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Title: A system of adult censorship : the history of BBFC certificates, 1923-1971
Author: Williams, O.
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2016
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Cinema was the first medium in the UK to be subject to a system of age-centric prohibition, enacted through the instrument of the BBFC certificate. This work questions how and why this system came into effect. It asks why the 'H' certificate was the first category to absolutely prevent any person under 16 from seeing a particular cinematic entertainment and why it was specifically the US horror films of the 1930s that were regulated through it. The work also questions how the limits of the 'X' certificate were defined from the 1950s to the 1970s and how cinema was affected by it during these times. Chapter one considers the inception of the 'H' certificate. Through analysis of contemporary connections being made between psychoanalysis and cinema, legislation, enquiries by moral lobbies and local authority treatment of horror films, it proposes that the creation of the 'H' certificate epitomised wider fears over the consumption of US spectacles and children's exposure to them. Chapter two discusses the creation of the 'X' certificate in 1951, how the industry found viable ways of creating a market for 'X' films and how a binary line began to emerge between 'X' films which the Board considered to be of quality and those which were seen to be purely commercial enterprises. Chapter three details the upgrade of the 'X' in 1970 from 16 to 18 and the introduction of the 'AA' certificate. It suggests that the upgrade of the 'X' certificate was made in parallel with the rise of the sexploitation films and increased market-specialisation in the late 1960s. The chapter proposes that the new classification system fragmented almost immediately along lines of artistic credibility, creating different 'X' and 'AA' categories for different kinds of films. Finally, the work concludes by proposing that the BBFC certificate system was constructed primarily as a framework through which UK exposure to US genre entertainments could be codified and regulated.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available