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January 2012

“Media regulation becomes less important as society progresses.” Discuss.

Media regulation has always been a vital aspect in protecting the vulnerable public from explicit and threatening images which may be harmful. However, with the rise of the internet and the desensitisation of society, it could be argued that the roles played by PEGI and the BBFC do not have as big an impact as they did ten years ago. Piracy and VOD mean that anyone can access any film despite the regulatory certificate, and the growing desensitisation of society means that people will go to further extents to choose their own entertainment, whether or not it has been certified as unsuitable. It is then fair to say that as society progresses, people will go to greater lengths to enjoy the entertainment they choose, thus rendering contemporary media regulation ineffective.

As society progresses, people demand more explicit content, and if refused this content, they will find other means of accessing these films, such as piracy therefore making the BBFCs regulation unimportant. The BBFC is an independent, non governmental body which views films and gives them a certificate before it can be released for public viewing, either for cinema exhibition or retail purchase. It was founded in 1912 and since then has been responsible in deeming content suitable for specific age categories. However, the BBFC has frequently had to alter what is deemed acceptable by holding public consultations every five years, because, as society becomes more desensitised to content, the content for each age category must be made suitable or else the regulator would be completely ineffective. For example, the first film which featured full nudity, The Garden of Eden (1954) caused public outrage as there had never been anything that graphic before an was given an X certificate. Yet, todays regulation states that nudity with no sexual context is deemed acceptable at all age levels, showing the progression of society. Society has also become more desensitised to violent and graphic content since cinema first began in the early 1900s, depicting only black and white images with no dialogue. Since then, people have began to demand increasingly more explicit content and film producers have continually pushed boundaries in order to satisfy audiences. This makes media regulation less important as modern society feel they have a right to choose their own entertainment, and thus by refusing certificates, people will find other means of watching films. For example, Hate Crime is a film that depicted the torture and mutilation of a Jewish family. It was refused a certificate by the BBFC as the gruesome violence was fuelled by nothing other than racism with no context to it. Despite being refused a certificate and therefore is not available for store purchase and cannot be shown in theatre, people will still desire this content even if it has been described as being harmful to the public. Online piracy is becoming more normalised as society progresses, which means that any film no matter what certificate (if it even has one) can be viewed online with the click of a button. Websites such as Put Locker and 123Movies are readily accessible by any member of the public, thus making the influence of the BBFC less important. As society progresses, piracy will only pose more of an issue to the film industry as it becomes even more normalised, thus causing media regulation to become les effective.

The regulation of theatre exhibition, albeit very effective when there is a physical gatekeeper to determine whether or not an audience member is of specified age, becomes very ineffective at the 12A certificate. 12A means that a child under can view a film if they are accompanied by a parent over 18, making the importance of the BBFCs certificate is less effective, as the film technically becomes a U certificate. The first 12A film to be given this certificate was The Dark Night Rises, as although the content was more explicit that the previous Batman Films, a large majority of the audience were children. This suggests that society had progressed and desired more graphic content, and therefore the BBFC regulation became less important as children were now exposed to the graphic content. The Woman in Black was also given a 12A certificate after cuts to graphic scenes of a young girl committing suicide and the ghost hanging herself. Despite being renowned for its harmful and psychologically threatening content, a child was able to view this film with an adults company. However, this film was followed up by hundreds of letters of complaint, explaining that the film was too distressing for some audience members. This means that, although the 12A certificate is due to a progression of society and a desire for more graphic content, the BBFCs regulation becomes less important because it meant that children were then exposed to the harmful content of The Woman in Black.

PEGI serves a similar purpose to the BBFC, regulating video games across all of Europe and helping parents make informed decisions as to which games are suitable for their children. Whilst preventing these games being sold to people under age, PEGI’s regulation becomes less important past the point of purchase as the desensitisation on society has caused children to demand content that may be too graphic for them. Grand Theft Auto 5 is known for being a came marketed towards teenagers of around 15, despite being awarded an 18 certificate by PEGI. The game was deemed too graphic to be given anything other than an adults only certificate, due to a graphic torture scene known as ‘By the book’, and the overall depiction of women in the game, thus promoting harmful attitudes in younger players. However, due to the timing of advertisements on TV for the game and the cartoon-esque graphics of the game, it is desired amongst children below 18. However, the progression of technology is more rapid that the progression of society in understanding the detail of video games; adults are less likely to understand how realistic video games are because they were simply moving blocks when they were children. This means that parents are more likely to purchase these harmful games for their children as they see the game as a driving game, as suggested in the title. Therefore, despite PEGI’s regulation being effective when purchasing the game, as a physical gate keeper is present, the progression and desensitisation of society means that PEGI does not have any importance when regulating the content consumed at home; children are being given the graphic content they desire.

Similarly, the progression of the internet has caused the importance of PEGIs regulation to become less important. For example, Hatred is a video game which follows the genocide crusade of a sociopathic teenager against the whole of society, being given an 18 certificate due to the lack of context towards the violence, apart from feeling ‘wronged’ by the wold. PEGI believed that this game would cause harm if permitted for children’s consumption and that it may influence them to behave in this way. This is a theory known as the hypodermic needle theory, and despite being highly discredited, parents, religious organisations and politics still strongly subscribe to these beliefs and thus stand as a means of preventing children from consuming such graphic content. The theory suggests that the player is passive to which the harmful content is being injected into their minds, causing them to copy what they are being shown on screen. However, despite the higher age certificate, PEGIs regulation is ineffective because the internet does not require any form of ID in allowing people to download the game; thus removing the effect of a physical gatekeeper. A child of any age would be able to download Hatred off Steam (a well known gaming download site), by merely typing in their date of birth which they could easily lie about. Therefore, the desensitisation of society causes the regulation of PEGI to be unimportant, as children of any age are allowed to submerse themselves in the graphic and potentially harmful content at the touch of a button.

Ultimately the regulation of film and video games will only become less important as society progresses, society is finding more and more ways to ignore the given certificate. Therefore, contemporary regulators will need to create new ways in order to enforce their regulation, thus helping to protect the vulnerable once again. The BBFC may need to create technology to detect what films are being viewed on a consumers device, and instantly shut down the content if it has been refused a certificate in this country. PEGI may need to introduce a new means of creating online accounts for people to download games on, but having the consumers go into a store for a physical gate keeper to determine the date of birth of the player; eliminating the ability for people to lie about their ages as physical evidence would need to be provided. As for parents allowing their children to consume content that may be harmful, the contemporary regulators should release statements and create workshops to help parents understand how technology has advanced, thus allowing them to make more informed decisions.

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Section B – June 2012

To what extent is it becoming more difficult to regulate media, and why?

Media regulation has always been an issue for contemporary regulators, because as society changes, the varying degrees of regulation must keep up in order to protect audiences: technology, desensitisation and the rise of the internet are all factors which will make the regulation of media more difficult. Society has become increasingly more desensitised to violence since the BBFC was formed in 1912, and therefore it is fair to predict that the same will continue to happen. This is also a similar case with video games, as technology is advancing at a rapid rate, meaning that regulators will struggle to compete with the increasingly more realistic content found in violent games. Additionally, it could be argued that as the internet continues to grow, the regulation of media will become increasingly more difficult to effectively enforce regulations. This is because films and video games can either be downloaded or pirated from online servers, meaning that there is no requirement for audiences to provide physical ID thus making regulation far more difficult.

The BBFC is an independent, non governmental body who views films and aims to “protect the public, especially children, from content which might raise harm risks”, as stated by their website. The BBFC are submitted films which they then view and decide which age certificate to give the film, if it is deemed acceptable for public viewing. Over time, the BBFC have become more relaxed with what films are passed in the varying age ratings, altering what content is acceptable as society progressed. For example, “nude figures” in films frequently caused the film to be refused a certificate, until 1958 when The Garden of Eden was demanded to be given an A certificate. Ever since then, producers have strived to push boundaries. Hate Crime is a film that depicts the mutilation, torture and murder of a Jewish family. The BBFC refused to give this film a certificate as they felt that the violence fuelled by a racist incentive would cause harm to audiences, even if given an adults only rating. However, as producers strive to push boundaries, audiences demand increasingly more disturbing content. This poses an issue for the BBFC as although they aim to give audiences what they want, they cannot risk the harm that Hate Crime my cause, perhaps influencing people to behave in this way. Therefore, it becomes difficult for regulators to strike a balance between protecting audiences and severely restricting an adults entertainment.

The rise of the internet may also contribute to the difficulty of regulating media. Video on demand services do not require a film to have a BBFC certificate in order to be available for download and as there is no physical gatekeeper, audiences can be of any age to watch the film. This means that films which have been regarded as harmful for audiences can be accessed. For example, The Human Centipede 2 was refused a certificate without cuts to content which may cause harm to audiences, such as sadistic and sexualised violence, and graphic torture. It was the basis of this film which they thought would cause the most harm, as it presents the first Human Centipede as a film which should be copied. Although the BBFC deemed this film to be too harmful without cuts, there is no regulation to prevent the uncut Human Centipede 2 being shown on VOD websites such as Netflix or iTunes, making it difficult for the BBFC to regulate what audiences are being exposed to. There are additional issues which the internet pose that make the regulation of films difficult for the BBFC; piracy is becoming increasingly more normalised within society. This means that the uncut version of The Human Centipede 2 can be accessed by any audience member without the regulation of the BBFC. However, piracy has been an issue since films have been digitally distributed meaning that as the internet expands, piracy will become ever more difficult to regulate for the BBFC.

PEGI works in a similar matter to the BBFC and regulate video games across Europe to help European parents make informed decisions when buying games. However, the desensitisation of society means that audiences demand increasingly more graphic content, making regulation difficult for PEGI because as society progresses, they will have to constantly re define what is appropriate in order to effectively protect the public. Hatred is a video game which follows the ‘genocide crusade’ of a sociopathic teenager. PEGI gave this game an 18 certificate because they thought the lack of context for the mass murder would cause harm to younger audiences. Steam, an online download website, later removed the game from download as it caused a moral panic amongst parents. Although a discredited theory, the hypodermic needle theory suggested by Bandura explains society’s issues with the game; that by taking part in violent games, the gamers will be influenced to behave violently. This causes problems for PEGI when regulating graphic video games such as Hatred, as the public enjoy playing these types of games but there is also a wide spread belief that these games have damaging effects, thus making regulation difficult. As the desensitisation of society increases, PEGI will struggle to regulate graphic content. Online download sites also cause a concern for the regulation of video games. There is no means of physically identifying the user and therefore people under the age of 18 can easily access Hatred, despite being deemed to harmful for these younger players. Therefore, PEGI is unable to effectively regulate the content that younger people are exposed to. As the internet expands and people find new ways to distribute games, PEGI will have increasing difficulties in regulating and protecting members of the public who are most vulnerable.

 

It can be argued that the regulation of video games can be more difficult than that of films. This is because games can be played in many different ways, and there are frequently different pathways the game can be played, depending on the choices the player makes. For example, Grand Theft Auto 5 can expand from an innocent driving game to a violent attack on women. There has been controversy towards the depiction of women in GTA 5 and has been stated that every female in the game exists solely to be sneered, leered or laughed at. This becomes an issue for the regulators, as they cannot predict how certain members of the public will play the game and therefore cannot foresee how harmful the game will be. In the past, video games were very basic and were composed of various shapes, making regulation unnecessary. However, as technology has improved, GTA5 is almost a realistic depiction of reality. This makes regulation very difficult for PEGI, as the game becomes more immersive as the graphics improve, meaning that it is likely to have a greater impact on the player and may cause more harm to the vulnerable audiences. Therefore, as graphics continue to improve and the rise of virtual reality gaming systems, regulation will become more difficult as games become more immersive.

As regulation continues to become more difficult for contemporary regulators due to the growth of technology, the BBFC and PEGI will need to consider new ways to regulate how content is distributed on the internet. In the future, PEGI may be able to regulate how games are received by players of different ages, perhaps blocking certain pathways for audiences under the age of 18. The BBFC may need to expand their ways of regulating films to the internet, perhaps having a system which can detect what film is being viewed, whether or not it has been pirated. This will then help to regulate whether or not the viewer is of the certified age. However, this will mean that better technology will need to be implemented in order to establish the age of the audiences, perhaps using finger print identification to remove the possibility of people lying about their age. Ultimately, if regulators do not attempt to regulate the content which is available on the internet, there will be little need for regulation as the future. This is because as the internet grows, the need for theatrical exhibition and store bought purchases will decrease.

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Case Study: Black Ops III

Black Ops III takes place in 2065, in a world facing upheaval from climate change and new technologies. Similar to its predecessors, the story follows a group of black ops soldiers. As the player character is cybernetically enhanced, players have access to various special activities. The game also features a standalone Zombies mode, and a “Nightmares” mode which will be unlocked after the player completes all campaign missions.

Activision reskinned and rebranded their Twitter account to appear like a genuine, if unknown, news organization named ‘Current Events Aggregate.’ They then proceeded to post fictional tweets that appeared to cover a major terrorist attack in Singapore.

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Section 2 – June 2014

How well does contemporary media regulation protect the public?

Contemporary media regulation, of both film and video games, serve to protect vulnerable audiences from content that both the BBFC and PEGI deem too explicit. However, it could be argued that with the rise of technology, it is becoming increasingly easier for audiences to go against the stated age rating and choose their own entertainment. For example, both films and video that have been refused a rating can be accessed through piracy, and children below the specified certificate can still play or watch whatever media they want through VOD and online gaming sites such as Steam. Nonetheless, this type of behaviour is actively done and therefore it could be argued that these people are choosing not to be protected by either BBFC or PEGI.

The BBFC is an independent, non governmental body who views films and aims to “protect the public, especially children, from content which might raise harm risks”, as stated by their website. The BBFC are submitted films which they then view and decide which age certificate to give the film, if it is deemed acceptable for public viewing. PEGI works in a similar matter and regulate video games across Europe and to help European parents make informed decisions on buying games. Both of these bodies serve to protect the public and advise who each film or video game is suitable for. Cinemas and retailers must abide by these certificates and cannot be made available if they do not have a BBFC or PEGI age rating. However, once out of the hands of a physical gatekeeper, there are no laws to protect younger audiences from watching DVDs or playing games that have been purchased. It then becomes down to the public to decide whether or not they want protecting; whether or not they abide to the certificate. Video on demand sites such as Netflix and iTunes also do not require and proof of identification, and therefore with a click of a button an audience member could easily lie about their age. This stands for video game download sites, and therefore there is little protection.

The Woman in Black’s age rating system was a successful means of the BBFC protecting audiences. For cinema screenings, it was given a 12A rating with cuts to make the music less tense and cuts to  a scene in which the ghost of the ‘woman in black’ hangs herself from a noose, including sight and sound of her neck breaking. Without cuts, the film was deemed too psychologically threatening for the younger audiences and meant that the ratings helped to protect children better. The 12A rating poses issues towards the protection of under 12s, as if the parents deem this film acceptable for their younger children and are willing to accompany them to the screening, they are able to do so. This means that although this content posed some harm due to the recurring themes of ghosts and suicide, parent take the means of protecting children into their own hands and therefore the BBFC decision is no longer effective. Then, for retail release, the BBFC gave The Woman in Black a 15 certificate, as DVDs can be taken out of context when watched at home and harmful scenes can be watched over and over again. By adapting the age ratings based on the viewing platforms, the BBFC is able to better protect audiences as now anyone under the age of 15 will not be able to purchase the DVD. However, the protection of the BBFC certificate is limited once the DVD has been purchased. There are no laws to prevent anyone under the age of viewing The Woman in Black DVD if they are younger than 15 and therefore, if parents are not willing to protect their children, they can be exposed to the harmful content of the film. In this case, the BBFC’s protection becomes in effective if there is no physical gatekeeper.

The BBFC protects audiences as far as they wish to be protected. Hate Crime is a film which focuses on the terrorisation, mutilation, and abuse of members of a Jewish family. The film was refused a certificate as the BBFC thought it would risk potential harm even if only confined to an adult rating, due to the manner which the violence is “presented and aggravated by a racist incentive” as stated on the boards website. Without a certificate, the film cannot be shown in cinema or sold in stores, yet VOD websites such as Netflix are still able to show these films. This means that the BBFCs regulation does not protect audiences very well, as despite deeming Hate Crime too harmful for audiences of any age, they can still easily access the film on VOD sites. However, these websites tend to follow the BBFCs ruling so as to maintain a reputable appearance with audiences. Audiences are still able to avoid protection through the means of online piracy. Hate Crime will continue to exist as a film in other countries which means that it can be illegally pirated, meaning that the BBFC’s decision is not taken into consideration at all. The BBFC certificate will protect significantly less of public as piracy and illegal downloads become more normalised, but these audiences are choosing not to be protected and therefore may not cause concern in terms of regulation. Additionally, the power of the internet lies in the freedom that it gives the public and by attempting to protect audiences from content on the internet, the BBFC may cause public outrage.

People typically feel that they should have the freedom to choose their own entertainment, causing them to go against the protection of PEGIs certificate. Grand Theft Auto 5 is part of a series of games which, despite being given an 18 certificate, have been notoriously targeted towards teenage audiences. The game contains a mission named “By the book” which caused great controversy due to its graphic depictions of torture. The game also caused some upset due to the depictions of women. However, audiences may easily believe they have the maturity levels to handle content that is deemed too graphic by PEGI, and refuse the protection of the age certificate. Video games, such as GTA are purchased as gifts for younger players as it is not quite known how graphic and realistic these modern day video games can be, and therefore PEGI provides little protection as the age certificates are completely disregarded in many situations. In the past, video games used to be very basic, featuring only moving blocks or circles in an arcade like fashion. As the development of these games has happened very rapidly, it could be said that public perceptions of video games are dated and do not understand how realistic the settings and actions of the characters in Grand Theft Auto 5 are. Therefore, in order for PEGI to protect the public better, there may need to be a better universal understanding of the content in these games.

Occasionally, regulators do not handle content appropriately which results in harmful games being given a lower age certificate. This could be said for Hatred as despite being given an 18 certificate by PEGI, the video game caused a moral panic and demands were made for it to be removed from download. Steam, a popular online download site complied with these demands thus supporting the fact that PEGI may not be a very effective organisation in protecting the public. Hatred is a game which follows the protagonists “genocide crusade” against the human race. The main issue was that there was little context for the mass murdering sociopath which the audiences play as. It could be argued that by giving Hatred an 18 certificate, PEGI serves to protect the public. This is due to the uses and gratifications media effects theory, as this graphic video game will allow players to act out their violent impulses, rather than being violent in real life. Therefore, by allowing this controversial game to be released, PEGI protects the public by creating an outlet for aggressive behaviour.

Ultimately, both the BBFC and PEGI do a good job of protecting the public if the public chooses to be protected. If audience members and players follow the given certificates, they will be fully protected from the harmful content; if they opt to go against these age ratings then they will not be protected. However, this is not down to the capability of the BBFC or PEGI as they have done as much as they can to protect the public without making watching rejected films or permitting young children to watch these films against the law. In the future, there will need to be better regulation of piracy sites for both video games and films. This will help to further protect audiences from unregulated content. There may also be ways introduced to identify audiences at home, thus furthering the power of the physical gate keeper and enforcing these certificates to protect the public on all platforms.

 

 

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Exam Answers

Patrick – Consider the particular challenges to regulation posed to digital media (Jan 2013 B). https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/49745774/posts/1431241814 

Digital media allows instant access and can by pass regulations. A game changer. Piracy allows cinema regulation to be avoided (even before regulation takes place) Piracy is normalised (e.g. Putlocker). People want to choose their own entertainment so pirated Hate Crime. Denying a certificate creates ‘forbidden fruit’ mentality – people want to watch it and can do so through online platform. DRM (digital rights management) – prevented people watching films etc on other devices.

Lily – Evaluate arguments for and against stronger regulation of the media (Jan 2011 A). https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/49745745/posts/1424087878

More effective for some platforms than others. Cinema has a physical gatekeeper. DVDs/games are out of control once purchased (or can be bought online). VOD only have to enter DOB (not necessarily correct).

Balance – FOR and AGAINST

Human centipede 2 – regulated and rejected (doesn’t need stronger regulation)

Woman in Black – too disturbing so may require stronger regulation.

GTA – played by younger audiences than certificate. Boy that stabbed Spanish teacher

Vicky- Explain the arguments for stricter media regulation (Jan 2013 A). https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/49794646/posts/1432040441

Stricter media regulation needed due to hypodermic needle theory. Copy cat crimes such as Hungerford massacre (Rambo)

Films can be taken out of context on DVD so need a higher certificate.

DVD regulation is not effective past point of purchase – age certificate can be ignored. Piracy allows anyone to watch any film without regulation e.g. Putlocker

Grand Theft Auto III- people argue that young children should not be playing these types of games but the advertisement was on social media, and you only have to be 13 to be on the sites. Media effects theory (hypodermic needle) – how people think the media can influence ones actions, therefore, video games could influence violent behaviour.

Some films also link to these arguments so some films are rejected by the BBFC for societies protection e.g. Hate Crime

‘We need stricter media regulation’ Discuss. (June 2012 A) https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/49745738/posts/1431439440

Society and media have evolved over time – desensitisation. Children can now be exposed to moderate swears and mild nudity. Either too relaxed or too strict to begin with

Gatekeeper for cinema and DVD – some people are still permitted under age

Hate Crime – banned because it may harm society

Human centipede 2 – influences copy cat behaviour

Hatred – shoot people in power. no other objective apart from murder

Media Effects theory -how media can affect society and how society affects media -media has both powerful and limited effects on the audience. depends on a situation. more media – more to choose from. media = socialising influence stricter regulations on media would lead to less of society seeing harmful content – less chance of moral panic and a more dangerous society that is influenced heavily by media (like it was in 1920s-1940s)

As society changes the need for media regulation changes (June 2016 B) https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/49745754/posts/1432041169

Media content changes as society does. Games become more graphic with technology – more realistic.  Moving image films were initially a couple of minutes long, often depicting real life, so didn’t warrant being regulated.  But as they became films that told a story, and film-making technology improved, allowing more realistic footage to be created, a need was realised for some form of regulation; this led to the creation of the BBFC in 1912. Society’s tolerance has changed. piracy is normalised

  • Films
    • BBFC and cinema regulation – Cinemas – physical gate-keeper
    • realism and detail of films has increased over time thanks to developments in film-making software
    • public demand for more violent films, e.g war films – they’re popular so companies make them knowing they are going to sell
    • people like to watch films with violence, gore and sex –  this is now commonplace and no longer deemed unacceptable
    • more swearing in films as it creates realism – no longer deemed unacceptable
    • directors like to push the limits and try to shock audiences
      • ‘Hate Crime’
      • ‘Human Centipede 2’
      • ‘Woman in Black’
    • Piracy is normalised in society
  • Video games
    • PEGI and game regulation
    • games have become more realistic and graphic thanks to advances in game-making technology
    • there is a demand for more violent games, war games in particular, eg.
      • ‘CoD: Black Ops III’
    • games now also have stories and are more immersive
      • ‘GTA V’
    • Companies want to push limits and shock
      • ‘Hatred’
    • Realism increasing – intentions are not known
      • Anders Breivik

 

Discuss the need for media regulation (June 2010) Molly

Children shielded from adult content

Some media regulatory practices are more effective than others (June 2013 A) Ben

The control of mass media – regulated my non governmental bodies. Protect society at large – especially children. Effective at point of purchase (cinema) required ID. Out of control when at home. Lack of concrete regulation – accessed without identification

Assess the arguments against the regulation of media (June 2016 A) Tom

rtainment. Its restricted but protects younger people.

To what extent is it becoming more difficult to regulate media and why (June 2012 B)

Increasing use of internet makes regulation less effective. Digital purchases, online downloads and piracy. In 2009 82% thought BBFC was effective                                                                                                                                                                                                                     What extent can the media be regulated in the digital age?  (Jan 2011 B)

Easier to acess films online

To what extent is contemporary media regulation more or less effective than previous times (June 2010 B) https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/49745736/posts/1430337824

Stricter in the past. Less effective now due to internet

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Media Effects Theory

Audiences behaviour is directly influenced by violent behaviour in films, television and video games. They are passive in receiving the media and therefore are more likely to commit violent imitative behaviour. They can cause moral panics: the game Manhunt was banned in 2004 because a murder was committed in the same way presented in the game. The Hypodermic Needle Theory, explored by Bandura, likens the media to needles who inject the passive audiences with violent content.

The Uses and Gratifications Theory suggests that the audience are not passive in receiving violent content, and that they use this to acct out their own violent impulses through enjoying the media, rather that physical committing violent acts.

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Section B Essay (1)

Explain which forms of media regulation are most effective, which are not so, and your reasons for both. 
  • Past: In the past, before the increasing popularity of TVs in the 50s, films were only shown in cinemas and audiences had no other access to them. This means that the BBFC certificates were very effective as there was a physical gatekeeper who determined whether or not someone could view the film. When video games came out in the 50s, they were very basic and did not need regulating as the content was so simple.
  • Introduce BBFC and PEGI – independent non governmental body
  • Cinema regulation (Hate Crime): Most effective as needs a physical gate keeper who IDs people who aren’t obviously the age of the certificate. 12A screenings become less effective because it depends on parental judgement. For example, Hate Crime was refused a certificate because it was focused on the “terrorisation, mutilation, physical and sexual abuse” of a Jewish family as stated by the BBFC. The board felt that it would risk potential harm to viewers if given an adults only rating. This shows how effective cinema regulation is as the film cannot have a theatrical exhibition without a BBFC certificate and therefore wasn’t shown in British cinemas.
  • Cinema regulation (The Woman in Black): The Woman in Black contained strong horror and was deemed too psychologically threatening to be given a 12A rating without cuts. The BBFC regulation was effective in cinema release as Entertainment made cuts to the film to make it suitable for those under 12. However, the 12A rating becomes ineffective as although the content may not be suitable for younger members of the audience, the judgement comes down to parental decision. This means the physical gatekeeper which makes cinema regulation so effective isn’t put into force.
  • Store regulation: Is effective at the point of purchase but DVDs and video games become out of control once they have been purchased as they age ratings don’t have to be enforced. Grand Theft Auto 5 was a game that, although given an 18 rating due to the extreme violence and glorification of a torture scene named ‘By The Book’, it is a game primarily targeted towards teenagers. The regulation of video games is fairly ineffective as they are frequently bought as gifts for younger people and therefore the PEGI certificate is not abided by.
  • VOD and online download: Online download is a very ineffective means of regulating video games as there is no means of determining the age of the consumer. Hatred, a video game that explores the “genocide crusade” of a sociopath against the entire human race. Despite being given an 18 certificate by PEGI, the game caused a moral panic as the plot revolved around the protagonist committing violence for the sake of violence with very little context. The certificate awarded by PEGI proved to be ineffective however, as Stream, an online download website removed Hatred from sale due to the outrage it caused. Despite being awarded a certificate, the public deemed the game to be too dangerous for adult consumption.
  • Conclusion and future: Ultimately, all mediums of regulation are in effective if there is not a physical gatekeeper to determine whether or not the audience is of acceptable age to view the film or play the video game. In the future, I think there will be another means of regulating the ages of consumers, such as finger print identity recognition which will ultimately remove the need for human identification and can be enforced within customers homes.

Essay  

The BBFC is an independent, non-governmental body who view films and deem whether or not they are acceptable for public viewing and give each film a certificate to state which age group the film is suitable for. These certificates are effective means of regulation for cinema screenings as there is a physical gate keeper who decides if an audience member is of acceptable age to view the film. The BBFC is also effective as if a film is rejected and refused a certificate, the film cannot be shown in cinema or sold in stores. For example, Hate Crime was rejected a certificate and is not available for British viewing, and therefore demonstrates the effectiveness of regulation. PEGI stands for pan european gaming information and helps parents make informed decisions when purchasing games. However, the regulation of video games is more difficult than the regulation of films, as there are so many options for how to play the game, and therefore can be in effective. Video games such as Grand Theft Auto can be played in multiple different ways and therefore makes it difficult to regulate every feature of the video game. For both forms of media, regulation becomes in effective past the point of purchase, as there is no longer a body to regulate who views or plays the media item.

Cinema regulation is the most effective form of regulation as a physical gatekeeper is required to determine who and who cannot enter the screening and are able to turn people away who are clearly not of viewing age. Films that have been refused certificates, such as Hate Crime, are not allowed to be shown in cinemas and therefore cannot be watched. Hate Crime was refused a certificate without cuts because it was focused on the “terrorisation, mutilation, physical and sexual abuse” of a Jewish family as stated by the BBFC, and was therefore deemed unacceptable. The main issue was that the film provided little context towards the violence which the BBFC thought may encourage similar behaviour in audiences, even if given an adults only rating. This proves how effective the BBFC regulation is for cinema exhibition, as without a certificate, Hate Crime cannot be shown in British cinemas. However, in the past, cinema screenings were the only means of viewing a film and therefore if a film was refused a certificate, there would be no way to watch it. With the modern day advances of technology, Hate Crime is accessible for illegal piracy and may even be on video on demand services for download. Therefore, even though cinema regulation is effective to an extent, it does not prevent the film from being seen.

Cinema regulation, however, becomes in effective at the 12A rating, as the power is taken away from the physical gatekeeper and given to the guardians of children under the age of 12. The Woman in Black was initially deemed too psychologically threatening for a 12A rating without cuts to music to change the tone of the film. The BBFC regulation was effective in cinema release as Entertainment made cuts to the film to make it suitable for those under 12. However, the 12A film still contained themes of child suicide and the supernatural, which may be unsuitable for younger audiences, but without the physical gatekeeper, there is no regulation of who views the film under parental supervision. Thus, the physical gate keeper which made cinema regulation so effective is no longer put into force.

Store purchase is the next effective means of regulating media at the point of purchase. The shop assistant is able to determine whether or not this customer is of the age certificate and can refuse service if not. However, the regulation becomes in effective once the DVD or video game has been purchased, since there is no gatekeeper to regulate the consumption of the game. Grand Theft Auto 5 (GTA5) is a game that, although given an age 18 rating due to the extreme violence and glorification of torture (seen in a task named By The Book), is a game primarily targeted towards teenagers through the colourful advertisement and popular music featured. The regulation of video games becomes in effective because videogames are frequently bought as gifts for younger consumers, despite the person making the purchase being of age and therefore the PEGI rating is not abided by. Video game regulation is also ineffective as games can be taken out of context. In the past, video game used to be very basic and therefore there was little need for regulation and parents were certain of what their children were playing, but, with the increasing technology of today, graphics have improved greatly to give a more immersive experience. For example, there is a ‘Hot Coffee Mod’ on GTA which converts a violent, driving game into a game where the player controls sexual activities between their character and prostitutes. Therefore, what a parent deems as acceptable for their child may not always be how the game is consumed.  

Video download is the most in effective means of regulating the purchase of films and video games, as there is no means of determining the age of the consumer without user input. Hatred is a video game that explores the “genocide crusade” of a sociopath against the entire human race, and presents a young boy violently murdering innocent people who he crosses paths with. Despite being given an 18 certificate by PEGI, the game caused a moral panic as the plot revolved around the protagonist committing violence for the sake of violence with very little context, and therefore concerned parents that it may influence their children’s behaviour. The certificate awarded by PEGI proved to be ineffective however, as Stream, an online download website removed Hatred from sale due to the outrage it caused. This enforces how in effective the rating is because although PEGI deemed the game as being acceptable for adults only, the download site did not.

Ultimately, all mediums of regulation are in effective if there is not a physical gatekeeper to determine whether or not the audience is of acceptable age to view the film or play the video game. In the future, I think there will be another means of regulating the ages of consumers, such as fingerprint identity recognition which will ultimately remove the need for human identification and can be enforced within customers homes.