Essay Plan 2

June 2011:

A) To what extent are contemporary media regulated adequately?

Introduction:

  • Contemporary media regulated less strictly when first introduced due to the lack of offensive material
  • Past media was regulated as adequately as necessary for its time

Main Body:

  1. BBFC:
    • Certificates granted by the BBFC are adequate in store and in cinemas because there is a physical gatekeeper to judge the age of the viewer
      • Inadequate: Still a margin of error within that judgement, unless proof of identification is provided
      • Straw Dogs (remake)
        • Removed the controversial rape content from the 1971 edition because it was rejected from the BBFC
        • In some countries was only released on DVD because it was considered  unsuitable for cinema
          • Inadequate because it was still able to be bought on DVD in those countries
        • Released 18 uncut when requested a 15 but didn’t want to make it shorter
    • On VOD and pirating sites under aged citizens can gain access to whatever content they wish – inadequate
      • most pirating sites require no payment at all, only to sign up – can lie about age and need no proof
      • VOD sites only need a card, as young as 11 years old can own a debit card and can get access to anything
        • Alternative: can use parents card etc.
        • Hate Crime
          • Rejected by the BBFC and it was never allowed in cinemas in the UK or sold on DVD
            • Physical and sexual abuse
            • Racism (neonazis)
          • but still accessible online if desperately wanted to find it
    • Used to only have 2 categories :
      • Universal and Adults only (no restrictive categories)
      • Then included X and AA which were changed to 15 and 18, and 12A was added after The Bourne Identity.
        • Adequate: Evidence of a steady change, keeping up with the needs of film by changing to be more appropriate for the time
  2. PEGI:
    •  Before PEGI the BBFC rated video games with the same system as films
      • Early video games didn’t appear to have the capability to need harsh regulation because of the low quality visual effects and the simplicity of the gameplay
      • PEGI replaced the BBFC in video game rating because they struggled to keep up with it
      • Indequate: Harsh advancements in tech with video games so it isn’t able to keep up as well as BBFC
    • Video games have much fewer platforms to get them on and so regulation is less adequate because most of it is online
    • Online streaming (Steam) that require an account and a payment card, need no ID to prove age of buyer
      • Children an easily fake it
      • Hatred
        • Released on Steam 1st June 2015
        • No hard copy of it
        • One of the first Adult Only ratings to be granted to a video game
    • In store:
      • Inadequate: Most likely that it’ll be parents buying for their children because games are viewed as a gift or a toy etc.
      • GTA 5
        • Given an 18 rating and accepted it
        • Advertised and sold to 15 year-olds despite the rating because they knew that if a teenage boy would want to play the game their parents/guardians would buy it for them
          • Allowed teenage boys to be able to see the portrayal of women that was seen as bad
          • “treatment of women were a relic from the current generation” and were constructed on stereotypes ~ Polygon
          • “Every female in the game exists solely to be sneered, leered or laughed at”
          • Men were portrayed to have a stereotyped tendency towards violence
            • Walter Lippman: “absolute necessity for and usefulness of stereotypes”
              • Express our value and beliefs, used as a short cut.

Conclusion:

Future:

  1. Future media regulation may become looser:
    • Due to desensitisation
    • Due to an increase in media viewing platform, meaning that more people are able to watch and therefore, targeted audiences may broaden
  2. Future media regulation may become tighter:
    • With the increasing enhancements of graphics
    • Parents and supervisors becoming more aware of the material online, with advertisements etc
      • When the current generation of children become parents they will be aware of how to access films and games because they did it themselves
        • May prevent children viewing inappropriate things

Essay Draft:

The intensity of media regulation has gradually changed in clear correlation with the media content itself. It has been demonstrated through both films, and video games, that regulatory systems have become more elaborate, as more unprecedented material has been developed. The methods used to regulate media has had to ‘adequately’ have changed in accordance with the material because of the demand of the general public. For regulation to be considered adequate, it could be said that it has to restrict and prevent younger, or more vulnerable members of the audience, from seeing content that may be considered harmful or easily impressionable. The modern day media regulation attempts to do so, however, there appear to be some holes within the system that often means anyone can gain access to material that is considered inappropriate. For example, the internet allows for the majority of the public to access films only released in other countries, or video games released with no hard copy available. Past media regulation was adequate for its time, in the way that very few controversial films were being produced, and there was no internet to act as a loophole within the rules of regulation. Very little restrictions were necessary to keep up with the production of films and video games, but innovation caused a need for an increase in complexity. The regulation devised by the British Board of Film Classification is one that has been structurally sound for platforms such as cinema and DVD, however, with to video on demand, and pirating websites, such as 123 movies and Putlocker, the BBFC’s rules are harder to abide by. For video games, the Pan European Game Information system is the regulation that is set up for protection, but it is only really effective in store, as there is no ‘cinema’ for gaming.

 

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Essay Plan 1

Explain which forms of media regulation are the most effective, which are not so, and your reasons for both. 

Introduction:

  • Focus on 2 forms of media regulation:
    1. BBFC: Films
    2. PEGI: Video games
  1. BBFC:
    • The British Board of Film Classification
    • Create a list of age ratings, that are required for any film to be screened in a cinema, or sold in a shop
    • Mainly devised to protect children from harmful or unsuitable material produced in modern day films
  2. PEGI:
    • Designed to help make game purchasers make an informed decision on which games to buy.
    • Replaced a multitude of game ratings throughout Europe, and is now well recognised.

Body:

History:

  • Video Nasties:
    • A list of films that had been rejected by the BBFC because they were considered to be too inappropriate for the general public
      • Effective because it means that people couldn’t easily get their hands on inappropriate/easily impressionable material

Case Studies: 

  1. Human Centipede 2
    • Rejected by the BBFC + 3 minutes of cuts had to be made for the film to be released as an 18.
    • The most extreme content had to be removed, regarding the idea of a regular citizen copying the acts of the first Human Centipede.
      • Effective
  2. Hate Crime
    • Rejected by the BBFC and not allowed to be screened in any cinema, or sold in any shop within the UK.
      • Very effective, except the fact that there were still possibilities to find the film online if the viewer was desperate.
  3. Woman In Black
    • Was assigned a 15 certificate when it was desired to have a 12 rating, due to the fact that Daniel Radcliffe was a children’s film star, considering his role of Harry Potter.
    • The producers resubmitted the film after making a series of cuts, as well as darkening some scenes, and lowering the volume of some of the jump scares, to make it more child friendly.
  4. Hatred
    • No hard copy of the game Hatred was made, so anyone who wanted to gain access to the video game had to get access to it on an online streaming site.
      • Not very effective
        • It meant the no ID had to be presented to the provider, like as in shops. Even though credit cards have to be supplied, you have to be 18 to own a credit card, unless in possession of a debit card. Use parent’s credit cards
  5. GTA 5
    • Producers made the game knowing that it was going to be an 18, but directed its audience at 15 year olds, mainly young teenage boys
      • Not very effective
        • Parents of the teenage boys could buy the video game hard copy for their children, because that is usually who video games are made to be sold to.
        • There is no regulation for who the parents can then pass the video games on to, it is the parents decision whether the children are old enough or not

Conclusion:

Future:

  • Regulation is because less restrictive due to desensitisation

Essay Draft One:

Introduction:

There are two main forms of regulation within the UK that have both effective, and less effective, impacts on the general public. These are the BBFC (British Board of Film Classification) and PEGI (Pan European Game Information). The BBFC are an established organisation that was put in place to prevent the viewing of inappropriate content within films, to younger audiences. They devised a list of age ratings, to classify films into categories, dependent on what the film contains. The ratings range from a U, which identifies as ‘universal’ meaning that anyone can view it, to 18, which is completely restricted to people ages 18 and over. There is a slightly different rating system for films in the cinema, where the BBFC created a 12A certificate, to allow children under the age of 12 to view it if accompanied by a consenting adult. PEGI, on the other hand, was created to replace a multitude of rating systems in order to simplify the accessibility of video games. It was designed to help the purchaser of a video game to make an informed decision on whether it is suitable for them to buy.

The effectiveness of the two regulatory systems varies within the availability of the material to the public. Some platforms, such as cinemas and DVDs, are ones which can definitely restrict the distribution of unsuitable content to an audience, however, for online streaming of games or video on demand, the restrictive qualities lessen.

In the 1980s, a term was derived to categorise all of the films rejected from the BBFC so that the public couldn’t view them, called ‘video nasties’. The films under the heading ‘video nasties’ were all well known within the general public, however, the ban meant that there was no way of anyone within the UK getting their hands on it, until it was released. Deeming these films too inappropriate for any age group acts as an effective form of media regulation, because the list had derogatory connotations, allowing for people to be aware of the ill-suited contents, without needing to view it. As cinema and video tapes were the main source of watching films in the 80s, it meant that it was virtually impossible for people to see the ‘banned’ film at any point. An example of this would be ‘A Clockwork Orange‘ directed by Stanley Kubrick, who eventually asked for the film to be taken out of cinemas due to the sheer amount of abuse he was receiving the criticisms and threats. This was not the choice of the BBFC, but it is an example of a film that wasn’t able to be viewed by the public until later release.

When discussing the effectiveness of present day media regulation, it is clear to see that desensitisation and an increasing immunity to disturbing visual effects, has allowed for regulation to loosen. Most of the films that had been considered as video nasties during the 80s, would now be considered as a modern day mainstream film. However, it is not to say that there are no longer any films being rejected by the BBFC, as it is clear to see from the recent film ‘Hate Crime‘, that this ‘banning’ process still occurs. Hate Crime is a film that outlines the story of Nazi supporters invading someone’s home and torturing them in very graphic ways. When being reviewed by the BBFC it was decided that the film would not be released into cinemas, and neither was it to be sold on DVD. The BBFCs ability to have this amount of control over film distribution demonstrates how effective media regulation is, as it was impossible for a citizen within the UK to view the film in cinemas, or purchase it on DVD or Blu-Ray. Although, there still would have been chances for someone who desperately tried to find the film, to view it online if they persisted to look hard enough. This availability of the internet weakens the effectiveness of the BBFCs decisions in the UK.

Another film that had been rejected by the BBFC was the Human Centipede 2. This  film was not banned for its controversial content or disturbing visuals, but for the fact that the film was considered to be easily impressionable. It consisted of a man watching the first film in the trilogy, and copying the behaviour of the first doctor. As a result of this story line, the BBFC felt as though it could influence more vulnerable members of the public to do the same, as it had literally been acted out in front of them. Regardless of this, with additional cuts of three minutes, of the more extreme content, the film was allowed to be released as an 18. This shows that the BBFCs regulation of the film industry has a great impact, because it harbours control over what material can and cannot be viewed, dependent on its severity. Similarly, the film The Woman In Black was submitted to the BBFC, and the directors had a 12 rating in mind for when it came back. However, it was deemed to unsuitable for a 12 rating and was granted a 15. After negotiation, and a series of cuts, darkening the scenes and lowering the volume of the jump scares, The Woman In Black was assigned a 12A rating for cinema. It was important for the film to gain a 12 rating, because of the starring role of Daniel Radcliffe, who had played the role of Harry Potter in the Harry Potter series, mainly aimed at children. The film wouldn’t have reached its intended audience unless it had been shown to the younger generations. The BBFCs ability to negotiate with directors and producers both weakens and strengthens the idea of regulation. It becomes stronger in the way that films have to change to be released, but can also be viewed by the public in a lower tone, but it also becomes weaker because it means that a director will do as little alterations as possible for it to pass, meaning that the film as a whole changes very little.

The regulation of media surrounding the work of PEGI, becomes evidently weaker, due to the way in which people gain access to games. Games cannot be viewed in cinemas on initial release, but can be bought in games stores. However, the regulation within shops regarding the purchasers of games is evidently flawed. It is very unlikely that the buyer of the game is the person who is going to play it, to illustrate, it is often the parents of a teenage gamer that will pay the money to the salesman. Because of this, no ID has to be provided for the player, but for the adult who is inevitably over the age limit. An example of a game that took advantage of this is the Rockstar game Grand Theft Auto 5. The game was released with an 18 rating as granted by PEGI, however, its audience was much younger. The producers of the game made it, knowing that its main audience was going to be (in general) young teenage boys. Regardless of this, Rockstar released the game at an 18, knowing that if the teenagers wanted to play the game, they would get a parent/guardian, or anyone old enough to buy it for them. The issue with the regulation of video games is that they are more often than not, bought as gifts, and therefore when purchased, are never actually payed for by the player.

Another example of ineffective video game regulation is demonstrated by the game Hatred. This game was deemed, by many, to be the most inappropriate and astonishingly violent game to have been released. The plot consisted of being a mass murderer, wanting to take their anger out on the world, going on killing sprees for the fun of it. There was, however, a thin layer of regulation surrounding the game, as no one could get hold of a hard copy of the game; it was not allowed to be sold in any shops within Europe. Regardless, it was still possible to gain access to the game through video game streaming sites, where only a credit/debit card has to be provided as a proof of identity. Nowadays, you only have to be 14 to own a debit card, meaning that online, there is actual no possible way of telling the age of a purchaser. Similarly, the intended audience (teenage boys) will often use their parent’s card to buy the game initially.

 Overall, it is fair to say that the modern day regulation of media has both advantages and disadvantages, whilst maintaining its structure and stability. One could say that regulation has not failed, or collapsed, but it has holes in it, where people can gain access to material that regulating systems have already deemed unsuitable for the general audience. With an increase an technology, and the ability to access the Internet, it could be said that the future of regulation will take the path that follows looser regulation, due to desensitisation as well as an increase in viewing platforms. If one were to argue the countering side, to say that media regulation will tighten, the evidence of incidents regarding the violence in video games could support the idea that society or governing parties will decide to make the regulation more strict.