Wednesday, June 04, 2008

The BACC And A Question Of Double Standards


This is the trailer (can't find the ad); ice pick scene is at 1'23"


Angus Wardlaw, a senior creative at CHI, has been having a fun correspondence with the BACC, which he has passed on to me.

Angus questions why the body has approved an ad for the film 'Doomsday':

Open on lots of space soldiers entering a futuristic city. One of the men gets an ice pick in the eye. Blood squirts everywhere before we cut to a stadium full of tattooed zombies etc... and this is okay to broadcast on national TV? I'm eager to know whether I can start including this sort of thing into my scripts (previously, I couldn't even include a car driving over 30mph!)

Here comes the reply:

In terms of film clips, viewers will tolerate, with appropriate timing, levels of violence and sexual content that would provoke outrage if they were in an ad to sell an ordinary product.

Put simply, a film clip of the shower scene from Psycho would probably be approved post 2100. A scenario for a bathroom company utilising the same image would almost certainly be unacceptable as likely to cause widespread general offence.

Angus finishes strongly:

Please help me to understand (as a professional copywriter and an ex-soldier) how a script of such sickening gore and depravity can be approved and aired? But in the case of say, a KFC ad where a lad is talking with his mouth full, you take a dim view of this and ban it?

It's a fun debate.

Personally, I think Angus is right (there's clearly a double standard here) but the BACC is also right - they are simply following their remit not to allow images which the British public find offensive.

So the true guilty party is the British public. We're all a bunch of hypocrites, aren't we?

27 comments:

Anonymous said...

hate to say it angus, but the bacc are right this time.

PH said...

As much as the BACC seem to spend their time being wilfully obstructive, there's surely a major difference here, which is that between 'art' and 'advertising.' Sex/violence etc may be essential to a narrative, but never an ad.

Anonymous said...

Why are the BACC right? Why is there a difference in what you can see in an ad for a film than in an ad for any other product?

Fenton Benton said...

What the -fuck- does the fact that he is an 'ex-soldier' have to do with anything?

On the subject of the argument, I see his point. But it breaks down a little bit when you realise that film is art.

I believe there is a greater acceptance of being moved, offended, affected in any way by art, for art's sake (or enjoyment's sake etc) rather than people in advertising agencies taking things to the edge of polemic, to generate a response in order to sell something.

Now, of course this debate can never be answered properly, because the question of what stage it's okay for someone to do something in an ad that gives me chills (or otherwise generates a response) that's 'acceptable' by the BACC's standards).

Everything we do should generate a response. But the BACC attempts to set limits on how far that response can go by setting limits on what themes can be covered by advertisers - leaving out the most polemic and extreme (those that traditionally generate the most visceral responses).

KFC - mouth fulls. The possibility of glamourising over-consumption for commercial gain? I buy their recommendation.

What happens when this same film/scene is broadcast for art's sake?

a) the message changes because of who it comes from
b) non-commercial self expression means that unless you're contravening another set of arbritrary rules (the law), you can do what you want.

Surely if he'd stepped back to think about this, it's all fairly clear/common sense. Instead he chose to ruffle some BACC feathers because he resents stuff he made in the past being censored or refused.

It's advertising.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

But wasn't that trailer an ad for Bentley?

Anonymous said...

Blimey this is dull isn't it? Can we have the photo competition back instead?

Some Guy said...

So, all we need to do is create a movie called "KFC: Servin' Up Soul." Oh, and by the way, the trailer happens to have people talking with their mouths open and eating KFC.

Brilliant! This solves all my BACC problems now!

Anonymous said...

RE: fenton benton about the soldier thing:

I think he said he was an ex-soldier to add impact to his argument, ie: soldiers are trained how to kill people, so violence shouldn't affect him as much as it would if he was an ex-primary school teacher, etc. but that the clip was violent enough to offend him and that he found it perplexing that the BACC would show a clip of aggravated, bloody violence and not bad table manners.

Fenton Benton said...

Fair enough, but I hardly think that the BACC takes audience occupation into account when censoring. In any case, they'd have to cater for the lowest common denominator.

And in a 'professional' context of a complaint/investigation to the BACC, his occupation past or present has nothing to do with the argument. It simply serves to say that he is personally/emotionally attached to it, and not acting objectively.

I'd love to have read the deleted post at 2.16pm. Does anyone know the jist of it?

Anonymous said...

Yes.
I believe it said 'you sad cunts'.

Anonymous said...

sadvertising.

Anonymous said...

can someone wake me up when this blog gets interesting again?

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

The film looks good though - I'm a sucker for zombie movies.

Alan Wolk said...

Is it the public's fault that they are more willing to tolerate gory images in terms of movies and other "stories" (and ads for those stories) than they are in terms of sales pitches. (And let's not deceive ourselves into thinking that the public sees ads as anything more than sales pitches.)

The difference is that most people actually like movies. Which I guess means that if Apple ran ads with exploding heads and all, lots of people would probably think it was brilliant.

Anonymous said...

I am very sad the KFC ad was banned.

Whilst it was on air, I learnt how to talk with my mouth full.

Now, I have to finish my mouthfuls before talking.

How am I supposed to learn now?

BACC? CACC, more like.

Paul Bootlis said...

Hey, isn't this trailer just a covert 'product placement' ad for Bentley?

Anonymous said...

The flick doesn't look so hot. Just a hash together of 28 Days Later, Aliens and Mad Max.

Anonymous said...

Who cares? The target audience is primarily on the the net now and BACC has absolutely no control and meaningless there, that's where all compelling content is going anyway, it's King Cunute against the ever rising tide. It will soon be seen as just an antiquated parochial quango.

]-[appy Thought said...

Ah just shove it on the internet instead, you can do whatever you want there.

For the time being...

Anonymous said...

Is there was a BAPP they'd ban Fern's baps for being massivo. That said I'd still like a go on them. You know, after the watershed. Sometimes aren't you overwhelmed by the thought that advertising and everyone in it, is a piece of shit.? I've got that feeling today.

How ironic the word verification is asking me to type in 'buggerheads'

Anonymous said...

I still don't understand why images that are OK in the context of a movie a trailer are not so when used in a conventional ad. Surely if your brain can cope with one it can cope with the other. Even if sex/violence is essential to a narrative, rather than an ad, it's either too much for us in both cases or acceptable in both cases.

Anonymous said...

Yeah. I'm a bit worried that I've wasted my life working in this industry.

Also ironically my word verification is asking me for 'ennui'

Anonymous said...

go and grow lentils in Azerbaijan then

Anonymous said...

I'm a lentil farmer in Azerbaijan and I can assure you it's no picnic out here. I'd stick to your crazy advertising banner ad antics if I were you.

Anonymous said...

Angus and others are right, there is no difference between an ad for a fast food and an ad for a movie - they are both ads for commercial products. I strongly doubt whether mainstream movies qualify as art in any meaningful sense, and therefore they don't qualify for special treatment. The double standards should be removed and horrific trailers shouldn't be shown even after the watershed. Personally I'm fond of a bit of splatter but also believe that 18 cert gore should be an "opt-in" business - if it's easily watchable it threatens to continue the process of normalising violence which is so obviously helping fuck up the streets around us these days...