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Report: "Irreversible" Homophobia & ‘Hate Speech’

Report: "Irreversible" Homophobia & ‘Hate Speech’

Media Release 4 November 2004

Three months after the Society applied to the Film and Literature Board of Review for a reclassification of the French film “Irreversible” (2002) which features a brutal nine minute anal rape of a young pregnant woman by a homosexual man and extreme violence, it is still waiting for the Board’s decision. The Society wants the film classified “objectionable” (effectively banning it) or significantly cut.

The Society is seeking to overturn the classification decision issued by the Office of Film and Literature Classification (OFLC) on 28 July 2004 that granted it a general R18 theatrical release with a descriptive note: “Contains sexual violence, graphic violence and sex scenes”. It is upset that this “restricted classification” would allow the film to be screened on late night television without the broadcaster having to get permission from the Chief Censor and sends a clear signal to the public and the film’s distributor that any future non-theatrical release in this country, on video and/or DVD format, will be classified as acceptable for adult home-viewing. More importantly it argues that if the law had been applied correctly, the film, regardless of format, would have been classified “objectionable” or cut.

“Irreversible” Homophobic disgust & ‘Hate Speech’

A review of the film in 2003 by “gay” rights activist Chris Banks (see below) entitled “Homophobic disgust and horror” and published by GayNZ.com, described it as “the most homophobic film ever released”. Chief Censor, Bill Hastings, a self-proclaimed practising homosexual, who while deputy president of the Film Board in 1997 was involved in the banning of two Christian (Living Word) videos which the Board said constituted hate-speech directed at “gays”; has also found “Irreversible” to be disturbingly ‘homophobic”. It would appear that Deputy Chief Censor, Ms Nicola McCully, a known lesbian, has taken a similar view. And yet the Office they both hold statutory positions in, made no effort to cut or further restrict “Irreversible” beyond granting it a general R18 classification. The OFLC decision states:

“The anal rape of the character Alex [played by Monica Bellucci] is shown as a horrific, brutalising act…. The attacker … seizes Alex, explaining “You’re dead bitch.” She screams, cries and pleads with him to let her go … He forces her to her knees and straddles her body… As he rapes Alex the man threatens and taunts her continually, in a kind of obscenely misogynistic running commentary that includes, “Spread your legs bitch”, “Take this in your ass, c*nt” and “You sh*t on me and you’re dead”… The depictions of rape, the violence that follows the rape, and the derogatory references to women at various points in the film are a record of incredibly degrading misogyny, even misandry. There is extensive use of homophobic insults couched in explicit language and of epithets such as “Faggot”. The dialogue in question includes insults that link homosexuality with AIDS. The film presents homosexuality as deviant and associates homosexuals with violent acts such as the anal rape of Alex by a homosexual pimp… The degrading and misogynistic treatment of women, … remains a concern, as does the wholly negative stereotype of homosexuals that emerges from the film”.

The Society is angry that the Board has allowed this degrading film to be screened this year uncut in mainstream cinemas and in three main cities for a month (and complete its season), before conducting a meeting to consider its review application. The review was conducted on 21 October 2004 and one other applicant – VoTE (Viewers of Television Excellence) presented its case for the banning of the film. It is also upset that the film commenced screening on 5 August 2004 in Wellington and Auckland (later in Christchurch), before its current classification was even publicly gazetted in the List of Decisions dated 13 August 2004 and before the 30 working-day period of review set out in the law, had commenced.

Following an application on 9 July 2004 by the film’s distributor, Accent Film Entertainment Ltd to the Chief Censor, “Irreversible” was reclassified by Mr Hasting’s Office as a restricted [R18] publication, available for mainstream cinematic and tertiary institutional use only and for adult viewers. The OFLC decision was registered on 29 July 2004 and the Society sought leave to have the classification reviewed the next day. The film’s earlier R18 classification issued on 28 April 2003 had been more restrictive, limiting its theatrical screenings to film festivals and for the purpose of study in tertiary media and film courses. It only screened twice in New Zealand prior to this latest classification and this was as part of the 2003 Beck’s Incredible Film Festival.

This revised classification this year was made possible by the direct ‘intervention’ of Bill Hastings, when he exercised his discretion as Chief Censor on 15 July 2004, under s. 42(3)(b) of the Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act 1993 (“the Act”), and granted leave to the distributor (the applicant) to have the film’s classification reconsidered so it could reach a wider audience of New Zealanders. He issued a decision stating that there were “special circumstances justifying reconsideration of the decision” that had been earlier issued by his Office on the 28th of April 2003.

The Society maintains that the Board president, Ms Claudia Elliott, in rejecting its application for an interim restriction order against the film lodged on 5 August 2004, the same day its application for review was received by the Board; has turned the review process set out in s. 47 of the Act, into a complete farce.

Mr Chris Banks says “Don’t Go”!

Mr Chris Banks, a “gay” presenter on TV2’s “Queer Nation”, had his damning review of “Irreversible” published by GayNZ.com on 1 June 2003 after he viewed it on the same day at its NZ premiere in Auckland, as part of the Beck’s Incredible Film Festival. He entitled his review “Homophobic horror and disgust” and in it described the film as “forbidden fruit,” an apt description in the Society’s view, given its morally depraved, “objectionable” and repugnant content. Banks provided a “simple warning to anyone considering attending “Irreversible” in its once-only Wellington showing at the Becks Incredibly Strange Film Festival – DON’T GO” [Emphasis added].

The Society sent Bank’s 2003 review to the president of the Board this year as part of its submission in seeking for an interim restriction order and reclassification of the film. Banks, who regularly publishes articles on the GayNZ.Com website wrote:

“Irreversible” is the most brutally homophobic film ever released. Its art-house pretensions have fooled many reviewers, but director Gaspar Noe’s own words in interviews have revealed this picture for the provocative, dehumanising trash that it is.” See: http://www.gaynz.com/Reviews/irreversible.asp [accessed 27/08/04]

For interview with Gaspar Noe re “Irreversible” see: http://www.indiewire.com/people/people_030311noe.html

In a more recent review (he describes it as a “re-appraisal”) published on the 3rd of August 2004, Banks reiterated these criticisms of the “French shocker” and went further, describing it as “undoubtedly the most visceral examination of male homophobia and masculine fragility ever made”. Having noted in his 2003 review that “the anal rape scene will be played out in a single nine-minute take,” he described it in his 2004 review as “one of the most disturbing rape scenes in history committed to celluloid” and one that has created “media outrage … around the word.” (One wonders how Banks sat through the rape scene twice and achieved such ‘accurate’ timing. Other film reviewers have recorded the rape scene as ten minutes long).

Banks noted that he “was incredibly angry” after first seeing the film but has now changed his mind, “on reflection”, to now see it as one of those “works of art” this is “greater than the sum of their parts”.

http://www.gaynz.org.nz/aarticles/templates/features.asp?articleid=352&zoneid=16 [accessed 9/8/04]

In his 2004 review Banks was disparaging of the well-publicised fact that the Society had applied on May 26 May 2003 and 5 August 2004 to the Board of Review for a reclassification of the film and to the president for interim restriction orders. He wrote:

“It’s worth pointing out that some of you may not even get the chance to see the film anyway if a certain Christian lobby group in Wellington has its way. [SPCS] (who attempted to ban the film on its last visit) has started their battle anew. Yes, I know that’s what they do for a life…”

The irony is that Banks, a devoted “gay” ‘rights’ lobbyist, should urge his audience not to taste the “forbidden fruit” in 2003, instructing them “don’t go”, rail against the content as “brutally homophobic”, describe it as a piece of “pretentious” “trash”, and then poor scorn on a group that wishes to see it banned. He wrote in 2003:

“One can only imagine that the outcry which accompanied “Cruising” [protests from “gays” against this film focused on its perceived homophobic portrayal of gays] has not been forthcoming for “Irreversible” because it will not get anywhere near a mainstream audience, and that most have recognised it as a shallow gimmick from a director who has proclaimed on numerous occasions that he won’t stop making films until he makes one that is banned.” [Emphasis added]

Banks must have been enormously relieved that the film was only screened twice in New Zealand in 2003. Even in his 2004 review he warned the “gay” community: “It will upset you. It is definitely not recommended for anyone still in the process of coming out or in doubt about the worthiness of their sexual identity…”

However, his confident assertion in 2003 that this “homophobic” film would “not get anywhere near a mainstream audience” shows how out of touch he was with our censorship system and the appetites and values of some film-goers and those holding statutory offices in the Office of Film and Literature Classification (the decision-makers).

Gaspar Noe, the director of “Irreversible” stated in an interview concerning the film, with IndieWIRE:

“I often get asked “Are you gay or a homophobe?” [laughs] For the record, I’m straight. Because a man can be anally raped, a woman can be anally raped, and you are more in the head of Monica [the victim] than the head of the rapist, most of the people who walk out of the theatre then are men. THE GAY AUDIENCE LIKED THE MOVIE MUCH MORE THAN THE STRAIGHT MALE AUDIENCE. MAYBE BECAUSE THEY HAVE ALREADY EXPERIENCED PASSIVE ANAL SEX AND SO THEY HAVE FELT FEMINIZED”. [Emphasis added].

See “Tunnel Visionary: Gaspar Noe’s Brutal “Irreversible” http://www.indiewire.com/people/people_030311noe.html

Chris Banks appears to like the film now that he has seen it two times (one of those “works of art” this is “greater than the sum of their parts”). Peter Calder, film reviewer for The New Zealand Herald described it as “a very good one”. http://www.nzherald.co.nz/storyprint.cfm?storyID=3582717 . Bill Hastings stated on free-to-air television that it was in “the public good” to give the film as wide an audience as possible, based on Bill of Rights considerations, and then proceeded to downgrade its “restricted classification” in July this year to a general R18 cinema release. He even removed the word “brutal” from the 2003 descriptive note: “Brutal sexual violence” in his 2004 OFLC decision.

Like the president of the Board, it would seem that in 2003 Chris Banks had been persuaded by the empty assurances given by the director of Incredible Film Festival and sub-distributor of the film, Mr Anthony Talbot Timpson, that “Irreversible” would never return to this country after its two 2003 film festival screenings. The same ‘assurances’ had been put to the Hon. Ronald Young in 2003 by counsel for the Board, summarising a submission made by the distributor to the Board, when the matter of the interim restriction order was the subject of a judicial review in 2003.

It was no surprise to the Society that these ‘assurances’ proved hollow, that “gay” activists like Chris Banks have done a reversal in their position on “Irreversible” and that the Chief Censor has downgraded the classification of “Irreversible” despite having initially stated on television that he took the view it should be banned after first seeing it. The hypocrisy of these respective positions in the light of the actions of the “gay” community to ban the Living Word videos is breathtaking.

‘Homophobia’ ‘Hate speech’ and the Living Word Videos

The terms “homophobia”, “homophobic horror”, “homophobic disgust” and “homophobic fear” are some of those being used liberally by “gay”- ‘rights’ activists to try and brand and vilify those who oppose the Civil Union Bill and/or the Relationships (Statutory References) Bill, question the aggressive promotion of “gay”-lifestyle, and/or oppose “gay” – ‘marriage’.

For example, the self-proclaimed practising homosexual Cabinet Minister Hon. Chris Carter, recently lashed out at members of an invited studio audience during a televised forum broadcast on TVOne that explored the diverse nature of the New Zealand family, calling them “homophobic” because of their views. He was clearly so horrified, disgusted and fearful of comments expressed by the leader of the Destiny NZ Party. Mr Richard Lewis, and the Managing Director of the Maxim Institute, Mr Greg Fleming, who both expressed opposition to the Civil Union Bill, which he passionately supports, that he sought to try and publicly stigmatise and marginalise them both for opposing the bill.

The Express Magazine (30 June-12 July 2004), the major organ for the homosexual, lesbian and transgender communities, resorted to similar desperate bully tactics in its efforts to denigrate MPs who voted against sending the Civil Union Bill to the Justice & Electoral Committee.

On its front page and smeared across the colour photos of MPs who opposed the Bill are the words “THE UGLY FACES OF HOMOPHOBIA”. These 50 men and women who in good conscience chose not to support the Bill are now denigrated and subjected to strictly ad hominem attack.

“The term ‘homophobia’ is clearly being used as a term of abuse to try and marginalise anyone who does not support the bill, which includes MPs from all parties with the exception of the Greens and the Alliance. It is ironic that those who assert they are so-marginalised and discriminated against by society should stoop to such gutter-level tactics in trying to marginalise those who hold views that differ from their own.

The Express has indulged in a puerile attempt to try and stigmatise MPs of the stature of the Hon. Winston Peters, Hon. Maurice Williamson and Hon. Peter Dunne, who wouldn’t for a moment accept the accusations levelled at them. Despite the Prime-Minister’s assertions to the contrary, these sorts of attacks from the “gay” community lend weight to the observation that ‘gay-rights’ activists have high-jacked this Bill for their own benefit and agenda. It is noteworthy too that the Prime-Minister has used Express to vent her own distaste for the views of the Maxim Institute which opposes the Civil Union Bill and tried to marginalise this conservative research organisation whose views on family values and marriage differ from their own.

This “gay”-‘rights’ strategy is an exercise in sheer hypocrisy as it comes from those who claim what amounts to “special rights”: state recognition of their sexual lifestyle – same-sex relationship choice – on the claimed basis that they are a special class of society based on “sexual orientation” and have been victims of unjust state discrimination. The victims of claimed ‘discrimination’ are seeking to create a new “class” of ‘discriminated’ individuals – constituted by the politically incorrect – defined as those who oppose the “gay” ‘rights’ agenda and propaganda.

In late 1997 “gay” – ‘rights’ activists rejoiced when two so-called “anti-gay” Living Word videos were banned (ruled “objectionable”) by the Film and Literature Board of Review, a Board whose deputy president at the time was the present-day Chief Censor, Mr Bill Hastings. The videos were then and still are, damned by “gays” as “hate-speech” or “hate-literature” propaganda directed at gays, lesbians, transgender and bisexual persons. Their rejoicing turned to euphoria when on appeal, the High Court, in a unanimous decision dated 1 March 2000, upheld the banning order imposed by the Board and Living Word Distributors (the appellant) lost its appeal against the “gay” activist group Human Rights Action Group (Wellington). For example, “gay” rights activists Mr Craig Young and Mr Calum Bennachie (a member of HRAG - the respondent) trumpeted the win as issuing in a significant victory in the relentless march towards “gay” rights.

It is significant that none of the two High Court judges took the view that the Living Word videos constituted “hate-speech,” nor did the Chief Censor the late Ms Kathryn Paterson who had dealt with their classification in 1996.

Then on the 10th and 11th of July 2000 the matter came before the Court of Appeal in Wellington. The Court’s decision dated 31 August 2000 quashed the High Court decision (and thereby negated the Board’s banning order) and the Living Word videos were sent back to the Board for reclassification in the light of the Court’s findings. Nine months later the Board reluctantly issued its decision that both videos constituted “unrestricted” publications and contained nothing that brought them within the provisions of s. 3 of the Act which deals with the classification of “objectionable” content (sex, horror, crime, cruelty, or violence) considered “injurious to the public good”.

Promoters of ‘Hate Speech’ Legislation

The real enemies of the tolerant society are those who would again seek to crush robust opinion and religious liberty, as they did by this attempted a total ban on the Living Word opinion-piece videos, by the gagging of dissenting views through so-called "hate speech" legislation.

The reported recent sentencing to prison of a Swedish pentecostal pastor for using Biblical quotations on homosexuality in a sermon, taken together with the recent total banning of two Christian Living Word videos, admitted to contain no sexual or violent content whatsoever, is a grim warning of the real agenda of those pushing for "hate speech" legislation.

Those most vehemently opposed to the unanimous ruling of the Court of Appeal in the Living Word case, including the respondent (represented by Calum Bennachie) and other supporters, are among the driving forces behind the efforts to bring in this flawed legislation. Living Word Distributors faced a battery of well-financed and powerful interveners in the Court of Appeal in 2000: The Office of the Attorney General, The NZ AIDS Foundation and The Human Rights Commission, all opposing its appeal.

See: In The Court of Appeal of New Zealand [ca 58/00] LIVING WORD DISTRIBUTORS LIMITED v. HUMAN RIGHTS ACTION GROUP (WELLINGTON) http://www.christian-apologetics.org/html/In_the_court_of_appeal.htm

The NZ Council for Civil Liberties was the only other intervener and it supported Living Word. In its submission seeking leave it stated that it believed the appeal "will raise important public law issues, such as the right of Christian or other groups to robustly criticise groups of persons holding views or engaging in behaviour that the former group find offensive and deeply disturbing." The Council's involvement in the case drew fire in the "gay" newspaper Express (27 April, 2001), which accused it of supporting "homophobia".

The Court of Appeal ruling dated 31 August 200, gave strong direction to the Board, recommending to it, a House of Lords finding that, "The free flow of information and ideas informs political debate. It is a safety valve ... it acts as a brake on the abuse of power by public officials. It facilitates the exposure of errors in the governance and administration of justice." It also cited a European Court of Human Rights finding that, "Freedom of expression constitutes one of the essential foundations of a [democratic] society". Without pluralism, tolerance and broadmindedness, that finding says, "there is no democratic society".

Political correctness has a notoriously short fuse on dissent. This is because impulses and convictions which have traditionally found balanced expression through traditional religious belief turn rancid in the white heat of political correctness. Faddish philosophy degenerates into ideology and becomes a caricature of the very "fundamentalism" that so obsesses the devotee of political correctness. Opponents are not to be won over by rational debate but rather convicted of what can only be described as a "thought crime".

It is a commonplace that our freedoms are fragile. To test this in a New Zealand context, simply ask your workmate or neighbour if he or she is aware that two Christian opinion-piece videos critical of "homosexual rights" ideology were subjected to a total ban, supported by the current chief Censor Mr Bill Hastings, and upheld by the High Court, just a few years ago. Then ask if he or she is aware that it was only an appeal to the Court of Appeal that overturned the ban; and that these videos could well be completely banned again before the end of the year, along with a multitude of other opportunities for dissent that the kiwi takes for granted - this by looming legislation that he or she has probably never heard of.

If your neighbour or workmate is one of the few who has heard of the Living Word videos or has heard that they promote "hate", invite this simple experiment. Suggest that one read the transcripts. It may take a little effort, as the website where you may read them has been attacked, even possibly by one of those who so often talks of tolerance and diversity, but it will give one the chance to do what the activist lobbyists have shown themselves so desperate to prevent. It will permit the reader to form a judgement of whether or not the videos promote "hate" and should be banned. You might warn the neighbour to be prepared to be more than a little bored in places. There is a lot of "talking head" stuff. Invite a contrast with the high-end pornography which so often seems to be more or less routinely waved through by censorship authorities by the current Chief Censor and Board.

Full transcript of video: AIDS: What You Haven’t Been Told http://www.christian-apologetics.org/html/Aids.htm

Full transcript of video: GayRights Speal Rights: Inside the Homosexual Agenda http://www.christian-apologetics.org/html/Gay_rights_Special_rights.htm

Finally, try to see the videos. Before it is too late. For the alarming thing about the activist ban on the Living Word is that it marks a departure from a long-standing activist tactic: the mask of "tolerance". Indeed, this ban was the ripping off of the mask of "tolerance". Activists would never have "gone for broke" with the potentially risky strategy of a total ban unless they calculated that they could get away with it; that the Kiwi would grumble for a time but then buckle under. They very nearly did get away with it and this time it is more than probable that they will get away with it by trumping the Court of Appeal decision via Parliament.

One of the "proofs" that activists advanced to demonstrate that the Living Word videos were "hate" material was the fact that they contained assertions to the effect that “gay” activists would promote a legislative programme which would have the effect of clamping down on dissenting views! They vociferously denied that this was the case. They then proceeded to lobby for legislation to clamp down on dissenting views...One could either laugh or cry. Laughter is balance and sanity. It is no accident that Hitler had a cartoonist on his list of proposed victims after the invasion of Britain.

In conclusion let us examine the Living Word case while political correctness is still funny. And let us not forget that the current Chief Censor, Bill Hastings, has been at the forefront of the attack on the landmark Court of Appeal ruling in Living Word (refer to his comments in the last three years OFLC Annual Reports and his reported media statements). It is ironical that he strongly supports the introduction of “hate speech” legislation safeguarding certain “classes” of persons from criticism and yet seems content to give adult film-goers free access to a “gay-bashing” film, like “Irreversible” that is “a record of incredibly degrading misogyny and even misanthropy” as well as aggressive racism. The Society seeks to expose his Office’s failure to apply the law in the classification of this and other films that tend to promote sexual violence and graphic violence and are “injurious to the public good”.

References to “Irreversible” for further reading:

[1] “Delay Promotes ''Irreversible'' Anal Rape”
SPCS Press Release 6th September 2004, 4:58 PM
http://www.scoop.co.nz/mason/archive/scoop/stories/ff/2b/200409061658.066f5cd7.html

[2] High Court Ruling Upholds Society
SPCS Press Release Monday, 30 August 2004, 11:12 am
http://www.scoop.co.nz/mason/stories/PO0408/S00278.htm

[3] Anal Rape Crisis Orchestrated By Chief Censor
SPCS Press Release Tuesday, 3 August 2004, 7:28 PM
http://www.scoop.co.nz/mason/stories/CU0408/S00023.htm

[4] Submission: Promote Supports Ban On "Irreversible"
SPCS Press Release Friday, 22 October 2004, 10:41 am
http://www.scoop.co.nz/mason/stories/CU0410/S00174.htm

[5] Sexual violence depiction causes audience collapse
SPCS Press Release Friday, 21 March 2003, 8:20 am
http://www.scoop.co.nz/mason/stories/PO0303/S00182.htm

[6] TVNZ Producer Breached Law Screening Irreversible
SPCS Press Release Friday, 13 February 2004, 4:36 PM http://www.scoop.co.nz/mason/stories/CU0402/S00156.htm


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