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Repeal the VRA

Comment 21st July 2010


In the English Parliament before a law can be passed it has to be debated on the floor of the House. Also it is extremely rare and almost impossible for a Private Members Bill to become law and illegal if it is not debated first.

The passing of the Video Recordings Act 1984 (VRA) was a conspiracy by the Thatcher government. The reason was that the Obscene Publications Act, the main state censorship device, was failing and juries were acquitting pornographers. I myself was acquitted for producing The Videx Video Show in 1983 a hardcore film. I said to the Director of Public Prosecutions "that I have smashed your Obscene Publications Act".

The state needed a new law that would be able to stop the flood of hardcore pornography into the UK. Mrs Thatcher hated porn and thought that it would corrupt the great British public. She stated that the "permissive society" was the greatest threat to our morals and way of life. This disciple of the free market wanted a free market in everything else but porn! Her friend was Mrs Mary Whitehouse the notorious anti Porn campaigner. They got together to draw up the VRA (Mrs Thatcher was a trained solicitor) which would stop the permissive society, born of the Sixties revolution, in its tracks.

A big campaign was started in the media against Video Nasties (horror films with a misogynistic plot) and there was an unholy alliance between the feminists, on the left and the right wing. How to get the Bill through
Parliament. Mrs Thatcher persuaded her Private Secretary, Graham Bright MP to introduce a Private Members Bill (PMB). Thatcher conspired with her cronies and the media and the Video Recordings Bill sailed through Parliament unopposed and undebated. This had never happened before in the history of the house.

The consequences in the UK for filmmakers who desire to make films with explicit sex scenes is that the VRA requires them to submit their films to the BBFC in order to obtain a licence. If the film is then classified R18 it can only be sold in licensed sexshops and it is illegal to sell by mail-order. For this privilege producers are forced to pay approximately 20 Euros a minute.

With the invention of digital camcorders and editing systems the making of films has become democratic. It should be a revolutionary time for budding filmmakers to enter the market and make money. However if they want to put their film on the market it must be submitted to the BBFC, with an upfront non-refundable fee. The cutting crew issue a cuts list if the filmmaker has decided to include any forbidden images. For example, a fist entering a vagina. Some women have smaller fists than penises and this is only one example of state censorship in this country.

The BBFC is not an independent body, as described on its website, but a state institution controlled by the Home Office who issue the criteria for censorship.

The rest of the European market have abolished such censorship years ago, Denmark being the first in 1969 after Dr Berl Kutchinsky of the Copenhagen Department of Forensic Science presented his findings on the effects of pornography The reason everyone in Europe followed the Danish experiment was that sex crimes against women dropped dramatically when pornography became widely available. Now here in the 21st century British filmmakers are still controlled by an illegal, artificial censorship device the VRA 1984.

Mike Freeman.


Why does this matter?

Because this law is a millstone around the necks of the British Adult Entertaiment Industry when British people can download uncensored videos from America. Independent filmmakers should enjoy freedom of expression as in mainland Europe.

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