In the last couple of weeks The Human Centipede 2 has become the highest profile film to be banned in Britain in the last decade. Throughout 2010 only two films were banned in the UK thereby showing the British Board of Film Classification to be fairly lenient in their judgements over the past few years. It is very unlike the dark times of censorship during the Video Nasties in the 1980s which saw 72 films banned and the introduction of the 1984 Video Recording Act. These days even the most sordid films such as Saw, Hostel and A Serbian Film have been passed into mainstream cinema which shows that you have to be pretty outrageous to be banned amidst a market of violence, gore and depravity.
The first Human Centipede was one of the most contentious movies in recent times with its controversial content and sickening images. The concept of a mad scientist attaching victims head to rectum bought up a lot of dinners in 2009. Tom Six’s sequel goes even further with a copycat, obsessed with a DVD of the first human centipede gaining sexual fulfilment from developing his own. Parts that were frowned upon included scenes of masturbation using sandpaper and barbed wire and the rape of the final piece of the centipede in the sequence. As well as the increased level of debauchery found within the content of, the argument against censorship was that rather than being in place of the victim, Human Centipede puts the viewer in the place of the villain. Therefore the practises are seen as enticing rather than vile. The BBFC says ‘Unlike the first film, the sequel presents graphic images of sexual violence, forced defecation, and mutilation, and the viewer is invited to witness events from the perspective of the protagonist’. It is showing the victims as nothing more than pawns to be humiliated and degraded, which was an argument for the banning of many of the ‘nasties.’
However, the restriction imposed on the film will only entice more people to watch the film via any means. There will defiantly be a myriad of countries to import from and will probably be the most downloaded film of the year. Cynically, one could argue that banning a film could be the best possible way of advertising it and therefore they should push the boundaries to their limit in an attempt to be castigated by the media to produce a social arousal of interest. One could argue what is the point of banning a film within a multimedia society that allows audiences to gain access to the films in a variety of ways. These days it is usually Video Games, rather than films, that are usually the target for scaremongering tactics from the media. I doubt that from the banning of the Human Centipede 2 that another moral panic, like the one seen in the 1980s, will devastate society.