I have yet to see The Human Centipede, the original movie, because, frankly, it didn’t interest me when I read the description. I only know about it because they were joking about it on Comedy Central (on Tosh.0 I think). Of course, after reading this Fox News story on the sequel I’m going to watch it for sure now. Human Centipede 2 has, for all intense purposes, been banned in the UK. Fox News quotes The Daily Mail: “…the British Board of Film Classification has ruled that “no amount of cuts would allow them to give the new film a certificate” and that the film may be guilty of violating Britain’s Obscene Publications Act.”
Think about that? The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) says there is no way to reedit the film so it may be tolerable. I find that hard to believe. What is in this film that is so objectionable that it is beyond redemption?After being a horror fan for most of my life, I’m doubtful the movie is that shocking, but I’ll have to see. Tom Six, the director, is understandably upset, but I think he may realize he just got some of the best advertising a horror film can get–being banned as too horrific is a badge of honor. Six’s main complaint is that the BBFC gave spoilers on their website when they banned it.
To make a film illegal these days is pretty ridiculous. Britain doesn’t have the same constitutional rights to freedom of speech that we do here in the USA and I’m always trying to figure out how they decide what is offensive, especially when they have raised the bar for bad taste in the past with their quirky Britcoms. Are the British authorities really going to be able to stop their citizens from watching The Human Centipede 2? It will be available online for viewing and passed around by kids in school on burned DVDs.
The Human Centipede 2 may be just sick trash, but yet again government fails to distinguish between fantasy violence and real violence (often perpetrated by the very government banning fantasy violence). Stop by the Fox News site and you’ll be disappointed in many of the American responses. One reaction is xenophobic insulting Tom Six because he is Dutch: “Seriously, the single most rude group of people ever, and from my experience, also the most depraved, ammoral [their spelling] and perverted. ” Another reader, instead of defending free speech, puts it all on the artist with plenty of apathy: “It’s an obscene movie and the UK can do as they want. I’d be upset if somebody put up spoilers for my movie, but then again, what did he expect? He’s already going against the grain, he claims it’s art, most of the world says it’s appalling, it’s already meant to be an uphill battle. This concept isn’t new, people have been making controversial things in the name of art and expression for years, this is what happens. Deal with it.”
One of the few intelligent comments that did actually stand up for free speech was this: “It’s OK to label a movie, song, book, article, photo, etc. as grotesque, evil, sick, disgusting, and any derogatory term one can think of. However, it’s still free speech and should not be banned. Sure, the sickos will pay money for such trash, but decent people will stay away. Banning something only gives it the attention it does not deserve.”
In contrast, the following kind of comment always makes me nervous as people like to define free speech so they can control it: “Free speech has NEVER been about saying whatever you want. Free speech has been the right to criticize government without fear of retribution. Not to spew out whatever vile filth you want. Feeding sickos who would pay to see this trash does real societal harm, and a community is well within its moral rights and free speech rights to prohibit vile filth like this.”
So who is this person to determine what is vile filth and why should free speech be limited to criticizing the government? I’m sorry, movies like Hostel (which ironically exploits xenophobia considering readers were making fun of the Dutch) and Human Centipede are not the problem and are not a threat to free speech or the “community.” It’s fairly simple to determine what falls outside of freedom of speech: yelling fire in crowded movie theater when there is none, making death threats against the president, making and selling kiddie porn (because the process itself is a criminal act), and basically any act that can be determined a crime that causes measurable physical harm. There’s still some debate but we basically know the difference and it comes down to letting works of fiction do whatever they want while keeping a reign on pranksters, stalkers and child molestors. Journalism is a far trickier animal than fiction, I’ll admit, but The Human Centipede is FICTION (but apparently 100% medically accurate–ha!).
Some of the most dangerous films over time have gotten this same reaction and time has either deemed them great works of art or simply laughable. The easily offended are easy prey for those who want to drum up publicity for their “vile filth.” I plan to see it. I have yet to find any such film that I find more obscene then the violent acts of reality, the corruption of governments, and the twisted thinking of religion. Trying reading The Bible, if only they would make an uncensored movie version we could complain about it too.
SIDENOTE: Watch the trailer–I’d say low budget genius on par with William Castle, maybe even a little Alfred Hitchcock. This is how you market a film, even it is really bad.
SIDENOTE 2: Tom Six should thank Fox News for the extra publicity. They took the bait to get the word out including many of the hardcore conservative Fox fans.