Thursday, 6 August 2015

If We Can Do It, Let Us View It

We’re living in scary times.  As many of you will know, UK law changed in December 2014, making it illegal to show a number of (perfectly legal) acts on video if you’re a producer in the UK.  For the record, I disagree with every single one of the bans, but the ones that affect Hywel and me most directly are the banning of showing models who are bound and gagged, and the banning of hard spanking.  Many people more articulate and informed than I have blogged about this; a good place to read more is on Myles Jackman’s excellent blog.  It occurs to me that if we don’t fight back now, there’s every chance that additional laws will soon make it entirely impossible to live in the UK while producing fetish videos.

So, feeling scared and unhappy, Hywel and I started wondering what we could do to help.  It seemed to us that getting a documentary maker involved might help to raise awareness (and hopeful public sympathy) and consequently get changes made to the way in which fetish videos here are censored.

I contacted the splendid Chris Atkins, the BAFTA nominated documentary maker who’s work includes Taking Liberties and Star Suckers, two documentaries Hywel and I had previously been very impressed by.  His kind and lengthy response included a suggestion that we make a short viral video of our own, to hopefully explain the situation we’re in.  We followed his advice.

So I’ve made a little video, with Hywel’s always-tremendous help, and with the support of many friends who made suggestions, watched rough cuts, and helped give the movie as much clarity as possible.  Particularly helpful were Fantasy Dabblers, John and Jill Tisbury, John Forest, Fetisheyes, Cobie, Mistress Zoe, and Michael Stamp. Thanks everyone.

I’d like to show this project to people who previously had no idea the law has changed.  I want to show how crazy it is that people shooting ‘sex works’ like us are held to standards and rules that mainstream movies aren’t remotely affected by, and that this is unfair. For example, using bondage with gags is no problem if you’re making a gangster thriller, but a gentle consensual bondage scene on a fetish website is now illegal.  Showing a bloody execution in a war film is totally ok, but showing a hard spanking in a romantic CP movie like one of Pandora Blake’s is not legal any more.

I began searching for violent scenes from mainstream movies on YouTube, to contrast our work with for this project.  My research was short lived - I’d not actually seen any ‘torture porn’ before, so having watched one compilation of ’10 worst torture scenes’ my eyes were opened, and not in a particularly good way.  I felt quite sickened that the things you can see for regular entertainment (and which you can obviously masturbate to if you feel so inclined) are sometimes so utterly grotesque.  And in contrast, if you as a producer are honest about your intentions to produce something designed to be sexy, you can no longer be trusted to even gag your tied up model and make sure she doesn’t, umm, die, while you’re shooting the scene.  The unfairness of this is staggering to me.

I guess we all know about torture porn - what was perhaps more interesting to me was that it was so incredibly easy to find stuff from 12 Rated, PG Rated, and even U Rated movies that feature bondage with gags.   And once you’ve seen a clip from Disney’s Pocahontas, featuring both rope and a big cloth gag, it feels especially distasteful that such stringent anti-gag laws now apply to even the most gentle of bondage work. 

You can also rest assured that the scenes of mainstream violence I’ve used in this movie are by no means the worst that I found - they were merely the ones I could bear to watch multiple times as I edited.  And it’s worth pointing out that I found all of this easily on YouTube - a site with no age barrier whatsoever to entry.  And I’m not saying that there should be.  But in contrast, now you can’t watch our movies (legally), even if you pass our age verification, pay us, receive a password and enjoy our work in privacy.

So here it is, my tiny little attempt to help the cause of sexual freedom in the UK.  Hope you enjoy it; and if you’re not into BDSM, I hope it maybe gives you something to think about.  I’m worried that by banning certain sorts of pornography and erotica, the message that’s sent out by the ban tells us that our desires to watch it (or to participate in the acts involved) are wrong too.  Which means that our government is basically telling us that being into BDSM is wrong.  And this just isn’t acceptable; once we were told that we shouldn’t be gay, and people bravely fought back - today, you can marry your gay partner here in the UK.   I don’t want to see people with other alternative sexualities marginalised like this.  So please, if you can, do something to help; share my video, donate to Backlash, write to your MP, or just keep supporting your favourite fetish producers as they fight the good fight to stay afloat.  Thank you!