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“Baise-Moi” should be Banned says Bill Hastings

The Society for the Promotion of Community Standards Inc.

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Media Release
28 August 2002

“Baise-Moi” should be Banned says Bill Hastings


Chief Censor Bill Hastings has confirmed that the French sex-violence film “Baise-Moi” (transl. “F*** Me” or “Rape Me”) is a shocking film that is injurious to public good and should be banned. This rare insight into the views of our Chief Censor after he first saw the film, came in a candid radio interview which went to air two weeks after the Film and Literature Board of Review granted the film a general R18 release on 13 March 2002.

He reported in a radio interview that the first time he saw Baise-Moi he thought:

“God ! If there is any movie the law applies to for a ban it's this one. I mean it's just like they read the legislation ..tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, ...we're going to put all that in and it's going to be banned.”

The partial transcript of that live interview conducted by Stephen Grey on Radio 95 bFM (based in Auckland) on Wednesday 27 March 2002 (commenced at 12.16 p.m.), is reproduced below. The transcript was produced by the Society for the Promotion of Community Standards Inc. based on an audiotape of the complete interview purchased for $60.00 from Newsmonitor Services Limited, Auckland. The audiotape can be ordered through the company (Tel. 09-5224330).

The matter of the classification of Baise-Moi came before Hon. Justice Hammond in the High Court in Wellington on 11 and 12 April 2002. The applicant for the review, the Society, successfully appealed a determination of the Board, under s. 58 of the Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act 1993. The appeal was against the Board’s decision to grant a general R 18 classification to the film. The proceedings were remitted back to the Board by Justice Hammond and the Board meets on 3 September 2002 to reclassify the film and hear oral submissions from the Society.

The following transcript of the interview with Bill Hastings reveals his true feelings about the film.

Stephen Grey:

Is Baise Moi that much of a shocking film that it's going to injure the public good?

Bill Hastings:

Ah jeez yes Stephen. Have you seen it?

Stephen:

Yes I have.

Bill:

"It's pretty 'out there ' !"

Stephen:

There's some real shi~ in it as well which I found quite interesting. Some of it is incredibly exploitational.

Bill:

Oh God yes!.....I didn't enjoy it I have to say. And when I - The first time I saw it I thought, God ! If there is any movie the law applies to for a ban it's this one. I mean it's just like they read the legislation ..tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, ...we're going to put all that in and it's going to be banned. But you know I called it in early to the Office because some film festival or something didn't submit it at the last minute in order that we could consult widely so we went to women's groups, like Women's Refuge and three rape crisis centres and film experts at Victoria University and the public jury. We just read everything we could.

Stephen:

And they were OK with it weren't they?

Bill:

Well yeah, I mean. Well not everyone. I mean there were two rape crisis centres which didn't think it was - it shouldn't be out there - it should be banned. But one rape crisis centre thought it's OK because it did show quite realistically women's reactions.

Stephen:

Right.

Bill:

Women's Refuge, Merepeka [Raukawa-Tait], though, well you know, she didn't think it had any artistic merit, she didn't think it was any different from any of the other "cr~p" out there.

Stephen:

Right.

Bill:

In her words. Of the public jury 8 out of 33 thought it should be banned, but the others thought it should be given some other sort of restriction.

SPCS Comments

Mr Bill Hastings signed the Classification Office decision (20 August 2001) on Baise Moi. The buck stops with him on this decision. He is the Chief Executive.

Auckland Rape Crisis in their submission to the Classification Office on the film stated:

“The rape scene in the video is one aspect which is of great concern to us. The graphic and violent depiction of the gang rape of two women which includes the brutal beating of one woman is not our only concern. The fact that the scene includes close up shots of the rapist’s genitals as they penetrate the victim is of especially dire concern for us. This presentation of the rape (with the close ups) is very similar to the way that a typical pornographic movie is shot. We believe that this is especially dangerous to public health as it sexualises a brutal and violent attack….

“After viewing this movie we believe that this film is extremely offensive and highly objectionable. Due to the degree of violence and the close links between sex, sexual violence and physical violence as well as the graphic and over sexualised gang rape scene in this film, we would like to recommend that the Film Baise-Moi is banned in New Zealand. We believe that it is injurious to public health and that it promotes sexual violence and murder and therefore has no place in New Zealand.”

Every other Women’s group consulted by Bill Hastings over six months made submissions calling for the highly sexualised penetration shot in the rape scene to be cut, as it has been by the British Board of Film Censorship prior to restricted release. Hamish Dixon of STOP, a highly respected mens’ group which seeks to rehabilitate sex offenders, called for the film to be banned in his submission, as did a number of the women’s groups. Not one of the women’s groups took the view that Baise-Moi should be released uncut and with a general R 18 classification – the classification decision issued by the Board earlier this year and now the subject of a High Court appeal.

Mr Hastings is correct when he stated that 8 of the 33 members of the “public jury” who viewed Baise-Moi called for its banning. What he didn’t say is that the vast majority of the remainder called for cuts to the film prior to release. He failed to note that the 33 people consulted by the Classfication Office were all drawn from a larger group of 152 members of the public who had already viewed three hard-core pornographic videos at the Classification Office in 2001 and had received detailed ‘instruction’ by the Office as to how the classification system works. They had viewed sexually explicit material which Mr Hasting’s Office acknowledged was at the “high end” of the R 18 classification and yet contained dehumanising and degrading images of women. The 33 individuals chosen to view Baise-Moi were not a representative sample of the New Zealand public and the Classification Office acknowledged this in its research report.

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