Horror show: Grayling's ban on 18 rated movies misunderstands both prisoners and film

Not all mature films are in the vein of Saw and Hostel

Share
Related Topics

There are reasons why politicians and art critics don’t mix particularly well. The Camerons of this world tend to take a hard-headed view of culture – how much it costs, its return on investment – while the Sewells focus on the joys it can offer. Often these two camps fall wildly out of sync, and such is the case with the Government’s announcement today – through Justice Secretary Chris Grayling - that prisoners will be banned from watching movies with an 18 certificate.

Here, the Government has made three grave mistakes. The first concerns the prisoners themselves. Preventing men and women who commit crimes from watching “adult” movies infantilises them in a fashion that works against any supposed process of rehabilitation. It implies their mental capacity is that of a juvenile, that whatever abuse they committed was somehow linked to a brain stuck in an adolescent stage of development, where erotic or violent impulses are harder to control. To patronise a grown adult in this way is not a good step towards helping them take responsibility.

Mistake two lies in the attitude towards film itself. It seems Grayling and co consider any movie with an 18 certificate to be a fellow of the tawdry and blood-soaked Saw series, or Hostel. This is patently absurd; but now as a result – from Belmarsh to Wormwood Scrubs – inmates will have to forego access to titles ranging from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest to The Big Lebowski to Alien. We can assume these 18-rated masterpieces, inspirational in different ways, are either absent from the Grayling household or hidden behind boxsets of Friends and Pocahontas.

The third error is in linking movies that feature bad behaviour to bad behaviour itself. A ban infers that films with an 18 certificate are somehow morally damaging, or might lead to violent eruptions. This is a view shared by anxious conservatives around the world (commentators on America’s Fox News linked the Newtown massacre to violence on cinema screens), and one that, as yet, has no proof whatsoever to support it.

Few would disagree with the broad outline of Grayling’s prison reforms. A system where convicts can stay inside all day watching TV does nobody any favours. The changes proposed – whereby prisoners will have to work for their luxuries – may help those serving time to pass their sentence in a more productive fashion, perhaps even learn skills that will help them outside. But in the blanket ban on mature movies this Government, which has shredded arts funding, shows once more its galloping naivety to the value and purpose of art.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - Covent Garden, central London - £45k - £55k

£45000 - £55000 per annum + 30 days holiday: Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - ...

Ashdown Group: Systems Administrator - Lancashire - £30,000

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: 3rd Line Support Engineer / Network ...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Web Developer

£26000 - £33000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Web Developer is required to ...

Ashdown Group: PeopleSoft Developer - London - £45k

£45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: PeopleSoft Application Support & Development ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

David Cameron talks big but is waving a small stick at the Russian bear

Kim Sengupta
 

Isis in Iraq: Even if Iraqi troops take back Saddam’s city of Tikrit they will face bombs and booby traps

Patrick Cockburn
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003