Ben Howard and Dan Auty over at Mondo Movie make a brief mention of British media scares around violent films in their latest podcast, in this case the furore that surrounded the release of Man Bites Dog, Reservoir Dogs and the Bad Lieutenant in 1992. Ben and Dan are steeped in exploitation cinema and have a much longer relationship with it than I have, having been part of the ‘zine scene in the 1980s and 1990s, and seem quite unconcerned about these panics. Their take is that these things happen from time to time and never amount to much.
They point out that violent video games are now taking much of the attention away from violent films, most recently illustrated by censorial dithering and media outcry over Manhunt 2, which has finally been granted a release. Most of the fuss around video games seems to be centred on their availability to children. New laws are being mooted which will toughen up present regulations on selling violent video games to children under 18.
This is a welcome change in the parameters of the debate. Whereas in the past films were banned because of the possibility they could fall into children’s hands, now talk is of tougher policing of 18 certificates, stiffer fines for retailers and the possibility of prosecuting parents who buy 18 certificate games for their children. This much more sensible approach treats adults as adults while protecting children, and is to be welcomed.