BBFC challenged over safety issue

Fifty Shades Of Grey triggers rise in emergency call-outs.

by Jennie Kermode

One of the BBFC's prime duties as a censor is to ensure that audiences are protected from seeing dangerous behaviour they are likely to imitate. This is the reason why, for instance, a scene featuring a child climbing inside a washing machine was cut from Lilo & Stitch. Yet although it is not uncommon for cuts to be requested before films are granted an 18 certificate, Fifty Shades Of Grey was passed uncut, and the London Fire Brigade is now blaming it for a rise in emergency call-outs as fans copying scenes at home get into trouble.

Cable ties - a dangerous choice for bondage.
Cable ties - a dangerous choice for bondage.

Launching a safety awareness campaign called Fifty Shades Of Red, the Fire Brigade stressed that people need to research bondage related activities before trying them out. They noted that each call-out costs them £295. Whilst simple advice like "If you use handcuffs, always keep the keys handy" helps in some situations, others should be avoided altogether.

“The BBFC view of what is safe is irresponsible and ill-informed," said Dennis Queen, co-convenor of Consenting Adult Action Network (CAAN), which has also raised concerns about the film. "Apparently they consider 'soft' what many of us who are experienced in consensual bdsm would call dangerous and abusive. At the same time, it bans material which it sees as more serious, but which is actually safer. We urgently need to challenge this problem before someone is killed.

“We need people to know cable ties can be dangerous, and people are getting hurt. if you care for your partner, please don’t use cable ties, or anything else which can tighten and injure them. Never tie anyone up in something you can't instantly get them out of in an emergency, and keep safety scissors handy."

The BBFC does have arrangements in place for consulting bdsm practitioners, but it is not known if any consultation was made in this case. Responding to the criticisms, it said "The BBFC considers such matters in their overall context, include the amount of detail or otherwise in any depiction or reference: in the context of this particular work we did not consider it either justified or proportionate to make an intervention at the adult level."

Queen echoed advice given by Women's Aid in calling for people in relationships like the one depicted in the film to seek help. Stalking and controlling behaviour have been identified as particular problem issues.

Meanwhile, three women have been arrested after a man was allegedly attacked at a screening of the film in Glasgow. There were no serious injuries.

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