BBFC_LogoTo those that lived through the dark periods of the BBFC, the Video Nasties debacle and beyond, the current classification/censorship situation in the UK may well seem like something of a dream scenario. Week after week previously banned films are released uncut, possibly surprisingly nuanced decisions are being made – the 15 certificate for Kick Ass, for instance – and the BBFC are providing the public with a great deal of information regarding their decisions. Taking a look at the BBFC website one finds a plethora of information about certification decisions and a number of documents relating to research and processes. David Cooke, the current Director of the BBFC, even blogs at The Huffington Post.

It may well seem like a new dawn for transparency and freedom of artistic expression, but recent decisions by the BBFC and published documents relating to the body have got many film fans worried that we are actually in a very troubling situation in the UK. Following the difficulties surrounding the classification of A Serbian Film and the rejection of films such as The Human Centipede II and The Bunny Game it is clear that the BBFC have an issue with a perceived new wave of films dealing with sexual violence.

The terminology surrounding these high profile cases has made its way into many classifications though, with explanations including phrases such as “Contains no material likely to offend or harm”  (The Spirit of ’45 – classified U) appearing in films in the lower categories. What do the BBFC mean by harm and how do they know what will or won’t cause offence? These are the kind of questions that I would like answered by a compulsory classification board that charges distributors and controls the way in which we see films in the UK.

There have been inroads into better understanding the way in which the BBFC make decisions and what research they use. The most recent and high profile piece of research commissioned by the BBFC led to a great deal of criticism though – I wrote a lengthy piece on the research here – and has done more to concern those keeping a close eye on the BBFC than put their minds at ease.

This research is part of a larger effort on the part of the BBFC to assess their recent classifications and make decisions regarding future policies. One of my biggest criticisms of the recent research – there are many – was that the sample size was very small, something that the BBFC have stressed is related to that research being a qualitative study, but the BBFC are now conducting another study that aims to poll the opinions of a much greater number of people. You can head here and fill out the survey, if you haven’t done so already.

Please do, I think it’s very important.

Done it? Good. One issue that you may have noticed with the survey, and it’s something that I have seen many complaints about on Twitter, is that it leaves very little room to offer your opinion about the same things that were asked of the smaller group, or indeed any other comments that you may have. Dependant on the answers given you may have seen a box that gave you room to write in a longer response to one of the questions or you may have just had boxes to tick. If you’ve got anything else to say there’s no option for further comments, something that is a standard on most surveys of this type.

So, we at HeyUGuys would like to offer you our comments section to write what you didn’t have the opportunity to say in the survey. We will then be passing on your comments to the BBFC. These comments have the potential to influence the way in which the BBFC make decisions and we will be providing the BBFC some space here to reply to your comments should they so desire.

I hand it over to you…