Banned Sex Video and 'Porn Baby’ Film Producer
Banned Sex Video and 'Porn Baby’ Film Producer
Porn filmmaker Steve Crow must now dispose of all copies of a hardcore porn video his company Vixen Direct Ltd has been distributing for over two years. If he refuses to and is found to possess it or be distributing it, he could face a fine of up to $5,000, despite the fact it was given a general R18 classification by Chief Censor Bill Hastings and his fellow censors just over two years ago and despite the fact he paid $1500 to get it classified.
The now banned sex video, recently reclassified "objectionable" by the Classification Office, is one of a series Crow's company imports, markets and distributes. The Classification Office has found the effect of its contents on viewers to be dehumunanising, degrading and demeaning in its treatment of women. It concluded that its depiction of sexual activities including the sodomising of women, promoted unhygenic and unsafe practices that were injurious to the public good.
President of the Society for the Promotion of Community Standards Rev Gordon Dempsey says "the decision to ban the video is a vindication of all the Society has been saying for many years about the failure of the Chief Censor's Office to apply the law properly and safeguard the public good from the corrupting influence of harmful material that contavenes the law".
In a landmark decision dated 4 October 2002, (recently released to the Society and to be published next month), the Classification Office has overturned its earlier decision dated 7 July 2000 that classified the sex video (“The Matador Series 2”) R18 with no excisions recommended. Steve Crow, whose film-making talents have recently been focused on trying to produce a hardcore ‘porn baby’ film “Ripe” featuring former stripper “Nikki” and her soon-to-be-born baby (see
The Dominion Post editorial 19 October) made submissions to the Classification Office opposing the Society's appeal to have the video reclassified. He continues to market other videos in "The Matador Series" through his company's website and has stated that he intends marketing his film "Ripe" via overseas distributors to cater to the sexual “fetish” appetites of overseas hardcore porn viewers.
Following an appeal for a review of the earlier classification decision on “The Matador Series 2” video under section 42(3)(b) of the Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act (1993) (“the Act”) by the Society for the Promotion of Community Standards; the Classification Office has recognised in effect that the video content contravenes s. 3(3)(a)(iii), s. 3(3)(c) and s.(3) (3)(e) of the Act. It has ruled that seven excisions need to be made by the distributor Vixen Direct Ltd. “to reduce the degrading and dehumanising effect of the publication.” The video is now classified objectionable because the distributor has declined the recommendation to make the required cuts. As a consequence all uncut copies are now banned. Crow’s company is liable for a fine of $5,000 for possessing the video or supplying it to customers. His company website continues to advertise and market five other sexually explicit videos in the “Matador” Series. The Society is planning to submit all these titles and their degrading, demeaning and dehumanising contents to the Classification Office for re-classification.
Bill Hastings, whose 3-year term as Chief Censor expired on Friday 18 October was responsible for exposing 53 members of the public of both sexes to a 100- minute sexually explicit video- “The Matador Series 2” - containing objectionable content so degrading and dehumanising in its effect that it has now been banned. It was one of three sexually explicit videos at “the ‘high- end’ of the R18 category”,viewed in the Office of Film and Literature Classification by a group of 153 volunteers recruited by ACNielson to take part
in a Classification Office commissioned research study into the “content and classification of sexually explicit videos”. This research reported on in the Classification Office Annual Report 2001 cost the taxpayer over $38,000.
The Classification Office “sought feedback on whether, and if so to what extent, the  participants considered the material (or aspects of it) to be demeaning, degrading and/or dehumanising”. It was “also keen to know if the material might be considered to represent a class of persons [e.g. women] as being inherently inferior by virtue of their sex or any other characteristic” (p. 52). Under section 3(3)(b) of the Films, Videos, and Publications Act 1993 (“the Act”) a publication has to be classified “objectionable” by the Censorship Office if it “describes, depicts, or otherwise deals with … sexual or physical conduct of a degrading or dehumanising or demeaning nature” (s. 3[iii]) in a “manner”, or to such an “extent and degree” that it: ………
(b) Degrades or dehumanises or demeans any person: ….. [and/or] (e) Represents (whether directly or by implication) that members of any particular class of the public are inherently inferior to other members of the public by reason of any characteristics of members of that class, being a characteristic that is a prohibited ground of discrimination specified in section 21(1) of the Human Rights Act 1993.
The Annual Report 2001 report on the inquiry states:
“Three videos were selected for screening to the audiences. Each video was screened to one audience of women and to a second audience of men. All three videos had previously been classified R18 … and assigned the descriptive note: Contains explicit sex scenes.” … In addition to the researcher [Helena Barwick MA], several Classification Office staff attended each session. The same staff member (a woman) facilitated all six sessions and at the outset of each session, the Chief Censor [Bill Hastings] gave the  participants a briefing on the classification criteria set down in [the] Act. During this briefing, participants were introduced to the terms demeaning, degrading and dehumanising, these being key terms the questionnaire would seek their feedback on…” (pp. 52-53).
“Respondents were asked whether they had found any of the sexual activities presented in the video degrading…. Four sexual activities in this video [ “The Matador Series 2”] stood out as being judged far more degrading than others did by the respondents. They were:
“Penis going from anus to mouth; double penetration [simultaneous vaginal and anal penetration of a woman by two men]; finger going from anus to mouth; ejaculation on a woman’s face. There was little difference between the activities men ranked as most degrading and those ranked by women.” (p. 55)
Of the 145 participants who completed the questionnaires dealing with the four sexual activities listed above, 141 (97.2%) found the first (penis-mouth-anus) the “most degrading”; 138 (95.2%) the second; 116 (80.0%) the third; and 99 (68.3%) the fourth. Other activities ranked as “most degrading” were “display of labia or anus for camera” (65; 44.8%), “anal intercourse” (22.8%), “women with multiple male partners” (12; 8.3%). The Annual Report notes: “About two- thirds of the audience was in agreement that the videos could be harmful” (p. 55). The 4 October revised classification of “The Matador Series 2” concludes:
“Seven excisions are required to "The Matador Series 2" video recording to remove parts of scenes that depict sexual conduct that strongly degrades and dehumanises the female participants and contributes significantly to the effect that the publication depicts women as inherently inferior. The conduct involves men engaging in anal intercourse with women and repeatedly displaying the women’s gaping anuses to the camera in the manner of a game, often chanting “un, dos, tre, ole!” [It] finds that the availability of the video recording in its present form is likely to be injurious to the public good because it perpetuates a degrading and dehumanising view of women as orifices to be used as a sexual spectacle.”(p. 15)
The Society President Rev. Gordon Dempsey says: “Sadly the Society executive is perceived and criticised by some as so out of touch with community standards that it is incapable of rational comprehension of how parliament intended the law to work in safeguarding the public good. We reject these criticisms while at the same time trying to understand as best we can the mindset of those who dismiss our concerns and appear determined to push their so-called ‘rights’ to watch anything they want to, regardless of the constraints imposed by our censorship laws…The point is, Chief Censor Bill Hastings failed to take action on this video in terms of its reclassification, despite the vast majority of the participants in the research study identifying the activities as degrading, dehumanising and demeaning to a major degree… We believe the Society should not have had to force this matter with the Classification Office by seeking a review. It should have been more than obvious to Bill Hastings and Ms Nicola McCully [now the new Deputy Chief Censor] that this publication should be banned or cut. Their failure despite significant input from the public at a cost of $38,000 [to tax-payers], calls into question their professional fitness to function as Chief Censor and Deputy Chief Censor. This aberration,” says Dempsey, “is not a one-off event. There are dozens and dozens of hardcore sex and sex-violence videos containing the same degree and kind of degrading, demeaning and dehumanising content as “Matador”. To all of these the Classification Office has granted general R18 classification under the leadership of Mr Hastings who took over as Acting Chief Censor at the end of 1998.”
Mr Hastings was reappointed for only one year – until 18 October 2003 – rather than 3 years, (as allowed for under s. 81(1) in the Act), by the Governor- General by Order in Council on 23 July 2002. The reappointment was made on the recommendation of the Minister of Internal Affairs George Hawkins and approved by the Cabinet Business Committee just before the elections. The media has not reported this reappointment.
7 July 2000 OFLC classification decision on "The Matador Series 2" video (OFLC Ref. no. 200203). Signed by Ms Nicola McCully, Deputy Chief Censor of Film and Literature.
4 October 2002 OFLC classification decision on "The Matador Series 2" video (OFLC Ref. no. 812). Signed by Mr Bill Hastings, Chief Censor of Film and Literature.
Letter of 4 January 2002. Society application to Chief Censor seeking a reclassification of "The Matador Series 2" and two other sexually explicit videos used by the Classification Office in its 2001 Research inquiry. Application for review made under s. 42(3)(b) of the Act.
The Chief Censor advised the Society in a letter dated 15 February 2002 that the application for review had been granted. The Society’s submission on the "The Marador Series 2" video was received by the Classification Office on 23 May 2002.
Fine not exceeding $5,000 in case of offence by body corporate in relation to possession and/or distribution of a "objectinable publication. Section 131(2) (b) of the Act. Fines applying to offences by individuals - not exceeding $2,000 (s. 131[a]).
Vixen Direct Ltd website. http://www.vixen.co.nz
Four of the "Matador Series" marketed by Vixen Direct Ltd required cuts when first classified (Series 03,04,05,06) and another not advertised on its website was banned.
OFLC Research Report 2001 records consultation sessions dealing with "The Matador Series 2": 28 women viewed it on 20 November 2000 and 25 men on 12 March 2001.
Both the Annual Report 2001 and the Research Report ("Public consultation on sexually explicit videos") are available from the Classification Office website: http:www.censorship.govt.nz/publications.html
The cost of the 2001 Research inquiry on three sexually explicit videos (0ver ~$38,000) was supplied by the Classification Office in response to an official information request from the Society. Letter on file.