect, consider the figures in Table 1. Of course, it could be argued that the cuts figures for the '18' category have been swelled by a large numbers of sex videos and DVDs which distributors, for purely commercial reasons, have not wanted to be given an 'RI8' classification, which would limit them to being sold only in licensed sex shops (a topic discussed in Chapter 13). However, this should not be allowed to obscure the fact that in nearly every other ED country, such videos can be sold, legally and uncut, in mainstream DVD outlets. 4 FILM AND VIDEO CENSORSHIP IN CONTEMPORARY BRITAIN TABLE I Total numbers of D VDs submitted in adults-only categories 2001 ZooZ zo03 zo04 zo05 zo06 zo07 zo08 zo09 95 8 ( 167) 879 (106) 83 Z (lIZ) 104 8 95° (zoo) 1°3 1 (z6z) 9°4 ( IZ 9) 660 (9 6) (lz·5%) (17-4%) (IZ.I%) (13.4%) 870 (13 Z ) (15. 1%) (19. I %) (Z5·4%) (14·3%) (14·5%) 211 65 1 ro61 ( 163) 13 87 12 3 1 121 7 897 (15·3%) 14°1 (z59) (18·5%) (z86) (z8 7) (zo.6% ) (Z3·3%) (z93) (Z4· 1%) (Z7. I %) (Z45) (Z7-]%) 86z (z08) (Z4- I %) z 3 z I z 3 2000 '18' 879 calegory (IIo) 'RIB' 2000-9 category (z8) (13· z %) Rejected 4 (45) (6·9%) I 7 Total numbers of DVDs submitted in adults-only categories brackets. Source: BBFC Annual Reports 2000-2009. (z06) (ZI.7%) II59 (3 1 4) I Numbers and percentages cut in THE APPARATUS OF CENSORSHIP However, this book is by no means solely about the BBFC and its modus operandi. Indeed, its whole purpose is to argue that if the operations of film and video censorship in contemporary Britain are to be fully understood, it is absolutely necessary to grasp the nature of the various forces and institutions acting upon the BBFC, as well as the various policies that it enacts itself. These are: the policies of the government of the day, the wider ideological climate, the laws of the land (and in particular the Obscene Publications Act 1959 and the VRA), police and Crown Prosecution Service practice with regard to these laws, the Video Appeals Committee, the media (and in particular the national press), cinema industry interests as represented by the Cinema Exhibitors' Association and the Film Distributors' Association, videojDVD industry interests as represented by the British Video Association and the Video Standards Council, pressure groups such as Mediawatch-UK (the successor to the National Viewers' and Listeners' Association, which was run by Mary Whitehouse),what the BBFC takes to be 'public opinion' on the matter of film and video censorship, and the powers of the local councils over cinema exhibition in their localities. In this respect I am following the approach taken by Annette Kuhn (1988), who warned against regarding censorship as simply something which is carried out by organisations with an explicit institutional remit to censor, and thus isolating censorship practices from their broader social and historical conditions of existence. In her view, such organisations need to be seen 'not in isolation but as both active and acted upon within a wider set of practices and relations' (1988: 6). Censorship, in this view of things, becomes 'something which emerges from the interactions of certain processes and practices' (ibid.), or in Foucault's terms, an apparatus, a dispositif: INTRODUCTION 5 A thoroughly heterogeneous ensemble consisting of discourses, institutions, architectural forms, regulatory decisions, laws, administrative measures, scientific statements, philosophical, moral and philanthropic propositions - in short, the said as much as the unsaid. Such are the elements of the apparatus. The apparatus itself is the system of relations that can be established between these elements. (Foucault 1980: 194) What thus becomes important in any study of censorship is the investigation of 'the nature of the practices, relations and powers involved in film censorship and what these produce - their effectivity - at particular moments in history' (Kuhn 1988: 8). Thus, like Kuhn's study, although set in a very different era, the present book is involved in 'amplifying the number and operational scope of institutions and prohibitions involved in the censorship of films' (ibid.: 126). However, in shifting the focus of attention away from solely the BBFC, I certainly do not wish to suggest that the focus should be solely somewhere else. Not, for example, on the government, although the book in general, and Chapters I I and 14 in particular, strongly suggests that much more attention needs to be paid to the government's role in the censorship process, and that in particular we need to look beyond its law-making function. Certainly the UK is in the anomalous position of having state censorship of video, but the state does not censor or classify videos directly, relying instead on one of those typically British 'arms-length' bodies to carry out the task. Two of the questions which this book tries to answer are: how long is the arm, and what is the nature of its connections to the rest of the body? THE ROLE OF THE PRESS The book also insists repeatedly on the importance of understanding the role of the press in the censorship process, but it most certainly does not argue that hoo-hahs around controversial films, videos and DVDs, with the consequent calls for greater censorship, are simply 'got up' by the press. On the other hand, it would be very hard indeed to imagine the panic over 'video nasties', for example, taking such a firm hold in a country in which the national press was not (I) such a dominant force and (2) so profoundly illiberal and censorious. In many other EU countries it is the local and regional press which predominates, and in most EU countries the dominant ideological complexion of the national press is far more liberal than in Britain. But of course, even newspapers as strident as Britain's cannot, all on their own, ignite the fires of moral panic and indignation and then keep them burning bright. What they can do, however, is provide a megaphone for censorious politicians 6 FILM AND VIDEO CENSORSHIP IN CONTEMPORARY BRITAIN and moral entrepreneurs of one kind or another, and ensure that dissenting voices are not simply ignored in their pages but demonised and marginalised. They can also persuade politicians, especially Labour ones, who appear to wake every morning terrified to discover that the Sun or Daily Mail has portrayed them as 'soft' on law and order, that they represent the voice of 'public opinion'. This is, of course, arrant, self-serving nonsense. As Chapter I I shows by reference to the 1999 British Social Attitudes Survey, and Chapter 13 by reference to various pieces of research carried out for the BBFC, there are numerous different forms of opinion on numerous different forms of film and DVD content. It is all a question of whose opinions are listened to, and by whom. Newspapers habitually invoke 'public opinion' as backing their particular partisan causes, but this is an act of the purest ventriloquism: 'public opinion' on these occasions is quite simply whatever newspapers say it is. However, the crucial point here is that it is this 'opinion' to which politicians and administrators are most sensitised and to which they are most likely to respond by framing policies and enacting legislation - such as the VRA. What we have here, then, is less a circuit of communication, in which the press circulates distorted or indeed false stories and proposes reactionary solutions, the public believes the stories and endorses the solutions, and the state is then able to secure consent for actions which might otherwise appear unacceptably oppressive, than a symbiotic process involving, for the most part, just two sets of actors: the press and politicians. In other words, it's a short-circuit of communication. It is in this respect that Chas Critcher has argued that 'the media are an integral part of a "deviancedefining elite" , (ZOOT 138), and that Richard Ericson et al. claim that, outside this hermeneutic circle, 'everyone else is left to watch, listen to or read the distant representations that form this symbolic spectacle' (198T 351). One can of course blame the press for engaging in distortion, exaggeration and sheer untruthfulness in order to whip up episodes such as the 'video nasty' moral panic, but equally culpable are politicians - of any party - who, partly as result of such newspaper scare stories, rush unwise and ill thoughtout legislation onto the statute books (frequently against their better judgement, it might be added). The Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 provides a particularly acute example of such a law. But this, unfortunately, is the way in which politics is all too often conducted in Britain, and it is a process in which, as this book repeatedly demonstrates, the Daily Mail and the Murdoch press play an absolutely crucial role. Those who downplay the role of the press in British politics either never read illiberal newspapers, and thus do not understand what politicians (including liberal Tory ones) are up against on a daily basis, or they fail to understand the power which the press wields within the incestuous bubble of Whitehall and Westminster politics, in which national newspapers are major, if entirely unaccountable, players. This is INTRODUCTION 7 not a book specifically about the problems posed by the national press for the political system in Britain, but as newspapers, and particularly the Mail, loom large in its pages, it is worth noting what Nick Davies, a highly-experienced British journalist, has to say about the latter in his book Flat Earth News. Of its world view he writes: The Mail is a perfect commodity, designed to be sold to a particular market oflower-middle-class men and women. Its addiction is to them; and if, in order to speak for their interests, the Mail must attack, it will. Black people, poor people, liberals and all kinds of lefties, scroungers, druggies, homosexuals: they will all be attacked. And if it is necessary to attack, too, the rich and the powerful and any political party, including the Conservatives, then so be it. It sells its readers what they want to see in the world. (2008: 370) Of course, newspapers have to survive in the market, and in order to sell sufficient copies they have to appeal to their particular readership. There is nothing necessarily wrong in this, but it can all too easily produce a debased kind of market-driven journalism that is motivated more by what will sell than what will reveal the truth to its readers. And this is what has happened in the case ofthe Mail. As Davies puts it: 'In its relentless pursuit ofthat commercial agenda, it has developed a striking willingness to cut the corners of journalistic integrity, to inject the facts with falsehood and distortion which will please its readers' (2008: 370-r). But most worrying of all is the hold which this deeply flawed journalism exerts over politicians and policy-makers - although again it needs to be emphasised that this is because they allow, and thus encourage, it to do so. Thus Davies reports that 'I've had the chastening experience of publishing long stories on public policy, only to be told by senior civil servants: "Very interesting, but it won't make the slightest difference. Now, if you were on the Mail . ..'" (2008: 365), and concludes that 'its tendency to pursue a single issue with relentless anger, regardless of inaccuracy, makes it more likely than any other outlet to frighten government into changing their policy, whether for better or worse' (ibid.: 3894)0). This book shows that process at work, in detail, in the field offilm and video legislation. It is a sobering thought that the Mail is but the worst offender in this regard (with the Sun running it a close second), and that this process infects political decision-making across the whole spectrum oflaw-andorder legislation, making it virtually impossible to conduct sensible political debates about -let alone liberalise - policy on, for example, drugs, sex education and the criminal justice system. In this respect it really is extremely difficult to l disagree with Alastair Campbell that the Mail is 'a form of evil' and 'a poison in our national political life' (House of Lords 2008: 377). However, Chapter ro demonstrates that it is possible, though not easy, to resist such bullying. 8 FILM AND VIDEO CENSORSHIP IN CONTEMPORARY BRITAIN MORAL PANIC AND MORAL REGULATION Throughout this book, but especially in the first three parts, I frequently have recourse to the notion of moral panic. In recent times, and with some justification, it has been claimed that the term is used too loosely, and in particular that it has sometimes been applied to phenomena about which there is good cause for serious concern (as opposed to some phantasm which is of concern only to the kind of people who read the Mail and the politicians who take it seriously). However, I would argue that the 'video nasty' panic, which so dominates much of this book, displays, with crystal clarity, all the hallmarks of the classic moral panic as famously defined by Stanley Cohen, namely: A condition, episode, person or group of persons emerges to became defined as a threat to societal values and interests; its nature is presented in a stylised and stereotypical fashion by the mass media; the moral barricades are manned by editors, bishops, politicians and other rightthinking people; socially accredited experts pronounce their diagnoses and solutions; ways of coping are evolved or (more often) resorted to; the condition then disappears, submerges or deteriorates and becomes more visible. Sometimes the object of the panic is quite novel and at other times it is something which has been in existence long enough, but suddenly appears in the limelight. Sometimes the panic passes over and is forgotten, except in folklore and collective memory; at other times it has more serious and long-lasting repercussions and might produce such changes as those in legal and social policy or even in the way that society conceives itself. (2002: I) A more pertinent account of the various processes that led to the Video Recordings Act 1984 and to its amendment in 1994 one simply could not • • Imagme. In this context, it is also important to consider the Video Recordings Act as a form of moral regulation. As Alan Hunt has argued: The politics of moral regulation has become increasingly visible over the last two decades. Not only is there a series of persisting traditional moral problems, often with new names, which continue to occupy political and legislative attention - the classic examples being abortion, surrogacy and euthanasia - but a wider and more diverse range of social issues is contested in strongly moralised terms. Most strikingly there is a return to issues that had been prominent at the end of the nineteenth century. (1999: 2) INTRODUCTION 9 Amongst these issues, of course, were the kinds of entertainments to which people, and especially the 'lower orders', were exposing themselves - such as penny gaffs, the music halls and primitive forms of cinema. (For an excellent account of these 'respectable fears', see Pearson (1983).) In this respect, the Video Recordings Act is simply a descendant of all those laws that attempted to regulate what people could actually see, read and hear, foremost amongst which were the 1857 precursor of the present day Obscene Publications Act and the Theatres Act 1843. But up until around the end of World War II, laws such as these could be justified, at least up to a point, by appeal to norms that were supposedly held in common and underpinned by religious beliefs. However, with the twin processes of secularisation and social diversification rapidly gaining pace in the second half of the twentieth century, justifications for criminalising certain forms of behaviour, and particularly certain forms of private behaviour, relied increasingly not simply on their allegedly intrinsic wrongness but on their apparent harmfulness. As Hunt puts it: The 'moral' element in moral regulation involves any normative judgement that some conduct is intrinsically bad, wrong or immoral. It is an important supplement that moralising discourses frequently invoke some utilitarian consideration linking the immoral practice to some form of harm. Such utilitarian elements become increasingly significant as moral discourses become detached from some taken-for-granted religious framework. (1999: 7) Of course, in modern societies, moral regulation is to a great extent a matter of instilling various forms of se(f-discipline within people from an early age. As Nikolas Rose has pointed out: The later development of modern democracy is dependent upon the existence of certain types of subjects, who do not require a continual external policing. The external constraint of police was to be transformed into an internal constraint upon the conduct of the self, the formation of subjects who were prepared to take responsibility for their actions and for whom the ethic of discipline was part of their very mental fabric. (1999: 227) However, modern democratic societies employ what Hunt calls 'multitrack' modes of governance which combine different modes of moral regulation, bringing together a variety of forms of legal compulsion and of selfregulation. In societies in which a generally liberal ideology prevails at governmental level, self-regulation is likely to be the dominant mode, whilst in societies in which the dominant ideology at governmental level tends 10 FILM AND VIDEO CENSORSHIP IN CONTEMPORARY BRITAIN towards the illiberal, legal compulsion is likely to be to the fore. Britain falls fairly and squarely into the latter camp. In order to understand the crucial wider political and ideological background to the events described in this book, let me explain, briefly, why this is so. 'RULES, ORDER AND PROPER BEHAVIOUR' The early 1960s were marked by a series of liberal reforms, mostly put in train by the Labour Home Secretary Roy Jenkins, but also with input from liberal Tories. These included the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality, reform of the abortion and obscenity laws, the abolition of theatre censorship, and making it easier to get divorced. These reforms were exceedingly unpopular with moral traditionalists, and the reaction against them gave a considerable boost to the kind of moral rearmament organisations headed by Mary Whitehouse which played a major role in dubbing 1960s Britain as the Permissive Society, and which loom large in the first part of this book. Always terrified of being painted as 'soft' on law-and-order issues by the Tories and their allies in the illiberal press, Labour gradually abandoned its socially liberal stance and, by the mid 1970s, had begun to drift with the increasingly authoritarian tide. With the rise of Thatcherism in the late 1970S and its consolidation in the 1980s, as David Downes and Rod Morgan put it: The entire period of liberalising achievement by both Conservative and Labour was to be derided by the new right of Thatcher and Tebbit as the 'permissive society', having achieved nothing more than a slackening of authority and an unwanted release of the baser passions. What was, by most standards, a major period of reform promoting greater tolerance and freedom of expression came to figure in the popular press and in rightwing ideology as the source of unprecedented rises in criminality in the 1980s. (199T 109) In the Tories' 1983 general election manifesto, law-and-order issues were not only placed high on the political agenda but were also framed in such a way as to include distinctly moral issues relating to personal, not to say private, behaviour. Thus the manifesto stated that: Dealing with crimes, civil disobedience, violent demonstrations and pornography are not matters for the police alone. It is teachers and parents - and television producers too - who influence the moral standards of the next generation. There must be close co-operation INTRODUCTION II and understanding between the police and the community they serve. (Q!Ioted in Downes and Morgan 199T 94) The rising tide of crime, unrest and social disintegration was thus to be explained not as the inevitable consequence of the government's socially destructive economic programme and of policies enacted on the basis of the bizarre dogma that 'there is no such thing as society', but as the activities of people, usually young people, who are either simply 'evil' or who have not been sufficiently disciplined by their parents, their schools, the police, the courts, or other agencies of social control. The need to be tough on law and order was, of course, a familiar trope of the traditional, pre-Thatcherite Tory Right, but what was different about Thatcherism in this respect was the manner in which law-and-order issues were inflected by the distinctly populist moralism that was one of the hallmarks of the Thatcher regime. As Stuart Hall put it at the start of that regime, such an ideology is where the great syntax of 'good' versus 'evil', of civilised and uncivilised standards, of the choice between anarchy and order, constantly divides up the world and classifies it into its appointed stations. The play on 'values' and on moral issues in this area is what gives the law and order crusade much of its grasp on popular morality and common sense conscience. But it also touches concretely on the experience of crime and theft, of loss of scarce property and fears of unexpected attack in working class areas and neighbourhoods; and, since it promulgates no other remedies for their underlying causes, it welds people to that 'need for authority' which has been so significant for the right in the construction of consent to its authoritarian programme. (198J: 38) However, from its inception under Tony Blair in 1994, 'New Labour' followed an almost identical line, not simply in order to wrong-foot the Tories on law and order (as in the case of the amendment to the VRA in the wake of the Bulger murder, discussed in Chapter 7) but also out of sheer ideological conviction. Indeed, when in 2004 Blair launched the government's five-year strategy for the criminal justice system and the Home Office, he announced specifically that that this 'marks the end of the 1960s liberal social consensus on law and order'. Although he noted positive aspects of the 1960s, he also stated 'it was John Stuart Mill who articulated the modern concept that with freedom comes responsibility. But in the 1960s revolution, that didn't always happen', adding that, as a result, 'a society of different lifestyles spawned a group of young people who were brought up without parental discipline, without proper role models and without any sense of responsibility for others'. He went on:

Author Julian Petley Isbn 0748625399 File size 46MB Year 2011 Pages 192 Language English File format PDF Category Art Book Description: FacebookTwitterGoogle+TumblrDiggMySpaceShare How does film and video censorship operate in Britain? Why does it exist? And is it too strict? Starting in 1979, the birth of the domestic video industry – and the first year of the Thatcher government – this critical study explains how the censorship of films both in cinemas and on video and DVD has developed in Britain. As well as presenting a detailed analysis of the workings of the British Board of Film Classification, Petley casts his gaze well beyond the BBFC to analyse the forces which the Board has to take into account when classifying and censoring. These range from laws such as the Video Recordings Act and Obscene Publications Act, and how these are enforced by the police and Crown Prosecution Service and interpreted by the courts, to government policy on matters such as pornography. In discussing a climate heavily coloured by 30 years of lurid ‘video nasty’ stories propagated by a press which is at once censorious and sensationalist and which has played a key role in bringing about and legitimating one of the strictest systems of film and video/DVD censorship in Europe, this book is notable for the breadth of its contextual analysis, its critical stance and its suggestions for reform of the present system.     Download (46MB) Mobility and Migration in Film and Moving Image Art: Cinema Beyond Europe Army Film and the Avant Garde: Cinema and Experiment in the Czechoslovak Military Deleuze, Japanese Cinema, and the Atom Bomb: The Spectre of Impossibility Japanese Period Film: A Critical Analysis Audiences: Defining And Researching Screen Entertainment Reception Load more posts

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