Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Watching paint dry – a waste of time on so many levels

I've always thought censorship was something that happened in other countries, like Iran or China, but apparently this guy thinks Britain is some kind of police state where the general public are denied the right to watch anything and everything they please.

Charlie Lyne raised a load of cash via kickstarter to help him submit a ten-hour video of paint drying (in 4K no less) to the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) so that he could get a certificate that would allow him to show the film in cinemas. This is his way of protesting at the whole process and the fact that it costs roughly £1000 to get certification for a feature film (which you need for public screenings).

What a plonker.

I get what he's doing. It's a protest against censorship and a clever way of gaining publicity, but I think he misses the point completely.

The BBFC is a non-profit organisation originally set up by the film industry itself. It's not literally controlled by the government, so no we don't have a state censor. Their job is mainly to protect children from watching unsuitable content and I can't but help thinking that is a good thing. Film classification serves to inform parents about what their kids should or shouldn't watch and it saves them having to vet every single film or TV programme.

What seems obvious to me is that if the BBFC do 'censorship' then it only applies to cinemas anyway. Anyone with an internet connection can watch pretty much anything they want and OK, GCHQ might be spying on them, but that's a separate issue.

These days I hardly ever watch anything that's an '18' and sometimes '15' rated films can be a bit full on. I'm happy for the BBFC to cut bits here and there if they deem them 'too much' (I mean, does cutting a few frames here and there make that much of a difference?), but doesn't Charlie realise that standards have changes enormously since the BBFC began in 1912? Back when I was a kid, '18' films were regarded as incredibly illicit containing all sorts of naughty stuff - I'm sure some of those films could pass as a '12' if rated today.

If Charlie really wants to make a movie with excessive gore, violence and sex (and can justify it from an artistic perspective – although I'm not sure one can) then he can still show his film in a cinema if he really wants, because local councils have the final say on what gets shown anyway (with or without a certificate).

So, this guy has just wasted almost six grand on making a point that didn't need making.

Nice one, chuck.

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