Caught on video: the strange case of the buttercup massacre

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A MOST unusual case is being heard at the High Court at the moment, in which a Mr Sam Profiterole stands accused of infringing the country's obscenity laws. There are some very complex legal points at stake, as this extract from the first day's proceedings shows.

Counsel: You are Sam Profiterole?

Sam: I am.

Counsel: Is that your real name?

Sam: No. It is a name I have assumed for tax purposes.

Counsel: For what tax purposes?

Sam: For the purpose of getting the Inland Revenue to send all my tax bills to someone else who is really called Sam Profiterole.

Counsel: And, as a matter of interest, has it worked?

Sam: It must have. I haven't had any tax bills for years.

Counsel: I see. Now, you are in the business of manufacturing and issuing video films, under the name of MGM?

Sam: That is correct.

Counsel: What does MGM stand for? Sam: Mayhem, Grief and Massacre.

Counsel: These films depict scenes of pain, death and torture, do they not?

Sam: No, they are wildlife films.

Counsel: By wildlife films, are you referring to such videos as Beastly Buttercups, Rogue Ants, The Giant Snail Meets Godzilla, Wild Flowers Do Really Nasty Things to Each Other and so on?

Sam: Yes, these excellent educational films are all available from me, and if any members of the jury wish to hire them at an advantageous rate...

Counsel: Thank you, Mr Profiterole. Now, you also have an extensive library of videos dealing with agricultural death and disaster...

Sam: I feel very strongly that the standard of agricultural safety is not as high as it should be and I have issued a series of farm safety instruction videos.

Counsel: And these farm safety instruction videos have such titles as Death by Grain, Manure Massacre, Crushed by Cattle, and With the Slurry on Top?

Sam: Don't forget Suckled to Death by Sows. That's one of my favourites.

Counsel: May I suggest to you that in fact these are deliberate attempts to gratify people's blood lust, masquerading as public safety items? Might I suggest that people have already put out sadistic films using real-life footage of car crashes and violence in shopping malls, but that you have been the first to realise that many sickening accidents are caught on closed-circuit film in farms? As an example of this horror, may I perhaps just draw your attention to one incident in a video entitled Slaughter in the Silo. There is a scene when a young farm worker disappears in a hopper of grain and dies horribly.

Sam: Ah, yes - that's a very moral passage, demonstrating the sins of going into a grain hopper unaccompanied, and without rope and climbing tackle.

Counsel: That may be so. May I also direct your attention to another film of yours, called Death by Dung Heap, in which a young man is manured to death. If my eyes do not deceive me, it is the very same man who disappears in the grain in Slaughter in the Silo!

Sam: That is so. He is an actor called Jim Bray. He also perishes in Surprised by Poultry, where he is pecked to death by a giant cockerel.

Counsel: So the incidents in these films are faked?

Sam: In the sense that King Kong was not really a live giant ape? In the sense that the actor playing Hamlet does not really die, though he pretends to? In the sense that Dermot Morgan was not really a Roman Catholic priest, only a fake one? Yes, I plead guilty to being a fake, in this grand tradition!

Counsel: So all these so-called actuality horror videos, purporting to be real-life violence, are all actually fakes and frauds!

Sam: Hold on, hold on! You can't have it both ways. You can accuse me of issuing real violence. You can accuse me of issuing fake violence. Either I am a fraud, or a merchant of sickeningly real horror. But which one do you want me to be? I can't be both.

Counsel: Hmmmm... He has a point, my Lord.

Judge: Yes, he has... Mr Profiterole, are you the maker of one of my favourite instructional farm videos called The Vet Always Rings Twice?

Sam: Yes, I am.

Judge: Tell me something... that charming pair of Jacob sheep... did they really die?

Sam: No, my Lord. All the stunt work was done by a pair of highly trained stand-in sheep. No suffering was involved at all.

Judge: I am glad to hear it. I often wondered. Carry on!

The case continues.