British Film Institute: Government and Art becomes Government Art becomes Propaganda.

British Film Institute: Government and Art becomes Government Art becomes Propaganda. July 14, 2014


The Golden Rule without Christ: He who has the gold, rules. 

It appears our British cousins do not subscribe to the artistic freedom idea, at least not when it pertains to political-correctness. Exercising the Golden Rule without Christ, they will require film-makers who want to receive funding from the British Film Institute to “ensure diversity in films” by “ticking” at least two of three criteria. The filmmaker must provide on-screen diversity, off-screen diversity and “creating opportunities for social mobility.”

Here is how the “tick” system will work:

… at least one lead character must be “positively reflecting diversity,” with the project more likely to receive funding if it “explicitly and predominantly explores issues of identity relating to ethnicity or national origins, a specific focus on women, people with disabilities, sexual identity, age and people from a socially disadvantaged background.”

Off-screen, at least two heads of department must be from diverse backgrounds.

And the third category requires companies to offer paid internships and jobs to “new entrants from diverse backgrounds” and to help them progress, The Telegraph reported

According to their website, the British Film Institute is supported by the British Lottery. According to the British Lottery’s web site, they are a UK government institution.  I don’t know very much about British law. For instance, they say they are created by a “Royal Charter.” I have no idea what a Royal Charter might be.

But, this sounds like government censorship to me. In fact, it sounds as if the government is telling script-writers and film-makers what kind of characters they should have in their films. Unless I’m mistaken, they are telling writers that their scripts must include a specific type of character in a main role and that this character must be written about in a favorable light. They are then telling filmmakers that they must follow through by making their film with this kind of character, who is seen in this favorable light.

The government intrusion into artistic expression in this is obvious. I don’t see how anyone can dispute it. It is direct, government control of artistic expression for the express purpose of controlling the attitudes and beliefs of the populace.

In addition to that horror, it is also vague and arbitrary enough to drive any abuse you want right straight through it. How, for instance, will a filmmaker who so desperately wants the money that they are willing to sacrifice their artistic freedom to get it, going to know when they are in compliance? When will they know that a character is favorable enough? Would a gay character who is a murderer or a bank robber be verboten because villains are unfavorable? Must this check-off-to-be-in-compliance character always be the hero of the piece?

How does anyone create art in a situation this fraught and formulaic?

It’s a messy business, dictating artistic expression. It inevitably leads to the death of art and the reign of tedious and boring propaganda.

What has happened to the UK? What, indeed, is happening to Western civilization?

From The Washington Times:

British filmmakers must now meet new targets for ethnic minority, gay and female characters on- and off-screen if they wish to continue receiving funding from Britain’s largest public film.

The British Film Institute has revealed its “Three Ticks” scheme, which will be implemented in September to ensure diversity in films and behind the scenes, The Telegraph reported. Films must “tick” at least two of three criteria: on-screen diversity; off-screen diversity and “creating opportunities and social mobilitythe paper reported.

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4 responses to “British Film Institute: Government and Art becomes Government Art becomes Propaganda.”

  1. This is why government should never be allowed to do anything for us. It always comes with strings attached.
    “What has happened to the UK? What, indeed, is happening to Western civilization?”

  2. This sounds less like “censorship” to me and more like “government encouragement of speech”. A poor distinction in the US, but in most of Europe, government funding of art (or government–encouraged private funding of art) is a norm. This is not saying that you cannot say certain things, just that if you do, you won’t get government support.

  3. Royal charters establish permanent institutions and set out their purpose. (Royal charters, for instance, founded each of the Thirteen Colonies.) The British Film Institute has a lot of good features, in particular a remarkable film archive and library that preserves an almost complete record of the artform. But make no mistake, it is a part of the Establishment and anyone thinking rebellious thoughts simply does not go there for funding. As a matter of fact, you may expect that BFI and Lottery funded projects will tend to be on the artsy side and with not much expectation of success; the purpose of Lottery funding is to fund what the private sector does not find profitable and the state sector does not find urgent. Having said that, I would point out that the expensive nature of movie making means that he who had the gold has always made the rules. Hollywood moguls and state bureaucrats are not unlike each other in this. Go read in Garson Kanin’s “Spencer and Katharine” what happened when Katharine Hepburn, admittedly the greatest actress of her time, proposed to film “Anna Christie” by the greatest American playwright of all time, Eugene O.Neill, Nobody wanted to know, even when she offered to work for free. Or, to go outside cinema, find out the life history of the greatest American artist of all time – and one of the finest human beings who ever walked this sorry Earth – Jack Kirby, the king of comics. The greatest works of art America may ever produce, the greatest she has ever produced – twisted and destroyed, time and again, by corporate know-nothings. Sorry, I don’t think there is anything peculiarly evil about the silly rules of the BFI.

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