“The UK has always struggled with horror.” – Interview with Chris Brown

Horror has always been a controversial subject. It has always been something that people have not always fully understood. One man who does understand it is Chris Brown. Chris, 36, is the writer of The Last Horror Podcast, Video Nasties Podcast and History Of Horror Podcast. When asked for his thoughts on the Video Nasty saga, he said: “The Nasties scare itself is an indication of how freedoms can be curbed via dodgy legislation powered by an aggressive press. There was a great deal of misinformation at the time, spouted by papers and ministers. It was a storm of new freedoms, a press keen to write sensationalist stories and ministers willing to create legislation to curb these freedoms. The nasties led to stricter censorship in the UK right up to the turn of the century. The films are not as important as the political climate to the reasons why they were banned.

The Exorcist poster

“The UK has always struggled with horror. From the H classification in the 1930s through to the nasties and beyond. The country has always considered the genre to be negative. I do not think that is as much the case now. From the flood of extreme cinema in the late 90s and early 00s through to modern TV horror and violence, attitudes had loosened. Bare in mind though that The Exorcist did not get a video release until the late 90s. So yeah, I feel there has been a great deal of impact initially.”

With this in mind, does Chris think that the BBFC have moved well with the times in recent years. On this, he said: “Generally yes. There are very few films that are outright banned or cut to get an 18. We have moved a long way and while there are some examples of them being a little over zealous they generally are more liberal.”

Grotesque poster

On the subject of some of the more recent films to be banned, he said: “I can only really think of Hate Crime, Grotesque and Murder-Set-Pieces that were banned outright in the last 10 years. Separating personal feeling for Hate Crime, I think it was banned for racial prejudice reasons. There is a lot of hate speak currently around online and as a society we need to confront these issues head-on. Hate Crime is difficult to justify artistically but it is a work of fiction and I believe the director is Jewish and trying to make a film without stoking anti-antisemitism. You are supposed to be repulsed by the action on screen. The BBFC are saying there is a risk people will not see this and agree with the nazis. Also that society itself would reject the work as unacceptable. The question is, do you agree with this view? It is a personal decision here and as such deeply subjective. So in short, I personally think it should have got an 18. However, my viewpoint is of no more worth than anybody else on such a subjective threshold.”

Hate Crime is a hard watch, but so much of what occurs happens off screen. With these thoughts in mind, it would be interesting to see whether he thinks banning is ever the option. He said: “Personally no. As long as it is a work of fiction, However, again this is increasingly a question beyond cinema classification. Where does Youtube, Twitter and 4Chan fit into this narrative now? Where do we curb Nazism and the rise of extremism in this? Cinema is a small part of a wider conversation about the rise of hate speech. When I was a uni student in the 90s and early 00s it was a bit more cut and dried as a censorship argument. That changes with the rise of the internet, Again, this is a decision and conversation we need as a society.”

 

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