Advert censor bans Christmas card for the use of strong language. Isn't this unjustified and disproportionate censorship exactly what the Human Rights Act is meant to protect us from?
20th March 2013. See article
See Amazon defends use of swear word in ad as 'light-hearted'
to buy the card with plenty of others to pick from.
Article 10: Freedom of Expression
- Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless
of frontiers. This Article shall not prevent States from requiring the licensing of broadcasting, television or cinema enterprises.
- The exercise of these freedoms, since it carries with it duties and responsibilities, may be subject to such formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society, in the
interests of national security, territorial integrity or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, for the protection of the reputation or rights of others, for preventing the disclosure of information
received in confidence, or for maintaining the authority and impartiality of the judiciary.
Given that the non-threatening use of the word 'cunt' is perfectly legal and commonplace on the street, on post watershed TV, and in 15 rated films, then it is clear the part 2 exclusions simply do not apply.
An internet ad for a Christmas card, displayed on www.amazon.co.uk, featured an image of the card, on which text stated YOU'RE A CUNT SORRY, I MEANT TO SAY 'MERRY CHRISTMAS' . Text alongside the image stated YOU'RE A C*NT
Sorry, I meant to say 'Merry Christmas' - Greeting/Christmas Card by SMELLYOURMUM .
A complainant challenged whether the ad was inappropriate and offensive.
Smellyourmum.com (SYM) believed the use of the word cunt should be considered in the specific context of it appearing on a humorous card intended for close friends or family; in that context it was simply the set-up to the punchline
of the gag. It was not offensive and did not single out any groups of people based on ethnicity, religion, appearance or other characteristics. SYM said that when used with a positive qualifier, in this case Merry Christmas , the word could convey
a positive sense of the person or object referred to, and they understood that the origins of the word were non-offensive. They said a documentary devoted to the word had been broadcast on the BBC and they believed that if it was acceptable to broadcast a
documentary which used the word repeatedly and which had greater reach than their advertising in terms of audience, it was acceptable to use it in their advertising.
SYM said they accepted that some people might have had a strong reaction when seeing the word in the Amazon listing, because they had failed to view it in context. They said that unfortunately the Amazon system did not allow them to list
an item in specific adults only or over 18 categories and it also did not allow them to censor the image. They said they would happily alter the image if that would help.
Amazon queried whether it was within the ASA's remit to prevent the display of product titles and images which were not otherwise prohibited by applicable decency laws. They said it was appropriate for the ASA to investigate ads used to
generate sales, but it was inappropriate for the ASA to investigate the display of a product for sale, especially if that investigation targeted one retailer amongst many selling the same product online.
Notwithstanding that, Amazon said they were confident that the display of the product image was compliant with the CAP Code. The card was not offensive, aggressive or lewd in its message. The wording of the card did not target any particular
group, nor was it likely to cause offence to any particular race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability or age. It was meant as a bit of light-hearted, irreverent fun. They acknowledged that the humour might not be to everybody's taste, but considered
that the subjective values of a small minority who might find it distasteful should not dictate a product's availability or the method of its advertisement to the wider public. They noted that Code rule 4.1 stated that marketing communications may be distasteful
without necessarily breaching the rule. Amazon said the card had not been included in any customer mail-outs and, assuming that children would rarely search for Christmas cards, the only people who were likely to come across the listing were adults.
ASA Assessment: Complaint Upheld
The ASA considered that the product listing was an advertisement which fell within the remit of the CAP Code and it was therefore appropriate for us to investigate the complaint we had received. We understood the product might be available
for purchase elsewhere online, but considered that because we had received a complaint specifically about an ad by SYM on Amazon, it was entirely appropriate to investigate the ad specifically in that context.
We acknowledged that the wording of the card did not target any particular group, and also acknowledged that in the context of an online shop it was likely that in the majority of cases the ad would be viewed by adults rather than by children.
Nonetheless, we noted that CAP guidance on language advised advertisers that consumer research showed that the use of the word cunt was so likely to offend that it should not be used at all in marketing communications even when it was relevant to
the name of the product. We noted the expletive in the product description was partly obscured by an asterisk but considered that even in the absence of the product image which showed the word in full, the intended meaning was still clear. We concluded the
ad was likely to cause serious or widespread offence.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 4.1 (Harm and offence).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told SYM to take care to avoid causing serious or widespread offence in future.
In response to the ASA censorship decision, Amazon took down the listing of the product.
Update: Tattooed rockers defend Christmas card c-word shocker
30th March 2013. See press release
Lord Zion and Vikki Spit - the tattooed couple behind the ASA / AMAZON Christmas Card C-Word debacle - speak out in defense of the card in question, their SMELLYOURMUM.COM website and criticise the ASA over their ruling.
We started our website after years of unemployment. We wanted to start our band, SPiT LiKE THiS, and needed to be able to fund that as well as provide us with an income. Vikki learnt to screen-print, I built the website, designed our wares
and we started advertising. It became really popular and we were soon able to come off Job Seeker's Allowance and pay our way through life. At the same time, it provided much needed fuel for our band, as well as good cross-promotion. To that end, not only
have we sustained a living, our band has released several EP's, two full albums and played on the same bill as bands like Iron Maiden and Alice Cooper. Quite an achievement.
We are not necessarily what the mainstream expect people like us to be. We don't drink, don't do drugs and keep fit. We might look a bit odd to them but, thanks to the sales of our items, we have been able to rescue two disabled cats from
Cat's Protection and give regularly to various charities. I donate blood as often as I can and, in what little amounts of spare time I have, I give it to teach disabled people to ride horses. All the while, we just get on with what we do, work very hard and
mind our own business.
The ASA ruling is way out of proportion. They received one complaint over the card. Before that complaint, the card was the number one best-selling single card on Amazon. So hundreds of YES votes versus one NO. The problem with organisations
like the ASA is that their intentions are misguided. The majority of intelligent people understand the origins of words and how their structure within a sentence or situation qualifies their meaning. Problems tend to arise from the small portion of society
who see a word and simply have a knee-jerk reaction to it, putting the cart before the horse. Fortunately for us, most of our customers are intelligent, sentient beings. The irony is, by their ruling, the ASA has caused the widespread offense they warned us
against. Our website, it's wares and the C-Word has reached a far wider audience than we could ever manage on our own - all because of the ASA.
UK cinema distributors opt for a cut children's version of Die Hard 5
12th February 2013. See article
A Good Day To Die Hard is a 2013 USA action thriller by John Moore.
With Bruce Willis, Jai Courtney, Sebastian Koch.
UK: Passed 12A for strong language and violence after advised category cuts were implemented for:
The film will be shown uncut in the US with an R rating (would be called 17A in Britain). No doubt most of the western world will see this uncut version too.
The BBFC commented:
During post-production, the distributor sought and was given advice on how to secure the desired classification. Following this advice, certain changes were made prior to submission
This work was originally seen for advice in an unfinished form. The company was advised that the film was likely to receive a 15 certificate but that their preferred 12A classification could be achieved by making
a number of cuts to both language and visuals. When the finished version of the film was submitted for formal classification, edits had been made:
- to reduce the number of uses of strong language (both fuck and motherfucker) and
- to reduce sequences of bloody violence, including blood sprays when characters are shot in the head, and punches to restrained individuals.
The formal submission was consequently rated '12A'.
Comment: So 20th Century
14th February 2013. See article
Bleeding Cooll website asked 20th Century Fox why they censored the upcoming cinema release of A Good Day to Die Hard . This was studio's response:
Everyone at Fox is excited that John McClane is back on the big screen in the latest installment of the Die Hard franchise, this time with his son and on foreign soil in Russia.
We can confirm that working with the BBFC some minor cuts were made in order to achieve a 12A certificate.
We believe the movie will delight the Die Hard fans and the 12A certificate, similar to Dark Knight Rises and Skyfall , will allow both adults and teenagers to enjoy the latest movie in the franchise.
Comment: Proper Censorship
14th February 2013. From David
Ah, fuck. The director's so proud of making sure it's a proper R-rated movie this time, so naturally in the UK it gets cut down to be a 12A instead of a 15. I guess I'll be waiting for the inevitable harder cut DVD to see A Good
Day To Die Hard.
And they better fucking not pull that 12 DVD, uncut 15 Blu-Ray shit.
Comment: Proper Censorship
14th February 2013. From Andrew
There's a lot of heat over this disgraceful decision to give us a butchered Die Hard 5 , and a lot of talk as to why the UK seems to get lumped with snipped versions STILL.
It seems to me that the BBFC's choice to offer a cuts advice service is to blame (as well as, of course, the studio for being happy to give UK audiences a neutered product). Do other censorship bodies from other countries offer
to coordinate with the studio during the editing phase over exactly what cuts are needed to achieve a desired rating?
Do other countries not end up with so many butchered films because they don't offer this service, or to the same degree?
Well Germany, which tends to be the other European country most likely to cut films has decided that the will screen the uncut R Rated version. So maybe this Doe Hard fiasco will be just us.
Comment: A Good Day to Die Soft
15th February 2013. From MichaelG
This current trend for cutting films for the cinema (to make them available to a wider audience, naturally) is something of a paradox when you look at the situation once the film hits DVD and the film companies can't wait to get Extended
Harder Cut or Uncut Version screaming at you from the cover of the box ('Taken 2' and Savages are the two latest examples I can recall). Anyone else think this is odd? They seem to be alienating the audience the film was intended for
at its cinema release, but then clamouring to get them back for the DVD release, probably knowing full well (even though the BBFC don't seem to) that a younger audience are still going to watch an uncut version on DVD. Times have certainly changed since a
cut cinema release would be further cut again for home viewing...
Comment: A Good Day to Blame Fox
15th February 2013. From Andrew N
Ok, first up, let me stress that i am in no way condoning any previous (Ferman era especially) BBFC decisions. HOWEVER, the current net trend of slating them, everytime something gets watered down, is pretty dumb. Seeing as the they are
simply ADVISING distributors of what would need TO BE done, to get an inappropriate film, into an appropriate rating. I (like you) don't rate censorship in any way, shape, or form. HOWEVER, this is not about censorship. It's about the almighty Dollar.
Read the answer Fox gave to Bleedingcool.com, they completely dodged the question, and went straight for the sale. Familiar character, you all watched the last one yadda yadda yadda.
The thing is, John McClane has now become a caricature of the original character. He's not the dude from Die hard, he's an all American hero who can't be killed. And just to prove that, they put him in more and more ludicrous situations.
Sadly, these situations are very appealing to young boys. Ticket buying, money spending young boys. And Fox knows this. Because despite the flood of net nerds digitally bashing the 4th movie, it did amazing business. Which means somewhere in the U.S. (the
UK played at 15, regardless of the cut ) 10's of millions of people flocked to the local multiplex to see it.
And Fox knows this. Why wouldn't they?
So why the 12? Or to be more exact the 12A . Well it's the A that's Fox's ace in the hole. You see in the UK, ANYONE can see any film 12A or below. Providing they're with an adequate guardian. However, in the U.S. ANYONE can see
an R rated film (again, providing they're with an adequate guardian). The only difference being that the R rating carries an age restriction of 17, not 12. So anyone under 17 can go and see McClane jumping out of windows into a questionable CGI drop. And here's
where the line blurs, and the bean counters take notice.
Because that 5 year gap (12 - 17) is the EXACT demographic of today's Die hard fan. And while a BBFC 15 falls right in the middle, no parent in the UK can legally take a nagging 11 year old to see it. And those nagging 11 year olds spend
a shit load of money, on tickets, concessions, and more to point, they always travel in groups.
Die hard is an adult film, would anyone really have objected to ANOTHER 15 rated Die hard movie in the UK (baring in mind, 3 out of the first 4 now carry this rating, and it's only a case of time before Die hard 2 is dropped to it)?
Yes they would've. But all of those people work for Fox, and couldn't give two shits about your viewing pleasure, as long as you (and more importantly your kids) keep paying.
Oh and as a final note, watch out for the (guaranteed) HARDER CUT on home video. As once again, Fox try to sell you something you should've already been privvy too.
Chances are, you'll buy it too.
In these cases of cutting adult films for kids, lay of the BBFC, and go for the money hungry distributors. They're the ones cutting your films. No one else.
Offsite: Do Newspaper film critics reckon Die Hard 5 is best left to the 12 year olds?
15th February 2013. See article
BBFC waive their previous cuts to the 18 rated rape revenge drama featuring real sex
See also Shopping List: Future Releases
See also Shopping List: Recent Releases
Baise-moi is a 2000 by Virginie Despentes and Coralie.
With Raffaëla Anderson, Karen Lancaume and Céline Beugnot.
UK: Passed 18 uncut for sexual violence, real sex and very strong language for:
- UK 2013 Arrow R2 DVD at UK Amazon
released on 25th March 2013
The BBFC explained their decision:
BAISE-MOI is a subtitled French feature in which two young women, marginalised by society and troubled by their experiences of rape, prostitution and pornography, meet by chance and embark on a violent killing spree. It was originally
cut at 18 for both cinema and video release in 2001. This DVD re-release is rated 18 uncut for sexual violence, real sex and very strong language.
A brutal rape scene occurs early in the film, with two women being abducted by a group of men and taken to an abandoned warehouse. There, one of the women struggles and cries out as she is hit, forcibly stripped and raped. The other woman
remains passive, refusing to respond to the rapists. The scene includes nudity and an explicit close shot of real penetration. However, neither the nudity nor the real penetration are portrayed as sexual or titillating. On the contrary, the rape is presented
as violent and horrific, and, in this context, the shot of penetration reinforces the violation and brutality. In a later scene a man is anally penetrated with a gun. Again, the act is clearly one of violence and it relates back to the earlier rape. Neither
sequence makes sexual or sadistic violence appear normal, appealing or arousing. There is never any suggestion that the victims enjoy the experience, and the audience is led to identify and empathise with the victims, not the perpetrators.
BAISE-MOI contains additional scenes of strong sex, including real oral sex and penetration, as the young women are seen with clients or men they meet on their journey. These scenes, like the scenes of sexual violence, reflect the gritty
reality of the character's lives and experiences.
Very strong language ('cunt') is also used.
Passed 18 after 10s of BBFC cuts for:
Cut required to an explicit close-up shot of a penis penetrating a vagina during a violent rape sequence.
Passed 18 after 12s of BBFC cuts for:
- UK 2002 Universal R2 DVD
- UK 2002 Feature Film Company R2 DVD
Cuts required to two sequences of sexual violence involving strong sexual imagery:
- explicit close up of sexual penetration of woman during rape scene
- sight of gun being pressed into man's anus prior to being fired
Passed 18 uncut for sexual violence, real sex and very strong language for:
Sex and shooting assault the senses in Baise-moi [literally Fuck Me or Kiss Me ], a bloody buddy movie that s like Thelma and Louise on acid. Banned on release in France, the film has provoked as much horror as
it has debate.
Manu a part time porn star - and Nadine a hooker set out to leave their town for Paris after witnessing and being subject to rape and violence. They rage against societal expectations in a fury of robbery, orgiastic lust and murder.
One of the most controversial movies of the last 20 years, Baise-moi was described as the most sexually explicit film to ever reach British screens by the UK press, the film offers the complacent viewer a cinematic slap
in the face.
- Original theatrical trailer
- Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Joe Wilso
- Collector s booklet featuring writing on the film by author Kier-la Janisse