|This work was rejected. |
Multi-Aspect,Open Captioned,Traces of Death comprises a compilation of uncontextualised clips showing real killings, suicides, medical operations, fatal accidents, autopsies and other distressing images . The work presents no journalistic, educational or other justifying context for the images shown. Rather, the work presents a barrage of sensationalist clips, for what appears to be the underlying purpose of providing prurient entertainment. That this is the essential purpose of the work is reinforced by the addition of a sparse but sensationalist voice-over, which deliberately makes light of human death, pain and suffering. Some of the most graphic clips are needlessly repeated in slow motion, further underlining the prurient and exploitative nature of the work.
The Board carefully considered the work in the light of our Guidelines and the tests set down by the Video Recordings Act. A key consideration is the question of any harm that might be caused to potential viewers or, through their behaviour, to society because of the manner in which the work deals with violence and “horrific behaviour or incidents”. The Board has concluded that the video is potentially harmful because of the influence it may have on the attitudes and behaviour of at least some intended or potential viewers. By presenting actual human death, mutilation and suffering as entertainment, the work has the potential to desensitise viewers, and perhaps even to incite some to harm others. The work invites the viewer to take sadistic pleasure in death, injury, mutilation and pain and encourages callousness towards victims. Given the flippant and sensationalist nature of the occasional voice over, the work is perhaps especially likely to appeal to the juvenile humour of young and impressionable persons (whatever its classification). The Board considers that the work may have a significant brutalising effect on their attitude to human life and pain.
Given the potential for the work to deaden the sensitivity of viewers to pain and suffering and to impair the moral development of younger viewers in particular, the Board also considers that the work raises serious concerns about possible breach of the Obscene Publications Act. This Act makes it an offence to distribute any work that, taken as a whole, has a tendency to deprave and corrupt (i.e. make morally bad) a significant proportion of those likely to see it.
A further consideration for the Board is that of public acceptability. (This is the ground on which, for instance, the Board has regard to issues of bad language.) In this case the combination of the shocking and distressing images in the work, the lack of any justifying context, the editorial treatment, and the and the possible appeal to a young audience, all appear to the Board to raise serious concerns about the acceptability of the work to public opinion. Taken together with the harm issues, and potential breach of the law, these concerns about acceptability strengthen the basis for refusal of classification.
The Board considered whether cutting the work would be a viable alternative to refusing a classification certificate. However, the essential difficultly with Traces of Death lies not so much with any particular images (most of which would have been acceptable in a different, more serious, context) but with the manner in which the images are presented, and with the underlying, exploitative purpose of the work. Cuts would therefore be unlikely to modify the tone and overall effect of the work acceptably.