Australia has just passed a law allowing an R18 rating for its video games and according to Tom Pullar-Strecker's story on Stuff, the introduction of the new classification could mean games with strong violent or sexual content are likely to be
more readily available in New Zealand from next year too.
While New Zealand has had an R18 rating for years, most of the disc-based games we get are distributed through Australia, and the Australian-based Interactive Games and Entertainment Association says often games with adult content bound for New Zealand
have been censored so they can meet Australia's current MA15+ rating.
The article quotes IGEA's chief executive, Ron Curry saying:
What we have seen is New Zealand getting modified product that was going on sale in Australia as opposed to the full versions of games. The advantage for New Zealanders now is they will more than likely get products as they were released, he said.
Australia's christian lobby has ludicrously called on the government to ensure that the level of sex and violence allowed in the new R18+ category for computer games is no greater than that for the present MA15+ level.
The government announced last week that a R18+ category for video games would be introduced on January 1. However, the rules for the new category are still to be determined by the Australian Classification Board.
The managing director of the Australian Christian Lobby, Jim Wallace, spewed:
I expect the new [R18+] classification to be described no differently to MA15+.
If [R18+] is described in looser terms, or is less demanding than the existing MA15+ - which is already letting in things that shouldn't have been there - then it's not going to work.
We already know that some of the games that are sold in Australia are unacceptable and should never have slipped in under the old rating.
Wallace then said he wanted a new, stricter MA15+ category to complement the R18+ rating.
A spokesman for the Australian Classification Board, Simon Ferguson, said the details of the new R18+ rating were yet to be finalised. He added:
It is anticipated that the new MA15+ category will be more stringent than the old.
The Australian Federal Parliament has approved a rating of R18+ for gaming, which will allow games that have long been banned in the country to be sold at retail. The new rating will come into effect at the start of 2013.
These are important reforms over 10 years in the making, said Home Affairs Minister Jason Clare to News.com.au:
The R18+ category will inform consumers, parents and retailers about which games are not suitable for minors to play and will prevent minors from purchasing unsuitable material. The reforms also mean that adults are able to choose what games they play
within the bounds of the law.
The shadow attorney-general George Brandis got in on the act too:
The passage of this bill will no doubt be welcomed by adult gamers all across Australia. The industry has been waiting for this change for some time.
A new Lynx advert entitled Clean Your Balls has wound up the nutters in Australia.
The three-minute commercial, based on a US version that aired 18 months ago, features Australian pop singer and actress Sophie Monk taking on the appearance of a TV host selling the benefits of a new product, the Lynx buffer.
Balls... no one wants to play with them when they're dirty, she starts. That's why you have to keep your balls clean. Monk then proceeds to show how the new scrubber can do just that by cleaning a succession of sports balls, including small balls
(golf), hairy balls (tennis) and a big ball sack (football).
But not everyone sees the funny side of the double entendre. Collective Shout, a nutter group that campaigns against the sexualisation of advertising, has put in a complaint to the Advertising Standards Bureau.
Melinda Tankard Reist, co-founder of Collective Shout said that objectifying women in these hyper-sexualised scenes is actually harmful, adding: They contribute to an ongoing second-class status of women.
Tankard Reist called Lynx, the male grooming brand owned by Unilever, repeat corporate offenders over their sexualised advertising.
A five-member panel of the Classification Review Board has unanimously determined that the films Prometheus (2D & 3D) are classified M (Mature) with the consumer advice moderate science fiction violence and a medical procedure .
The Classification Guidelines provide that the treatment of themes may have a moderate sense of threat or menace if justified by context and moderate violence is permitted if justified by context. In the Classification Review Board's opinion Prometheus
(2D & 3D) warrants an M classification because the treatment of themes and the depictions of violence in the films are moderate in impact.
The overall impact of the classifiable elements in both versions of Prometheus was no higher than moderate.
The M classification is not recommended for persons under 15 years of age. Consumer advice is additional information about the main content of a film which is intended to help consumers decide if they want to view this type of material.
The Classification Review Board convened in response to an application from the original applicant, 20th Century Fox Film Distributors to review the decision made by the Classification Board on 24 May 2012 to classify Prometheus (2D & 3D) MA 15+
Surgery scenes in new sci-fi movie Prometheus resulted in a 15 year old boy being rushed to hospital after suffering a seizure yesterday. The boy's condition is now reported as stable.
The boy's collapse raised nutter questions about whether the film was given too low a rating.
The film was was given an M rating in Australia, an advisory 15 rating. The Australian Classification Board originally classified Prometheus as MA15+, meaning under 15s needed to be accompanied by a guardian. But that was dropped to M on appeal by
distributor Fox to the Australian Classification Review Board so it could be seen by younger viewers without an accompanying adult.
Either way, the lad would have been allowed to see the film anyway.
The Australian nutters of Collective Shout! are getting well wound up by Lingerie Football League.
This is an outlandish bit of American razzmatazz being brought to Australia. Exhibition matches feature two American teams of female footballers playing in bras and knickers.
Unsurprisingly the extremist feminists of Collective Shout are unimpressed and are trying to get the matches banned from the netball venue that more usually hosts the Queensland Firebirds in Brisbane.
All-Star exhibition games between the LFL's Eastern and Western conferences - the second is scheduled for Sydney next Saturday - are virtual dress rehearsals, test events to gauge whether franchises should be set up in Australia's four main cities next
That scenario appals Collective Shout representative Melinda Liszewski, who is spearheading the drive to banish the LFL said:
We have female athletes and female sporting groups in this country working hard to promote the equality of women in sport and to see women valued for their athletic ability and their skill -- not how they look or how sexually appealing they are to men.
The Lingerie Football League undermines that message by saying sure we'll let you play football but get your gear off.
It sends a really nasty message to girls: if they want to be recognised in their sporting field then they need to be exposing their bodies, posing for Playboy, running around in their lingerie.
Federal Minister for Sport Kate Lundy was also not among the LFL's reputed 65 million fans worldwide, labelling it a cheap, degrading perv .
Lingerie Football isn't just a distraction; it's an assault on sport. We can do so much better than LFL. And most importantly, our daughters deserve more.
Founder and chairman Mitch Mortaza launched the LFL in 2009. Contracts stipulate players will be fined $500 if they wear anything under their lingerie; they must also accept accidental nudity was an occupational hazard. Mortaza explained:
The athletes do it of their own free will - thousands of them line up in the States every year, he said.
They are all former collegiate athletes, remarkable women that want to be given an opportunity to play a sport and have it receive the recognition of major men's sports.
On 6 May 2011 the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) received an unresolved
complaint regarding a segment of the program Just for Laughs: Montreal International Comedy Festival broadcast on 30 March 2011 by Network TEN.
The complainant considers the segment's content was offensive and vilified the Pope and the Catholic community. The complainant was not satisfied with the response of the licensee and referred the matter to the ACMA for investigation.
Just for Laughs: Montreal International Comedy Festival is a one-month comedy festival that occurs annually in Montreal, Canada, and features a cast of worldwide stand up comedians and comedic performances.
The segment complained about was a short highlight clip presented in the lead up to a performance by Australian comedian and entertainer, Tim Minchin. The clip ran for 1 minute and 34 seconds and featured an interview between Paul McDermott and
Tim Minchin, and a 12 second excerpt of a song clip produced by Tim Minchin entitled Fuck the Pope . The song clip contained animations of caricatures representing the Pope dancing together with other clergy. The interview included:
Paul McDermott: How is Fuck the Pope going by the way?
Tim Minchin : It's good.
PM : I saw about 2 seconds of it on YouTube when it went up, and then it went into forbidden ... you know zone .
TM : Yeah forbidden zone .
Song excerpt : There are other fucking songs there are other fucking ways I'll be a religious apologist on other fucking days. The fact remains if you protect a single kid fucker, then pope or prince or plumber you're a fucking mother
PM : That's a lovely little animation you've got. Who did that?
TM : Yes, a guy called Frasier Davidson, he's a brilliant animator. And I wrote that song in the peak of another wave of allegations and I was feeling furious, the way you do. Um I wrote that song, and I thought, I'll never be able to play
that live. It's kind of, it's just going to have to be a viral thing. So I got it animated. But I did the Hay on Wye festival which is a book festival, so it was a very intellectual audience and I got a mid-song standing ovation which I've
never had before.
ACMA Finding: Not in breach of the code
There is no question that the song expressed derision and scorn towards the Pope and clergy. This is evident from the title of the song; the subject of the song; the reference in the song to anybody that protect[s] a single kid fucker being
a fucking motherfucker ; and repetitive use of the term fucking . The delegate appreciates the complainant was personally offended by the broadcast and that its contents would also have caused offence to members of the public,
including of the Catholic community.
The song excerpt and comments are made in the context of an interview with the comedian who openly opposes the stance that the Pope publicly took regarding recent allegations of child sexual abuse against the Catholic clergy. The segment does not
engage the audience in a discussion on the beliefs or religious practices of the Pope, the Catholic clergy or of the Catholic community. The ordinary, reasonable viewer would understand that the references to the Pope and the Catholic
clergy were part of the moral of the song, which applied to perpetrators of child abuse generally, and to those who cover it up.
Furthermore, it is noted that the song excerpt was brief (12 seconds in a 1 minutes and 34 second segment). Although the language included the terms fucker and motherfucker , and repeated use of the word fucking , the
accompanying animated visuals were mild. The commentary surrounding the song was an explanation of the production and performance, including an acknowledgement of its controversial nature, which overall served to ameliorate the severity of tone
expressed by the song in segment:
It is unlikely the segment (notwithstanding the language in the song directed at the Pope), was so harsh or extreme that it would perpetuate or provoke severe ridicule, intense dislike or serious contempt against the Pope, or Catholics on the
grounds of religion. For these reasons, the delegate is of the view that in the circumstances of this broadcast, the material complained about has not breached clause 1.9.6 of the Code.
The Australian Press Council would be abolished and replaced with a single industry-led complaints body covering print, radio,
television and internet news outlets under a proposed rewriting of media law.
And existing cross-media ownership regulations would be scrapped and replaced by a minimum number of owners rule and public interest test overseen by a powerful new media censor.
The long-awaited Convergence Review into Australia's media has found the regime overseeing newspapers, TV and radio news is outdated, thanks to the rise of the internet. The report recommends abolishing regulator the Australian Communications and
Media Authority, largely regarded astoothless, and creating a media censor incorporating the Classification Board.
The new complaints body would be funded almost entirely by its members, though the Government would be able to make contributions in unusual circumstances.
All media companies, or content service providers as they would be known, would have to be members of the new standards body and bound to publish corrections and clarifications as ordered. To encourage companies to join the industry standards
body, the report suggests linking the right to legal privilege for news and commentary to membership.
Communications Minister Stephen Conroy gave no hint about whether the Government would adopt any of the recommendations, saying only he would respond in due course .
The Australian Sex Party has accused state and federal governments of directing Customs and police forces to crack down on sexually explicit material, wasting valuable resources that should be used to track firearms and other weapons coming into the
Customs officers now routinely intercept every shipment of X18+ films and Category 1 and 2 restricted magazines that come into Australia. One in every 10 people are either searched or questioned regarding the question that is asked on the Incoming
Passenger Cards about pornography . Federal censorship authorities write over 20 letters each month to state police forces asking them to raid and prosecute businesses for selling federally classified X18+ films and in Queensland, Restricted
Sex Party Public Officer, Robbie Swan, said that the waste of enforcement resources on victimless crimes like non-violent erotica was in direct proportion to the lack of resources in tackling gun crimes. Every week state police forces will send an
average of six police officers into an adult shop to raid and pack up an average of 4,000 X18+ films and document them for a court case , he said. Before the case gets to court an average of 100 police hours would be spent on processing the
material and the paperwork to prosecute. Customs officers spend more time looking for porn than they do looking for firearms. We have attended Customs briefings where they bring out magnifying glasses to examine pornography with up to six Customs agents
in the room.
Swan called on the federal Attorney General, Nicola Roxon, to implement the recommendations of the recent Australian Law Reform Commission's enquiry into censorship laws in Australia. If accepted, these reforms would free up large amounts of Customs and
police hours, to focus on more important problems.
The Walking Dead , the video games adaption of the TV show has not made available in Australia or New Zealand. Many assumed it may be something to do with classification, and that assumption seems to be correct.
After being asked why the game wasn't available on Telltale's official forum, a member of staff responded with the following...
Sorry, but due to the OFLC ratings laws in Australia and New Zealand, and the fact that this is a mature game, we do not currently have plans to release the game there on consoles.
One can only assume that Telltale didn't think it was worth the cost (and risk) of attempting to classify the game in Australia.
Hopefully this will be one of the last causalities of Australian censorship, as it is hoped that an adult game rating will be available from next year.
New Zealand actually has an rating for adults and The Walking Dead is hardly likely to be a censorship issue. It is just that Australia and New Zealand are paired for marketing purposes. And the New Zealand market alone is too small to make a release
If Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg is worried by his party's poor showing in the polls, he might be advised to take some tips from another fairly liberal leader currently doing rather better down under.
Two weeks ago, Fiona Patten, convenor of the Australian Sex Party, celebrated her party's breakthrough into double digits, when they scored 10% of the vote in a Victoria state contest. This is approximately 2% better than polls are currently placing the
UK's Lib Dems!
Fiona is in the UK this weekend delivering a keynote address to an academic conference, Onscenity, which is dedicated to exploring the new visibility of sex in commerce, culture and everyday life.
Her message is simple: small parties can make a difference. They need to make a difference. Fiona explains:
Proportional representation and very similar showing by the two main parties means that the Australian parliament has been hijacked by the religious right.
With just a small proportion of the votes, and rarely more than one or two seats nationally, parties with a religious or family values agenda have stalled a great deal of social reform in both major parties.
Our clear objective, in the Australian Sex Party, is to use the same system to give voice to the vast majority of Australian men and women who believe in allowing adults to be adults, and are sick and tired of being lectured to by a nanny legislature.
As a former sex worker and Chief Executive of the Eros adult trade association, Fiona is no stranger to controversy. However, her commitment to political change is serious, and despite adding a slight edge to Australian politics, the Sex Party's agenda
is equally serious and unlikely to look out of place in many European states.
Their policies include a commitment to sex education in schools, as well as advocating a range of rights for women and members of other minority groups which are now taken for granted in most western nations.
The introduction of an R18+ rating for video games into Australia has been designed to bring game classification in line with the current system in place for films and other media.
However South Australian Attorney General John Rau has revealed plans to ban anyone under the age of 18 from purchasing Mature Adult video games - titles the Australian Classification Board has deemed appropriate for audiences 15 and older.
A spokesperson for Minister Rau claims the decision is a more practical measure than the previous plan of completely removing MA15+ ratings for video games.
Under Rau's proposed scheme, games classified at a national level at the MA15+ level would be labelled R18+ in South Australia, and could only be sold to legal adults.
South Australian legislation regarding video games is likely to be introduced in State Parliament in May, says Rau in a public statement:
The South Australian legislation will allow the introduction of R18+ games.
However, my long stated position has been to protect children by creating a clearer distinction between games that may be suitable for children and those that are suitable only for adults.
Therefore, my intention is that the South Australian legislation will prevent the sale of MA15+ games to minors. This move will give parents greater certainty about the appropriateness of games for their children.