On Friday I have a private members bill to shake up the system of film and video classification. Official crime figures suggest that rape has increased tenfold in the past 25 years. David Cameron has commented:
“…the companies which make music videos, films and computer games have a social responsibility not to promote casual violence, the gang culture and the degradation of women.”
The Ministry of Justice published a paper last September, based on 124 independent studies from around the world, which concluded that viewing hard core porn led to:
… “…belief that women enjoy or desire rape and a lack of empathy with rape victims and
… rape myth acceptance, pro rape attitudes and self-reported likelihood to use force …”
I have done some digging and found lots of concrete examples of horrifying copy cat behaviour. One example is the horrendous murder of little James Bulger by ten year old boys. The trial judge, Justice Moreland, commented on the ‘striking resemblance’ the murder bore to one of the whole library of violent videos found in the household of one of the child murderers. Another is an episode of the TV drama Casualty which contained a storyline about a paracetamol overdose. Research showed that self-poisoning increased by 17% in the week following the broadcast. One in five of those patients said that it had influenced their decision to attempt suicide.
Yet the BBFC, who are responsible for films, video, DVDs and video games, are passing more and more violent material like. SS experiment camp. This is a film whose own promotional material makes its content pretty clear. I quote:
“Female political prisoners are brought to von Kleiben’s secret camp to have sex with Wehrmacht troops as part of a breeding study – at least the compliant, beautiful ones, that is. The plain Janes and the uncooperative experience a course of cruel experiments by von Klieben’s lesbian assistant.”
The film “Irreversible” includes a rape scene, which runs for nine consecutive minutes. If you type “irreversible rape” into Google, five of the top ten links are to clips of the rape scene alone. The actress in question is by any standards good-looking. If this is not glamorising rape then it is difficult to imagine what would be.
My bill aims to make the British Board of Film Classification accountable to Parliament. It would give a Parliamentary committee the power to review and veto key appointments and the guidelines the BBFC works to. It would also introduce a new Parliamentary appeal against videos – at the moment the only appeals allowed are by the industry in favour of them. In Australia anyone can appeal.
Of course pretty soon it will only be the internet which matters but – by suggesting ways of setting boundaries – my bill aims to start to role back our growing culture of violence and rape.