London Mayor Boris Johnson has pointed the finger at violent video games for being a cause of knife crime in the Capital.
In a piece railing against ‘London’s knife crisis’ written for thelondonpaper, the blunder-prone public figure writes: We must show young people that knives are not cool, and for that we need positive role models.
I want to counteract the damaging influences drug-addled celebrities and violent video games and the lure of the life in the gang by providing opportunities.
Don't Believe the Truth...
Believe the Daily Mail
Noel Gallagher has waded into the debate over youth knife crime..
The Oasis guitarist said it was a "pity scumbags are taking over our streets", and claimed video games were partly to blame for violence.
Gallagher revealed that he and partner Sarah McDonald were worried about their children growing up and said they talked about knife crime in bed at night: People say it's through violent video games and I guess that's got something to do with
If kids are sitting up all night smoking super skunk [cannabis]and they come so desensitised to crime because they're playing these video games, it's really, really scary.
Eighteen teenagers have been murdered in London so far this year.
The current spate of knife related violent killings around the country (and in particular in London) has given the tabloid press the perfect chance to whip up a panic of knife wielding youngsters going around stabbing people to death. This has in
turn given John Beyer and Mediawatch UK the perfect bandwagon with which to jump on to boost their own agenda and push their campaign to garner more support.
Cut out the blades
or we'll cut off your balls!
Brown Targets 'Problem Families'
More than 110,000 "problem families" with disruptive youngsters will be targeted as part of a crackdown on knife crime, Gordon Brown has said. They will get parenting supervision, with the worst 20,000 families facing eviction if they do
not respond. He aimed to make it "unacceptable" to carry a knife, with "prevention, enforcement and punishment" the focus. The prime minister also urged more councils to impose 90-day teenage curfews "where there is a
The comments came as he used his monthly news conference to defend the government's plans for tackling knife crime, which have been derided as "half-baked" by the Liberal Democrats. BBC News online 14/7/2008
Cut out the violent stuff
or we'll kick you in the polls!
Speaking today, John Beyer, director of mediawatch-uk, said that the Prime Minister's wide ranging solution to the current knife crime crisis lacked one essential component: the media.
In his briefing today there was no mention of the harmful influence of violence in entertainment which, over the years, has done a great deal to glamorise and normalise gun and knife use. We believe that the problem of knife
crime will never be solved until the culture of violence and killing, aggressive and anti-social behaviour portrayed in entertainment is stopped, he said.
We believe the Prime Minister should initiate urgent talks with the top executives of the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Five, BSKYB, Virgin Media, the BBFC and the Computer Games Industry to discover exactly what they intend to do to stop portraying
violent gun and knife use in the entertainment that they think is acceptable. It is in the public interest for them to declare what part they intend to play in the overall effort, that must involve everyone, to reverse the culture of violence they
have created. It is no longer credible for the Government, despite its long-standing principle of non-interference, to exclude the influence of the media from the "root causes" of this most serious and urgent problem.
Richard Attenborough has blamed violence in films for rising levels of knife crime.
But he claimed that as violence has become more prevalent in films, viewers have become desensitised to real-life crime - making the carrying of knives almost an acceptable commonplace.
Now 84, Lord Attenborough began his career as an actor and came to prominence after starring as the vicious gang leader Pinkie in the 1947 film adaptation of Graham Greene's novel Brighton Rock . He also played the serial killer John
Christie in the 1971 film 10 Rillington Place .
He told the Brighton Argus newspaper that he abhors the pornography of violence in modern films.
Lord Attenborough said: Thirty years ago if Gary Cooper pulled out a gun the audience would give a sharp intake of breath.
Now the act of violence with a gun or a knife is the norm and we in the entertainment industry are partly responsible in making the presence of weapons such as knives almost an acceptable commonplace.
So now knife crime is not thought of as something that is horrific and to be abhorred. It's part of normal existence.
Sadistic violence in the new Batman movie will send knife crime soaring, a victim's mum claimed last night.
Barbara Dunne whose son Robert was killed with a samurai sword, blasted block-buster The Dark Knight for glorifying blades.
She said scenes showing the knife-obsessed Joker, played by the late Heath Ledger, relishing maiming victims will numb kids to the horror of stabbings.
And Dunne said: It's encouraging children to buy the same knife and actually end up using it. The next day somebody's dead.
The campaigner, who vowed to grill bosses on the film's horror scenes, slated its 12A rating.
Comment: Easy Scapegoats
It's always odd how parents of victims of violent crime lash out and blame easy scapegoats like films for their loss. They become campaigners against knife crime but instead of trying to campaign to tackle the root causes of young people turning
to knife and violent crime they blame films.
Surely they must know that unless society deals with the real problems that lead youngsters down the road of crime and violence the killings and tragedies that befall families will not stop and blaming films won't change that.
Comment: Knives don't kill people
Kudos to Dan, victims of crime always end up stereotyping, and once again films come under the critical microscope.
When will people realise that films don't create killers. Parents do. There I said it. If your child is too fucked up to know where a film ends and life begins then I'm sorry, you failed as a parent.
You can still see kids walking around now dressing like Eminem and thinking that 8 Mile was real. ITS A FUCKING FILM! you know that bit at the end with all those strange markings, well their called words, commonly known at the end of a FILM
as credits, telling you the FILM is over. Go back to your life. Now I'm not placing the blame solely on parents, children will imitate, fact of life, but if your child can't distinguish where the end of the film is then you have some real issues.
When I was 14 Natural Born Killers was released and caused a massive divide on what was acceptable in modern mainstream cinema, however unphased by this argument I landed a bootleg copy and watched it...14 years later I still don't have a
The bottom line is films are not responsible. People are responsible. Knives don't kill people, irresponsible motherfuckers who carry knives kill people. Instead of looking for things to blame, point that judgemental finger at a mirror. Your
child's carrying a knife? you fucked up as a parent. Ipso facto.
But the greatest surprise of all – even for me, after eight years spent working as a film critic – has been the sustained level of intensely sadistic brutality throughout the film.
What's the problem? I can already hear some people asking. It's all a comic-book fantasy, and comic books are well known for their surreal, cartoonish bursts of violence. But the director, Christopher Nolan, hasn't sought to ramp up the cartoonish
aspects of his superhero story, as other directors before him have. He has tried instead to make the violence and fear as believable as possible, and in this he has succeeded.
Britain appears to be gulping down entertainment values wholesale from a Hollywood intent upon mining the profit margin from barbarism. America, for all its manifold strengths, is still a country in which the population can be roused to a frenzy
of condemnation by the sight of Janet Jackson's escaped nipple on the Super Bowl, but views the sight of a bound man being torched to death as all-round family entertainment.
Is there a link between screen violence and actual violence? Fans of violent films will tell you – frequently in the most aggressive terms – that there is not. Yet we know that children are, to greater and lesser degrees, highly imitative of what
they see. We know that there is escalating public concern about violent crime, particularly knife crime, among teenagers.
A grisly cannibal sex plot is set to spark nutter outrage over the new series of Wire In The Blood.
The drama will show a Hannibal Lecter-type serial killer who eats his victims while they are still alive. Realistic scenes of severed hands, fingers and body parts will be shown after the 9pm watershed.
Graphic scenes set in a fet club will show a leather-clad dominatrix played by former Doctor Who actress Mary Tamm.
Cristian Solimeno plays a kinky cop who is strung up with ropes by the killer. He defended the scenes saying: It's fictitious and you have to suspend disbelief.
John Beyer, of Mediawatch UK, said: If this is what ITV thinks is acceptable, they are mistaken. I wish they would reconsider showing it. People are longing for family viewing.
The days in which a punch was thrown in jest and accompanied by a cartoon Kerpow! seem as distant as Bagpuss. Nothing in this new Batman is in jest. Not even the Joker. This film is doing serious business - and, make no mistake, its business is
I saw The Dark Knight on Monday; or at least I saw the bits that I could bear to watch from behind my giant Diet Coke.
Within the first five minutes, the body count was in double figures - and that was before a detonator was shoved down the throat of a dying bank manager.
Soon afterwards, the Joker, played with diabolical brilliance by the late Heath Ledger, explained how he got that permanent blood-red clown's grin.
His father had been attacking his mother's face with a knife when he caught his young son watching with a serious expression. Dad slashed the boy's cheeks to make sure that the kid would never look down-in-the-mouth again.
More from Allison Pearson...
Horrifying? You bet. But, believe me, that counts as a quiet, reflective moment in a symphony of sadism.
A Facebook game that lets users 'shank' each other - street slang for stabbing - has been removed following complaints from
anti-knife crime nutters.
The virtual "shank" appears as an icon within the Facebook Superpoke! application. Superpoke! allows users to send virtual actions to other users such as smile, wink, take part in the Tour de France or send a bouquet.
Although the application consists of mostly humorous actions, some of the options, such as smack, slap and shank, have darker connotations.
When the knife icon is sent to a Facebook friend they receive a message saying that they have been "shanked".
Superpoke! and Facebook came in for criticism in the Sun. The uncle of Rob Knox, the Harry Potter actor who died after being stabbed in May, told the paper that the application "incited violence".
Slide, who make the Facebook application, have now removed the 'shank' option from Superpoke!.
The Dark Knight is rated 12a. Which, by the BBFC's reckoning, makes it more suitable for youngsters than videogames given the '15' sticker. Which is fair enough for a psychological horror such as Siren: Blood Curse , but not so much for the
colourful, nigh-on cartoonish alien warfare of Halo 3 . So, here's the crux: how can these forms of media, with varying degrees of violence and gore fall under the same bracket of classification? As was proposed this week by government ministers.
Cartoon violent scenes in the latest Batman film, The Dark Knight , have prompted objections about its classification with a 12A certificate.
The BBFC has received 70 complaints about the certification.
Parents have complained of having to shield their children’s eyes from scenes such as a man’s eye being jabbed with a pencil and the Joker describing how he enjoys killing people with a knife because they take longer to die.
Nutter Labour MP Keith Vaz, who is chairman of the Commons home affairs committee, said he would be summoning the BBFC to its hearings on knife crime in October: The BBFC should realise there are scenes of gratuitous violence in The Dark Knight to
which I would certainly not take my 11-year-old daughter. It should be a 15 classification.
Nutters have warned that the BBFC is becoming both too liberal and too willing to cave in to commercial pressure from Hollywood studios to maximise audience numbers. The board has admitted that its decision on The Dark Knight was “borderline
15” – meaning that its examiners nearly gave it a 15. The 12A means children of 12 can go unaccompanied.
Parents are allowed to take children younger than 12 with them to the Batman film, although they are advised not to.
The BBFC has confirmed that Warner Bros asked for The Dark Knight to be classified as 12A and admitted that the board comes under pressure to keep classifications low so that as many people as possible can see films.
The real problem is that in previous Batman films, Jack Nicholson’s Joker was jokier, said John Whittingdale, Tory chairman of the Commons culture, media and sport committee: This ‘Joker’ is truly evil. Yet most parents and
children would not know this beforehand. Also, nobody goes to the BBFC’s website for parental advice.”
The board says its director, David Cooke, did not see the film before it was classified, although he has watched it recently. It is understood he supported the 12A classification.
In Scandinavia & Ireland the film is a 15 and in America it is PG-13.
Update: Nutter MPs
5th August 2008
Iain Duncan Smith, the former leader of the Conservative party, has joined the nutter onslaught after seeing it with his 15-year-old daughter.
Describing it as "relentlessly violent" in a letter to a newspaper, he wrote: I was astonished that the board could have seen fit to allow anyone under the age of 15 to watch the film.
Unlike past Batman films, where the villains were somewhat surreal and comical figures, Heath Ledger's Joker is a brilliantly acted but very credible psychopathic killer, who extols the use of knives to kill and disfigure his victims during a reign of
urban terrorism laced with torture.
Brilliantly acted it may be, but in its relentless violence the latest Batman production, The Dark Knight, goes to the very limit of mainstream movie-making.
This is dark, dark material indeed. Yet this is the film the BBFC has given a 12A rating, which means it is considered quite suitable even for young children, if they are accompanied by an adult. Children over 12, of course, can see it on their own.
And just who are the 'regulators' who came to this outrageously perverse decision?
There's the scandal. The 33 members of the BBFC are anonymous. They wield huge influence, but they are unelected, unaccountable and, this paper suspects, wholly unrepresentative.
They claim to be independent, but whether or not that is true is anybody's guess.
We can be sure only of one thing. This secretive oligarchy is presiding over a relentless decline of standards in the cinema.
Even the liberal Andreas Whittam Smith is reported as saying this week that the Board is taking a more relaxed view of violence since he left six years ago.
Obscenity, brutality, vile language, the trashing of civilised values... all these are becoming normalised, even glamorised.
Truly, the 'independent' BBFC should be very proud of itself!
Peterborough's MP has called on the city council to reclassify the rating given to the most sensational movie to hit cinema screens this year, Batman, The Dark Knight .
Stewart Jackson has written to the council's chief executive Gillian Beasley, expressing concerns over the 12A rating given to the film, which has attracted nutter controversy because of its violent content and dark themes.
In his letter, Jackson reminded her that the council can use its discretion under current legislation to reclassify the rating given by the BBFC. He said: I am not a spoilsport and I have seen this film ...BUT... I sincerely believe that it is
not suitable for children. The violence is gratuitous and the dark themes inappropriate for children's viewing.
I believe that the BBFC have made an error of judgement and I have written to the city council to amend the recommended classification.
A spokesman for the city council said that while the council is responsible for licensing cinemas, ensuring that the films being shown there have been certified and they are adhering to age restrictions, they would not attempt to reclassify a film, which
had been classified by the BBFC, the experts in this field.
Having taken his seat alongside his 15-year-old daughter expecting see a movie packed with surreal and comical figures, what he actually saw was the latest Batman film, The Dark Knight . It was a relentlessly violent film, filled with
dark themes, he trembled.
Equally frightening for Smith was the fact that the BBFC had only given The Dark Knight a 12A certificate, meaning that a child younger than 12 can see the film providing they are accompanied by an adult. [As] I left I wondered what the board could
possibly have been thinking, Smith reports.
He was one of the lucky ones. Although terrified by the Joker, at least his daughter was on hand to reassure him that the nasty man with the knives and lint was made up.
The BBFC has played
a key role in shaping our
culture and society
John Beyer has taken the opportunity of the debate about the Batman age classification to rant at the BBFC:
We are not the least bit surprised that the BBFC finds itself embroiled in yet another row. The decision on the Batman movie and the Board's response to the public disquiet illustrates again how intransigent this self-appointed
"regulator" has become. It was a very great pity that Parliament rejected long overdue proposals to make the Board accountable for its actions through the House of Commons Select Committee system. The BBFC has played a key role in shaping our
culture and society and it is right that the Board should be properly accountable.
By adopting a permissive approach to film classification over many years the most brutal violence, the most obscene and profane language and the most explicit sexual conduct has effectively been normalised and glamorised. Evidently the BBFC is blind to
the moral, ethical and social havoc it wreaks and it is time for the Board to be modernised so that civilised values and behaviour are reflected in its judgements.
Comment: Moral, Ethical and Social Havoc
Nice to see Beyer is using the controversy to push his own agenda. Remember folks it's not just about the BBFC giving a film the wrong age rating but about the BBFC being responsible for moral, ethical and social havoc!
it is time for the Board to be modernised so that civilised values and behaviour are reflected in its judgements.
Yes yes by having people like John C Beyer presiding over what people should and should not be allowed to see.
The latest Batman movie has put MP David Lammy in a flap after he condemned the film for its "disturbing" content.
The Tottenham MP wrote to the BBFC claiming The Dark Knight' s depiction of knife violence and brutality is too much for a film classified as only 12A. He said: Many Tottenham parents will take their children to see the new Batman film only to
learn that the cumulative effect of the violence in this film is very disturbing. The film goes far beyond the superhero or fantasy film tradition.
Lammy has demanded the BBFC be made accountable to parents, adding that it is "unacceptable" to expose young children to graphic scenes. But he did call the film accomplished and very enjoyable.
A man resembling the Batman villain The Joker killed two children and a child care worker during a knife attack on a creche in the Belgian town of Dendermonde on Friday.
The 20-year-old assailant had a painted white face, eye shadow and ginger hair, and was wearing a bullet proof vest, witnesses said.
He tricked his way into the Fabeltjesland day care centre at 10am by claiming to have a meeting with one of the members of staff. He then drew a 12in knife and began to slash at children aged between a few months and two years old.
There were 21 infants in the creche and six supervisors. All of the victims were stabbed in the throat or head. Parents gathered in the Dendermonde town hall and, with psychologists in support, identified the victims using photographs.
Nine children escaped unharmed. Three of the creche's child care workers were injured as they tried to fend off the attacker.
Theo Janssens, Dendermonde's deputy mayor, said that the man just went crazy.
The knifeman was pursued by a police helicopter and arrested in a nearby supermarket still in possession of the weapon used in the attack. Alphonso De Baaker, a retired teacher, said the attacker had a history of mental illness.