Well it happened again. THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE 2 [Full Sequence] has been banned Down Under. I was just sitting down to write an article about this when I was contacted by a fan of anythinghorror.com, Nick Green (you may have seen him around the site as “Teddy”). He lives in Australia and he was fired up about this idiotic move. Always loving to give voice to a good rant, I asked Nick if he’d like to write the article. About 5 minutes later I had this guest contributor posting. Check out more about Nick below — AHS
News about Australia’s ban of THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE II (FULL SEQUENCE) earlier this week spread quickly around the internet’s horror-film blogosphere.
(Technically, the film had it’s R18+ rating – the rough equivalent of the MPAA’s NC-17 – revoked by the Classification Board and “refused classification”, in effect banning it from screening or sale/hire in Australia. Down Under, all films must be classified by the government before being legally screened, sold or hired).
The ban wasn’t altogether surprising. I regularly monitor the Classification Board’s website
, a habit that harks back to my horror-fixated teenage years and the burgeoning obsession with film ratings that developed (usually because a lot of the films I wanted to see were censored or banned). As such, I was a little surprised to see this appear back in May:
THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE II (FULL SEQUENCE) Film (DVD)
Given that A SERBIAN FILM had been a recent cause of consternation for the Classification Board in April (a censored version was finally given an R18+ rating, only to also be banned 6 months later), I was taken aback that HCII
has quietly snuck in, uncensored, with a R18+ rating; the surprise exacerbated by having earlier read Tom Six’s declaration
“would be much more graphic and disturbing, making the first film seem like My Little Pony
compared with part two.”
Even Martin laughs at the Classification Board & thinks they’re crazy!!
Now, I must admit, I found the original HUMAN CENTIPEDE to be rather boring (co-incidentally, I watched it online the same weekend as the far more disturbing, and better made, A SERBIAN FILM) and could not really muster the enthusiasm to bother with HCII. However, once I heard that the Classification Board was going to review the R18+ classification, along with the acquired knowledge that FULL SEQUENCE was far more visceral than thematic (emphasised by the UK ban/censorship chapter), I though I’d watch it on VOD before it could be banned and see what all the fuss was about.
FULL SEQUENCE was sick. It was vile. It was also hilariously puerile, and honestly no worse than what teenage boys discuss in school playgrounds. Did it deserve the ban? HELL NO. It does however lead me to two particular points; one is a point of reference for non-Australian readers, and the other for broader thoughts on censorship in the digital age.
1. Australia does not have a constitutionally protected right to free speech, unlike the US Constitution’s First Amendment. A significant court case in 1992 established free political speech in common law, but cases like this example of film censorship generally fall out of that decision’s scope.
There are pros and cons to this: it gives states and federal governments greater ability to prosecute people who distribute materials that incite violence or discrimination against others (because of race, religion etc.), but it also gives the state powers to ‘watch what we watch’; i.e. make arbitrary decisions about art, such as films. Irrespective of whether you think it’s s**t or not, FULL SEQUENCE is a work of art, and the refused classification principles applied to it in the National Classification Scheme are largely premised on the mostly discredited notions of transmission and effects-based models of communication; y’know, the ones used to start moral panics and those “think of the children” catch-cries.
2. Secondly, surely this and other cases of film censorship are a waste of resources in the digital age! I had no issues finding (legally and illegally) FULL SEQUENCE on the internet. Indeed, all banning does (and always has done) is drive the die-hard viewers underground, gives free publicity to the film in question, and does nothing to protect children from imagery and material that will warp their world view; the internet only makes the banning even more futile.
Oh, did I mention it had already screened in cinemas in Brisbane? Fail.
I’ll be staying bloody… pissed off.
Excellent rant my friend, and I must say that you were very level-headed and rather nice to the douchy powers-that-be. And I couldn’t agree with you more, Nick … banning the film only makes it more popular and makes people wanna see it more. And in this digital age, it ain’t too hard to find it for free online (unfortunately. I’m still a firm supporter of paying for watching films, especially indie films, so the filmmakers don’t get screwed). Australia’s Classification Board gets the official anythinghorror.com’s Seal of Bullshit!!
Thanks for the contribution, Nick. Here’s a little about Nick Greem:
Guest contributor, Nick Green
Nick Green lives in Sydney, Australia has been a horror film fan since seeing A Nightmare on Elm St on late-night TV when he was 11. At age 13 he begged his father to buy him an R18+ VHS copy of Evil Dead II, which was confiscated soon after. He studies Arts (Communications) at Monash University and Economics at University of New England, performs in geek rock band Heartbreak Club and writes about wine and other s**t on another blog, The Journal of Sparkling Shiraz.