David Martin looks at the decision by the BBFC to ban Hate Crime in the UK, why were they wrong to do so?...
The decision yesterday by the BBFC to ban Hate Crime has really annoyed me, more than that it as incensed me. Not because I am one of those people that believes that there shouldn't be any form of censorship or that I dislike an all powerful board room full of suits telling me what I can and cant watch. OK, there may be a little bit of truth in the last comment. Actually, its more to do with the political correctness that has infected our society like some insidious, creeping zombie like plague. The James Cullen Bressack directed Hate Crime joins only three other films that have been banned in the UK since 2009. The Bunny Game, Grotesque and NF713 currently have a complete ban due to scenes of sexual torture or abuse which are not given any context or are deemed to graphic. The Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence) was originally banned and then released with substantial cuts to gain it the 18 certificate. I actually agree with the decisions the BBFC made in these cases as non contextualised sexual violence or torture serves no purpose other than to titillate. No one needs to see that sort of thing and gore for gores sake does not a good horror film make.
What noticeably separates Hate Crime from the other banned films it shares a shelf with is context, IE it has one. In addition to this rather important point is that Hate Crime does not feature nor does it show graphic scenes of torture neither does it show any nudity or sexual content. Hate Crime is an uncomfortable watch and certainly not to everyones taste but it deserves a release. I believe that the reasons the BBFC have given for banning Hate Crime don't add up and I have to assume that more is behind this. This is the BBFC's official reason for banning Hate Crime:
"It is the Board’s carefully considered conclusion that the unremitting manner in which HATE CRIME focuses on physical and sexual abuse, aggravated by racist invective, means that to issue a classification to this work, even if confined to adults, would be inconsistent with the Board’s Guidelines, would risk potential harm, and would be unacceptable to broad public opinion.”
I wholeheartedly agree with the BBFC guidelines, in principle at least, no one wants to support the release of a film which could put an individual or individuals at risk. As to whether a film could actually achieve this on its own is very much a cause for debate. However, the BBFC guidelines that have been forced to Hate Crime don't entirely fit. Hate Crime documents, by use of the real life or found footage format, an unprovoked attack on a Jewish family by two Neo Nazi thugs. High on meths they break into the families home and proceed to terrorise and torture them. As they take control of the camera the Neo Nazis rants to camera and actions are clearly confused and greatly influenced by the substance they have both taken. The violence and torture are accompanied by a barrage of racial abuse and the sexual violence makes for uncomfortable viewing. Yet it is implied violence and there is no nudity shown onscreen. It has been a widely held belief both with horror fans and film fans generally that implied violence when supported by unrelenting menace is a far more potent mix than simply showing everything. The less is more maxim can certainly be effective and it is something I would love to see used more within the horror genre. Hate Crime utilises this device in such an effective way that the viewers mind has already imagined far worse than anything that could be shown. Hate Crime is an unrelenting and violent film with the racial abuse the family are subjected to deeply upsetting and it needs to be.
We live in a world where right wing factions threaten our lives and our liberty and we seem powerless to prevent their violence. Instead, the leaders of our land shake their heads and release well meaning statements denouncing violence and the actions of the few against the many. Yet still and with unrelenting speed and intention those groups that believe they are right take lives, innocent blood is spilt and as we view yet another atrocity we are driven to despair. The rise of IS and the mass genocide they are visiting on those that don't surrender to their twisted world view is horrific. Many people fear the shadow of Islam and, wrongly, group all Muslims into the same blood thirsty ideology. This is not a new thing, indeed, it is a very very old thing. As long as man has walked the earth he has been accompanied by blood lust and violence. Some refer to it as the mark of Cain, a reference to the Christian based first example of murder others will talk about the atrocities committed in many wars and of course then there's the big one. The Holocaust, during the Second World War, that claimed hundreds of thousands of lives and took away the liberty of many more. The Nazi world view was vile and effectively attempted to destroy an entire nation of people. Hate Crime is relevant because the Nazi world view is still with us and it rather than the film is what threatens and places us at risk. Hate Crime shines an uncomfortably strong light onto an under belly of society which shuns public attention. It hides, growing stronger with the ignorance it thrives on and resurfaces briefly only to once again hide in the shadows.
Look at the attacks in Paris or witness the rhetoric by some of our more, right wing politicians. Now, I am not suggesting for second that any of those holding political office would wish death on those they disagree with but the ideal or mind set that starts the slide into bloody madness is also the cause of the risk. The BBFC wish to protect the public and safe guard them against films they deem could incite violence. Really? do they really believe that viewing Hate Crime will mean that huge swathes of our community will seek out Jewish groups and visit murderous crimes upon their persons? Its an insane view and its an insane decision. Hate Crime doesn't deserve the ban because it has been scape goated as the instigator of violent and dangerous behaviour when what the film does is show us the people that already find this behaviour acceptable. Thankfully, and due to the Internet, the film can be viewed and so it must be. Ignorance of the dangers in our world wont save us, we must be aware of those that threaten to take life otherwise history just loops in an endless waste of life.
Having spoken to Phil Wheat from Nerdly it is clear that Hate Crime does not justify Anti Semitic crime or any other racially motivated violence. It is just seeks to show that this violence is prevalent and in our World now. The BBFC have missed the political and anti racial messages in Hate Crime, whether this is deliberate or pure ignorance remains to be seen.
Rethink your decision, BBFC, you have really screwed this one up!
Follow David Martin on Twitter at @Ventspleen2014
Photos from Wikipedia and Nerdly