I had my attention drawn earlier today to this report of an acquittal under the Obscene Publications Act relating to the distribution of an allegedly obscene DVD. The DVD in question portrays "hardcore" gay sex acts - apparently including "fisting between men, urination, and incidents of sado-masochism".
The acts themselves are of course not (or perhaps more accurately, no longer) illegal between consenting adults. It's the portrayal of them which constituted the alleged offence. I haven't seen the DVD, so I'm not in a position to comment on whether the material in it is any more likely to "deprave" or "corrupt" than the multitude of clips on X-Tube and elswhere which I have seen catering for the same sort of tastes. But for me one of the most telling things to emerge from the trial is the revelation that the jury "Although they were quite shocked initially, ... started to look quite bored very quickly"
That certainly echoes my experience of watching a supposedly hardcore German sex video loaned to me some years ago by a colleague at work. The performances were all very laboured in the extreme: none of the participants seemed to be enjoying any of it and it was totally devoid of any sort of artistry. Maybe I just wasn't in a receptive mood when I was watching it?
The article to which I've linked reports that discussions will be taking place with the CPS and the BBFC. Good. Crown Court trials don't come cheap, and I feel bound to make the comment that it was a waste of public money: what useful purpose would a conviction would have served? There's no suggestion that the DVD was being sold to minors, nor that the prospective purchasers weren't fully aware of what they were getting. The BBFC's role of cinema censorship has, thankfully, dwindled over the years and is now more or less confined to 'grading' films according to their content and suitability for a potentially underage audience. Leaving aside the obvious exception of childporn, it really shouldn't in the 21st century be necessary to worry about whether R18 material is going to deprave or corrupt the viewers it's aimed at and sold to.