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SPCS on Reservoir Dogs Game Ban

11 July 2006

SPCS on Reservoir Dogs Game Ban

The Society is pleased that the Office of Film and Literature Classification (see Scoop 7 July) has applied the censorship law correctly and banned the computer game Reservoir Dogs that is based on the Quentin Taranantino's ultra-violent sick film of the same name. However, the Society's president Mike Petrus says:

"The OFLC has a very poor track record when it it comes to applying the law correctly - in particular its failure to apply section 3 of the Films, Videos and Publications Classification Act 1993 (dealing with the definition of "objectionable" content) to films like Baise-Moi and Irreversible depicting sexual violence and large numbers of videos and DVDs where women are sexually degraded, demeaned and dehumanised."

The computer game Reservoir Dogs was banned says the OFLC because it: "TENDS to promote and support the infliction of extreme violence and extreme cruelty by encouraging the player to perform, and then by showcasing in slow motion, the most extreme forms of violence and brutality for the purpose of entertainment" [Emphasis added]. It was therefore classified "objectionable" under s. 3(2) of the Act, because it TENDED to promote or support one of the six specified activiities listed in s. 3(2) - in this case [torture, extreme violence]. The Courts have ruled that mere depiction of such activities is insufficient to have the publication deemed "objectionable" by censors. There must also be an arguable case extablished by the censors that the depiction "promotes or supports" OR TENDS to promote or support the activity (e.g. necrophilia, bestiality).

The Society has argued in a number of cases before the High Court and Court of Appeal, that the use of the word "TEND" in the Act means that legislatators clearly had in mind a LOW threshold with regard to establishing the required LEVEL of promotion or support. The OFLC and Film and Literature Board of Review have consistently rejected this view, arguing that the onus is on the Society, as the party seeking a more restrictive classification on review, in order to safeguard the public good; to demonstrate how the publication actually promotes or supports the listed activity (s. 3[2]). The OFLC and Review Board have regularly ignored their statutory duties to take FULL account of the TENDENCY of a publication to promote certain listed activities. In contrast, the Society has consistently and painstakingly demonstrated how films like Baise Moi TEND to promote sexual violence and deviancy.

It is ironic that the OFLC now bans Reservoir Dogs, on the basis of its TENDENCY to promote torture etc. and yet no proper consideration was given to the TENDENCY to promote or support the same activities in films like Baise-Moi, Irreversible, Visitor Q and a host of other highly controversial publications. For example, the Australian OFLC and Review Board banned Baise-Moi (refusing it classification) because of its high impact and gratuitous depiction of sexual violence and graphic violence, while our Chief Censor, Bill Hastings, took the view that his Office could not and should not ban it because it actually served the "public good" as entertainment and an information close-up window on brutal rape. He clearly beleves that the public need to see close-ups of sexual penetration in the contect of rape. The NZ Review Board took the same view and allowed it to screen in public cinemas as a standard R18 entertainment, following its consideration of the Society's review application.

All the sorts of activities depicted in Reservoir Dogs computer game (and film) are found in films like Baise-Moi, Irreversible and Visitor Q including slow motion replays of graphic violence, brains being blown out in slow motion while naked adults are gratuitously depicted involved in sex acts, and woman are raped, sexually mutilated and tortured for sexual gratification. So why is Mr Hastings so upset about Reservoir Dogs that he has seen fit to ban it but not ban Baise-Moi?

Presumably the Chief Censor Hastings, Bill Hastings, is concerned about the interactivity in computer games and the potential for continuous exposure through that interactivity that is viewed (as compared to a film screening) as increasing the impact of objectionable content. The Society shares these concerns but is not willing to all the OFLC's inconsistency to go unnoticed.

It remains appalled at the level of desensitisation that the Chief Censor and his Deputy have undergone over the ten years they have been watching and assessing hard core porn and graphic violence, witnessed in oparticular by their wilingness to allow large numbers of highly objectionable films, DVDs and videos to flood the home rental market and cinemas.

The fact that so-called "cult-films" like Reservoir Dogs are now being converted into computer games so younger and younger children and young people can be entertained by morally corrosive and toxic filth, is one more step in the wider dissemination and availability of corrupting and toxic deviancy. (It has been well-established from research in New Zealand that young children are regularly accessing R18 videos and computer games). It is noteworthy that Bill Hasting's Office had no problem clearing the film Reservoir Dogs as R18 entertainment some years ago.

Bill Hastings may well soon be faced with assessing the computer game version of Baise-Moi and Irreversible depicting sodomy and sexual violence among other things for entertainment purposes. Having already cleared both films for cinema screenings, is he going to now give the thumbs up for teenagers to view explicit and prolonged scenes of such content as game material?


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