Thursday, June 09, 2011

Censorship is ***** and *****! Right?!

Ah, the Human Centipede. What a delightful idea for a movie: a sick scientist decides to kidnap people and surgically attach them mouth to anus into one creature. An idea so creepy and sick that many more people know about the movie than ever intend to actually watch it.

The creator, Tom Six, is convinced that it is the sickest movie ever made, but I beg to differ. It is actually not that difficult to watch in terms of what you actually get to see graphically. I felt more uncomfortable sitting through some gory Saw and Hostel scenes, not to mention the fantastically disturbing French movie Inside. In the defence of Human Centipede (other than the fact that it is not a terrible movie) I like the fact that the focus is body deformation horror rather than the usual hack/slash/torture/kill fare. In the right hands it could have been truly terrifying (David Cronenberg?), but instead it is unintentionally amusing, especially when watched with friends.

In one section (spoiler alert?) the Japanese man in the front of the centipede needs to poop and he knows that it will go straight into the mouth of the woman attached to his backside. He tries to hold it in, but can't and apologizes to her as he relieves himself and feeling really crappy (ha ha) about it. That scenario is truly creepy and unsettling in theory, but the sloppy execution makes it feel like an American Pie type gross-out sequence played for laughs (nervous and otherwise). That specific scene was ripe for parodying, an opportunity not missed by the king of cartoon gross out, South Park and their Human CentiPad parody.

The teaser for Human Centipede 2 shows Tom Six walking down a car park with blood splattered on him and his own voice over telling us how amazingly shocking the first movie is and how the next movie is going to be even more shocking despite the threats he gets on Facebook. It's all a little too "hey, look at me!" for my taste. This teaser lacks any gore or profanity and lasts only two minutes, but I found it harder to sit through than the entire first Human Centipede movie. The words douche and bag spring to mind.

With that said I enjoyed the first movie for the trashy nonsense it was and I am sure I will enjoy the second one. You see, I enjoy squirming and be taken out of my comfort zone. You may ask: why watch horrific things on film when there is plenty of horrific things happening in real life every day? Because you can comfort yourself by reminding yourself that this is just make believe, which you can't do when reading the news. Just like a really good roller-coaster ride, there is a sense of relief when it is over and your feet are back on the ground.

So it is annoying to read that the British Board of Film Classification has decided to refuse giving the sequel classification, essentially banning it. Their reasoning is that the movie is "sexually violent and potentially obscene". "Unacceptable material". The sequel seems to up at the ant quite a bit by introducing stronger and more graphic violent sexual fantasties, torture, humiliation and so forth. But haven't we seen it all already? Is it really worse than Salò, the 36 years old movie based on the book The 120 Days of Sodom by the Marquis de Sade? Or Clockwork Orange? Both films, by the way, were banned by the British Board of Film Classification and now they are both available uncut and you can buy them on Amazon with Salò receiving a special British Film Council edition cementing it reputation as an art house movie. So as the cool kids would say: "WTF?"

Basically what this all means is that the BBFC is a useless, pointless, patronizing and - did I already say useless? - organization. How long before Human Centipede 2 will be released uncut and praised as a great work of art? In the age of the internet can you really censor anything anymore? You can hurt the movie's earnings, but anyone who would want to see this movie will be able to download it on-line, legally or otherwise.

The most troubling aspect of this story is the fact that there are a bunch of people who sit around and decide what material is suitable for others to consume. Sure, someone might think that bloody gory torture with graphic sexual violence is unacceptable material, but others might draw a line at Tom and Jerry's cartoon violence. Who is to decide when a movie is suddenly too violent? James Bond? Dusk Till Dawn? Texas Chainsaw Massacre? Bambi?

"Don't worry, Bambi, I'll never leave you."
The answer is, no one should decide it and adults should be able to consume any form of fiction even if it makes the rest of us uncomfortable (like the Twilight books and movies for example).

Something to think about: if all these banned movies are indeed that dangerous and damaging to the viewers, shouldn't all of those movie censors who watched hundreds of these films be admitting themselves to a mental institute to seek psychiatric help? On the other hand if their fragile human minds survived all of these terrible movies intact, maybe they are safe to consume for the rest of us too?

The bottom line is, increasingly violent movies are not desensitizing audiences to real life violence, they are only desensitizing  audiences to violent movies which is why new horror movies keep trying to top each other with acts of depraved violence and insanity. But where else can you go after you torture, rape, cut, burn, slice, dice, mince, crash, squish, eat and cook your victims? It really has all been done before. So let's just all get over it and move on.

By the way, Tom Six wanted to originally name the Human Centipede "12 Legs", but I threatened them with legal action. True story.



Mark said...

I could never watch that. The South Park Episode was disturbing enough. m.

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