This space to rent

No formal editorial, ‘cos I’m about to leave the happy inhabitants here at TC Towers in peace, while I slide off to parts American for a bit. But I thought this Mormon document might amuse you while I’m away — normal service will be resumed in, oh, three weeks or so.

Mark E. Petersen Council of the 12 Apostles

Be assured that you can be cured of your difficulty. Many have been, both male and female, and you can be also if you determine that it must be so. This determination is the first step. That is where we begin. You must decide that you will end this practice, and when you make that decision, the problem will be greatly reduced at once. But it must be more than a hope or a wish, more than knowing that it is good for you. It must be actually a DECISION. If you truly make up your mind that you will be cured, then you will have the strength to resist any tendencies which you may have and any temptations which may come to you. After you have made this decision, then observe the following specific guidelines:

A Guide to Self-Control:

1. Never touch the intimate parts of your body except during normal toilet processes.

2. Avoid being alone as much as possible. Find good company and stay in this good company.

3. If you are associated with other persons having this same problem, YOU MUST BREAK OFF THEIR FRIENDSHIP. Never associate with other people having the same weakness. Don’t suppose that two of you will quit together, you never will. You must get away from people of that kind. Just to be in their presence will keep your problem foremost in your mind. The problem must be taken OUT OF YOUR MIND for that is where it really exists. Your mind must be on other and more wholesome things.

4. When you bathe, do not admire yourself in a mirror. Never stay in the bath more than five or six minutes — just long enough to bathe and dry and dress AND THEN GET OUT OF THE BATHROOM into a room where you will have some member of your family present.

5. When in bed, if that is where you have your problem for the most part, dress yourself for the night so securely that you cannot easily touch your vital parts, and so that it would be difficult and time consuming for you to remove those clothes. By the time you started to remove protective clothing you would have sufficiently controlled your thinking that the temptation would leave you.

6. If the temptation seems overpowering while you are in bed, GET OUT OF BED AND GO INTO THE KITCHEN AND FIX YOURSELF A SNACK, even if it is in the middle of the night, and even if you are not hungry, and despite your fears of gaining weight. The purpose behind this suggestion is that you GET YOUR MIND ON SOMETHING ELSE. You are the subject of your thoughts, so to speak.

7. Never read pornographic material. Never read about your problem. Keep it out of mind. Remember — “First a thought, then an act.” The thought pattern must be changed. You must not allow this problem to remain in your mind. When you accomplish that, you soon will be free of the act.

8. Put wholesome thoughts into your mind at all times. Read good books — Church books — Scriptures — Sermons of the Brethern [sic, Cistern too?]. Make a daily habit of reading at least one chapter of Scripture, preferably from one of the four Gospels in the New Testament, or the Book of Mormon. The four Gospels — Matthew, Mark, Luke and John — above anything else in the Bible can be helpful because of their uplifting qualities.

9. Pray. But when you pray, don’t pray about this problem, for that will tend to keep [it] in your mind more than ever. Pray for faith, pray for understanding of the Scriptures, pray for the Missionaries, the General Authorities, your friends, your families, BUT KEEP THE PROBLEM OUT OF YOUR MIND BY NOT MENTIONING IT EVER — NOT IN CONVERSATION WITH OTHERS, NOT IN YOUR PRAYERS. KEEP IT _OUT_ of your mind! The attitude of a person toward his problem has an affect on how easy it is to overcome. It is essential that a firm commitment be made to control the habit. As a person understands his reasons for the behavior, and is sensitive to the conditions or situations that may trigger a desire for the act, he develops the power to control it.

As one meets with his Priesthood Leader, a program for overcoming masturbation can be implemented using some of these suggestions. Remember it is essential that a regular report program be agreed on, so progress can be recognized and failures understood and eliminated.

1. Pray daily, ask for the gifts of the Spirit, that which will strengthen you against temptation. Pray fervently and out loud when the temptations are the strongest.

2. Follow a program of vigorous daily exercise. The exercises reduce emotional tension and depression and are absolutely basic to the solution of this problem. Double your physical activity when you feel stress increasing.

3. When the temptation to masturbate is strong, yell STOP to those thoughts as loudly as you can in your mind and then recite a prechosen Scripture or sing an inspirational hymn. It is important to turn your thoughts away from the selfish need to indulge.

4. Set goals of abstinence, begin with a day, then a week, month, year and finally commit to never doing it again. Until you commit yourself to never again you will always be open to temptation.

5. Change in behavior and attitude is most easily achieved through a changed self-image. Spend time every day imagining yourself strong and in control, easily overcoming tempting situations.

6. Begin to work daily on a self-improvement program. Relate this plan to improving your Church service, to improving your relationships with your family, God and others. Strive to enhance your strengths and talents.

7. Be outgoing and friendly. Force yourself to be with others and learn to enjoy working and talking to them. Use principles of developing friendships found in books such as How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie.

8. Be aware of situations that depress you or that cause you to feel lonely, bored, frustrated or discouraged. These emotional states can trigger the desire to masturbate as a way of escape. Plan in advance to counter these low periods through various activities, such as reading a book, visiting a friend, doing something athletic, etc.

9. Make a pocket calendar for a month on a small card. Carry it with you, but show it to no one. If you have a lapse of self control, color the day black. Your goal will be to have no black days. The calendar becomes a strong visual reminder of self control and should be looked at when you are tempted to add another black day. Keep your calendar up until you have at least three clear months.

10. A careful study will indicate you have had the problem at certain times and under certain conditions. Try and recall, in detail, what your particular times and conditions were. Now that you understand how it happens, plan to break the pattern through counter activities.

11. In the field of psychotherapy there is a very effective technique called aversion therapy. When we associate or think of something very distasteful with something which has been pleasurable, but undesirable, the distasteful thought and feeling will begin to cancel out that which was pleasurable. If you associate something very distasteful with your loss of self-control it will help you to stop the act. For example, if you are tempted to masturbate, think of having to bathe in a tub of worms, and eat several of them as you do the act.

12. During your toileting and shower activities leave the bathroom door or shower curtain partly open, to discourage being alone in total privacy. Take cool brief showers.

13. Arise immediately in the mornings. Do not lie in bed awake, no matter what time of day it is. Get up and do something. Start each day with an enthusiastic activity.

14. Keep your bladder empty. Refrain from drinking large amounts of fluids before retiring.

15. Reduce the amount of spices and condiments in your food. Eat as lightly as possible at night.

16. Wear pajamas that are difficult to open, yet loose and not binding.

17. Avoid people, situations, pictures or reading materials that might create sexual excitement.

18. It is sometimes helpful to have a physical object to use in overcoming this problem. A Book of Mormon, firmly held in hand, even in bed at night has proven helpful in extreme cases.

19. In very severe cases it may be necessary to tie a hand to the bed frame with a tie in order that the habit of masturbating in a semi-sleep condition can be broken. This can also be accomplished by wearing several layers of clothing which would be difficult to remove while half asleep.

20. Set up a reward system for your successes. It does not have to be a big reward. A quarter in a receptacle each time you overcome or reach a goal. Spend it on something which delights you and will be a continuing reminder of your progress.

21. Do not let yourself return to any past habit or attitude patterns which were part of your problem. Satan Never Gives Up. Be calmly and confidently on guard. Keep a positive mental attitude. You can win this fight! The joy and strength you will feel when you do will give your whole life a radiant and spiritual glow of satisfaction and fulfillment.

The Trash City World Cup, Part 4

The Final: Germany vs United States

Readers with long memories may recall that these two teams met each other before, back in the group stages, when America came out on top. However, past performance is no guarantee of future success, as they say (very quickly) in the best financial product advertisements. For the group stages were based on nothing more scientific than a quick finger in the proverbial, see which way the flag runs up the gut feeling. Or, to put it another way, I guessed.

Now, however, after the tense excitement of the semis, I feel that a more quantitative method is required. So what we have are six categories, which are all important facets of the trash experience. In each of these, we will pit the finalists together, like giant rubber-suited actors in a mid-60’s Japanese monster movie, and see who comes out on top. We will use a boxing-style scoring system i.e. the winner gets ten points, and the loser gets zero to nine, depending on their contribution.

How beautiful are their women? Some correspondents chose to question Germany’s strength in depth in this area, but this objection was rejected by the jury i.e. me. Don’t forget, I went to Hamburg not so long ago [look, it IS all written up, I just need to scan in the pics to illustrate it], and so can state that Misses Kinski, Schiffer and Habermann are merely the tip of a large, cute iceberg. However, we did accept the following impassioned plea:


How can any nation rank high on the International Babeometer Scale when the ‘Pro-Lifer licking sperm off a dog turd’ impersonator Steffi Graf can become such an object of obsessive lust to her countrymen that one of them is prepared to perforate the porcine Monica Seles to demonstrate the depths of their deranged desires?

Clearly some strength of feeling there. However, the same contributor rather blotted his copybook by going on to list Renee O’Connor — that’s the ugly one out of Xena: Warrior Princess (right) — as one of the reasons why America should win. Rather shot yourself in the foot there, didn’t we? A disturbing tendency in American towards teeth, tans, and tits means that victory in the first round goes to Europe

GERMANY 10, United States 8

The main problem in this area is one of proving origin. The archetypal American meal consists of hamburger and French fries — whose names would suggest they are German and (fairly obviously) French respectively, but this may be some kind of cultural myth. They may just have been invented by Messrs Hamburg + French. I don’t know, I just eat the freakin’ stuff, after all.

Let’s just rely on gut feeling here as to such matters. Pizza is American, and we’ll give Germany the benefit of Black Forest Gateau (or Schwarzwalder Kirschtorte, to give it its proper name — one of the few words I remember from O-grade German, along with “Kugelschreiber” — ball-point pen…), though we could argue either of these are being about as authentic as Vindaloo. The relentless nature of German cuisine (1001 interesting things to do with sausage) gets even to this hard-core carnivore, though America is penalised for being the origin of “health” food.

UNITED STATES 10, Germany 9


Not so long ago, this one would have been a foregone conclusion, with Germany romping to victory through the contribution of Bavaria alone. However, this is no longer the case, as America is slowly discovering the delights of real beer, as opposed to gnats piss cooled to the approximate temperature of liquid helium. Some of these are good. Very good. Indeed, probably good enough to challenge the best of the German beers. Patchy distribution of these is definitely a problem, and the consistency of the Bavarians, thanks to those fabulous purity laws, is unbeatable.

However, a bonus point to the Americans for taking the soft drink and raising it up to an art form. You don’t get Coke, you can get it with or without caffeine, sugar, or colour, and in “Original” or “New” varieties. And then there’s Jolt Cola (quadruple the caffeine, and twice the sugar, or thereabouts), to be found in discerning 7-11 stores up and down the land. Given it’s just past 2am, I could do with a bottle here right now.

GERMANY 10, United States 9

Wim Wenders, Werner Herzog, Jorg Buttgereit and Fritz Lang — strange bedfellows, but they are the ones whose names comes to mind when I think of the German film industry. Wenders deserves respect as the only director to work with Nastassja more than once, Herzog as pretty much the only director to work with Klaus more than once, Buttgereit for producing some of the grossest yet thought-provoking films in cinematic history, and Fritz Lang for ‘Metropolis’. Not bad, but…

You have to plough through a lot of half-heartedly trashy efforts to find true trash in the US. However, it is out there as witnessed by, for instance, this website [sadly no longer active, ten years later, so I removed the link] which specialises in women in peril (and wet T-shirts) movies. The custom videos are quite intriguing: supply a script, and for about $20 a minute, they’ll stage it — and admittedly then flog the tapes, but you do get a dollar for every one they sell. In the light of such…entrepreneurial imagination, it would be hard for any country to stand up, and that is aside from the vast slew of independent film-makers beavering away these days.

UNITED STATES 10, Germany 8

On the popular level, America wins hands down, largely by sheer weight of numbers — great though Kraftwerk are, they aren’t quite sufficient to stem the tidal wave, of Papua New Guinean proportions, which is the past forty years of American rock ‘n’ roll. Oh, there is more to it than that; I would personally point to KMFDM and Rammstein as being easily the match of your average Yankee band, although I will probably get shot if I fail to mention Kim Deal at this point.

However, it is in the realm of straight-faced absurdity that the Germans truly excel, and just about manage to pull off a stunning victory. Take the Eurovision Song Contest, for example: back in 1982, it was Nicole, with ‘A Little Peace’, one of the most sickening pieces of driviel you will ever hear. This year, it was Guildo Horn, a post-post-post-ironic parody of all the oompah music. And Mike ‘Womble’ Batt wrote their World Cup song. Against this, all the Americans can offer is a fondness for letting celebrities massacre the National Anthem at baseball games: first Roseanne, and now Caroline In The City star Lea Thompson, in her greatest contribution to popular culture since a certain scene in All The Right Moves. Or indeed, Howard the Duck.

GERMANY 10, United States 9


The biggest problem with German TV is that it is, understandably but still unhelpfully, in German. And sadly, they don’t discuss Black Forest Gateau and ball-point pens often enough for me to able to appreciate it. This limits its appeal, and indeed its distribution, though things may change when digital television brings in 500 more channels to be filled…somehow. On the plus side, they are remarkably unfettered about what they show: when we came back to our apartment in Hamburg, we’d bet on how many channels we’d have to go through to find some naked flesh. The answer was, almost inevitably, no more than three.

American television comes in three distinct flavours: network, syndicate and cable, in increasing order of pleasantness. Network TV possesses all the flavour and appeal of vanilla blancmange; syndicated television has moments of charm and originality, while on cable, your are talking a free fire zone as far as concepts like ‘good taste’ are concerned. Which is precisely the way it SHOULD be — something for everyone, even if they are depraved gun-freaks with an interest in rubber. That’s a TRUE minority interest, Channel 4 please note. But you can hardly go against any country where it takes half-an-hour to channel surf, and the variety is a telling blow for the land of the free.

UNITED STATES 10, Germany 7

And the final score is:

United States 56, Germany 54

leaving the winner of the inaugural Trash City World Cup as:

The United States

Congratulations to them and their 250 million inhabitants.

And I can assure you, it will certainly be another four years before I will even contemplate repeating this little exercise. Thank you for bearing with me!

Yours, Ref Hunter J.

Thanks are due to Mal Aitchison and John Spencer, for service above and beyond the call of duty. Even if, curiously, both of them do like Renee O’Connor.

Gother than thou, and other thoughts

The good news: TC20/21 should be back from the printers on Tuesday, so it looks likely that I will be sitting in front of the Scotland-Morocco match sticking envelopes and licking stamps. The bad news is that the main PC box here suffered an “upgrade” today — new memory went in, and it promptly stopped working, even when the old memory was put back. Thus I am reduced to a somewhat primitive level of functionality for this week’s editorial, and the weird news section will have to wait until things get fixed, one way or another.

If that’s not soon, it’s gonna make the task of sending out the subscriptions a little…interesting, because the current subs list which I can access was last updated, let me see, five months ago. I should still have a bunch of subs letters and stuff, but I’ll apologise in advance for any inconvenience caused. But, let’s face it, you’ve waited eighteen months for it to turn up, so what’s another week here or there going to matter?

Yes, I *know* it’s a feeble excuse, but at least it will allow me to spend hours playing Bust-a-Move 3 [the favoured Playstation game at the present moment] and watching the World Cup. It’s miraculous to find that Scotland are still in it somehow, though for 25 minutes against Norway, I felt like a certain bowl of petunias i.e. “Oh no, not again”. If you want a prediction for Tuesday night, here goes: we draw 1-1 with Morocco, Brazil beat Norway 1-0. Norway and Scotland then have to draw lots to see who goes through, and of course, we go out. Still, who cares, as long as England lose to Germany again — ideally on penalties…

Went out clubbing last night, for the first time in ages, with Rob Dyer of Dark Star [whose publication is about to take over the TC record for longest interval between issues!] and housemates Steve and Abigail. The venue in question was ‘Tenebrae’ — one wonders if it’s run by rabid Argento fans — and was…SERIOUSLY goth. I mean, like UTTERLY goth, in a “where DO these people go during the day?” kind of way. I like the Sisters of Mercy, and all, but was clearly not in the same league, being THE ONLY PERSON wearing a white T-shirt [I think there was one girl in white, but it was kind of a wedding dress thing, so doesn’t count…]

It was a TC-shirt, however — no chance for promotion left unfulfilled, me — and did lead to an interesting conversation with someone who knew the origin of the name (a Transvision Vamp song, in case you didn’t know) on the “whatever happened to them?” kind of lines. Which was one of the cool things about the club (apart from the skull cookies on entry, and the hand stamp that had clearly been nicked from a hospital and read “Patient Died: Date ________”): I had far more conversations with people I didn’t know than you would expect in a ‘normal’ club. Get past the somewhat disconcerting look, and goths are clearly a friendly lot. [Tenebrae: 3rd Friday each month, Gossip’s, 69 Dean St, London. Just don’t wear white]

Having completed TC, I now feel justified in taking some well-earned rest. I am thus winding up towards this summer’s little excursion, in which I wave goodbye to the other residents of TC Towers, leaving them in peace for a bit, while I vanish off to the Americas. This year, I’ll be crossing off a couple more bits: the south-east, in the shape of Florida, and Montreal, which I guess could wipe off all of Canada, though that seems a bit harsh. I’ve finally got a new passport, with a picture which looks SLIGHTLY more like me than the old one, though it more closely resembles my brother on Death Row in Arkansas. The tickets have arrived, and the next few days will fill in the blanks for money and insurance.

There is but one snag. I failed to look at the World Cup schedule when booking the tickets. It’s going to be bad enough trying to cope in a country where commentators still talk about “drawing a personal foul despite being double-teamed in the red zone” [hello…it’s football… not soccer…FOOTBALL], but I will be flying out on the day that Scotland play their second round match [yes, we’ll take the assumptions as read on that one, shall we]. First task on getting through immigration will be to try and find out what’s happened to

the bonnie wee bravehearts.

No doubt you will hear further reports in due course, but take this as warning that there will be somewhat limited updates for the next three weeks or so. Wish me luck, and serial killers permitting, I’ll be back in July…

The Trash City World Cup, Part 3

The Semi Finals

After last time, 28 of the 32 teams who had taken part were elimated. Just as in the real competition, the Asian and African teams had all taken an early bath — looking at the pairings, there was still the possibility of the TC World Cup having the same final line-up too. But not everyone has been quite as impressed — witness the following email from Tom, presumably located somewhere in America:

The only reason you Scotspeople (and everyone else in the world, according to you) don’t like basketball is, you can’t play it – it takes athletic talent. I suppose non-American football is good for something: war vets with no arms can play. American games require arms, legs, and often brains.

Hmmm. The World Cup is the biggest sporting tournament in the world. More countries take part than in anything else, and the Final is the most watched sporting event. How does this compare to the NBA finals? Or the “World” Series (snigger — America and Canada!). I’ve never denied you need athletic talent to play basketball. However, the problem is that at the highest level, you almost inevitably have to be freakishly tall, and this reduces the game to a farce.

There’s also no such thing as ‘non-American football’. There is football, and there is American football. We’ve been playing the game of football since well before your Civil War, so we kinda have rights to the name. As for American games requiring brains, it that why American football scholarships have to get their results fudged so often? Oh, and “war vets with no arms” would have problems playing in goal. 😉

Right, having disposed of that little matter, on to this:


Brazil vs Germany
To quote one reader, “In view of what actually happened perhaps Brazil should win through if only in the interests of maintaining Anglo-Brazilian relationships (or relationships with Brazilian babes?) and continuing supplies of corned-beef! However, don’t try the one that contains sweet pickle – bought by accident and fairly disgusting. Tastes more like tinned salmon (ie vinegar) with the occasional lump of turnip.

I suppose getting the pickle already WITH your corned beef would save a few seconds in preparation time, but in general, the warning above is probably somewhat superfluous. But I am also impressed by Drugstore, whose Brazilian singer performed her World Cup song (one long piss-take of England/paean to Brazil) live on Radio 1 for a room full of drunken Scots in St Etienne last week. It was ‘warmly received’.

Against this, however, we have the following in favour of Germany: “Lexx, particularly Eva Habermann (Zev). Incidentally, do you know Jorg Buttgereit is working on the new series? I’m not sure in what capacity, but this has the potential to be Trash TV par excellence. Claudia Schiffer. Okay, this one is a bit vague (spot the understatement) but I’ll call the next entry ‘Germany’s answer to Traci Lords’; I once saw a German porn film with a blonde, school uniform-clad Teuton (at this point I’ll quickly point out that although she was *playing* a school student she was about as convincing in the role as Janet Krankie – how come *she* got left out of the Scottish entry? – and that the comparison to Traci Lords is purely based on physical appearance!) whose large, but completely natural, breasts wobbled in such a mesmerising way during the more vigorous ‘action’ scenes that, for that reason alone, my heart (if not a certain other part of my anatomy) has a soft spot for Germany, penalty shoot-outs notwithstanding.”

Brazil have managed to get through this far with a limited squad, consisting of some strippers and a tinned meat — which must prove something, and it’s probably not how much I love corned beef. However, despite the callous disregard for English sensitivities (not to mention the gratuitous reference to Janet Krankie — quite put me off me kebab, that did), Germany get the nod, for strength in depth, tactical superiority and, yep, Eva Habermann.


France vs United States
The host nation always performs above standard, and here we find a nation famed for good food, good wine and good women, even if they couldn’t organise a piss-up in a brewery, if selling tickets was involved. [Though since they got to the final, they can probably claim that keeping all the seats for themselves worked out okay in the end…] But despite the babes – an area in which they are unrivalled: Beart, May, Adjani, Cash, Miou-Miou circa ‘Les Valseuses’ – you really have to ask very, very serious questions (this works best if you say it in an Alan Hansen voice) about their trash capacity. Even their film-makers…Besson, Jeunet + Caro, are they just too COOL? I do recall seeing a rather disturbing film called ‘SexAndroide’, but that was probably Belgian: every other gross and icky film in French seems to be.

Such worries are unlikely to pose any threat to the cultural vacuum which is America; I love the place deeply, but never cease to be amazed how tacky, shallow and banal the place is. Which is probably *why* I love it. Just spent five days in Orlando, which proved my point perfectly; our attempt to head for the coast was somewhat screwed up by bush fires, providing the local TV stations with superb opportunities to ask people incredibly dumb questions. I almost found myself wishing the firestorm would spread, just so that the po-faced panic coverage would continue. And our readers apparently agree:

I’ll pass over the scurrilous reference to J.J.L. being “fucked up” and just mention; Frederic Brown (pulp fiction writer without whom Dario Argento’s early works could have turned out rather differently – ie plagiarism free), particularly for ‘Night of the Jabberwock’. Bill Hicks (RIP), Michael Moore. Going to ValleyURL, typing in the URL of a Diana tribute site and watching the heartfelt expressions of grief turn into vacuous valley speak; “It was, you know, grody to the max when Diana, like, croaked. Totally.”. Minutes of fun for the whole family.

Well, it amused me. Works quite well with the TC home page too. But that’s not important right now. America’s problem lies not in its breadth of trashness, but more its depth, or lack thereof. A lot of stuff is *fairly* tacky, but there isn’t much that stands out of the mire. It’s a volume thing: for example, given the sheer number of films put out by Hollywood, it’s inevitable that some of them will be good — at least in a TC sense. But is this any more than the cultural equivalent of Brownian motion?

On balance though, we here at TC Towers simply don’t CARE. We cherry-pick the best stuff, and the 99% of everything which is shit just doesn’t concern us. America may have produced more of said excrement than anywhere else, but when even the remaining 1% is pitched against the charms of La Belle France, it is with much regret that we must sent Beart and Co. to the showers for a rub-down with a moist towelette. And so, we reach the final pairing:

Germany vs United States

I was going to sit and do the final now, but it’s 02:35 on Sunday morning, and I’m thus about to get even more incoherent. So, instead, I’m going to finish with the usual plea for comments, votes, suggestions and input, to be sent to the usual address, and we’ll wrap up this whole sordid affair next weekend.

Yours, Ref Hunter J.

Know your enemy

As part of a new era of “accountability”, the BBFC have been having a series of public meeting, up and down the country, to…well, I’m not quite sure what the POINT of them was, but hey, let’s miss no opportunity to rip into our beloved censors. Thus, I found myself in the salubrious surroundings of the Institute of Child Health last Monday night, waiting to see what would ensue.

The big guns were out in force: James Ferman, soon-to-retire chairman of the BBFC, alongside Andreas Whittam-Smith, newly appointed president, whose initiative the evening appeared to be, as well as three low-life peons, sorry, BBFC examiners, allowed out of their cages for the evening, albeit still under the eagle eye of Ferman. And it was Ferman who got the evening under way, with an illustrated lecture on the work of the BBFC.

He began with the legal position, concentrating on the ban on animal cruelty material, illustrated with a spectacular montage of footage of horses being brought down by trip-wires. This was a frequent facet of the presentation, and it did seem somewhat duplicitous of the BBFC to take scenes out of context, and punch them together with rapid fire editing. It’s somewhat disturbing to see the censors using tactics which smack of those used by the campaigners against “video nasties”.

He then moved on to the various areas which were deemed to be of concern to the public at large: drug taking, imitable crime, bad language, sex and violence. This was the most interesting portion of the evening, as Ferman showed “before and after” examples, to illustrate what was done, for example to the sequence in ‘Trainspotting’ where Ewan MacGregor shoots up, which was trimmed to prevent people from learning how to inject heroin [the question was not addressed of whether it might be better for people to learn how to do it RIGHT, rather than get it wrong…]

Particularly interesting was the start of ‘Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves’, which begins in jail with a guy getting his hand cut of by his captors. In the US version, we saw the lead-up, with the victim cowering and yelling in terror, having his arm held down, the sword coming down, and the severed limb being pulled away. In the British cinema version (certificate PG), all the lead-up was missing, we got the sword coming down, and the severed limb. However, that was still deemed too much, after a flood of complaints (more on which later), it became the sword descending and the guy being taken away in the video edit…

It was disturbing to realise that the aforementioned “flood” consisted of no more than forty letters. That’s all it takes to influence the BBFC on a subject; I don’t think I really need to say any more, it should be obvious what you need to do the next time the Daily Mail is shrieking over the latest threat to the nation’s morality [isn’t it funny how they never do follow-up pieces, exposing the corruption caused by films like ‘Natural Born Killers’ or ‘Crash’? I wonder why…]

The “sexual violence” chunk showcased another chunk of editing, opening with a long sequence taken from anime schlock masterpiece ‘Kekko Kamem’. I think the three of us there were the only people giggling, but then, everyone else made the fatal error of taking it SERIOUSLY. Putting it just before ‘The Accused’ gives KK rather more credit than it deserves, I think.

Though the audience was definitely pro-choice, perhaps inevitably, there was a loony censorship advocate there, but even Ferman had to laugh when she described a love scene for ‘An Officer and a Gentleman’ (certificate ’15’ here) as “hard-core pornography”. I dread to think what she thought of the clip from ‘Highlander 3′, shown to illustrate the difference between ’15’ and ’18’ sex. Her brain probably spontaneously combusted.

The points to come up were pretty much the ones you would expect, but the entire topic is one which could, and indeed probably should, have gone on for an entire day, rather than a mere evening. About the only surprise is that people seem genuinely aggrieved at the lack of information on video releases, which I always thought people didn’t really care about much. To their credit, the BBFC representatives did seem to be their to listen, and I hope they came away with an appreciation of how much most of the people present objected to being told what they could and couldn’t watch.

They handed out a lot of informative leaflets, explaining their stance, and I also got a copy of the guidelines for film certificates (if anyone wants a copy, get in touch and I’ll sort it out). I’ll close by listing the categories of bad language, into which they classify swear-words:

  • Very mild – damn, hell, God, sod
  • Mild – bloody, bastard, piss, pissed, shit, son-of-a-bitch, bugger, bollocks, screw, crap, arse, shag, slut, whore, arsehole, tosser, Jesus Christ
  • Moderate – wanker, prick, bitch
  • Strong – fuck
  • Coarse – stronger sexual swearwords are described as ‘coarse’

Now, why is “bitch” moderate, but “son-of-a-bitch” only mild? Answers on a postcard, please…