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Office of Film and Literature Classification

12 November 2004

Media Release on the 2004 Annual Report the Office of Film and Literature Classification

The Chief Censor has warned of disturbing new trends in popular entertainment mediums, in the 2004 Annual Report of the Office of Film and Literature Classification tabled in Parliament.

The Office banned 241 publications last year. Most were submitted as part of criminal prosecutions by the Courts, Customs and the Department of Internal Affairs. Commenting on the 10 banned commercial publications, Chief Censor Bill Hastings said “depictions of violence offered as commercial entertainment are becoming more callous, more reckless and more humiliating.”

“For example, who would have thought we would be asked to classify a DVD in which homeless people are shown accepting drugs and money to fight each other on camera, or a video that promotes imitable choke-holds and setting people on fire as fun recreational activities, or a computer game that rewards a player who kills in an especially brutal and bloody fashion with video close-ups of the victims’ struggles and deaths?” asked Hastings.

The law requires censors to assess the likelihood of injury to the public good that the availability of a publication may cause. “To offer the infliction of extreme violence, misery and humiliation as entertainment, and to portray dangerous pranks as harmless fun, is to ask viewers and players to make an attitudinal shift that is likely to injure the public good,” Hastings said.

Parliament is currently conducting an inquiry into hate speech and is considering amendments to the Classification Act to strengthen censorship in targeted areas. “It is good to see that the government is taking steps to resolve issues we have brought to its attention, such as covert filming, publications particularly harmful to young persons, and speech that represents minority groups as inherently inferior,” said Hastings.


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