Earlier this month I wrote about a new PSA starring Kiera Knightley that aims to put an end to domestic violence in the UK. At the end of the PSA Knightley is punched so forcefully in the face that she falls to the ground where she is kicked over and over again by her partner.
It is uncomfortable to watch. You find yourself flinching and in shock. That is what makes the film so effective but now Clearcast, the company that censors ads for British television, has ruled that the PSA is too violent for TV and will not air. The only way it will be suitable for broadcast, they say, is if the final scene where Knightley is being beaten is removed completely.
Ok, this is where the big question mark appears above my head? What? It’s this final scene of the PSA that makes it so powerful. Yes it is violent and scary and awful but that is the reality of domestic violence and it happens every day all over the world. You can’t censor that.
According to Clearcast guidelines:
“Violence, cruelty and injury are themes which must be handled with great care and only in cases where they can be justified are they likely to be acceptable. These cases are likely to arise in public service messages, newsreel footage, film trailers and some charity advertising. Cartoon, theatrical and slapstick treatments may also be acceptable if they are clearly divorced from reality. However care must be taken not to give young viewers the impression that copying such violence would be safe or harmless fun.” (emphasis mine)
How is this not an instance where the violence depicted can be justified? It is not being represented for entertainment value or amusement. It is being depicted to raise awareness of the harsh reality of domestic violence. And what’s more is that this violence is not only “clearly divorced from reality” – it represents reality and is being shown in an effort to put an end to this type of violence.
So, let me ask you, is Clearcast being fair in its censorship of this PSA?
Photo originally from http://www.movieposterseurope.com/wordpress/?p=390