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SPCS questions Chief Censor over Sexual Violence

SPCS questions Chief Censor over Brutal Sexual Violence

Today the Society sent an open letter, as an official information request, to Chief Censor Mr Bill Hastings seeking urgent answers to questions over the growing trend, under his leadership, to allow more and more films depicting brutal sexual violence (eg Baise-Moi and Visitor Q) and graphic violence to be released uncut into public cinemas and film festivals. It argues that section 3

of the Films, Videos and Publications Act 1993 makes it unlawful for the Chief Censor to allow for the availability of such material. Gratuitous and highly eroticised presentations of such activities have been shown by researchers to sexually arouse those with propensities to violence and normalise in the minds of many others the demeaning and degrading of women for sexual purposes and the

use of extreme sexual violence for 'entertainment' purposes. The tendency to promote and support these activities, which results from the gratuitous nature of the presentations designed to sexually arouse and bind audiences emotionally

to the acts of violence and sexual dominance (especially with respect to women), is against the law.

OPEN LETTER DATED 7 May 2003

Dear Mr Hastings

In an article by Graham Reid, entitled “Censorship is no easy matter” (NZ Herald 1/12/01) you are quoted as affirming the well-documented and clearly defined link between exposure to sexually violent images by those with a propensity for sexual violence, and its effect on such individuals, namely the heightening of that propensity for such violence.

You also refer to other studies from journals that show that “negative attitudes towards women can be maintained by exposure to demeaning images” [including sexual violence].

I quote from the article:

The act [Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act 1993] does not require proof that something be injurious to the public good, says Hastings – the phrase is “likely to be”.

Increasingly, research is telling us how likely it might be.

“There are now journals and so on which pretty well define that for anyone with

a propensity to sexual violence, that [propensity] will be heightened by exposure to sexually violent images. [emphasis added]

“Other studies show that negative attitudes towards women can be maintained by exposure to demeaning images…”

Official Information Request

1. Please supply to the SPCS committee the references to the journal articles you refer to that “pretty well define” (your words) the link between an intensification of a propensity towards sexual violence and exposure to images of sexual violence (via film, print media, internet access, and video etc.) by persons with such propensities. 2. Please supply to the SPCS committee the references to the “studies” you refer to which show the link between exposure to demeaning images of women and negative attitudes “maintained” in people’s minds.

3. Please indicate whether or not the OFLC has, or has had, access to research data that establishes that exposure to demeaning images of women can create (rather than just “maintain”) negative attitudes in people’s minds about women.

If it does, please provide references.

4. Please define what you meant by “demeaning images” of woman. For example, do

they include lengthy “real time” film footage of the anal rape of a woman by a homosexual who is taking drugs during the act of rape to stimulate his sexual enjoyment of the activity and is fantasising that he is raping a virgin boy? Does it include explicit depiction of the rape of a woman after she has been striped naked, followed by her murder by strangulation, explicit depiction of the rapist’s sexual connection with the corpse, sexual activity with the corpse

involving excrement, and mutilation of the corpse for erotic stimulation (eg. the film Visitor Q)? Please provide an example from a film, magazine or video classified by the OFLC involving an adult woman which has been ruled “objectionable” or required an excision, because of the demeaning images of brutal sexual violence involving an adult woman.

5. What guidelines does the OFLC have and apply to determine acceptable duration in the visual presentation on film of demeaning images of women as in the examples given (above) involving brutal sexual violence involving anal rape

and necrophilia?

6. What assumptions, if any, does the OFLC make with respect to the numbers of people at film festival screenings of R18 age restricted films depicting “objectionable” content including brutal sexual violence”, as to the numbers of persons present who have a propensity to sexual violence? Please supply copies of any OFLC guidelines that detail these assumptions and/or guidelines and or research findings.

7. Does the OFLC require proof when applying the FVPC Act 1993 in the classification process involving a publication that contains high levels of brutal sexual violence, that such depictions are injurious to the “public good”, before it can be classified objectionable under s. 3(2) or 3(3) of the FVPC Act 1993?

8. Does the OFLC consider injury to the “public good” effected by the publics’ exposure to “objectionable” film content, to include the effect of a publication to heighten the propensity of members of the public to sexual violence?

9. Does the OFLC have any evidence of a clear causal link that shows that a film containing images of brutal sexual violence could have the undesirable effect of heightening (by exposure) the propensity of members of an audience to

sexual violence? If so, please provide documentation of this evidence.

10. Please supply the SPCS committee with (a) a reference to any classification

decision where a publication has been ruled “objectionable” AND where a clear causal link has been shown that the mere depiction of the “objectionable” activity has been shown to have the effect of doing injury to the “public good”; and (b) provide a clear definition of “the public good” used by the OFLC in its task of classifying publications.

If you and/or your staff choose to withhold any of this information requested, please provide to the SPCS committee with the reasons and the grounds for the reasons for withholding this information. If you and/or your staff are in any way unclear as to the information sought, please contact me at your convenience

using the postal address supplied above (p. 1).

SPCS P.O. Box 13-683, Johnsonville

cc. Minister of Internal Affairs and Police, Hon. George Hawkins, Minister of Justice, Hon. Phil Goff, Minister of Womens Affairs, Hon Ruth Dyson, Secretary of Internal Affairs, Mr Christopher Blake, President of Film and Literature Board of Review, Ms Claudia Elliott, Mr David Wilson, Department of Internal Affairs, and other interested parties including news media and all MPs.


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