Thursday, August 31, 2006

Sexual violence

An interesting reply to Nick's letter to Ofcom, but the announcement yesterday that the UK government is going to legislate against downloaders of representations of 'sexual violence' is also worrying. (See:

I don't like the idea (or the practice) of any kinds of violent acts towards men, women, children or animals, whether for sexual motives or any other and like most people, I'm sure, I feel for the mother who lost her daughter because of the actions of a violent man. However, as any media student ought to know, deciding on the meaning of media representations of any actions is a complex business. Who is going to do it? There are plenty of people who engage in consensual acts of simulated sexual violence and some who actually get pleasure from receiving pain (and who therefore need others to adminster it). Are they going to be imprisoned for exploring their fetish? It is going to be difficult to distinguish real from simulated violence. I just hope that legislation isn't passed on the basis that it is too difficult to distinguish between consensual and forced 'sexual violence'.

On the whole, I think the BBFC now does a pretty good job in classifying films and responding to public tastes. However, I'm a little baffled by the decision to make The Notorious Bettie Page an 18 Certificate film. Mary Harron's film is not what some audiences expected and it might be criticised for leaving out some aspects of the Bettie Page story, but what she did decide to present is not likely to corrupt anyone in my view. I guess it must be because the subject matter includes fetish material and that this must be kept away from 16-17 year-olds? If the movie does anything (and I think it manages quite a few ideas) it satirises American society's attitudes towards sex in the 1950s. Perhaps we will need something similar if the criminalisation of sexual activity is extended in the UK?

Governments, especially this one, are prone to create new legislative powers without thinking very long or very clearly. I hope they get this one right.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Tom and Jerry

One of the most disturbing events this summer was Time-Warner's agreement to cut smoking out of 'children's' cartoons after Ofcom requested them to do so, apparently after one parent's complaint. I can't find any info on Ofcom's site regarding this ludicrous decision; Tom apparently rolls a cigarette in order to impress a 'dame'. No doubt the parent's nipper(s) was so impressed by this that they will go on to become a smoker: the 'effects' theory is alive and having an undue influence on policy still (my guess is Tom's ploy failed and so if the 'effects' theory is correct the child would not have become a smoker).

I think this amounts to an Orwellian rewriting of history and am going to complain to Ofcom.