The UK’s Daily Mail put out an interesting article yesterday on Danish director Lars von Trier’s film Antichrist, was featured at Cannes in May. Apparently, the film has been given an 18+ rating by the British Board of Film Classification, even though as the article’s author Christopher Hart (a self-described libertarian and open-minded film critic) calls for it to be banned. Hart characterizes it as
“A film which plumbs new depths of sexual explicitness, excruciating violence and degradation…intended to shock. In fact, it doesn’t shock, it merely nauseates.”
But what is interesting about this article is not so much its calls for film censorship or its characterization of the film as “devoid of any sense of justice or retribution.” Rather, its this little tidbit:
“It doesn’t surprise me that Antichrist was heavily subsidised by the Danish Film Institute to the tune of 1.5 million euros.
I tried to find out more from the Institute, but to my small surprise they disdained to reply. But you can be sure that they in turn are funded by the EU and so by my taxes – and yours.
How do you feel about that? If not shocked, then weary, furious, disgusted? Well you can complain all you like, but no one is listening. Our arts mandarins, along with the rest of our lofty liberal elite, don’t work like that.
Their job is to take our money and spend it on such fashionable torture porn – sorry, art – not ask us our opinion.”
Hart also mentions that the head of the British Board of Film Classification gets paid £28,000 per year for working 25 calendar days.
So this is what Big Government has come to in Europe. When people believe that art cannot exist or flourish without some kind of government subsidy, government subsidizes art. But what if “art” involves graphic pornography and grotesquely violent deaths? Well, then government subsidizes that too, even if it is repulsive to most people’s sensibilities. How would taxpayers react if they knew (if they even realize) what their money is being spent on?
Reassuring, though, is that Hart does realize the aggregate impact this “art” has on European culture–“fully confirming our jihadist enemies’ view of us as a society in the last stages of corruption and decay.” Ironic, that the welfare state which Islamic extremists come to Europe to exploit in the first place also gives jihadists more of a reason to blow up school buses.
The bottom line is not that this film should be censored. Censorship is wrong. But if free markets existed in Europe, the public would censor it itself by not paying to view the film. The irony at work here is that while most Europeans would argue that art cannot exist without government subsidies, those same subsidies encourage the creation and perpetuation of creative materials which, according to what Hart describes, likely contribute nothing of value of society.
A free market would take care of the problem. But Europe’s social-democratic states will surely continue to extort money from taxpayers and create a market for garbage. You get what you pay for.