The Velvet Café

A room for thoughts about movies

Bankers – the new curators of cinema?

with 29 comments

Would you like to have a substantial influence on which movies other people watch or don’t watch?

Then you definitely shouldn’t become a film critic. And you shouldn’t work in film business either, with sales and distribution. The real power lies somewhere else. I present to you the new curator of cinema:  The Banker.

For a long time they kept it a secret. I’ve always wondered what they were doing in the bank offices in the afternoons, since most of them close early, about 3PM. Now we know. They all gather in a secret vault where they watch movies.

They are the ones who have to make the final judgement over movies. Which movies are morally acceptable and should be allowed to be distributed on the market? Which movies are unsuitable and offensive and must be stopped?

It’s a tough call to make, but someone has to do it. And they are the chosen ones.

Blacklisted horror distributor
I know it might come as a surprise to you. I didn’t see that coming either. Not until this week when it became known to the public that a Swedish distributor of horror movies had to shut down his business after being blacklisted by the Swedish banks and payment services.

The movies in question aren’t illegal and don’t contain child pornography. But the banks have labelled them as “offensive to the public opinion”, and that’s enough cause for them to refuse to serve the company. So after ten years of struggling the owner of the little online shop finally decided to give up. This will also lead to the disappearance of a dozen cult and horror movies from the market, since he owned the distribution rights to them.

Naturally this has caused a bit of a stirrup in Swedish media. But the bank representatives deny that it’s a case of censorship. They believe they’re navigating according to a “moral compass”, complying with international agreements.

I have to assume that the bankers have good intentions as they enter the role of being curators of cinema. The question is if they’ll achieve their goal to decrease the spread of morally questionable movies. It could very well have the opposite effect.

If someone tries to prevent me from watching a film because they don’t think it’s good for me, I become like a rebellion teenager who wants nothing but watching the said film. Regardless of what the bankers try to do, people will keep finding those films; it’s just that they’ll find new and probably sometimes more shady ways to get hold of them. Perhaps there’s more going on in those secret bank vaults than we thought of? Do I spot a conspiracy with an unholy alliance between bankers and pirates? The mystery deepens.

Troma movies
I don’t wish bad movies to take over the market, but bankers are not the ones to make those decisions for me. In the year to come I will make an effort to watch more offensive and morally questionable movies than I have in the past. Just because.

If you want to join me in this crusade against “good taste”, a good place to starts seems to be the YouTube channel run by Troma, which is an independent film distribution company I recently found out about. For years they have produced loads and loads of movies that would make the Swedish bankers faint. Hundreds of titles are available online, legally and for free.

Zombie Werewolves Attack, Rockabilly Vampire and Flesh Eaters from Outer Space – never before have I felt any urge to watch this kind of movies. Now I’ll try to endure them, regardless how crappy they are. It’s for a good cause.

The fight against the curators has only begun.

Written by Jessica

November 16, 2012 at 5:00 pm

29 Responses

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  1. Oh good Lord, this is terrible news!! Bankers having power over film distributors (and any orther businesses) as harbingers of morality?? It might be different in Sweden, but iI can just imagine what would happen if Bank of America had that power. What a horrible turn of events….I’ll have to share this with Vicki- I’m sure she’ll have some choice opinions about this! 🙂

    Karl Kaefer

    November 16, 2012 at 5:39 pm

    • I know! It’s really annoying. I don’t think they should be guardians of morality at all. But if they insist on being it, there probably are a lot of companies in the world that do far worse things than distributing horror movies to start with… I wonder though if it’s only restricted to Sweden. I think I’ve heard of Pay-Pal having similar ideas. And they’re referring to international agreements.


      November 18, 2012 at 5:27 pm

  2. That’s shocking that ‘the banks’ would want to put a company like that under, or at best put them at a massive disadvantage over companies. Good call on Troma though, their films aren’t always brilliant, but are culty enough to keep you entertained – definitely live the motto of ‘give the viewers what they want’. I’ve reviewed a few of their films if you want to know which ones to check out…

    Paragraph Film Reviews

    November 16, 2012 at 5:42 pm

    • I haven’t single Troma movie yet, but I think I have to do it. Just because.


      November 18, 2012 at 5:30 pm

  3. Some good info here Jessica. Why is that anyone calling themselves bankers are always manipulative and corrupt in some form or other? Let’s drop the “B” at the beginning of that word and replace it with a “W”. 😉

    Mark Walker

    November 16, 2012 at 5:48 pm

    • The irony in their efforts to stop “offensive” material is that the they’re the one that really are behaving offensive. Followig my political beliefs I should boycot banks I guess. But it’s just too much of a hassle.


      November 18, 2012 at 5:32 pm

      • I hear you Jessica. I’m absolutely the same. My political beliefs leave me feeling guilty that I even contribute to their greed and dishonesty. Like you say though, it’s not that easy to avoid the scoundrels.

        Mark Walker

        November 19, 2012 at 11:00 pm

  4. The closest parallel I can think of is when the banks here decided to go after WikiLeaks. At least in American terms, nothing can be considered censorship if it is undertaken by the private market rather than the government, but when a major sector like banking acts with clear collusion to deny an essential service as a whole, it starts to have the effect of governmental action. Surely there is some entrepreneurial banker who would like the benefit of their business.

    That said, not sure I’ll start putting myself through camp/cult horror films as a result. Not a genre I have typically enjoyed. One of the main areas of difference between Kermode and I.


    November 16, 2012 at 9:52 pm

    • This whole ordeal has definitely increased my interest for the genre. I think it’s frightening when bankers start to lock out companies from their services based on their subjective opinions about what is offensive and what isn’t. What else will they suddenly decide not to service? It could be just about anything that doesn’t fit into a conservative mindset. I shiver at the thought.


      November 18, 2012 at 5:36 pm

  5. I don’t normally go for schlocky, “tasteless” movies but I do think that no one should decide for us what we can or cannot watch.


    November 17, 2012 at 8:58 am

    • No. And especially not bank people. Shops deciding to sell or not sell a type of movies is a different thing. Then it’s a business decision. But in this case they’re way out of their territory.


      November 18, 2012 at 5:37 pm

  6. It’s been going around for a while now, and I’ve seen it happen first-hand too. A lot of people who invest in films actually have nothing to do with the film industry, but are in completely different – more money orientated – areas of work themselves. When I first found out, I thought it was so off, but it makes sense on a business level, which, essentially, the film industry is after all.


    November 17, 2012 at 12:25 pm

    • It’s a bummer though that all the banks seem to be on the same side here. If there was one bank that valued the right to free speech more and that didn’t stop this horror movie firm from doing business claiming it’s “offensive”, I would go to that bank in a heartbeat. And I think many other supporters of the free word would too. It seems as if the market mechanisms don’t work properly.


      November 18, 2012 at 5:47 pm

  7. A most excellent post. When I saw you post about it in Twitter I was gobsmacked. It is just ridiculous. The idea that bankers are somehow possessed of a good moral sense is itself pretty tasteless. Big Boys gone Bananas, as it were.

    I applaud the rebelliousness.


    November 17, 2012 at 3:11 pm

    • Thank you! I got really upset when I first read about it and eversince I’ve been mulling over it until I wrote this piece to get it off my chest.


      November 18, 2012 at 5:40 pm

  8. Is this the marketplace indirectly expressing its opinion of this sort of filmmaking? Being in the U.S.A., I have to wonder if the same thing could happen here, and I have to remind myself how important the spirit of the First Amendment really is – not just the legal machinations. That is, the First Amendment generally applies to state action or state sanctioned action. But if the private citizens and the business community do not place an intrinsic value on freedom of expression outside of those legal parameters, eventually that idea will not mean much other than the expresion the majority likes. It is the same way I felt about all of the “good Christians” protesting the bulding of mosques in the red states here in the U.S. – I want to say to them, “That is your right to exercise free speech, but at the same time, you’re telling everybody how little you value the free exercise of religion.”


    November 17, 2012 at 9:31 pm

    • The banks are referring to “international agreements” so I doubt it’s just a local thing. And if it is it seems as if they’ve got the wrong picture of the Swedish market. I’ve seen a lot of protests against the acting of the banks in this case and very little support.

      If I’ve understood it correctly, PayPal has acted in a similar way, and they’re international.

      All we can do I guess is to be vocal about it, raising awareness and opinion, trying to make the banks realize that they can lose more customers when they act like guardians of morale than they will if they offer their services to distributors of cult movies.


      November 18, 2012 at 5:51 pm

  9. Man, I was obsessed with Troma films when I was a teen. They made me a lifelong lover of trash cinema.

    Dave Enkosky

    November 18, 2012 at 2:58 pm

  10. If the banks had just said, “Not enough people will see your films, you can’t return our investment” I’d be okay. But banks are the last institution that should be making moral determinations (without a lot of help from the outside).

    Steve Kimes

    November 18, 2012 at 5:49 pm

    • Exactly. The motivation for their denial is shocking. If they were determined to keep up certain ethical standards they could for instance take a look at what business they have with weapon retailers. Guns kill people. Horror movies don’t.


      November 18, 2012 at 5:53 pm

  11. That makes me sad, and not a story I’d expect to hear from Sweden. And maybe I’ve seen and read too much sci-fi, but I’d say banks everywhere better watch out, one day they will truly overstep their bounds, and some enterprising individuals will devise a new way of doing things that renders them obsolete.

    Bonjour Tristesse

    November 20, 2012 at 11:53 am

    • I know! I didn’t think you’d see it here. I may be prejudiced, but morale panic is something I connect with conservative areas overseas. It’s not what we’re used to here. But times are changing I guess. The banks work internationally and try to protect their reputation world-wide, catering to the least common denominator.


      November 20, 2012 at 8:48 pm

  12. Naturally, this becomes a sort of censorship and I find it especially disturbing that the banks agree to work for bigger companies who market the same movies. The standards should not be this different. That said, isn’t it more common than perhaps we are aware of that morals play a large part in the (economic) society? I for example immediately though about all these funds who try to find customers by claiming to not invest in weapons or un-ecological production. Not illegal stuff, but morally objectionable for some people.


    November 20, 2012 at 3:33 pm

    • The funds exist, but it’s different. There the ethical stance on certain things is an exception. Here the bankers are making it a rule, and it’s infuriating for all of us who don’t share this evaluation of the horror genre. It leaves me with very little choice. Where to find a bank that accepts trashy movies and don’t try to stop anyone from selling them?


      November 20, 2012 at 8:51 pm

      • But the articles state that it’s not an ethical stance on horror movies, but a stance on horror movies from a certain type of business. Apparently some of the movies are sold by bigger companies who are no way near to being blacklisted.


        November 21, 2012 at 11:32 am

        • That’s true. It makes the banks behavior in this case even more unexplainable. They seem to be just… evil.


          November 21, 2012 at 7:25 pm

  13. I’m sure another bank will see $$ in horror movies and they’ll be glad to loan them the money. In the end, it’s all about the money. If there’s a profit to be made, banks will sponsor it.

    So, seen any of those movies yet? 🙂


    November 25, 2012 at 2:49 am

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