The Netflix film The Perfection has been reclassified in New Zealand as 18+ following concerns raised by a few viewers over its graphic content.
Netflix had rated the film as 16+ with a content note of language, violence, nudity.
New Zealand generally accepts Australian age ratings as a default unless queried. The Australian Classification Board settled on an MA 15+ rating for Strong themes of sexual violence, violence, sex and coarse language.
The film had also caused a bit of a stir in Australia too. Netflix's own classification tool had assigned the film an MA15+ rating. The rating included consumer advice that warned of, among other things, strong blood and gore.
After hearing reports of viewers becoming physically ill, the Australian Classification Board decided to audit the Netflix rating. The director of the Classification Board, Margaret Anderson, confirmed that Netflix was not only right to classify
the film MA15+, but that its strong blood and gore warning was not necessary.
In New Zealand, however, the classification has been raised to 18+ with warnings about rape, sexual violence, suicide references, graphic violence. Chief Censor David Shanks noted that
The film wasn't viewed by any authority until after it had launched on Netflix, which demonstrates a serious problem with the classifications system.
A member of the public flagged the film to the Office of Film and Literature Classification (OFLC) on May 26 - when it had already been available on Netflix in New Zealand for two days.
Streaming services are not subject to any formal regime. I can call them in using my powers under the act but it's reactive and usually it's out there and people have seen it before we can get the thing addressed.
Note that the BBFC agreed with the 18 rating, passing the film 18 uncut for sexual violence, suicide references.
Update: Why we changed the rating for The Perfection
The content that most concerns Kiwis is quite different to what gets under the skins of people in other countries, such as Australia, the United States, or most other places in the world.
We have our own culture and values to be proud of, and our own very real problems to deal with.
At our office we try to ensure that Kiwis get all the information they need before they watch a movie or series, so people can make viewing choices that are right for them. Increasingly we are less about censorship and more about empowering Kiwis
to make their own informed choices.
This is straightforward when it comes to traditional media such as DVDs or movies at the cinema, but content on streaming services like Lightbox or Netflix is not currently covered by our legislation, which makes things a little more complex!
A good example popped up this week after my office was told about themes of sexual violence and child abuse in a film called The Perfection. It initially landed via Netflix as 16+ with a note for Language, violence, nudity. This looks to me like
a US rating. I checked with my counterparts overseas, and found that the Aussies initially rated it as MA15+, with the note Strong Nudity, Strong Violence, Strong Blood and Gore, Strong Coarse Language, Strong Horror Themes, Horror Violence and
the Brits gave it an 18, with a note for Sexual violence, suicide references.
That illustrates the issue. Different audiences are concerned with different things. In the States people often want to be warned about coarse language and nudity, but here in NZ Kiwis have told us sexual violence and suicide are topics people
want to be warned about in advance. These are big issues that many in our community care deeply about, and have lived experience of.
Once we'd seen the movie, we knew it had content that our audiences would expect to know about, - including suicide references and sexual violence. The warning note that Netflix had for this one really needed to change to be effective for a NZ
audience. In terms of age rating we felt it was on the line between a 16+ and a 18+ rating, but the range of content and the format suggested the higher age rating.
Fortunately Netflix recognises the needs of our own domestic audience, and do genuinely want to engage with us, and be responsive to a NZ audience. So they were happy to change the information. It is now 18+ with the consumer advice, Rape, sexual
violence, suicide references, graphic violence.
From my point of view, this is just another case illustrating the fact that we're all just working within a legislative system that was designed for media back in the eighties and nineties, and wasn't built to deal with the international
availability of streaming media online.
There is room for optimism as the Government is looking at changing this. We see getting consumer information, particularly as content management tools and support for parents in the future will likely depend on accurate ratings to work properly.
The Chinese government appears to have launched a major new internet purge, blocking users from accessing The Intercept's website and those of at least seven other Western news organizations.
People in China began reporting that they could not access the websites of The Intercept, The Guardian, the Washington Post, HuffPost, NBC News, the Christian Science Monitor, the Toronto Star, and Breitbart News.
It is unclear exactly when the censorship came into effect or the reasons for it. But Tuesday marked the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, and Chinese authorities have reportedly increased levels of online censorship to coincide
with the event.
On a second front censors at two of China's largest social media companies appear to have taken aim at independent financial bloggers, as Beijing continues pumping out propaganda to garner public support for its trade dispute with the US.
At least 10 popular financial analysis blogs on social media app WeChat had all present and past content scrubbed, according to screenshots posted by readers. The Weibo accounts of two non-financial popular bloggers, including Wang Zhian, a
former state broadcast commentator who wrote about social issues, were also blocked.
No western release has been announced for Labyrinth Life on the PlayStation 4, or its Nintendo Switch counterpart, Omega Labyrinth Life. However, it has been confirmed that the Japanese releases will feature English-language
options, making these titles even more accessible.
Note though that the Playstation version, Labyrinth Life is a censored family friendly version while Omega Labyrinth Life on the Switch is fully uncensored.
The game's main hook is known as Omega Power, which augments the characters' chest sizes, and not coincidentally, their stats. Expect these elements to be more edited on the PlayStation 4.
The Committee to Protect Journalists has condemned the Singapore parliament's passage of legislation that will be used to stifle reporting and the dissemination of news, and called for the punitive measure's immediate repeal.
The Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act , which was passed yesterday, gives all government ministers broad and arbitrary powers to demand corrections, remove content, and block webpages if they are deemed to be
disseminating falsehoods against the public interest or to undermine public confidence in the government, both on public websites and within chat programs such as WhatsApp, according to news reports .
Violations of the law will be punishable with maximum 10-year jail terms and fines of up to $1 million Singapore dollars (US$735,000), according to those reports. The law was passed after a two-day debate and is expected to come into force in the
next few week.
Shawn Crispin, CPJ's senior Southeast Asian representative said:
This law will give Singapore's ministers yet another tool to suppress and censor news that does not fit with the People's Action Party-dominated government's authoritarian narrative. Singapore's online media is already over-regulated and
severely censored. The law should be dropped for the sake of press freedom.
Law Minister K. Shanmugam said censorship orders would be made mainly against technology companies that hosted the objectionable content, and that they would be able to challenge the government's take-down requests,.
CTech giant Tencent has dropped the hugely popular mobile version of PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds (PUBG) in China after it was more or less banned by the government's game censors. It was not quite banned, just not allowed to earn any money.
But not to worry, Tencent has a similar title, Heping Jingying or Elite Force for Peace, with a few tweaks to smooth things with the censors. Charcaters do note beeleed, the minimum age for players has been raised to 16, and most
importantly, it features heroic Chinese forces kicking ass.
Geopolitics might also have contributed to PUBG Mobile's rejection. Tencent licenses the game from South Korean company Bluehole, and Chinese authorities can be hostile to South Korean goods.
For Chinese gamers, though, the disruption should be minimal. Tencent is allowing users to port over characters from PUBG Mobile to Heping Jingying, and one analyst told Reuters that the new game was incredibly similar to the older title.
Memories of My Body is a 2018 Indonesia drama by Garin Nugroho.
Starring Muhammad Khan, Raditya Evandra and Rianto.
In Center Java Juno, a pre-teen abandoned by his father, joins a Lengger dance centre where men assume feminine appearances but the political and social upheaval in Indonesia forces him on the road, meeting remarkable people on his journey.
Muslim groups in Indonesia are calling for a ban on the film Memories of My Body, a drama from the country's best-known art house director, Garin Nugroho. The groups claim that the film is sexually deviant and promotes LGBT values.
The film depicts the story of a young man from a dance troupe that performs Lengger Lanang, a folk dance from central Java that is usually performed in pairs, and in which men often take both male and female roles.
Memories of My Body premiered in the Venice Film Festival's Horizon section, where it won the prize for best film. The success was repeated at several other festivals.
The film encountered problems in Indonesia following its release on April 18. After being given a 17+ rating by the censorship board (LSF), the film was given a 40-screen release.
In less than a week, the film was banned by local officials in regions including Depok and Palembang. Others called on the powerful assembly of Muslim elders known as the Indonesian Ulema Council to move against the film. Arovah Windiani, a
spokeswoman for the council said that, from a moral perspective, the film should not be out there.
A backlash against the film was further fanned on social media. An online petition calling for Memories of My Body to be banned gained 160,000 signatures.
On Monday, the Muslim elders' council demanded that the censorship board change the film's certification to 21+, and recommended that Nugroho re-edit the film to make its meaning less ambiguous.
Nugroho has refused to revise the film and told Variety that he opposes mob justice.
With screenings banned in five provinces, the film is now playing on just three screens across the country.
In related news a religious mob has attacked dancers at an Indonesian event.
Members of a Malay youth paramilitary organisation, justified the attack by claiming the dance was vulgar. They also said that the wearing of tight shirts by male dancers from Tanjungpura University who were dancing femininely was not compatible
with Indonesian culture.
A university lecturer and three students fell victim to the mob as they were celebrating World Dance Day in the Indonesian city of Pontianak last week.
New Zealand's major media organisations have pledged not to mention white supremacist ideology when covering the trial of the man charged with killing 50 people at two mosques. The five organisations that signed the agreement said they were aware
that accused gunman Brenton Tarrant might try to use the trial as a platform to promote white supremacist or terrorist views.
The organisations said the commitment extended excluding coverage of Tarrant's manifesto and any symbolic images. That clause came after Tarrant made a hand gesture at his first court appearance, which is sometimes associated with white
New Zealand police have charged a young man for sharing a meme based on Brenton Tarrant's live streamed murderous attack on a Christchurch mosque.
The New Zealand authorities had previously banned the video with the official film censor declaring it as 'objectionable'. And apparently this makes even the use of still images as totally illegal.
ABC News is reporting that at least six people have been charged with illegally sharing the video contents with other people, but presumably this is referring to the whole video being passed on.
And again according to ABC the meme sharing young man has been held in jail since being arrested for his joke. He will reappear in court on July 31 when electronically monitored bail will be considered.
Meanwhile New Zealand's Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, will be meeting with executives from big tech, along with world leaders, in order to prohibit the spread or sharing of violent extremism or terrorism from being shown online at all. This
official policy calling for censorship has been tagged The Christchurch Call but details haven't been made public, yet.
Ironically this all seems to playing into the hands of the Christchurch shooter, Brenton Tarrant. In his manifesto he specifically wanted governments and regulators to escalate censorship to the point of creating civil unrest.
There has been a bit of a bottleneck for gaming in China as the responsibility for games censorship moved from a government organisati to a Communist Party propaganda unit.
As the new organisations starts to work out its new remit it is hardly surprising that new censorship rules would appear. And now the new game censor has announced three new game themes that are now banned:
gambling games such as Mahjong and Poker
games that deal with the country's imperial history
games featuring corpses and blood--of any color.
Other initiatives include requesting publishers to change how their titles promote Chinese values and culture so that if they become popular around the world, they'll portray the country in a favorable light.
The new regulations also require developers and publishers to divulge more information about a given title including detailed scripts, screenshots, as well as what features are being included to help curb gameplay addiction and over-spending by
the country's younger population.
Singapore is set to introduce a new anti-fake news law, allowing authorities to remove articles deemed to breach government regulations.
The law, being read in parliament this week will further stifle dissent in an already tightly-controlled media environment. Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong suggested that the law would tackle the country's growing problem of online
misinformation. It follows an examination of fake news in Singapore by a parliamentary committee last year, which concluded that the city-state was a target of hostile information campaigns.
Lee said the law will require media outlets to correct fake news articles, and show corrections or display warnings about online falsehoods so that readers or viewers can see all sides and make up their own minds about the matter. In extreme and
urgent cases, the legislation will also require online news sources to take down fake news before irreparable damage is done.
Facebook, Twitter and Google have Asia headquarters in Singapore, with the companies expected to be under increased pressure to aid the law's implementation.