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“Baise-Moi”, Porn And French Children

The Society For The Promotion Of Community Standards Inc.

Wednesday 19 June 2002 1 p.m.

“Concern that French children’s attitude to sex is being warped by early exposure to hard-core pornography” is the subject of a recent news report in the Guardian newspaper. The report entitled “Porn sways French children”, goes on to state that this concern “was heightened on Friday when eight adolescent boys were placed under formal judicial investigation for the alleged rape of a 15-year-old classmate”.

Rev. Gordon Dempsey, President of the Society for the Promotion of Community Standards, says that the report, republished in The Sunday Age (Sydney) on 26 May, “raises serious concerns in the light of the tidal wave of hard-core pornographic and sexually violent films, videos and other publications that have invaded our country, some of it originating from France.” He gave as an example, the French sex-violence film Baise-Moi (Eng. Title “Fu~~ Me” or “Rape Me) which was cleared by the Film and Literature Board of Review earlier this year for general R18 release in our country. This film’s classification, the subject of a review before the High Court in Wellington last week (11 –12 June) which was initiated by the Society, may well change after the Hon. Justice Hammond releases his decision which is expected within a few months.

Rev. Dempsey, who expressed the views of the Society’s executive before the Review Board on the 17th of December last year, said:

“A film like Baise-Moi containing explicit depictions of gang rape and full of sexual violence, should never be given a general R18 classification. It should be banned or cut. The accessibility of videos to many minors in the home environment and the careless way some adults who hire R18 material from video outlets treat these restricted publications is of real concern to the Society. Paedophiles and sexual deviants have opportunities galore to feed this sort of material to minors with little chance of detection. With soft-core porn films being regularly screened on late-night television and the infiltration of ‘Adults Only’ rated films (R18) onto day time television when thousands of children across the country can be home from school for any number of reasons, there are real and serious grounds for concern.”

The Guardian report on the French problem states:

“Details of the alleged crime in Lyons emerged the day after the publication of a survey estimating that nearly half of France’s children had seen an adults-only sex film by the time they were 11.

“Claude Rozier, the school doctor who headed the government-sponsored survey, said: “Hard-core porn has become the principal vehicle for quite young children’s understanding of everything to do with love and sexuality, sometimes their only point of reference.

“It found 89.6 per cent of boys aged 16 or 17 had seen porn films. For girls, the figure was 81.1 per cent.

“Most of the teenagers questioned said they watched pornography “to find out about sex”, and nearly 40 per cent said the films had taught them something useful.

“Benoit Felix who runs an AIDS hotline in Paris, described the situation as “worrying in the extreme”.

“In the past five years, he said, it had become ‘patently obvious’ that most questions adolescents asked the hotline’s staff were inspired by the pornography they were watching. ‘They want to talk about sodomy, threesomes, group sex, gang rape, bondage,’ he said”.

Rev. Dempsey challenged members of the Film and Literature Board of Review in December last year, when presenting the Society’s appeal on Baise-Moi, to think carefully about the implications of any classification decision that would enlarge the accessibility of this film to public viewing, especially young persons and children. His warning was “ignored” he said, “as the Board downgraded the restrictions that had been placed on the film by the Office of Film and Literature Classification in its decision dated 20 August 2001. Once the film is released on video, under section 26 of the Act it will automatically carry the same classification as the film, provided the content matter is exactly the same. This means Baise-Moi will be available for home viewing and many young persons and children could be exposed to scenes of brutal gang rape involving explicit penetration and other objectionable material.”

“When considering a classification,” he said, “the statutory body empowered to act as censor must consider ‘the impact of the medium in which the publication is presented’. Quoting directly from section 3 (4) of the Films, Videos and Publications Act 1993, he said “it must also consider the ‘persons, classes of persons, or age groups of the persons to whom the publication is intended or is likely to be made available’.” Dempsey points out that ‘any other relevant circumstances relating to the intended or likely use of the publication’ must also be taken into account.”

“The crossover between films and videos should be more than obvious to the censors,” he says. “Once a film classified at the high-end of the genera R18 category has been rated, its re-issue in video format means it will automatically be available for home-viewing, provided the content has not been changed. Such changes automatically result in a reclassification of a ‘new’ publication by the Classification Office, even if the change involves only the addition of a trailer.”

Rev Dempsey says: “Once children get access to hard-core pornographic films and sex-violence films like Baise-Moi, whether on video or DVD format, whether by accident or through so-called legitimised means,” we sow the seeds that will bear the fruits of utter corruption and depravity in society. Children are entitled to be protected at all costs from the corrupting influence and injurious impact of exposure to such objectionable material.” He asks, “When will censors, legislators and the guardians of our youth wake up and realise we have a problem and do something about it?”

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