RANT WARNING I've got to say, before I start on this rant, that the opinions expressed in this blog post are my own, and do not necessarily reflect those of Strange Company, other cast and crew members, or machinimaguruhughhancock. Having said that, I'm pretty much blogging the zeitgeist here. END RANT WARNING
We got invited to talk about machinima (and, more importantly, to show BloodSpell) at the GC in Leipzig. Hugh was planning to go over to Germany to represent the SC massive. He was quite excited about it, actually.
Unfortunately, the knee-jerk right-wing German press seem to have taken it upon themselves to launch another "violent games breed violent children" crusade recently. This has got the GC-powers-that-be ridiculously nervous. They asked us not to show BloodSpell, or to at least censor it heavily. Our contacts at the GC were as unhappy about this as we were, but their hands were tied, and so they were forced to give us an ultimatum - if we wanted to show BloodSpell, we had to cut all the violent or naughty bits. The decision as to what was acceptable was arbitrary, and in the hands of an unseen body of self-appointed legislators and Guardians of our Moral Future.
We talked about it, at quite some length, but eventually we decided that we couldn't countenance the idea. We've never had to compromise on BloodSpell so far. That's why we love doing it the way we do. We wrote the film ourselves, made it ourselves, and released it ourselves. We stand by it, and we don't apologise for it. On a purely personal note, I'm pretty damn proud to have been involved with BloodSpell. There are bits I don't like, and bits that could be improved, but it's a hell of an achievement nonetheless. I tell my friends about it. I've shown it to my mother. She didn't like it, but she's quite entitled not to. She didn't tell me to change it, or not to show it to other people.
Censorship like this annoys me. I'm not preaching anarchy here, or crusading for the removal of all censorship everywhere. I'm not saying that kids should be allowed to watch hardcore porn, or that I shouldn't be informed of the content of a film or novel before I see it or read it. What I object to is the artificial imposition of censorship by a third-party. In effect, a filter is being put in place saying what you can and can't watch. If you don't want your kids to watch BloodSpell, it's up to you to see that they don't get access to it. There are a lot of other things on the internet for which that's true, and it's your responsibility to monitor your child's access to those as well. But the decision should be firmly in the hands of the end-user (or the end-user's parent/guardian). If I watch some of the crap softcore porn on the UK's Channel 5 of an evening (erm ... I'm told. Apparently.), the nice announcer will warn me that the programme I'm about to view contains adult scenes and may not be suitable for all viewers. I can then choose whether I watch it. Channel 5 don't stop broadcasting after 9pm to stop me seeing boobies.
I know this is all pretty obvious stuff, but unless we (all of us) protest loudly whenever this happens, our silence is taken as an acceptance. This in turn is taken as ratification of the flimsy half-logic that creates a perceived need for this censorship in the first place. If playing GTA is all it takes for your child to go out and murder prostitutes, then there are far, far bigger problems that you probably need to address.
Sorry. I'm done now. Apologies to anybody who was looking forward to seeing us in Leipzig. If you can get over to Edinburgh, I personally promise you a private screening (with or without cast and crew commentary) in my front room. I'll even buy the beer.