Film censorship has always been a controversial issue. Since 1912 when the BBFC brought out the first film classification guidelines. This was to control what the public saw. It was seen as a way of stopping harm, especially to children, which they may get when exposed to certain images and experiences. The board produced classification guidelines based on what was allowed by law to be shown and also what they saw as public expectations. The fact that there was a need for film classification and censorship backed up the hypodermic theory.
I decided to look at Natural Born Killers and A Clockwork Orange. Oliver Stone presented Natural Born Killers to the MPAA. (Motion Picture Association of America) It is one of the most controversial films of recent years, the reaction from the press almost as exaggerated & extreme as the imagery in the film. It was immediately demanded that several hundred scenes were removed, due to them containing cruel and nasty violence.
This cutting diminished the point Stone was trying to make that violence is neither fun nor cool. The approved cut of the film means many of the killings don’t make complete sense.In 1994 the film was banned from being shown in cinemas in Ireland and when a private members club tried to screen it the censorship boar threatened legal action. Vidmark Video released the director’s cut, after Warner Bros refused to distribute it, as it was an unrated tape.
The Directors cut contains more than 150 shots that were removed from the version shown in cinemas, and also an alternative ending. A Clockwork Orange is a story about the conflict between the individual and society. Alex represents the individual, our own individuality, completely self-centred, completely free, unfettered by socially constructed morality.To make an effective story, Alex’s behaviour has to be extreme, to maximize the conflict we feel, to force us to think more deeply about the issues at hand, or maybe to force the idea of the importance of free will more deeply into our psyche. A Clockwork Orange was released in the USA and originally given an X certificate equivalent to an 18, as it was seen to feature explicit sex and extensive graphic violence.
It was first shown in January 1972, but by October it was withdrawn from exhibition for 60 days and changed to an R rated movie, this meant two excplicit scenes were replaced. (R- Restricted: Children under 17 not admitted unless accompanied by a parent or adult guardian) The film was banned completely in Britain for almost 30 years from 1971 to 1999.A Clockwork Orange was linked to many crimes around the time of release. One case involved a 16 year old boy who beat an elderly tramp to death, the boy claimed his friends had told him about the film and about how they beat up an old tramp in it. Another case involved another boy aged 16 who dressed like one of the characters in the film and attacted a younger boy of 15.
Again the violence was linked back to being influenced by the film. Cases like these are evidence to back up the Hypodermic model, this is where the media is seen to have a powerful, negative effect on the audience. Both cases linked directly back to the film and it is assumed that the same actions wouldn’t have been commited if either boy didn’t know about the film.
The film cause such a stir in 1971 possibly because it seemed to belong to a different decade, it was set in the future and the ironic use of violence and rape had never been seen before in cinemas. The incredible thing about this movie is that thirty years after its controversial first release to the widespread banning, provoking of gang violence, which was when Kubrick decided to withdraw the film from release, it has lost none of its insane, shocking power. The movie had many scenes based upon the very sensitive subject of rape, but were allowed to be showed as didn’t promote the idea that there can be pleasure in forced sex.