Section B: June 2010

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Paragraph 1- Introduction: 

  • Media regulation has changed greatly over time, from being generally stricter in the past, to now being less strict as society has changed and regulation has been adapted to societies new views and opinions.
  • It is generally argued that media regulation is needed in order to protect the vulnerable, inform people about harmful content, and to allow people to make informed choices, however, not everyone has the same opinions.
  • Regulation should be non-governmental and done by a selection of people that have no power or authority in society, so that they have a neutral outlook.
  • The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) is an independent non-governmental organisation that was created in 1912 in order to standardise film regulation in the United Kingdom. The BBFC regulate cinema releases and dvds.
  • PEGI (Pan European Game Information) also runs a rating system that rates video games in order for people to make more informed choices when purchasing games.

Paragraph 2- Past:

  • Film regulation used to work well in the past, mainly due to the fact that the only main way of viewing video games was by going to the cinema, and there was a physical gatekeeper there that prevented younger people viewing the films. However, now that the internet exists, it is very easy for people of a younger age to view regulated films.
  • Films used to be a lot stricter regulated compared to how they are regulated now, for example, the BBFC used 43 rules that they tested films against, which included things that would now be allowed in certain rating categories.
  • The BBFC used to regulate video games as well as films, however, PEGI took over this role due to a rise in the amount of video games being released.
  • PEGI has started to become stricter as video games have started to become far more realistic, and many video games have been blamed for certain crimes (e.g. A 14 year old boy shot his father and his brother and it was said that the reason why he did it was down to Grand Theft Auto V).

Paragraph 3- Present (films):

  • In order for a film to be shown in a cinema, it has to have a rating from the BBFC, and there is therefore a physical gatekeeper preventing younger audiences from viewing extreme films.
  • Although this regulation of regulation has stayed relatively similar, other types of regulation have become less effective, and the internet has played a large role in this. People are able to access almost anything on the internet, and they often do not have to clarify their age before viewing or purchasing a film. This has led to many young people having access to films that aren’t classed as being appropriate for them by the BBFC.

Paragraph 4- The Human Centipede 2:

  • The Human Centipede 2 is a horror film that was initially released in June 2011, however, the BBFC decided that it was too extreme for even an 18 rating, and therefore made it unable for viewing in the UK.
  • The film contained extreme sexual violence and nudity and the BBFC stated that ‘no amounts of cuts would allow them to give it a certificate’, however, just 4 months later in October 2011, the film was given an 18 rating after over 2 minutes of cuts.

Paragraph 5- Hate Crime: 

  • In March 2015, Hate Crime was submitted to the BBFC for a rating, however, it was rejected and it is therefore unable to view in the UK.
  • The film wasn’t given a rating due to the fact that it contained a large amount of violence, including sexualised violence, drug abuse and racial abuse.
  • This film shows effective regulation from the BBFC as the film was rejected, meaning that it was unable to be distributed in the UK.

Paragraph 6- Present (Video Games):

  • In order for a video game to be distributed in the UK, it has to have a rating from PEGI. This regulation allows European parents to make informed choices when buying computer games. The age ratings provide a reliable indication and idea of the suitability of the game content, in an attempt to protect minors.
  • Video Games are much newer than films, and therefore regulation of them hasn’t changed greatly. However, video games are becoming more and more violent as society is becoming desensitised to existing content.

Paragraph 7- GTA V: 

  • Grand Theft Auto V was released in 2013 at an 18 age rating from PEGI, however, there was a lot of controversy with this rating.
  • The controversy was due to the games violence and depiction of women, the game received over 20,000 negative comments on Gamespot, largely due to its portrayal of women, as the women in the game are created with stereotypes and greatly sexualised.
  • Hypodermic needle theory- In 2014, a 14 year old boy killed his dad and his brother with a gun that was similar to one that is available to be used in GTA. The young boy also told the police that he committed the crime because he wanted to be like the main character (Trevor) in GTA V.
  • This shows that the regulation of this video game has not been effective, as a 14 year old boy was able to get hold of the game, and the consequences of him playing the game at that age have resulted in two deaths.

Paragraph 8- Sniper Elite III:

  • Sniper Elite III was released in 2014 by Rebellion games, and it was given a 16 rating by PEGI, despite it in involving a large amount of shooting and weapons.
  • Sniper Elite got a mixed amount of reviews from critics after its release, and many said that the game lacked narrative.
  • The main issue with the game was the ‘X-ray kill cam’, this kill cam shows graphic and realistic violence of a bullet going into the victims body. The main problem with this feature was that it is only shown when the player makes a successful shot, meaning that it is like the player is rewarded with even more graphic violence for doing something violent.
  • Although no major crimes have happened as a result of this game, many people think that PEGI rating it at a 16 wasn’t the correct decision, as the game involves an extreme level of violence, which is too extreme for 16 year olds.

Paragraph 9- Conclusion (future):

  • Some forms of regulation of the BBFC and PEGI are effective, such as cinema regulation as there is a ‘gatekeeper’, however, other forms such as DVD selling/viewing aren’t as effective due to films being available on the internet, and having no control over who views/plays a film or video game after it has been bought.
  • Therefore, over time, the effectiveness of media regulation has decreased due to the rise in technology, including the internet and piracy.
  • In the future, the regulation system is unlikely to get any better as things such as the internet and piracy will more than likely still exist, and possibly exist in an even more extreme and easily accessible way.

Version 1:

It can be generally argued that regulation is needed in order to protect the vulnerable, to inform people about harmful content and to enable people to make informed choices, however it is questionable as to how effective regulation actually is. Media regulation has changed greatly over time, from being generally stricter in the past, to now being less strict as society has changed, and regulation has been adapted to societies new views and opinions on issues. The effectiveness of regulation depends greatly on how a film or video game has been distributed, as regulation is becoming less and less effective now that buying films and video games over the internet, where you don’t have to prove your age, is widely available. The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) is an independent non-governmental organisation that was created in 1912 in order to standardise film regulation in the United Kingdom, and all films that are released in the UK have to have a certificate from them. The Pan European Game Information (PEGI) is an independent organisation that was created in 2003 that regulates video games in order for people to make better informed choices about the content that they subject themselves to, and all video games that are released in the UK have to have a PEGI rating.

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Section B: January 2012

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

Paragraph 1- Introduction: 

  • It can be generally argued that regulation is needed in order to protect the vulnerable, to inform people about harmful content and to enable people to make informed choices, however, not everyone has the same opinions.
  • Media regulation is becoming less and less effective due to the increasing amount of distribution of media products using downloading services and the internet, where the age of the purchaser can’t be clarified.
  • Regulation should be non-governmental and be done by a selection of normal people, that have no political power or authority.
  • The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) is an independent non-governmental organisation that was created in 1912 in order to standardise film regulation in the United Kingdom. The BBFC regulate cinema releases and dvds.
  • PEGI (Pan European Game Information) also runs a rating system that rates video games in order for people to make more informed choices when purchasing games.

Paragraph 2- Past:

  • Films used to be regulated a lot stricter, and the BBFC used the 43 rules to test films. BBFC has now become a lot less strict due to certain views in society changing (e.g. the taboos of sex, violence and nudity)
  • Video nasties (around 1980’s) were a group of films that were criticised by the press for their violent content.
  • Film regulation used to work well in the past, due to the fact that the only main way of viewing releases was at the cinema or on video. However, there is now an online presence, and it is very easy for people under the regulated age of a film to get hold of it.
  • The BBFC used to regulate video games as well as films, however, PEGI took it over due to a rise in the amount of people purchasing and playing video games.
  • PEGI has started to become stricter as video games have started to become far more realistic, and many video games have been blamed for certain crimes- A 14 year old boy shot his father and his brother and it was said that the reason why he did it was down to Grand Theft Auto V.

Paragraph 3- Present: 

  • In order for a film to be shown in a cinema, it has to have a BBFC certificate, and there is therefore a ‘physical gatekeeper’ that are able to monitor the audience.
  • Can be hard to regulate some aspects of film viewing, for example, it can be hard to regulate some aspects of cinema viewing, for example 12A films, as they are able to be viewed by children under the age of 12, with the presence of an adult. Also hard to regulate home viewing/DVD release, as once the film is at home, anyone is able to view it.

Paragraph 4- The Human Centipede 2:

  • Directed by Tom Six, Horror film, it was initially banned due to its content, however, after some alterations, it was given an 18 rating.
  • The film contained scenes of sexual and sexualised violence, nudity and violence.
  • The film also promotes the idea that the first Human Centipede film is reproducible due to the fact that Martin (the main character) creates his human centipede based off of viewing the first film.
  • The film was in breach of the UK law (under the Obscene Publications Act 1959 and 1964) , and it was thought that if a certificate was issued, it would be a potential breach of the law and inconsistent with the BBFC’s guidelines.

Paragraph 5- Hate Crime:

  • Was rejected by the BBFC, due to terrorisation, racial abuse, physical and sexual abuse, violence and constant strong verbal racist language.
  • Hate Crime resulted in effective regulation as they rejected it due to its content.
  • The banning of the film in the UK was overall effective, however, it may still be able to pirate through certain illegal internet sites. BBFC have refused a certificate to the film and it is therefore effective regulation as no one can have access to it. .

Paragraph 6- GTA V:

  • Rated 18 due to its portrayal of women, showing torture and violence etc…
  • However, parents who may not understand the rating system may buy the game for children, so they are then subjected to the content of it.
  • GTA made the game at an 18 rating, however, they targeted it at the 15 market (due to the way it was advertised). This was ineffective regulation as there was lots of controversy around the rating of the game.
  • A 14 year old boy killed his dad and brother with a gun and he said it was down to playing GTA V, as the boy said that he aspired to be like the main character in the game (Trevor). (ineffective regulation as a 14 year old boy had hold of the game)
  • The game was promoted on many social medias, including Facebook and Twitter, which people as young as 13 can have accounts with.

Paragraph 7- Hatred: 

  • Hatred was rated at an 18 due to shooting and excessive violence.
  • The player in the game is a mass murdering villain that hates the world, and attempts to kill as many people as possible. The game has therefore been described as a ‘mass murder simulator’.
  • Hatred received several negative comments surrounding the game, largely due to its excessive violence, however, the creator of the game fought back and said that there was a ‘large difference between violence in real life and the one showed in games.’
  • This was effective regulation in some opinions, however, in most opinions people thought that the violence involved in the game was too extreme for even an 18 rating.

Paragraph 8- Conclusion (Future): 

  • Some forms of regulation of the BBFC and PEGI are effective, such as cinema regulation as there is a ‘gatekeeper’, however, other forms such as DVD selling/viewing aren’t as effective due to films being available on the internet, and having no control over who views/plays a film or video game after it has been bought.
  • The current regulation system doesn’t work, and it will therefore be hard for any new regulation system to work in the future, as things such as the internet and piracy will more than likely still exist, and possibly exist in an even more extreme way.
  • From the patterns of what has happened in the past, it is likely that the regulation of media products will become less strict over time, as people are desensitised towards films and video games as they are seeing more violent content now, and the BBFC have to keep up with the changing society.

Essay Version 1:

It can be generally argued that regulation is needed in order to protect the vulnerable, to inform people about harmful content and to enable people to make informed choices, however it is questionable as to how effective regulation actually is. Media regulation is becoming less and less effective due to the increasing amount of distribution of media products using downloading services and the internet, where the age of the purchaser can’t always be clarified. Regulation should be non-governmental and be done by a selection of normal, everyday people that have no political power or authority; the BBFC is responsible for film regulation in the UK and PEGI is responsible for video game regulation in the UK. The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) is an independent non-governmental organisation that was created in 1912 in order to standardise film regulation, including cinema releases and dvds. Pan European Game Information (PEGI) also runs a rating system that rates video games in order for people to make more informed choices when purchasing games.

Films used to be regulated a lot stricter compared to how they are regulated now, and the BBFC used 43 rules as a specific guideline to regulate films. The BBFC has now become a lot less strict due to certain views in society changing (e.g. the taboos of sex, violence and nudity). Film regulation used to work fairly well in the past, due to the fact that the only main way of viewing film releases was at the cinema or on video. However, there is now an online presence, and it is very easy for people under the regulated age of a film to get hold of it. The BBFC used to regulate video games as well as films, however, PEGI took it over due to the rise in the amount of people purchasing and playing video games. PEGI has started to become stricter as video games have started to become far more realistic, and many video games have been blamed for certain crimes, for example, a 14 year old boy shot his father and his brother and he told the police that the reason that he did it was because he aspired to be like the main character in Grand Theft Auto V (Trevor).

In order for a film to be shown in a cinema currently, it has to have a BBFC certificate, and there is therefore a ‘physical gatekeeper’ that is able to monitor the audience and ensure that no one that is underage is able to enter the cinema and view the film. It can be hard to regulate some aspects of film viewing, for example, it can be hard to regulate some aspects of cinema viewing, for example 12A films, as they are able to be viewed by children under the age of 12 if there is an adult present with them. This can lead to many younger children seeing films that may not be suitable for them, as their parents are unaware of what they may contain. DVD release and home viewing is extremely hard to regulate, as once someone that is the required age has bought a film or a video game, anyone at home is able to view it or play it, meaning that extremely young children are able to view and play content that is targeted at over 18 year olds.

The Human Centipede 2 is a horror film that was directed by Tom Six, and it was initially banned due to its explicit and harmful content in 2011, however, after some alterations, it was allocated an 18 rating by the BBFC in 2015. The film contained scenes of sexual and sexualised violence, nudity and violence, all at an extreme level, meaning that it was thought that some of the scenes were too explicit for even adults to watch. The film is about a man (Martin) that watched the first Human Centipede film and then decided to create his own centipede. This storyline gives the idea that the first Human Centipede film is replicable and reproducible, meaning that if people watched it, they may have the idea to recreate it, and cause harm to society. When the film was first released it was in breach of the UK law (under the Obscene Publications Act 1959 and 1964), and it was therefore thought that if a certificate was issued, it would be a potential breach of the law and it would also be inconsistent with the BBFC’s guidelines.

Hate Crime is an example of effective regulation from the BBFC, due to the fact that it was rejected due to its content. The film contained terrorisation, racial abuse, physical and sexual abuse, violence and constant strong verbal racist language. Although the banning of this particular film was overall effective, it may still be available to pirate through certain illegal internet sites, despite the fact that the BBFC have refused a certificate for it and therefore no one should be able to have access to it. This shows that the internet has caused the effectiveness of regulation to decrease, due to certain illegal films being available on internet sites.

In order for a game to be released in the UK, it has to have a certificate from PEGI (Pan European Game Information). PEGI regulate video games in order to protect society from harmful content, and provide an insight into what is involved in the video games, mainly for parents. GTA V was rated at an 18 by PEGI due to its content, and their were a variety of controversies surrounding it, particularly its portrayal of women, and its use of torture and violence. Rockstar Games, who created the game, targeted the game at the 15 market due to the way that the game was advertised, although the fact that it was regulated at an 18, means that many younger people want the game. As many parents may not understand the rating system, they buy the game for their children without realising the harmful content that they are subjecting their children to. GTA V has been subject to ineffective regulation, as children as young as the age of 14 have been able to get hold of the game. This can be seen because a 14 year old boy killed his dad and brother with a gun, and he claimed that it was down to playing GTA V as the boy said that he aspired to be like the main character in the game (Trevor).

Hatred is another video game that was rated at an 18 by PEGI due to its content of shooting and excessive violence. The player in the game is a mass murdering villain that hates the world, and attempts to kill as many people as possible; the game has been described as a ‘mass murder stimulator’. Hatred received several negative comments surrounding the game, largely due to its excessive violence, however, the creator of the game fought back and said that there was a ‘large difference between violence in real life and the one showed in games’. This was effective regulation in some opinions, however, most people thought that the violence that was involved in the game was too extreme for even an 18 rating.

Some forms of regulation from the BBFC and PEGI are effective, such as cinema regulation as there is a physical ‘gatekeeper’, however, other forms such as DVD and game selling/viewing aren’t as effective due to films being available on the internet, and having no control over who views/plays a film or video game after it has been bought. I believe that the current regulation system doesn’t work, and it will therefore be hard for any new regulation system to work in the future, as things such as the internet and piracy will more than likely still exist, and it is likely that they may even exist in a more extreme way. From the patterns of what has happened in the past, it is likely that the regulation of media products will become less strict over time, as society changes and people are desensitised towards films and video games, as they are seeing more violent content now, and the BBFC and PEGI have to keep up with the changing society.

Media Effects Theory

Media effects are used in media studies, psychology, communication theory and sociology to refer to the theories about the ways in which mass media and media culture affect how their audiences think and behave.”

  • Media Effects theory helps to explain things such as moral panic in relation to representations of sex, violence, and deviant behaviour; and it’s supposed effect on youths.
  • People can do copycat murders, which can cause moral panics; for example, when a teenage boy murdered his best friend in 2004, the game ‘Manhunt’ was banned in the UK, because the murder was styled upon a murder within the game.
  • The Hypodermic Needle theory is a model of communications suggesting that an intended message is directly received and wholly accepted by the receiver. (media is like a drug that we as the audience are addicted to).
  • The uses and gratifications theory  is an approach to understanding why and how people actively seek out specific media to satisfy specific needs.