June 8, 2011

Bad Taste Is Not a Crime

Look, all I know about The Human Centipede I know from South Park. And that, really, is too much.* I’ve never really been into horror movies and have absolutely no interest in the nouveau torture porn that’s become profitable these days. Still, you know, different strokes and all that. If that’s what entertains you, have at it. I’m not in a position to stop you. But the British Board of Film Classification is.

Per the Guardian, the Board has “denied an 18 certificate” to The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence):
for fears it poses a 'real risk' to cinemagoers.

The BBFC refusal means it cannot be legally supplied anywhere in the UK – even on DVD or download.
The Board also suggested that the film might be legally obscene. To be fair, everybody knew this might be an issue:
In the original 'Human Centipede' a mad scientist surgically fuses three hostages from mouth to anus so that their bodies form one continuous digestive tract. Reviewing the film for The New York Times, Jeannette Catsoulis described it as a 'must-see for coprophiliacs and spanking enthusiasts,' noting that Mr. Six has promised a sequel that will make his original film 'look like 'My Little Pony.''
Apparently, Six has delivered. The Guardian article provides some description of what’s on offer in the sequel and it does indeed sound depraved. And if theater owners didn’t want to show it or no distributor wanted to pick up the film based on that depravity, so be it. You’ve got no right to have other people sell your movie, after all.

But what’s really obscene is the British government saying nobody, even fully competent adults, are free to see it. At least the MPAA system, for all its fucked upness, is advisory (in theory – try catching a NC-17 flick at your local multiplex). I’ve not nothing against making sure that the viewing public knows what they’re getting when they buy a ticket. But the ultimate decision to see it or not, in a free country, rests with the viewer, not the state.

One thing the Board’s decision has done is given the film the aura of the forbidden. People who’ve never heard of it and would never have seen it will now want to.  It certainly appears to play into Six's marketing strategy.  And if the Board thinks it can keep the film from reaching British shores in the file-sharing Internet age, it’s beyond tyrannical. It’s delusional.

* All you need to know comes from Cartman’s gleeful observation “It does e-mail and web browsing and it shits in Kyle’s mouth? This is the greatest thing that has ever been invented!”

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