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Sunday, January 24, 2016

Censorship, when do you cross the line? Shades OF Bad Ep 36 is over 18 only.

Censorship is a huge issue, in Television it is often called Compliance. The rules are unclear, the guidelines confusing and the standards sometimes convenient.

Some things are obvious, graphic sex is out, graphic violence is out ... or are they obvious, and as the song says, Time, Time Changes Everything.....

So there was a time when 'artists kissing' was out, 'same sex artists kissing' was out, 'nudity' was unacceptable yet now all of those things are accepted. The line gets pushed, many many times rightly, sometimes with agendas. Often we see nude men and women in perfume commercials, just turned away. The rules are flaunted.

First and foremost the audience should be informed so they understand what they are watching, and with a title like Shades Of Bad, they should except bad. Hey, subscribe now. To be honest, we don't think our show SHADES OF BAD is bad, but it sometimes makes us think.

My career has been a constant one of clashing with sensors and compliance heads. I have spent 30 plus years as a director who specialises in action and choreography of the much violence for major broadcasters. The broadcast soaps know how far they can push, they know they want the headlines, and they know how many formal warnings they can accept a year. It is a bit like radio stations banning songs, sometimes it is the best thing for a song to be banned. Relax, Don't Do It.

We have got to episode 36 of Shades Of Bad and we have restricted it to be viewed by over 18 only, mainly because Wilma pulls a knife although she never uses it. The title says Shades Of Bad, the picture has her with a knife, the audience is told clearly. Trouble is afoot, don't watch if offended. Personally I find the predicament is more disturbing than the knife, so over 18 is fine. By the way I play the man leaving.... not that you see me.

Just having a weapon can be a problem. It is my understanding that you still cannot, within the UK have a poster where the gun points out to the crowd/ viewer/ audience ... did you know that. Look at all the cinema posters. You can hand a gun point sideways at a head but not out at the public.

In television the handling of a knife is always a problem, and one cannot hold it to the throat face or eye... unless that has changed.

Sure we can argue some of the most distributed of children's films are both violent and disturbing, none perhaps more so that a baby deer having it's mother killed. But animation and style of violence can change acceptance. Look at Tarantino's wonderful films and see the extreme of violence and of blood and how it becomes surreal and accepted by censors. I contrast that with issues like I had on my movie Devil's Gate which was about abuse in the home, and although it was never show the film was said to be so disturbing in it's performances from the wonderful Laura Fraser and the frightening Tom Bell, that the censors felt they had to give the end away, the huge reveal by stating on the poster, this film refers to and insinuates ...... blah blah. Devil's Gate was one of my many directorial outings where is was not violent but disturbing. Whilst I had less sex and abuse than one might consider was in Eastern Promises my film on sex trafficking again found me talking seriously to the sensors; Freight was deeply disturbing.

That brings me back to Shades OF Bad, it is a compilation of so many un made movie scripts lying on our shelves and does knock acceptable white collar crime and the acceptance of so much seen on the news or done in business. I just put it all in the female character of Doris Shades in a kitchen and it becomes unacceptable. Episode nine where she claims she has a child locked in the cellar is surreal, but if you try and take the show seriously it is horrid. However the direction and performances are such that lead by the title one should expect that nothing is real.

We thought long and hard about the effect of episode 9 on the audience so as well as the title we ran a notice on the front advising viewer caution and that it was not for young children. However, it should not be marked as over 18 for much of our audience is a mix of two groups; young students and a middled age group.... we would have thought middle aged women as it is a series about 3 rather odd women, but the group is fairly even, both women and men. We also hid the show and ran a program advertising that it was a little more sinister than the others.

Let us go back, Doris is a woman scorned and pledges to get her own back on her husband by killing him. That is just war of words. But she means it, it is real. A woman who wants revenge. It is a great premise to start a surreal series.

Doris Shades fails to kill her husband, fails to kill the mother in law and then sets the older women who begat the cheating husband to work in a brothel she runs from home. We avoided the footballer jokes and so much we could have done, but will Doris ever forgive her best friend and neighbour Wilma who was that woman and whom she continually persecutes? By episode 16 the brothel is in full swing and so much is discovered about Doris and the no remorse attitude she has to life like the suburban banks she has as neighbours who go off to the city each day to commit crimes that are never punished. (that is episode 2 of the 21 minute broadcast lengths)

The politics of the show are clear and hopefully amusing, but although Doris effectively sets up a business as a drug dealer, a brothel runner, and a serial killer from home, we never see sex, drug taking or violence. The common place visual of someone snorting a line of coke has no place in Shades Of Bad, we have other agendas.

So Doris Shades, a good lady turned bad, where do we find references. Breaking Bad saw a good teacher turn bad, it was not a show that one would say was for over 18 only, but one that might not at this period in time make day time viewing without a warning although on Netflix you can watch at any time. There is more violence, shooting and weapon work on any of the police series found on television during the day.

So we reach episode 36. Now we have gone over 18. This is because Wilma pulls a knife on Doris and although she doesn't use it, we felt a self restriction was wise. Why? This is because YouTube do not have the same format of censorship; they have an off and on button, 'the over 18 or not'. We can't go, over 14 or 15 but we can help the viewer make a choice. If you are a viewer, and you have watched previous episodes then episode 36 will be understandable. If you are not up to date with the show I suggest you start at the fantastical almost Shakespearian wedding in the kitchen; episode 31 and use the click next buttons to run on.
'Is he a gangster?'
'No just a local councillor'.

....  beyond their over 18 they have viewer guidelines which we do not break. There will be a fight between the two women, but my guide line was keep it funny like Bridget Jones and excellent piece of work by the late Peter Brayham.

Again, sure video games are worse, much product on YouTube is worse, but we all have to have lines. Whilst we are on episode 36 and you may say the first dead body has been a long time coming, and one is coming, the broadcast length edits of the show mean this is still early on in the series.

Doris is now to be head hunted, she is introduced into greater crime and we will take the audience into areas that will cause concern and shock. Whilst there will be no sex and little violence the line will be danced around.

The author - Meet Stuart St Paul as he talks to James Whale.

1 comment:

  1. The good thing about the Web is that you get to post what you want for the most part. Yes, YouTube has some rules but you can always host yourself.


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