Banning the Human Centipede
In a decision that is truly mind blowing in this day and age, Tom Six's sequel to HUMAN CENTIPEDE: FIRST SEQUENCE (Subtitled FULL SEQUENCE) has been banned by the BBFC, Britain's film censor board. As reported in various sources, though I first read about it in The Guardian, the reasoning behind the decision is based entirely on the certification that the film breaches the BBFC's Classification Guidelines, and poses "a real, as opposed to a fanciful, risk that harm is likely to be caused to potential viewers."
For those of you who have not yet been scarred by what in the film poses such a risk to viewers of the movie, a little taste of the plot: A man becomes increasingly obsessed with the first film and starts to act out sexual perversions and recreate the centipede by abducting and surgically altering captors of his own. Two scenes in particular, involving masturbation with sandpaper while watching the film and a rape scene involving barbed wire and the girl bringing up the rear of the man's creation, are singled out by the board in its justification for the classification, which makes any activity having to do with the film (including possession, distribution, and viewing - much like drugs) illegal.
But as pointed out by a favorite film blog of mine based in Britain, Little White Lies, this essentially tells us nothing about what these fears may be. Clearly the fears of the board are realized within the film itself, but what of the real world prospects of copy cat amateur surgeons? The first film has been out for nearly two years and I've yet to read a single report of anyone moved to such lengths by a perverse little diversion. It also bears to recognize, as again pointed out by LWL, that the board has banned films for similar reasons before, including THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, which created an absurd situation that saw one of the defining horror movies of all time, as well as one of the less sanguinary of the last thirty years by comparison, banned in the UK until 1999.
That ban did nothing to stop people from seeing the movie, though, and this one will likely do nothing to stop THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE: FULL SEQUENCE either. In an era when anything and everything can simply be downloaded via torrent or sold internationally, there's no stopping someone from seeing something if they want to. It's just absurd to do it with something as fluid and accessible as cinema, no matter how lacking in artistic merit it may be. And if we start banning things based on that criteria, I say we start with movies starring Rob Schneider.
And then there's the situation brought on by the announcement of the ban itself. As evidenced by the growing interest in A SEBIAN FILM, a nasty little number from last year's festival circuit which still fails to have U.S. distribution, all the attention about how horrific and immoral it is has only given it free publicity and increased the likelihood that more people will actually see the movie at this point. Not to mention the fact that adults are allowed to make decisions about what they would like to watch or read because they are adults, hence the very need for a classification system at all. Tell us what's in the movie, and then let us watch it if we want to. I know I, for one, can't wait to decide whether or not to watch Tom Six's follow-up to THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE. That's because I'm an adult, and not a child to be coddled and told what is appropriate. All that aside, though, there's more seriously fucked up material written in literature these days anyway, but I guess that's okay because the luddites out there who want us to be on the lookout for perversion don't read anything anyway.