Why Are Films Different From Real Life?
By Scott Wilson
The Society For Promotion of Community Standards Inc (SPCS) released a press statement on Sunday making various claims in relation to Libertarianz Party policy and criticising points I had made in a press release defending the right of New Zealanders to views the films Baise Moi, Visitor Q and Bully. SPCS claims their organisation is not a bunch of book burning busybodies that wish to control free speech. I would like to respond point by point to the individual claims of SPCS.
One definition of fascism in the Concise Oxford Dictionary is “system of extreme right wing or authoritarian views”. The definition of authoritarian is “(person) favouring obedience to authority as opposed to individual liberty”. There is not the slightest indication that SPCS believes in anything but authoritarianism. In defending authoritarianism, SPCS can be said to have, at least, fascist tendencies. How else can one describe the interference with the individual liberties of people who have not initiated force against others? Using a fascist law to uphold your ideas, through the state initiating force, is fascist. Libertarians argue the same in respect of the Resource Management Act, the Fencing of Swimming Pools Act, the Smoke Free Environments Act, the Misuse of Drugs Act and so on. The point is one of fundamental principle, nothing less. libertarians contend that when the Police, the judiciary or bureaucrats initiate force against individuals and their property (rather than the defence of victims of such an initiation of force) it is fascist. Such as enforcement of the now defunct laws on consensual adult homosexual activity – laws that some members of the SPCS and its supporters actively defended.
Regulating consensual sexual behaviour is one of the most intrusively fascist actions possible by the state, and regulating the recording, distribution and display of such recordings IS the realm of dictatorial busybodies who think they own the rights to other peoples’ bodies and what they do with them. That is the basis on which Libertarianz believe that the enforcement of the existing law is fascist.
It is true that:
“Libertarianz would repeal all laws that prohibit or restrict access to films that do not portray actual violence, sexual or otherwise, against any individuals. If no sex crime or crime of violence has been committed in the making of a film, it will be freely available to all”.
Yes, “films like Baise Moi depicting simulated rape with explicit violent penetration and lingering voyeuristic close-ups designed to arousal, would be freely available for anyone of any age to view.” However, there would be two limits on availability:
First, most people would have to pay to see it, or be shown
a copy by someone who has paid for the rights to do so.
Libertarianz do not endorse theft of intellectual property
and do not endorse distributing pirated copies of Baise Moi.
- Secondly, nobody is forced to see, sell or distribute Baise Moi. SPCS could lobby against the film, and even call for boycotts against those who distribute it. Parents have the right to control what their children see and everyone has the right to control what is seen in their property. It is called personal responsibility, something other political parties have a hard time understanding.
I apologise for my assertion that members of SPCS did not view Baise Moi, however they have not denied they have not seen Visitor Q or Bully. The Christian Heritage Party may not be bedfellows with the SPCS in their actions, but they are clearly ideological and philosophical bedfellows, denying that they share views on this is disingenuous.
It is true that under a Libertarianz government “Baise Moi could be legally advertised in a Libertarianz paradise as “ an action thriller full of sexual energy” or as “a harmless exploration of the joys of revenge”, with no additional information on content. “. However, any cinema making such claims would risk the wrathe of audiences who may feel defrauded, and the right of others, such as SPCS to put out their own information about the film. Libertarianz does not endorse fraud, and any person purchasing a service that has been fraudulently misrepresented would have the right to legal action against the retailer of the service.
Yes it is true that “R 18 films like “Visitor Q” depicting simulated sex with a female corpse (necrophilia) and degrading sex acts involving human faeces, would require no warning labels or rating restrictions.” However, it is highly likely that industry and consumers would voluntary rate such material, partly to avoid offence from the vast majority who exercise responsibility in not allowing their children to see such films, but also because freedom means consumer empowerment. Film enthusiasts would want to make it clear what was contained in such films, so that those who were interested would see them and those that were not would avoid them. Seeing a film is no different in entertainment to watching sport, eating and drinking or watching a live show. People choose what they want to see, and the providers of the entertainment determine on what terms and conditions and at what price people may consume the entertainment.
SPCS may not like it, but there are regularly private adult parties around New Zealand where adults engage in group sexual activity, and alternative, but legal, sexual practices. This no doubt includes bondage, discipline, sado masochistic behaviour, urophilia and a wide range of other fetishes, including roleplaying extreme behaviour. These are consenting adults choosing their entertainment, they take the physical and emotional risks involved, and they are none of anybody elses business, anymore than a card game, prayer meeting or wedding ceremony. Nobody initiates force against anyone, so it is not and should not be the business of the law to be involved.
SPCS’s example that Bully could be screened to school children begs the question as to what school would do this? What parents will send their children to a school showing such films? What parents would allow their children to see them? Many schools contain the bible, which depicts brutality, incest and rape. SPCS, of course, are silent on this, as many of its members think that is acceptable content and would probably endorse a film portraying the bible in its entirety being shown in schools.
In addition, if SPCS thinks that ratings restrictions do anything to restrict access of such material to young people then they are living in a dreamworld. There would hardly be a young person in New Zealand who has not seen a publication ostensibly “banned” from them seeing.
Libertarianz believes that the only “censorship” that should be permitted in a free society, is in association with the accessories to genuine criminal acts. For example, a rape carried out while someone videos the act should result in the prosecution of the person holding the video camera, as an accessory to the crime. The person in that case is a willing participant in the actual crime, and is an accessory to that act, and should be treated accordingly. The resulting recording should be treated as the property of the victim whose rights have been violated, for the victim to choose to dispose with or not.
This situation is patently different from the straw man put up by SPCS that Libertarianz would ban footage from security cameras and from news coverage. Owners of security cameras and journalists are not accessories to actual crimes they incidentally record.
Libertarianz does believe that:
“Adults should be free to act out whatever behaviours they wish, no matter how offensive they may seen to many people, as long as all involved parties are consenting.”
and YES, this does this include films, videos and pictures of adults defaecating and urinating on each other in the context of explicit sex. This is not an illegal activity. Neither is necessarily a film that tends to promote degrading and dehumanising treatment of women, no matter how offensive it may be. It is not my choice for entertainment and for the vast majority it is unpleasant and offensive, but the state does not exist to stop people getting “offended”. I find much in the Bible offensive, I find many other religions offensive, I find nationalism, racism and violence offensive, I find the Alliance and the National Party offensive, I find capsicums offensive and obese men in tight shorts repulsive. I find homophobic religious fundamentalists offensive, as well as anally retentive politically correct radical feminists, such as Catherine Mackinnon and Andrea Dworkin. However I DO genuinely defend their absolute right to freedom of expression. To do anything else is to surrender one’s mind and resort to force to win an argument.
Force is not an argument, it does not prove your values and philosophy are right or have any redeeming features. The use of force is the tool of the ignorant, the uncivilised, the savage - who is frustrated that he has not convinced another of his own ideas, therefore he uses brute force, through the state to terminate the argument. Freedom of speech removes force from the arena and allows ideas and culture to compete on the basis of merit and individual choice. I am convinced Mr David Lane, SPCS , the Christian Heritage Party and the New Zealand First Party (all of which have supported the censorship of the film festival) have no fundamental regard for this principle.
However, SPCS is obsessed with sex and the regulation of people viewing it. That is one reason why they use the emotionally charged words “kiddieporn” to describe Bully, when it demonstrably is not. The United States has strict laws covering films where minors engage in actual sexual activity, but SPCS wants to send us back to the age when sexual activity outside marriage between people of the opposite sex is not portrayed. SPCS wants to regulate what you see and what you can do with your own body.
Sexual activity is the only consensual activity that is regulated for people to see on film, when the acts themselves are legal.
My question to SPCS is this:
If it is legal to perform all of the activities actually taking place in those films, why should it be illegal to have a camera filming the performance of those activities and to show the recording to others?
In other words, why is a film treated differently from real life?