It’s kind of a funny story actually, the implicit hegemonic ideologies which continue to construct, even mould, public perceptions of artistic integrity. For a society which seemingly upholds the value in freedom of speech, there continues to be a dark, hanging cloud which shrouds and diminishes our utopian ideals of unrestricted self-expression. An entity so deeply ingrained into contemporary culture that many barely even question its presence around us – censorship.

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Okay, maybe it seems a little much to characterise censorship as an unstoppable pseudo-viral conception which threatens the foundations we live upon. After all, cultural changes have forced artistic censorship to adjust onto a more lenient spectrum. It’s a long road away from the wholly restrictive ‘Hays Code’ which dominated Hollywood for the good part of three decades, and yet, for all the slack that film censorship has seen throughout these early stages of the 21st century, there remains one vital element which seems to have refused to change – sex.

Recently, the BBFC released official changes in policies which would see a bigger scrutiny placed on the psychological impact of horror within cinema, whilst frequency of very strong language, which would usually predict an 18 certificate, would see an immediate leniency, a progression which they say reflects cultural changes within Britain. Laughably ironic then, when we consider the board remains proudly stern on its archaic models of sexuality when the rest of the world has rightly moved on.

Theoretical constructs surrounding censorship directs that its main principle is to protect the public, primarily children, from witnessing materials which could potentially damage their innocent psyches. And so in a bizarre, illogical conclusion which seems to plague Anglo-saxon countries specifically, the BBFC continue to imply that sexuality and nudity are inherently more harmful then violence. Shootings, stabbings and a moderated focus on injury are all nicely packaged within the child-friendly 12A ratings, but a simulated representation of sexual intercourse, or a “supposedly” gratuitous shot of natural nudity and BAM!, all hell breaks loose, you’re out of the ball-park and firmly into the minimum 15 rating category. Take Amélie. In its homeland of France, the film found itself rated ‘tous publics’, the UK equivalent of the U certificate. Just over the bridge however, in antiquated Britain, the film was slapped with a 15 rating. Alarmingly, this is not an isolated incident, with these major distinctions between the two neighbouring countries reflecting seemingly intrinsic polarising attitudes towards sex.

Interestingly, with Britain remaining the top European country for teenage pregnancy, the question of the relationship between censorship and active audience participation is heightened. With sexuality in film classifying so high, there is a suggestion that rates of teenage pregnancy should be inherently low. So why does this not correlate with reality? There is no distinct answer, but maybe it’s the physical act of censorship itself which proves more harmful. As humans, we are physiologically drawn to taboo, to participate in acts which are deemed culturally inappropriate. Perhaps then, with sex being presented as illicit and dangerous, the draw to participate in intercourse becomes heightened. It’s a basic hypothesis, but it’s important to consider such questions on the impact of censorship because it remains an unfavourable concept. A power play between the dominating ideals of the ruling institution and those of the public.