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Imitable Techniques   January 2006 re the film The Mechanic

Although it's possible that we might cut a criminal technique if it contained genuinely useful information (ie something you couldn't easily work out for yourself) we don't tend to cut lock picking and hotwiring from films and videos anymore as the police have advised us that:

  1. the techniques shown in films are usually lacking crucial details,
  2. the techniques shown in films often don't work on modern locks
  3. the easiest way to break into a car is to smash the window! 

So, in theory we might remove something (and certainly wouldn't allow, say, a detailed instructional video informing you how to pick locks!), intervention with films and TV programmes is nowadays far less likely on the grounds you cite.

Multiple Certificates

Thanks to Liberty Stink on the Melon Farmers Forum

The highest category awarded to any component of a DVD work (be it a trailer or a 'making of' documentary) must be the classification of the DVD as a whole.

It should also be noted that this is a common practice of distributors to achieve a more desirable, ie higher, category by placing a '18' rated trailer or other material on the DVD. However, no law has been broken if this is the case.

 

 

U cert Universal

Suitable for all

Cert Uc Universal

Particularly suitable for young children

PG cert

Parental Guidance

General viewing, but some scenes may be unsuitable for young children

General
Videos classified Uc are particularly suitable for pre-school children and should raise no issues as set out below

A 'U' film should be suitable for audiences aged four years and over. Works aimed at children should be set within a positive moral framework and should offer reassuring counterbalances to any violence, threat or horror.

Unaccompanied children of any age may watch. A 'PG' film should not disturb a child aged around eight or older. However, parents are advised to consider whether the content may upset younger or more sensitive children.
Theme
  • Treatment of problematic themes must be sensitive and appropriate to a younger audience
  • When more serious issues are featured, (eg domestic violence, racist abuse), nothing in their treatment should condone the behaviour)
Language
  • Infrequent use only of very mild bad language.
  • Mild bad language only
Nudity
  • Occasional natural nudity, with no sexual context.
  • Natural nudity with no sexual context.
Sex
  • Mild sexual behaviour (e.g., kissing) and references only (e.g., to 'making love').
  • Sex may be suggested, but should be discreet and infrequent.
  • Mild sex references and innuendo only.
Violence
  • Mild violence only.
  • Occasional mild threat or menace only.
  • Moderate violence, without detail, may be allowed, if justified by its setting (eg historic, comedy or fantasy).
Imitable Techniques
  • No emphasis on realistic or easily accessible  weapons
  • No potentially dangerous behaviour young children are likely to copy.
  • No glamorisation of realistic or easily accessible weapons.
  • No detail of potentially dangerous behaviour which young children are likely to copy.
Horror
  • Horror effects should be mild and brief and should take account of the presence of very young viewers. The outcome should be reassuring.
  • Frightening sequences should not be prolonged or intense. Fantasy settings may be a mitigating factor.
Drugs
  • No references to illegal drugs or drug misuse unless there is a clear educational purpose or clear
    message suitable for the audience.
  • Any references to illegal drugs or drug misuse must be innocuous or carry a suitable anti-drug message.

 

  12 cert

Suitable for 12 years and over.
No-one younger than 12 may rent or buy a ‘12’ rated video or DVD. Responsibility for allowing under-12s to view lies with the accompanying or supervising adult.

cert 12A

Suitable for 12 years and over.
No-one younger than 12 may see a ‘12A’ film in a cinema unless accompanied by an adult.

15

No-one younger than 15 may see a ‘15’ film in a cinema. No-one younger than 15 may rent or buy a ‘15’ rated video or DVD.

Theme
  • Mature themes are acceptable, but their treatment must be suitable for young teenagers.
  • No theme is prohibited, provided the treatment is appropriate to 15 year olds.
Language
  • The use of strong language (eg 'fuck') must be infrequent. Racist abuse is also of particular concern.
  • There may be frequent use of strong language; the strongest terms (eg 'cunt') will be acceptable  only where justified by the context.
  • Continued aggressive use of strong language and sexual abuse is unlikely to be acceptable.
Nudity
  • Nudity is allowed, but in a sexual context will be brief and discreet.
  • Nudity may be allowed in a sexual context but without strong detail.
  • There are no constraints on nudity in a non-sexual or educational context.
Sex
  • Sexual activity may be implied.
  • Sexual references may reflect what is likely to be familiar to most adolescents but should not go beyond what is suitable for them.
  • Sexual activity and nudity may be portrayed but without strong detail.
  • There may be strong verbal references to sexual behaviour.
Violence
  • Violence must not dwell on detail.
  • There should be no emphasis on injuries or blood.
  • Sexual violence may only be implied or briefly indicated..
  • Violence may be strong but may not dwell on the infliction of pain or injury
  • Scenes of sexual violence must be discreet and brief.
Imitable Techniques
  • Dangerous techniques (eg combat techniques, hanging, suicide and self harming) should not dwell on imitable detail or appear pain or harm free
  • Easily accessible weapons should not be glamorised
  • Dangerous techniques (eg combat techniques, hanging, suicide and self-harming) should not dwell on imitable detail.
  • Easily accessible weapons should not be glamorised.
Horror
  • Sustained moderate threat and menace are permitted. Occasional gory moments only.
  • Strong threat and menace are permitted.
  • The strongest gory images are unlikely to be acceptable.
Drugs
  • Any misuse of drugs must be infrequent and should
    not be glamorised or instructional.
  • Drug taking may be shown but the film as a whole must not promote or encourage drug misuse.

 

  18 cert

No-one younger than 18 may see an ‘18’ film in a cinema. No-one younger than 18 may rent or buy an ‘18’ rated video.

General
In line with the consistent findings of the BBFC’s public consultations, at ‘18’ the BBFC’s guideline concerns will not normally override the wish that adults should be free to chose their own entertainment, within the law. Exceptions are most likely in the following areas:
  •  where material or treatment appears to the Board to risk harm to individuals or, through their behaviour, to society – eg any detailed portrayal of violent or dangerous acts, or of illegal drug use, which is likely to promote the activity. The Board may also intervene with portrayals of sexual violence which might, eg eroticise or endorse sexual assault
  • the more explicit images of sexual activity – unless they can be exceptionally justified by context and the work is not a ‘sex work’ as defined below.

In the case of videos and DVDs, which may be more accessible to younger viewers, intervention may be more frequent. For the same reason, and because of the different way in which they are experienced, the Board may take a more precautionary approach in the case of those digital games which are covered by the Video Recordings Act.

Sex Education
  • Where sex material genuinely seeks to inform and educate in matters such as human sexuality, safe sex and health, exceptions to the normal constraints on explicit images may be made in the public interest. Such explicit detail must be kept to the minimum necessary to illustrate the educational or instructional points being made.
Sex
  • Sex works are works, normally on video or DVD, whose primary purpose is sexual arousal or stimulation. Sex works containing only material which may be simulated are generally passed ‘18’, while sex works containing clear images of real sex are confined to the ‘R18’ category.
  • Further clarification has been received from Peter Johnson, Senior BBFC Examiner: The situation remains as follows: extreme close ups of genitalia; shots offering a view up a distended vagina or anus; clearly unassimilated shots of oral-genital or oral-anal contact (especially shots showing clear sight of contact of lips or tongue with anus, labia, clitoris, penis or scrotum); and clear sight of real, sustained masturbation are restricted to the 'R18' category and must be cut to obtain an '18'.
Mail Order
Adverts for hardcore media
Offers to supply R18 material other than in a licensed sex shop, a change of policy which will comes into effect on Wednesday 15th March 2006.

As you may be aware, the issue of mail order supplies of works classified R18 has been the subject of recent legal action and the matter is now settled in domestic law. Following the outcome of the court action, the BBFC has taken legal advice regarding the use of classified video works as a means of promoting mail order supplies of ‘hardcore’ sex tapes.

Under the Video Recordings Act 1984 it is illegal to offer to supply an 'R18' classified video work other than in a licensed sex shop. This prohibition includes offers to supply by mail order from websites based outside the UK: making the offer in the UK is an offence in itself even if the supply would originate from abroad.

It is also illegal to offer to supply an unclassified video work unless that work is exempt from classification. Hardcore pornography is, by its nature, not exempt from classification.

Some video works include references to postal or website addresses and our legal advice is that we are entitled to cut these if they constitute part of an offer to supply R18 material or its equivalent (or stronger). Legal advice further suggests that whether a reference to an address constitutes part of an illegal offer to supply will depend on both the nature of the reference and the nature of the video in which it appears.

The following policy will therefore apply to all works submitted after 15th March 2006:

Sex works (18 or R18)

i) A simple website or postal address with no suggestion (verbal, text or
pictorial) that goods or services can be purchased from it (eg
“www.productionhouse.com”) will normally be passed uncut unless the title itself implies that goods can be purchased from the address (eg
“www.buystuffhere.com”) in which case (ii) applies.

ii) A website or postal address accompanied by a suggestion (verbal, text or pictorial) that goods or services can be purchased from it (eg “Products are available in our online store www.productionhouse.com”) will normally be cut if a visit to the website reveals that it appears to be offering R18 material or its equivalent (or stronger) by mail order.

All other works

iii) A website or postal address with no suggestion that goods or services relating to R18 material or its equivalent (or stronger) can be purchased from it (eg “mailorderdvds.com”) will normally be passed uncut.

iv) A website or postal address accompanied by a suggestion (verbal, text or pictorial) that goods or services relating to R18 material or its equivalent (or stronger) can be purchased from it (eg “get hardcore sex at www.illegal supply.com”) will normally be cut if a visit to the website reveals that it appears to be offering R18 material or its equivalent (or
stronger) by mail order.

NB “by mail order” involves an offer to sell a tape, disc, chip or other storage device by means of the post or a parcel or courier service or similar. An offer to supply hardcore material by video-on-demand (streaming, downloads, etc) or other manner in which no physical product changes hands does not count as mail order supply of a video work.

 

  R18 cert

To be supplied only in licensed sex shops to persons of not less than 18 years

General
The 'R18' category is a special and legally restricted classification primarily for explicit videos with clear views of real sex between consenting adults. Such videos may be supplied to adults only in licensed sex shops. 'R18' videos may not be supplied by mail order.
Sex The following content is not acceptable:
  • any material which is in breach of the criminal law including any material judged to be obscene under the current interpretation of the Obscene Publications Act [Melon Farmers' comment: The BBFC previously published the obvious examples of bestiality, necrophilia & defecation. The authorities also dubiously contend that fisting and urolagnia are also obscene. Urolagnia is defined as pissing during a sex scene. Pissing when not related to sex is acceptable and is in fact passed in R18s]
  • material (including dialogue) likely to encourage an interest in sexually abusive material (eg paedophilia, incest, rape) which may include adults role-playing as non-adults.
  • the portrayal of any sexual activity which involves lack of consent (whether real or simulated). Any form of physical
    restraint which prevents participants from indicating a withdrawal of consent
  • the infliction of pain or physical harm, real or (in a sexual context) simulated. Some allowance may be made for mild consensual activity. Penetration by any object likely to cause actual harm or associated with violence
  • any sexual threats, humiliation or abuse which does not form part of a clearly consenting role-playing game. Strong abuse, even if consensual, is unlikely to be acceptable.

These guidelines make no distinction between heterosexual and homosexual activity.

[Melon Farmers' comment: The BBFC previously confirmed that the following content was acceptable. They now hold that it is sufficient to say that "clear views of real sex between consenting adults" are acceptable and have removed the following list from their guidelines. The Melon Farmers' believe that it is still useful to readers to continue to publish the list of acceptable content

The following content, subject to the above, may be permitted:

  • aroused genitalia
  • masturbation
  • oral-genital contact including kissing, licking and sucking
  • penetration by finger, penis, tongue, vibrator or dildo
  • non-harmful fetish material
  • group sexual activity
  • ejaculation and semen]
BDSM
The S&M genre is not prohibited in its entirety – some allowance is made for clearly consenting role-playing games where it is clear that no one suffers any real injury or significant pain. However, such material may be given an ‘R18’ certificate rather than an ‘18’ even in the absence of explicit sex, depending on the detail and treatment, on the grounds that its presence in general shops may offend public sensibilities. Focus on activities such as urination or bondage could confound public expectation at ‘18’ and/or encourage potentially harmful imitation on the part of uninitiated viewers.
Enemas
The Board's policy is that you can show enemas in 'R18' tapes. However, you must not see any faecal matter being emitted and the fluid from the enema must not be released onto (or into) another person. This position is based on the latest advice from the police and the CPS. Their position is, in turn, based on a number of recent cases in which enema tapes were found obscene by juries.
Female Ejaculation

The BBFC responded to research on female ejaculation submitted to the BBFC by Feminists Against Censorship:

If I may clarify our position, the Board does not in fact take any view on whether or not female ejaculation exists. As you admit in your letter this is a controversial and much-debated area with a range of views being taken amongst medical professionals. At the most basic level, however, the Board is content that the pornographic tapes so far presented to us as examples of 'female ejaculation' are in fact nothing other than straightforward scenes of urination masquerading as 'female ejaculation'. This has been confirmed by a female sexual health expert who the Board has consulted on a range of issues relating to videos intended for the 'R18' category.

Quite the opposite of attempting to confront the issue of female ejaculation in a reassuring, sympathetic or informative light, the tapes in question appear to be nothing more than a cynical attempt on the part of porn distributors to get around the constraints imposed on urolagnia in sex tapes by the current interpretation of the Obscene Publications Act. It is worth noting that the kind of material that the Board has been cutting is regularly sold as 'orolagnia' in other European countries (France, Germany, Netherlands, etc) where there is no equivalent legal restriction on the use of urine in sex videos. Indeed, although videos featuring urolagnia are very much in evidence on the continent, videos purporting to show 'female ejaculation' seem to be invisible. Perhaps female ejaculation is less exciting (or profitable) to pornographers and their viewers than urination? Generally speaking sex videos of the type encountered at 'R18' neither seek to inform nor educate about female (or male) sexuality but merely offer graphic (and grossly distorted) views of sex for the arousal of viewers. Indeed, as you acknowledge in your letter "much of the material [the Board] passes with an 'R18' certificate does not necessarily represent the sexual experiences of all women".

To conclude, the Board remains open minded about the issue of female ejaculation but we have yet to be presented with any pornographic video that has convinced us - or our medical advisor - that it consists of anything other than an excuse to display scenes of urolagnia. Such scenes are regularly found obscene by juries in the UK and therefore cannot be classified.

Fisting
The BBFC routinely cut fisting as the authorities have defined fisting to be obscene. They claim that juries regularly find such scenes to be obscene.

The BBFC define fisting as penetration with all five digits beyond the last knuckle

Hot Wax
On police/CPS advice, the BBFC disallow scenes of hot wax dripping on genitals or the anus. There is no prohibition on less sensitive parts of the body.

Comment from beaunidl on The Melon Farmers' Forum

Wrong ! Just watched Tarrant On TV, and at 10:22pm on 12 Oct 2006 there was a piece which clearly showed molten wax being dripped on the tip of a limp willy. The penis ended up coated with a wick in the end (a human candle). The domatrix then lit the wick and the sub blew it out, on the 3rd or 4th attempt.

Titles
In particular the BBFC have a chip on their shoulder about the word 'teen' in R18 titles.

The title of a work is likely to be seen by many members of the public who would never choose to watch the contents. It will be displayed on packaging and promotional material, and will appear on the BBFC's website database. The potential for offence is therefore significantly greater than for language which appears in the body of the work itself, which is encountered only by those who have chosen to view the work in question. The degree of offence likely to be caused will depend to some extent on how likely the public are to come across the title by accident.

In addition to considerations of 'offence', the BBFC is also concerned about titles which apparently promise illicit pleasures even though the material itself is neither harmful nor illegal. In future, therefore, the BBFC may ask for changes to a title of a work if it falls into one of the following three categories:

  1. It suggests that sexual participants may be under 18 or that illegal sexual activity (eg incest, rape) is being depicted. Words such as 'schoolgirl', 'scout', 'teenager', 'very young' and 'child' are unlikely to be acceptable if the title has sexual connotations unless the title as a whole makes it clear that the content is not concerned with the presentation of sex involving under-18s.
  2. It suggests that the content may be degrading, dehumanising or humiliating. Words such as 'bitch', 'whore' and 'slut' may be unacceptable if used in a context which appears to degrade women.
  3. It is likely to cause unusual offence to a significant proportion of those who are likely to come across it. The use of pornographic language in a title is unlikely to be acceptable at 18. Particularly crude or explicit titles are unlikely to be acceptable even at R18.
Mail Order
Adverts for hardcore media
Offers to supply R18 material other than in a licensed sex shop, a change of policy which will comes into effect on Wednesday 15th March 2006.

As you may be aware, the issue of mail order supplies of works classified R18 has been the subject of recent legal action and the matter is now settled in domestic law. Following the outcome of the court action, the BBFC has taken legal advice regarding the use of classified video works as a means of promoting mail order supplies of ‘hardcore’ sex tapes.

Under the Video Recordings Act 1984 it is illegal to offer to supply an 'R18' classified video work other than in a licensed sex shop. This prohibition includes offers to supply by mail order from websites based outside the UK: making the offer in the UK is an offence in itself even if the supply would originate from abroad.

It is also illegal to offer to supply an unclassified video work unless that work is exempt from classification. Hardcore pornography is, by its nature, not exempt from classification.

Some video works include references to postal or website addresses and our legal advice is that we are entitled to cut these if they constitute part of an offer to supply R18 material or its equivalent (or stronger). Legal advice further suggests that whether a reference to an address constitutes part of an illegal offer to supply will depend on both the nature of the reference and the nature of the video in which it appears.

The following policy will therefore apply to all works submitted after 15th March 2006:

Sex works (18 or R18)

i) A simple website or postal address with no suggestion (verbal, text or
pictorial) that goods or services can be purchased from it (eg
“www.productionhouse.com”) will normally be passed uncut unless the title itself implies that goods can be purchased from the address (eg
“www.buystuffhere.com”) in which case (ii) applies.

ii) A website or postal address accompanied by a suggestion (verbal, text or pictorial) that goods or services can be purchased from it (eg “Products are available in our online store www.productionhouse.com”) will normally be cut if a visit to the website reveals that it appears to be offering R18 material or its equivalent (or stronger) by mail order.

All other works

iii) A website or postal address with no suggestion that goods or services relating to R18 material or its equivalent (or stronger) can be purchased from it (eg “mailorderdvds.com”) will normally be passed uncut.

iv) A website or postal address accompanied by a suggestion (verbal, text or pictorial) that goods or services relating to R18 material or its equivalent (or stronger) can be purchased from it (eg “get hardcore sex at www.illegal supply.com”) will normally be cut if a visit to the website reveals that it appears to be offering R18 material or its equivalent (or
stronger) by mail order.

NB “by mail order” involves an offer to sell a tape, disc, chip or other storage device by means of the post or a parcel or courier service or similar. An offer to supply hardcore material by video-on-demand (streaming, downloads, etc) or other manner in which no physical product changes hands does not count as mail order supply of a video work.