Warning over 'sick' video stunts

Sick stunts in a new breed of videos have prompted unprecedented warnings that viewers could kill themsees if they tried to copy them.

Sick stunts in a new breed of videos have prompted unprecedented warnings that viewers could kill themsees if they tried to copy them.

For the first time censors have insisted that a new “reality” format, in which amateurs are filmed taking part in Fight Club-style acts, must carry on-screen and verbal cautions.

The Backyard Wrestling films – released in the UK for the first time tomorrow - feature people jumping off roofs, hitting each other with golf clubs and falling on to barbed wire fences and flames.

During the first 65-minute film, The Best of Backyard Wrestling, there are repeated scenes of leaping from great heights on to the stomachs of others.

Backyard Wrestling is already cult viewing in many countries.

UK distributor of the US-made films, Revolver Entertainment, plans to release nine volumes over the coming months.

There are three written warnings and a spoken caution before the action - which is staged but meant to look real – even begins.

A spokeswoman for the British Board of Film Classification said: “This is the first time we have asked for these warnings.

“They can be seen as encouraging people to do extremely stupid things.

“We have to be sure we’ve done all we can to ensure nobody comes to any harm as a result of watching these scenes.”

The process o getting clearance from the BBFC has taken six months of negotiations and Revolver has twice put back the scheduled release date because of the delay.

The BBFC spokeswoman said: “We said that they had to have written and verbal warnings. Some viewers of this sort of thing will be vulnerable members of society who may need a spoken warning in addition to what is written on the screen.

“This whole genre of reality stunts is a new phenomenon and not something we have had to deal with before.”

Backyard Wrestling follows the success of the MTV series Jackass, which has also spawned a movie.

The BBFC spokeswoman added: “In Jackass there are a series of characters that have been built up over the course of a series.

“But with Backyard Wrestling viewers are under the impression that these things are real. These are not elaborate stunts, the people are doing what look like ordinary things like jumping off roofs which could be easily copied.

“It is not obvious that these people are actors and stunt people. In these situations they purport to be real people and we felt it was important to emphasise the warnings.”

During several scenes people are shown being thrown on to flames and their clothes catch fire. On-screen are the words: “Warning: Doing this could kill you.”

Makers of the video had to provide statements declaring that the fighting was staged and nobody was hurt.

Producer Rick Mahr said: “Despite the sometimes graphic presentation, no wrestlers depicted on The Best Of Backyard Wrestling videos have ever been seriously injured or hurt.

“Furthermore, the ‘violence’ is 100% simulated and is based upon the strict tenets of high-impact, choreographed showmanship with the utmost safety in mind.”

Backyard Wrestling is also being turned into a video game by the makers of Tomb Raider.

In a statement Revolver Entertainment said of the films: “There are no possible arguments that could be levelled against backyard wrestling that can’t be levelled against the television coverage of US World Wrestling Entertainment bouts.

“Both emulate violence, both embrace a theatrical style, neither allows any form of injury to occur to contestants.

“If there are worries that over-18s, the video’s audience, are going to emulate the stunts on the video, then we would draw your attention to real combative televised sports like boxing and martial arts, sports where injury and death occurs with alarming regularity.

Mahr said the videos were meant to be “fun”.

“We don’t encourage anyone to try this at home. This video series is not meant as a instructional guide on how to kick somebody’s ass. This is 100% hardcore fun, it’s 100% entertainment to be viewed and not copied or imitated,” he said.

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