follow us in feedly
They’re only movies: Moral panic, censorship & ‘video nasties’

Infamous Poster for the even more infamous
 
There are few things more offensive than the act of a group of holier-than-thou types trying to inflict their intensely rigid and often, properly uninformed, viewpoints on the masses. Every decade has some rich examples of this type of restrictive behavior, but the 1980’s were an especially fertile hotbed of moral majority types. In the United States, we had Tipper Gore and the PMRC attacking the music industry. In the United Kingdom, they had Mary Whitehouse and the DPP (Director of Public Prosecutions) and their attack on the “video nasties,” a list of horror films that were targeted for being especially violent and lurid enough to the extent of being socially harmful. The tight girdle-brigade of Tipper and Mary Whitehouse would have surely gotten along like gangbusters, but the latter’s actions, along with key members of British Parliament can still be felt to this day.

There have been a number of books and articles written about the “video nasties” and even an episode of The Young Ones using them as a key plot device. (Complete with The Damned playing “Nasty” no less!) So it was high time for someone to come along and make a documentary about this movement and thanks to director Jake West and Severin Films, we have all that and more.

Video Nasties: The Definitive Guide is one of the most aptly named sets to have come out in the past five years. Disc One features West’s documentary, Video Nasties: Moral Panic, Censorship & Video Tape. Originally released in 2010, West manages to fit in an amazing amount of commentary and information in its 72 minutes. There is a perfect mix of film writers, academics, filmmakers and former political and law enforcement members interviewed here, painting a thorough picture of a weird and sad time for film in the UK.
 

 
Director West, who also made the incredible and underrated Razor Blade Smile (1998), integrates a punk type energy and fun with the gravity of the subject matter. The film delves into the fact that, like any situation where censorship is put into action, the issue is far deeper than the works being targeted themselves. Elements like social unrest in a land riddled with high unemployment and the bloody specter of the Falkland Wars, not to mention the inherent classist attitudes of Whitehouse and her crew, are just some of the points bubbling under the surface of “obscene” movies. Censorship, in all of its ugly forms, is rarely about the actual contents themselves and more about assorted underlying problems that run way deeper than a movie with blood and breasts mixed in.

While there are a number of standouts interviewed here, including Stephen Thrower (Nightmare USA), Kim Newman, Dr. Beth Johnson and The Dark Side editor Allan Bryce, it is Professor Martin Barker who is the real star and moral core of the film. Barker, initially studying the horror comics uproar in the 1950’s (a censorship-fueled movement that was paralleled here in the United States around that time period) but soon noticed some striking similarities between the then burgeoning video nasties scare and what happened in the fifties. It was from there that he became one of the few but key voices to speak up critically against Whitehouse and her cronies, which included members of Scotland Yard and Parliament. (Not to mention some moral support from Prime Minister Thatcher herself.) There’s one clip shown of Barker on a chat show where an intensely rude Cardinal interrupts him to ask if he would show a one of “those” films to a little kid, to which Barker replies without a beat, “What a silly question!”
 

 
The films themselves, while briefly shown in clips and named in the documentary, get more of an in-depth analysis on discs two and three. Disc two features original trailers and commentary on the 39 films that were successfully prosecuted. Some of the titles on this list include Abel Ferrara’s second feature film Driller Killer, Ruggero Deodato’s Cannibal Holocaust, Wes Craven’s Last House on the Left, the bonkers Island of Death and Roger Ebert’s favorite, I Spit on Your Grave.

Disc three features the same great commentary/trailer combination, with the focus being on the 39 films that were initially banned but were later on acquitted and removed from the list. Some of those titles include Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead, the ultra-obscure Elke Sommer film I Miss You Hugs & Kisses, Matt Cimber’s unhinged psychedelia The Witch Who Came From the Sea and Andrzej Zulawski’s art-house, psychological horror film Possession.
 
Gruesome Art for
 
The trailers alone are pretty fantastic but the commentary is very much the icing on the cake, including some particularly great insights from the aforementioned personalities, as well as writers like Brad Stevens (Abel Ferrara: The Moral Vision) and academics like Professor Patricia MacCormack. The quality of commentary can make or break a set like this but West did a bang up job selecting a group of people that are not just highly educated and experienced, but also quite fun to listen to. Anyone that is working on a film-related documentary in the future need to study this set and see how should it be done. There are few things more soul-crushing than seeing dry-as-ashes commentary on something as vibrant and fluid as art. In fact, if you’re a film lover by any definition, then do yourself a favor and pick up this set. 
 
Poster Art for
 
The vital importance of a set like this is summed up beautifully at the end of the documentary by Martin Barker himself:

“The most interesting thing is just how little historical memory we have. The next time there’s a panic we won’t remember just how stupid the last one was and how people get away with things. And that to me is the most important lesson about this campaign. The evangelical got away with murder. They got away with fraud. They got away with deceiving people. They now laugh it off. The fact that almost all of these films are now available uncut in the public domain, they don’t care. Because they move on, because what they want to do is to dominate the present and they don’t care about history. Critical voices have to care about history. We have to care about the way which things got controlled in the past, because that’s when the damage gets done. If you don’t keep that historical memory, we will allow them to do it again next time.”

 

Posted by Heather Drain | Discussion
follow us in feedly
Plastic Surgery Disaster: Powerful animation about trying to obtain ‘female perfection’
09.12.2014
08:39 am

Topics:
Animation
Current Events
Hysteria

Tags:
plastic surgery


 
This disturbing, powerful and eye-opening animation, “Supervenus” by Frédéric Doazan doesn’t mince… meat with getting its message across, does it?

In it, a female anatomical drawing goes for plastic surgery. She is cut up, given botox and liposuction, and is finally transformed into a blonde bombshell. The procedures do not stop there, however, and take on nightmarish proportions.

This animation is painful to watch—it documents the pressure that women face as they feel like they have to look a certain way, as well as their love-hate relationship with their bodies.

Living in Los Angeles this is something you’re faced with every single day in the most mundane places. Supermarkets, the car wash. There’s a Jocelyn Wildenstein in every yoga class in town. The only minor quibble I have with the piece is that’s is not just women who are feeling the pressures of “unattainable beauty”—due to all the photoshop nonsense in magazines—but men are too. I mean, look (try not to gawk) at Bruce Jenner, Mickey Rourke, Sylvester Stallone and so forth. Clearly they’ve also been “infected” with the body dysmorphic virus.
 

 
Thank you Alice Lowe, of London, England!

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
follow us in feedly
Wild Gospel frenzy takes down the Playboy Mansion!
07.30.2014
10:57 am

Topics:
Hysteria
Music

Tags:

lugf/
 
This never fails to bring a smile to my face and raise the hairs on the back of my neck! It’s The Clara Ward Singers performing on the Playboy After Dark TV show shot at the Playboy Mansion in 1968. By this time minds were open and everyone was exploring anything they could experience that was new. The Clara Ward Singers were always wild, and I mean just as wild as any rock ‘n’ roll insanity from ANY era. They could stand up to Little Richard or James Brown in their prime. This clip looks like it could have been taken straight out of an early John Waters film! The incredible, over the top style and the mile high wild wig-hats are just beyond.

But then there’s the singing and the deranged dancing of lead vocalist Malvilyn Statham! Her name alone makes your eyes cross.This just makes me as happy as can be.
 
cmxlsl
 
Here’s what was written by the person that posted this who evidently was fiends with the Singers:
 

Ezekiel 37: 1-14

My favorite female Gospel group, the Clara Ward Singers, with my friend, Malvilyn Statham on lead, singing Clara Ward’s arrangement of “Dry Bones.” Go’head!! This song refers to what happens in the 7th verse of Ezekiel 37.

In the green dress is Clara Ward (1924-1973), which is why she is not in “uniform” as many of you have pointed out. She and the group caught lots of hell in the 1960’s and 1970’s for their flamboyant style and people are still talking about them, as I have seen in many of the shares. In spite of your views, whether negative or positive, they have paved the way for many folks today.

They stepped out of the box, b/c they were individuals and many of you today should do the same. Be yourself! People like Tye Tribbett are free with their praise. No boundaries! They praise how they feel. Who are we to judge? The Clara Ward Singers not only ministered in churches, but they sang in concert halls, night clubs, festivals, tv shows, and at the Playboy Mansion, which is where this clip was recorded. They were not ashamed to take the Gospel to the people who wouldn’t come to church. I mean, like, isn’t that what we’re supposed to do? Some folks felt like the group was clowning, but I’d like to think of it as giving “unfamiliar” people a good church experience.

 

 
dfgjcdhshdfk
 
If you want more, there’s tons of it on YouTube and elsewhere on the net. Here’s another, much earlier, favorite:
 

Posted by Howie Pyro | Discussion
follow us in feedly
Christian televangelists listen to ‘Stairway to Heaven’ *forwards* hilarity ensues!
07.30.2014
10:14 am

Topics:
Amusing
Belief
Hysteria
Kooks
Music

Tags:
Led Zeppelin
SATAN


 
Oh, this is too funny. Evil genius YouTuber Clemtinite took old footage from the Trinity Broadcasting Network with televangelists Paul and Jan Crouch—the Christian duo are trying to find satanic messages by playing the Led Zeppelin classic “Stairway to Heaven” in reverse—and then reversed the whole video. “Turn me on dead, man!”

The longer it goes on, the funnier it gets.

 
via Laughing Squid

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
follow us in feedly
Stanley Kubrick faked the Apollo 11 Moon landing?

smoonkub.jpg
 
So, did Stanley Kubrick fake the Moon landing?

Well, that’s the proposition of William Kare’s documentary (mockumentary?) Dark Side of the Moon, which originally aired on French TV channel Arte in 2002 as Opération Lune.

According to Karel’s (fictional?) film, Kubrick was hired to fake the Apollo 11 mission by the U.S. government. The evidence? Well, secret documents alluding to Kubrick’s involvement in the “fraud” were discovered among the director’s papers after his death in March 1999.

Moreover, Kubrick apparently left clues to his involvement into the scam: firstly, his being loaned lenses by NASA to recreate the candle-lit scenes in his film Barry Lyndon—how else could have got hold of these unless NASA owed him a BIG favor?; secondly, Kubrick allegedly made a confession of his involvement in the conspiracy that is contained in his film version of Stephen King’s The Shining.

Adding substance to these alleged facts, Karel wheels out a highly convincing array of contributors: Henry Kissinger, Buzz Aldrin, Jan Harlan, Richard Helms, Vernon Walters (who is claimed to have mysteriously died after filming) and Christiane Kubrick.

It’s a great romp, and for those who are tempted to believe, watch the bloopers reel at the end.
 

 
Via Open Culture

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
follow us in feedly
The U.S. government tries to convince citizens to stay put after nuclear attack, 1951
05.08.2014
07:12 am

Topics:
History
Hysteria
U.S.A.!!!

Tags:
propaganda
nuclear war

 
“You know Fred, actually, staying in a city to help after an atomic attack is not nearly as dangerous as a lot of people think. The danger of, well, lingering radiation is not really very serious. After an atomic air burst, the danger of radiation and falling debris is over within… a minute and a half.”

You don’t say?

The Federal Civil Defense Administration produced a glut of Cold War misinformation and propaganda, but 1951’s Our Cities Must Fight is among the most baffling. An attempt to discourage urbanites from abandoning their fair cities after nuclear attack, the film fictionalizes a conversation between two patriotic newspapermen bemoaning the “take to the hills fraternity.” The men go on to imply that leaving a nuked city would be “pretty close to treason,” and then pile on the insane justifications—you couldn’t get through the traffic anyway! We’ll need you to fight fires and keep going to work! Oh, and my favorite—radiation isn’t really that big a deal!

I’m not sure if there really was a totally unrealistic perception that a post-nuclear city could still function, but I can’t imagine most Americans would stick around to polish the brass on the Titanic after an atomic bomb hit it—assuming of course that there were any survivors. With the memory of Hiroshima and Nagasaki still fresh, it’s difficult to believe the FCDA ever thought anyone would stick around because of a silly government film!
 

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
follow us in feedly
World’s angriest lady tries to justify driving 70 MPH in a 35 MPH zone during her test drive
03.23.2014
08:39 am

Topics:
Amusing
Hysteria
Stupid or Evil?

Tags:
Angry people


 
A poor car dealership salesman takes a wild test drive with one extremely irate woman. Her “reasoning” for being such an a-hole is er, something else.

There are a lot of F-bombs dropped here, so you may want to wear some headphones if you’re at work.

 
Via reddit

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
follow us in feedly
‘God’s cartoonist’: The ongoing bizarre cult following of Jack T. Chick

angels chick tract
 
As a child in the Bible Belt I somehow missed out on Jack T. Chick’s weird fire-and-brimstone religious comic books. I was sporadically taken to a pretty low-key, boringly mainstream Methodist Church where his tracts would have been viewed as kind of embarrassing. As an adult I heard people with evangelical Christian backgrounds bonding over the nightmarish anxiety Chick comics had caused them as children. Fundamentalist churches made stacks of these proselytizing, emotionally charged, conspiracy-rich, racist, homophobic, anti-Catholic, anti-Semitic, anti-pagan, anti-feminist, Islamophobic comics available to very young kids. Since 1961 over 235 different tracts have been published, selling almost a billion copies. They have been banned in many countries, including Canada, as “hate literature.”
 
chick deveil
 
Despite censorship, the comics have been read by a staggering number of people all over the world. Youth ministers hand them out on the street, and (presumably non-English speaking) missionaries distribute them overseas, spreading quirkiness like the Pope being the earthly manifestation of Satan. Someone once tried to hand me one in a bowling alley in England! People like Exene Cervenka were ahead of their time in recognizing Chick comics’ (and other Bible tracts’) value as collectible underground folk art and pop culture artifacts. The early X song “Beyond and Back” was taken from the title of a Chick tract. The online Jack T. Chick Museum of Fine Art contains an exhaustive collection of his titles, neatly summarized as:

He steadfastly exposes The Conspiracy of Catholics, Masons, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, New Agers, Rock & Rollers, and any other group the devil might use to damn your soul. Chick also offends Jews and Muslims with previews of their fiery futures in hell (but only because he wants to save them). The more taboo a topic, the more likely you’ll see it covered in a Chick tract!

Curator and tireless researcher Kurt Kuersteiner (who used to have a punk radio show) has written the definitive book about the worldwide phenomenon, The Art of Jack T. Chick, and in 2008 produced the documentary, God’s Cartoonist: The Comic Crusade of Jack Chick, which can be found in its entirety here. You don’t get a glimpse of the notoriously private man himself, since he is so convinced that people want to kill him (he’s probably right) that he lives in seclusion and hasn’t given an interview since 1975 (his first and last). The earnest sheer batshittery of his close associates is like watching a train wreck. According to Rotten Tomatoes’ synopsis of the film:

...while some Christians distribute the tracts in hopes of saving their fellow man from eternal damnation, secular fans collect them strictly for their entertainment value; the comics are so vividly drawn and outrageously over the top that they at times transcend their own intentions to achieve a sort-of grotesque self-parody. Eventually, the tracts became such highly valued pop-culture commodities that they were presented in galleries nationwide, and earned a permanent collection in the Smithsonian.


Kurt also perpetrated an awesome April Fool’s prank to demonstrate the censor-happy disapproval that Chick’s work has inspired.
 

The trailer for ‘God’s Cartoonist: The Comic Crusade of Jack Chick’:
 

Above, an episode of Boing Boing TV featuring Syd Garon and Rodney Ascher’s animated take on the Chick “classic” Somebody Goofed. This is Jack T. Chick in a nutshell. (Reportedly he’s seen this and liked it).

Posted by Kimberly J. Bright | Discussion
follow us in feedly
Breaking news: IT’S RAINING IN LOS ANGELES!!!
11.22.2013
07:58 am

Topics:
Amusing
Hysteria

Tags:
Los Angeles
Rain


 
Call the National Guard! Call FEMA! It’s raining in Los Angeles everybody!!!

I live in Los Angeles. It rained (not heavily) for about five hours. This reminds me of when I lived in Cincinnati, OH, and everytime there was a possibility of snow—even for a freakin’ flurry—the news would call it “White Death.”
 

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
follow us in feedly
Anarchy in the UK (for real): British establishment’s fear of an ACTUAL punk rock revolution, 1977
11.14.2013
07:25 am

Topics:
History
Hysteria
Punk
Television

Tags:
John Peel
Pete Shelley


 
To get an idea of how seriously certain sections of the British Establishment feared the threat of Punk Rock, take a look at this incredible piece of archival televison from 1977. It’s an edition of the BBC’s Brass Tacks, a current affairs series in which reporter Brian Trueman (also famed for classic kids’ shows Chorlton and the Wheelies and Danger Mouse) introduced a brief film on Punk, and then hosted a live studio debate between some of the youngsters featured in the piece—along with Buzzcocks’ Pete Shelley and Radio One DJ John Peel—arguing the toss with a selection of town councillors, from London, Birmingham, Newcastle and Glasgow. These councillors were out to ban Punk from various inner city venues. There was also comment from the press and Pastor John Cooper, who wanted everyone to come to Jesus. Alleluia.

Okay, this all may sound like the comic ingredients to some grand mockumentary, but these fears over the political aspect of Punk Rock and the potential for anarchy in the streets of Britain were all very real at the time. As Brian Trueman says in his introduction:

“Punk Rock is more feared than Russian Communism.”

But why? What the fuck were these people thinking? What were they scared of?

Well, to start with, 1970s Britain was in a mess. It had high unemployment, 3-day working weeks, nationwide power cuts, tax was at astronomic levels, food shortages, and strikes were commonplace, and the Labor government feared a revolution was imminent.

To explain why this all came about, let’s rewind the tape to a mass demonstration at Grosvenor Square, London, March 1968. This was where an anti-Vietnam War rally erupted into a massive pitched battle between protesters and the police. Outside of the American Embassy 200 people were arrested; 86 were injured; 50 were taken to hospital, half of which were police officers. The Labor government of the day, were stunned that a group of protestors could cause such disorder, and near anarchy, that could have led (they believed) to a mini-revolution on the streets of London.

In fear of such anarchy ever happening again, the government decided to take action. At first, ministers considered sending troops out into the streets. But after some reassuring words from Special Branch, Chief Inspector Conrad Hepworth Dixon, they were convinced that the boys in blue could handle any trouble. Dixon was allowed to set up a new police force: the Special Demonstration Squad.

This was no ordinary police operation, the SDS had permission to be literally a law unto itself, where its officers could operate under deep cover, and infiltrate left-wing, fringe organizations and youth groups, with the sole purpose of working as spies and agents provocateurs. Harold Wilson’s government agreed to pay for this operation directly out of Treasury funds.

The SDS carried on its undercover activities against any organizations that they believed threatened Britain’s social order. This include animal rights organizations, unions, and anti-Nazi, and anti-racism groups. They were also allegedly involved in the planting incendiary devices at branches of department store Debenhams in Luton, Harrow and Romford in 1987; and one member was later involved in writing the pamphlet that led to the famous “McLibel” trial of the 1990s.

The workings of the SDS were on a “need to know basis,” and only a handful of police knew exactly what this little club were up to. But their presence fueled genuine fears amongst the British Establishment that there were “Reds under the beds,” and that revolution was a literal stone’s throw away.

This was all going on behind-the-scenes, while out front, muppets like the councillors and journalists lined-up on this program, pushed the hysteria of Punk Rock riots and civil disobedience, that reflected the very genuine fears at the heart of the UK Establishment. (Note London councillor Bernard Brook-Partridge mention of “MI5 blacklists.”)

So, that’s the background to this fascinating archive of the year that politicians (and even the BBC) thought Punk Rock was a torch-bearer for bloody revolution.
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
follow us in feedly
Page 1 of 35  1 2 3 >  Last ›