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Video nasty is a colloquial term in the United Kingdom to refer to a number of films distributed on video cassette that were criticised for their violent content by the press, social commentators and various religious organisations.
The term was popularised by the National Viewers' and Listeners' Association (NVALA) in the UK in the early 1980s.
Following a moral campaign led by Mary Whitehouse and the NVALA, local jurisdictions began to prosecute certain video releases for obscenity.
The DPP recognised that the current system, where the interpretation of obscenity was down to individual Chief Constables, was inconsistent and decided to publish a list that contained names of films that had already resulted in a successful prosecution or where the DPP had already filed charges against the video's distributors.
The exposure of 'nasties' to children began to be blamed for the increase in violent crime amongst youths.
The growing media frenzy only served to increase the demand for such material among adolescents.
A few months later Go Video, the distributors of the already-controversial 1980 Italian film Cannibal Holocaust, in an effort to boost publicity and generate sales that ultimately backfired, wrote anonymously to Mary Whitehouse of the National Viewers' and Listeners' Association complaining about their own film.
Whitehouse sparked off a public campaign and coined the term 'video nasty'.
In the early 1980s, in certain police constabularies, notably Greater Manchester Police which was at that time run by devout Christian Chief Constable James Anderton, police raids on video hire shops increased.