2006 Abstracts Stage 2

Censorship of Violent Films 1975 – 2006

Sam Williamson, 2006, Stage 2

Territory: Having watched the short surrealist film ‘Un Chien Andalou’ (1929) I began to consider how the explicit violence demonstrated in slicing a woman’s eye had affected its audience. How would the censors react to such a film today? With this in mind I began to watch a series of controversial violent films, which had been produced from the late 1970’s to present day that had caused the British Board of Film Classification to take swift censorship action. My territory therefore is the change in censorship of violent films between the years 1975 and 2006.
Aims and Objectives: In this project I will aim to show that the many incarnations of censorship over the years are entirely contradictory and do not achieve the aims the B.B.F.C. intends of them. In addition to this I aim to demonstrate that the notion of violence has been severely misunderstood and discredited through ignorant dogma and that it is in fact a necessary and active part of human consciousness. Having watched a short catalogue of films, such as the Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1976) the Evil Dead (1981) and Fight Club (1999), I looked at how they had been viewed by the B.B.F.C. and what actions had been taken. From here I looked at how things such as the invention of the video cassette recorder and the internet had created an impact on the censorship of films.
Philosophical Ideas. The main philosophical concepts that were drawn upon come from Georges Bataille, while thinkers Bandura conducted experiments to see how television violence affected children’s behaviour. Bataille argues that eroticism, violence and transgression will ultimately defeat the taboos of society and that they are the key to changing bourgeois attitudes. This will be held in contrast to Moralist thinkers such as Mary Whitehouse and Margaret Thatcher!
Overview. A basic study of the relationship between film censorship and violence. How censorship justifies its position through psychological, sociological and philosophical means. How film censorship cannot achieve its aims. How violence is an important part of the human consciousness. By utilising violence we can transgress bourgeois attitudes as indicated by Bataille, thus removing unwarranted taboo and dogma in society.

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