Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Patron Eyes

I saw a bit of footage from the first Terminator movie yesterday. It was a scene that, at the time in 1984, I’d realised was hokey and fake looking but we’d put up with it as, hey! there was nothing better out there. It’s the scene where the killer robot sent back to perform the retroactive abortion, is taking his damaged eye out. It’s blatantly a prosthetic effect and while a very good one that looks a LOT like Arnie Schwarz, it’s still also quite obviously phony.

This made me remember the ludicrous censorshit that we had to put up with back in the day. The day being the 80s and 90s.

The BBFC or British Board of Film Classification, were the knights Templar of appropriate viewing at the cinema and later on home video (this was WAY before DVDs and when Blu-Ray was a type of jellyfish). You couldn’t see shagging, someone getting shot or anything involving ninjas.

Think I’m joking? OK, here’s a few examples.

While “soft” porn was semi-on, (did you see what I did there?) you couldn’t see an erect cock, a pussy or penetration. You also couldn’t see a guy cum. This basically meant that porn was tits and occasionally a bit of pubes (back then they were heavy on the Tarzan look for genitalia).

If someone was shot in a film, you had to have the weapon being fired from one angle and a second perspective of the bullet actually hitting the person. First film that I can remember watching with both bits in the same take was Kevin Costner’s shit, aquatic Mad Max rip-off Waterworld.

The then-head of the UK censorship board was a puritanical little cunt named James Ferman (now thankfully long dead) who had a personal grudge against ninja movies. Anything involving throwing stars, nunchakus or the more exotic weapons had to be trimmed to nothingness or show in the most fleeting way imaginable. So any and all references to these weapons were cut before the films were released. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was distributed in the UK as Teenage Mutant HERO Turtles, minus 20 minutes of footage involving the more bizarre fighting implements of the shadowy warriors. Even the word "ninja" was naughty.

Similarly the Tom Hanks movie Dragnet was cut in the UK because it had a brief clip of a billboard advertising the Bruce Lee legend Enter The Dragon. Reason? It was the picture of him holding the dreaded nunchakus. A later, HEAVILY edited version of the movie had the chain sticks changed to a wooden staff.

Ferman was on record as saying that any use of this lethal implement in a film would result in teenage boys the country over, going around chopping the legs off wooden chairs and nailing bits of chain between them to spin around like the legendary inventor of Wing Chun.

The underlying message with all of this utter bollocks was that with porn, the public couldn’t be trusted to see other people fucking and not go out blind with sex lust and want to rape the nearest thing with a vagina that they came across.

With being shot it was considered way too traumatising to see the gunman, gun and impact of bullet in the same camera angle (why for fuck’s sake?)

With ninjas it was…well, actually I have no sodding idea.

Ferman also had a hard-on for The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and wouldn’t let it be released at all while he was president of censorshit. He made the filmmakers change the name of Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers to simple “Hollywood Hookers” just in case it reminded people of Tobe Hooper’s inbred redneck horror classic.

Ferman was a reincarnation of Oliver Cromwell. He knew best, no one knew more than him and he would keep the minds of the general public of the UK clear of filth. It was bad enough he did it with kids’ films, but he also felt that adults needed protecting too and was as, or even more, zealous in his approach to those of us eligible to vote. The vile little turd was once quoted as saying that a scene in Mel Gibson’s Lethal Weapon 2, where Martin Riggs murders two gangsters in a revenge attack (clip I’ve since seen and it’s glorious) had to be censored and came up with the justification “this man is a police officer and is required to set an example.”

Bottome line. If Ferman hates, it, it don’t make it.**

This patronising, nanny approach to the nation’s viewing pleasure and lack of, meant that retards, school teachers, my mother’s friends and tabloid newspapers would shout about “video nasties” and how a murder involving some poor sod being tied to a bed, tortured for 3 days and then burned to death…was DEFINITELY because the killers possibly probably maybe could have seen Child’s Play 3.

After Ferman retired things began to relax a bit. The BBFC took the unprecedented step of actually asking the public what they wanted and the majority of people spoken with, came back to say they didn’t like being told what adults could watch, but accepted that kids’ films needed restrictions and films not intended for kids needed to be kept out of their reach.

In the last 18 or so years since cunt face got his gold watch, we have had hardcore porn slip quietly onto the scene (pussies, facials, the whole shebang), torture banquets like the “Hostel” and “Saw” franchises go out completely unedited, and only EXTREMELY unpleasant shit like Human Centipede 2***, facing the mild wrath of a muchly liberated censorship board.

A friend of mine went for a job as a BBFC censor about 8 years ago and I met him for a pint after his assessment day****. With him was a senior censor who had worked with Ferman. He smiled as I began to rant about Ferman being a twat but summed it up with “like Thatcher, he was in power for too long and it went to his head. But you have to realise that he GENUINELY believed that he was doing the right thing, like a Headmaster at a private school.”

The main problem with all this was that the majority of people are stupid and believe what they are told. A second, more dangerous group, read the arguments surrounding movies or music or comics making people commit crimes and believe it as it sounds intellectual. However, like the Daily Mail, it’s garbage dressed as blue ribbon food. These people are thick too, but don’t know it (and will react with venom and insults to your ethics if you point this out).

You tell people that Driller Killer makes people commit crimes, they will accept it. You inform them that watching Cum Swapping Sluts 7 will make men become rapists, they will tell you (while waggling their forefingers at you) that it is a cast iron truth.

Even as a teenager I found it ludicrous that one man could, in a supposed democracy, have so much power to tell millions of others what they could and couldn’t see. The censor I met specifically said “when all of us had a shared opinion, but Ferman had the opposite, he’d use his power of veto to get his own way.”

Trying to debate this issue with the stupid is a lost cause. They will invariably say something like “you can’t tell me that Rambo and what Michael Ryan did aren’t very similar!” or “do you think it’s nice to watch people getting torn apart?”

Now, most of this shit has thankfully been put out to pasture along with Ferman’s memory. I watched 3 episodes of TV show Sons of Anarchy tonight. Violent as hell but wonderfully acted. Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead excel in gore and violence (poor Prince Oberyn) while the now-finished Spartacus had Battiatus taking one of his slave girls up the ass, just because it turned his wife on^*. Not to mention that horrible sequence where they tie a bloke up and cut his tongue out and then take turns cutting bits off him…forever ensuring they don’t cut  too deep in case he bleeds out.

But I digress….

The Terminator’s self surgery in the first movie was blatantly fake but when shown on TV was edited so you didn’t actually see the scalpel cut into the plastic puppet’s eyeball. Even then we knew it was fake, but the patronisers who think they know best just had to cut it in case it traumatised us.

What’s replaced all this? Why racism and homophobia of course. When Emily Parr used the word “nigger” on Big Brother a few years back she was righteously evicted and hated for about a week by cretins the nation over. Even though she said it without malice to a friend she was chatting with and was trying to be hip.

Ahhh, but the context is unimportant you see. She was blatantly a latent racist and her nasty white supremacist ways bubbled to the surface.

Homophobic remarks on Twitter have got a few footballers in trouble.

Load of utter cobblers.

Horror and shagging are now OK. Naughty words of a racial nature are now the things that will lead to cannibalism, necrophilia and even World War 3 if not corrected.

The shit’s different, the stupidity is the same.

All hail the age of the moron.


** Unless if was "arthouse". A movie named Salo: The 120 Days of Sodom involving the torture and murder of teenagers plus people eating shit at a banquet was OK. Apparently unemployed wife beaters wouldn't be watching this type of thing.

***  I've read what they originally cut out. To be fair it IS a bit grim.

**** He was green in the face, nursing his pint and shaking his head repeatedly. He'd apparently spent the entire day watching hardcore gay porn. As a straight guy he'd found it a chore.

^* I refuse to refer to this scene as a rape as it wasn't, by the standards of the Roman era. Slaves were property and had no rights so therefore couldn't be raped. Get it?


  1. Amazing post. I certainly remember reading about Video nasties. I remember that chap at the beginning of films on a green screen advising us this film contained violence etc

  2. One of the worst censorship issues I ever encountered was the original Dawn of the Dead movie (yeah the 1979 one not the new 2004 one) anyways the amount of gore cut out've the UK version was insane ... there's a scene on the stairs during SWAT raid where a zombie bites some bird on her neck and blood gushes out like a burst damn .... some arse cut that out ... loads more stuff in the movie went the same way .... pissed me right off! ........... still its better these days ... I guess some things do improve as the years go by ....


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