Mild Peril and Knocking Off Nigel

I object to the increasing sanitisation of our culture: that they seem to think we need to be protected from offensive language, from films which may contain dark subject matter and so on.

This is getting worse.

Now, frequently when you buy a DVD, you encounter a number of things on the box.

Firstly, there’s the classification. I have no problem with this; this is a perfectly sensible measure that prevents youngsters buying a game or film which is unsuitable for them, and instead they have to ask their parents to get it for them (those said parents who will then presumably then complain that said item is too violent, failing to realise that if they hadn’t ignored the age classification there wouldn’t have been a problem…).

Secondly, and increasingly, we have an additional breakdown of the classification into four sub-categories. These vary slightly but tend to be something along the following lines:

  • Theme/Other: what the film/DVD is about. This is where it would mention “scenes of drug use” or suchlike.
  • Sex/Nudity: pretty self explanatory really.
  • Violence: again, you can work this one out.
  • Language: not so easy as you might think.

DVD classification (flickr)

For example, just look at the back of this DVD classification. This tells us that the DVD in question contains some mild horror, some mild violence, but no nudity or language. Er…

No language? Of course, what they mean is no “bad” language (or “offensive”, “strong” or “explicit” language depending on your term of choice), but the implication is that you’ve just bought a silent film. If you’re just going to say language, then the answer ought to be English, surely?

Now again, I’m all for people buying a DVD being better able to determine what the content is like, so they can arrive at a sensible, considered decision as to whether or not it is suitable, but for goodness sake let’s work out a better way to phrase this.

I’ve seen films with phrases like “contains sustained language”. What’s that? Presumably it’s not heavy on the action and just has a couple of academics discussing something, yeah?

Or how about “contains mild peril”?

Peril? Do you know anyone who actually uses the term peril? So far as I’m aware, the word is only used to describe films where someone might get into a little bit of a sticky situation but don’t worry, it works out okay in the end. Oh yes, and of course The Perils of Penelope Pitstop.

Or what about “contains emotionally intense scenes”? What’s that, exactly?

And then we now have a new reason why we should buy pirate DVDs. (Warning — “language” approaching)

I am getting fucking pig-sick of having to sit through an advert telling me “you wouldn’t steal a car, you wouldn’t steal a handbag, you wouldn’t steal a DVD, piracy is theft” every time I have to watch a DVD that I have bought legitimately.

Piracy may be legally wrong, but to me, and I suspect to many other people it’s morally very different from stealing a car or a handbag. If you steal someone’s handbag, you’ve deprived another individual of their handbag; you have personally deprived another human being of this. If you copy a DVD, then you have effectively not paid the money to the retailer, distributor and film producer that you would otherwise done had you been willing to buy the DVD if you couldn’t get a pirate copy. You’ve not taken one of their copies: they have had to pay nothing; all that has happened is that they might have lost a sale.

Now, to me there is morally a great difference between stealing an old lady’s handbag, perhaps depriving her of the chance to buy food for the week, and having a pirate copy of a DVD, perhaps costing Disney $5 in lost revenue (or about 0.000048% of their profits for that day).

It is plainly not the same thing. Granted, it’s illegal, and I wouldn’t recommend anyone does it — just do what I do and buy your DVDs when Woolworths and Zavvi are closing down — but there is quite a significant difference, and I really resent being preached to in this manner.

And what makes the thing so bloody ironic is that presumably if I had bought a pirate DVD (or illegally downloaded a film) in the first place (insert Jack Sparrow reference of your choice here) then I wouldn’t have to sit through the bloody advert.


2 Responses to “Mild Peril and Knocking Off Nigel”

  1. duncan responds:

    Don’t forget Beryl the Peril!

    This is why DRM on computer games fails - it punishes the honest consumers by making them jump through hoops and crippling their version of the game, while pirate copies have none of those problems (never mind the fact they’re significantly cheaper if not free).

  2. mark fairlamb responds:

    have you seen the anti-piracy notice on one of the episodes of the first series of the IT crowd?
    absolutely hilarious

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