Tuesday, 26 June 2007


By Fatmir Terziu
n a mature democracy there will always be debate about the role of censorship. It is unavoidable. In the age of the Internet and 24-hour news services, we see and hear things from which were protected even 20 years ago. A new language was brought into being to soften the reality of censorship and never have so many synonyms for “censorship” or “cut” been assembled outside the pages of a thesaurus: “restriction”, “suppression”, “control”, “cutting”, “editing”, “bowdlerization”, or “expurgation” have been used. For Wajda it can be seen as product of two types of censorship, “internal censorship and “external censorship, which is exercised under constraint by various institutions” (Wajda; 1997:107). Sean Clarke explains how British censorship works:

“The Home Office, the Department of Culture Media and Sport, the British board of film classification, local councils and film distributors all have a say in what you can and can't see on videos and cinema screens in the UK” (Clarke; 2002).

Randall argues “it can almost be said that anything censored as late as the early 1960’s would be licensed today, and that almost anything censored today would not even have been produced for public exhibition as late as the early sixties” (Randall; 1968:228). A flood of videos featuring sex has caused a jump in the number of cuts made by the British Board of Film Classification. As well as pornographic videos, the BBFC has now started to pass mainstream films featuring sex such as Baise-Moi and The Pornographer. Baise-Moi was cut and that was for scenes of sexual violence (BBC News: 2002). Michael Winterbottom’s 9 Songs (2004), which shocked Cannes with its graphic scenes of unsimulated sex and one of the most sexually explicit film in UK cinema history has been passed uncut and granted an 18 certificate by the British Board of Film Classification and was called to BBFC explanation “exceptionally justified by context” while the certificate comes with the advice that the film “contains frequent strong real sex” (Guardian unlimited, 2004).
I propose to try to show how films and videos “justified by context” influenced the lives of the audiences as well as the subjects of UK.

BBC News (Wednesday, 29 May, 2002) Sex Videos Cause Cuts Surge,
BBC News, http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/film/2013411.stm
(accessed: 17 October 2006).
Clarke, Sean (2002) British Censorship Works, Guardian Unlimited (Wednesday
March 13, 2002).
Guardian Unlimited (2004) Winterbottom’s 9 Songs, which shocked Cannes with its
Graphic scenes… (Tuesday October 19, 2004).
Randall, S. Richard (1968) Censorship of the Movies the Social and Political Control
Have a Mass Medium, London & Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press.
Wajda, Andrzej (1997) Two Types of Censorship in Ruth Petrie and Sheila Whitaker’s (ed.) Film and Censorship, London: Casell.

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