Australia Censorship News

 2016: July-Sept



  Room Full of Lawyers...

Sydney Underground Festival aims to show documentary despite likely litigation


Link Here 12th September 2016
room full of spoons 2013 Room Full of Spoons is a 2016 Canada documentary by Rick Harper.
Starring Juliette Danielle, Robyn Paris and Kyle Vogt. IMDb

Room Full of Spoons makes plain the reasons why The Room is The Room . Through very entertaining interviews with cast and crew, we are let in on the circumstances that lead to some of the most baffling, iconic, and incredibly stupid scenes in Tommy Wiseau's cinematic enigma . The terrible dialog, the TV behind the couch, the breast cancer, the tuxedos, The Denny seemingly inviting himself to a three-way, the chocolates, and that goddamn football

The Room is a 2003 USA drama by Tommy Wiseau.
Starring Tommy Wiseau, Juliette Danielle and Greg Sestero. IMDb

Johnny is a successful banker who lives happily in a San Francisco townhouse with his fiancée, Lisa. One day, inexplicably, she gets bored of him and decides to seduce Johnny's best friend, Mark. From there, nothing will be the same again.

The Room is notable for being widely regarded as one of the world's worst films. Room Full of Spoons  is a documentary about the 2003 The Room and its eccentric creator Tommy Wiseau.  Now Wiseau is a bit touchy about the criticism and has opposed screenings of the film through legal actions.

Sydney Underground Film Festival has pencilled in a screening but is a little wary of undertaking any expensive litigation.  Festival director Stefan Popescu says the documentary had been pulled from a number of festivals following threats of legal action from Wiseau. He still believes the festival can screen the documentary, but he does not want to be caught up in a lengthy and expensive legal battle. Popescu rather ironically notes:

If we did pull the documentary, there would be a kind of irony to it as over the last 10 years we have taken pride in screening content that was seditious, political, profane, defamatory and at times illegal. Yet it will be the man with the reputation as the world's worst filmmaker that manages to censor our festival for the first time.

 

  No shocks there!...

Australian appeals board maintains MA15+ rating for Blair Witch


Link Here 6th September 2016
blair witch Blair Witch is a 2016 USA horror thriller by Adam Wingard.
Starring Corbin Reid, Wes Robinson and Valorie Curry. Youtube link IMDb

After discovering a video showing what he believes to be his sister's experiences in the demonic woods of the Blair Witch, James and a group of friends head to the forest in search of his lost sibling.

Film distributors in Australia appealed against the MA15+ (15A) rating from the Classification Board. Presumably the distributors were hoping for an advisory M (PG-15) rating as per the original film in the series, Blair Witch Project.

However, the Review Board agreed with the Classification Board, and the original rating and consumer advice is maintained, ie MA15+ uncut for strong supernatural themes

It is not entirely clear why the distributors thought the rating could be lowered. The US and UK film censors both awarded ratings closer to MA15+ than M:

  • US: MPAA: Rated R uncut for language, terror and some disturbing images.
  • UK: BBFC: Rated 15 uncut for strong language, threat

 

  Steam Cleaned...

Suggestions that the upcoming video Game, South Park: The Fractured But Whole, won't be released in Australia for censorship reasons


Link Here 30th August 2016
South Park Fractured Whole Xbox

Ubisoft's upcoming game, South Park: The Fractured but Whole has gone missing from games distribution win Australia via Steam.

Alex Walker of Kotaku Australia reported that the game went missing from Steam for Australians. It wasn't showing up on either the the desktop version of the website, the mobile version, and even the app itself. When the folks from Kotaku Australia tried to find the direct link from everywhere else in the world, it ended up showing a page where it said that the game is not available for Australians.

The Game has not yet been officially censored by the Australian Censorship Board and Ubisoft hasn't made any announcement about any censorship of the ttle. In fact the Ubisoft website still has the game slated for release on 6t December 2016.

Kotaku Australia already reached out to Ubisoft Australia for a confirmation regarding the status of the game's release, but so far no response has been received.

The previous 2014 game in the series also suffered censorship problems in Australia.  South Park: The Stick of Truth was initially banned before suffering 5 minutes of cuts to appease the censors who then granted an R18+ rating.

 

 Update: Valkyrie Drive: Bhikkuhni...

The Australian Censorship Board bans another computer game


Link Here 28th August 2016  full story: Banned Games in Australia...Adult games ban
Valkyrie Drive Bhikkuhni PlayStation VitaValkyrie Drive: Bhikkuhni is a 2016 Japan fight game

From the creators of Senran Kagura - Valkyrie Drive is an intense brawler set in a universe where girls turn into giant super-weapons when sexually aroused. Wielded by partner girls called Liberators, players must use this power to take on levels swarming with enemies and giant bosses. Box Contains

The console games has been banned the Australian Censorship Board.

The board claims that the game promotes elements that offend standards of morality, and also uses sexuality as an incentive and reward. A major factor in the refusal of classification is due to implied sexual violence in the game, especially if they pertain to incentives or rewards..

In the game, the girls are able to turn into weapons by kissing and touching one another. This may be part of the reason for the ban.

 

  The Party's Over...

Console game Criminal Girls 2 has been banned in Germany


Link Here 6th August 2016

Criminal Girls Party Favors PlayStationComputer games censors from USK (Unterhaltungssoftware Selbstkontrolle) have banned Criminal Girls 2: The Party's Over, a 2016 Japan RPG adventure game. The USK is self regulating trade group rather than an official state censor.

siliconera.com also reports that the game wont be distributed in Australia but there is no indication that this is due to the official state censors, Australian Classification Board.

Criminal Girls 2 has previously been in the media spotlight as the content has been censored for western releases when compared with the original Japanese release. NIS America explained the changes made prior to submission to the US Entertainment Software Ratings Board,.

  1. Some artwork, especially during the motivation scenes, were altered over their explicit nature. It seems NIS America worried the ESRB would take issue with women tied up against the their will.
  2. Swapping the term punishment for motivation. In the Japanese version of the game, the motivation scenes are actually punishment.
  3. There won't be any English voice overs. All of the text will be displayed in English, but the voice tracks are staying Japanese.
  4. All dialogue has been removed from the motivation scenes.
  5. The stated ages of some the girls have been changed

The games is et for UK release on 23rd September 2016

 

 Commented: Protecting their hides...

Australian politician takes aim at video games offering skins betting opportunities


Link Here 4th August 2016
Counter Strike Global Offensive PosterCounter-Strike: Global Offensive and Dota 2 are at the center of a proposed bill in the Australian parliament, which would define the titles as gambling and could potentially see them banned or mandatorily 18 rated .

Introduced by independent Senator Nick Xenophon, a veteran politician in Australia, he told the Sydney Morning Herald that the bill is looking to curtail what he considers to be the Wild West of online gambling that is actually targeting kids.

The concept of skin betting is a nominally no-cash betting entertainment where the stakes are game commodities eg skins, hides, cases, chests. Presumably the skins are made available in the games. The skins betting sites are quite professionally presented along the lines of cash sports betting sites. And several have been linked to games producers. Of course even if skins are nominally not cash, the fact that they are scarce resources makes them suitable for trading and purchases somewhere along the line.

Skin betting has been controversial of late  with CS:GO and Dota 2's developer, Valve, eventually responding to the controversy by sending cease and desist letters to 23 of the most prolific third-party gambling sites, asking them to cease operations.

Xenophon argues that the in-game commodities known as cases (or chests in Dota 2) is gambling in and of itself, due to the differing value of the rewards players receive from them.

Should the bill become law, games providing such betting opportunities will be 18 rated, regardless of the level of content in terms of sex and violence etc. Furthermore if games become classified as gambling, Valve would find itself in breach of Australian law as only companies registered in the country are allowed to offer gambling services, meaning the games could get pulled from sale in Australia altogether.

Nick Xenophon's bill will be introduced to the senate next month as Australian Federal Parliament resumes.

Offsite Article: Xenophon's ill-judged counter strike

4th August 2016. See  article from theconversation.com

Nick Xenophon plans to introduce a bill to Parliament that could stipulate a minimum age for playing first-person shooter games which include payment for mystery items. This is a feature of games such as Counter Strike: Global Offensive , Overwatch and indeed many mobile games that get revenue through micro-transactions.

News reports have inevitably represented the issue according to the same media effects model Xenophon has adopted. That is, first-person shooters groom kids for gambling and video games expose unsuspecting children and young people to danger and risk. It is the kind of half-story often told, one that reflects our tendency as a society to reductively demonise every new medium, to blame them for our problems, and turn them into scapegoats for our bad habits and antisocial behaviour.

For instance, book-reading was once considered a lazy, indulgent or reclusive activity, TV gave our children square eyes and being online all the time prevented young people from learning how to behave appropriately in face-to-face contexts. Oh, and video games turn high school kids into mass murderers (think Columbine or Sandy Hook), or at the very least make our children obese, more aggressive and lacking in empathy. They also have been said to cause learning difficulties, behavioural problems and now, according to Xenophon, early-onset gambling addiction.

...Read the full article from theconversation.com

 

 Updated: Government Pests...

Australian game censors ban The Bug Butcher video game


Link Here 24th July 2016  full story: Banned Games in Australia...Adult games ban
bug butcherBug Butcher is a fun shoot 'em up computer game from Awfully Nice Studios.

It has just been banned by the Australian Censor Board for reasons which are not yet apparent. The censors have provided just an uninformative stock statement on the website noting the game as 'Refused Classification'.

The description of the game does not really make the game sound very bannable:

You play Harry, an exterminator who gets tasked with slaughtering bugs in a futuristic research facility, in order to buy the surviving scientists time until the total decontamination process is complete. It's a simple game where you face wave after wave of enemies, picking up new weapons and power-ups in order to enhance your slaying skills.

Update: Censored whilst claiming to be uncensored

24th July 2016. See  article from refused-classification.com

Awfully Nice Studios explained a little more about the ban:

We have been in the age rating process for our upcoming console release in Australia. Seem like this triggered the ban from Steam as well. The reasoning behind is, is sad but at the same point also funny. We have a powerup called Speed powerup where Harry injects himself a syringe. Looks like the combination of the injection with the word Speed someone could assume that it's a drug. We are shocked but are trying to get in touch with Australia to see if we can fix this.

 

 Update: An expensive joke...

Queensland resorts to making up a new law just to deal with supposedly offensive slogans on Wicked Campervans


Link Here 21st July 2016  full story: Wicked Campervans...Un polictically correct adverts wind up Australian and New Zealand authorities
queensland government logoThe Palaszczuka? government has found an expensive way to get Wicked camper vans' offensive slogans off Queensland roads. Make up a new law.

Yvette D'Ath, Queensland's Attorney-General, will introduce legislation which will see commercial registration holders who fail to comply with determinations by the Advertising Standards Bureau face having the registration of those vehicles cancelled. D'Ath said:

I understand clearly the level of community concern about the vulgar, crass and offensive slogans that have been displayed on some commercial vehicles in Queensland and other parts of Australia.

They have been subject to frequent complaints to the Advertising Standards Board. When the ASB has deemed those slogans to be offensive, the typical response from the holders of those commercial vehicle registrations has been deafening silence.

Now if they refuse to remove the offensive slogans, their vehicles will be off the road.

Working in conjunction with the Department of Transport and the ASB, D'Ath said the solution allowed the advertising watchdog to maintain its power, but gave any adverse finding teeth.

The government hopes to have the legislation in front of the parliament by the end of the year.

 

 Updated: Protruding labias...

Body image campaigners call for a PG-15 rating for close up nudity


Link Here 20th July 2016  full story: Embrace...Feminist movie subject of a ratings review in Australia
embrace taryn brumfittEmbrace is a documentary that sets out to raise awareness of the female body. It has been given an MA 15+ rating by the Australian film censors with consumer advice of strong nudity. The censors noted that some of the genital detail included protruding labia in a sequence showing different women's vaginas in close up

However body image campaigner and the film's director, Taryn Brumfitt, is not impressed. She claims that the restricted age rating reinforces the message that women's bodies are shameful. She added:

It puts my film in the same category as Fifty Shades of Grey. t's wrong on so many levels. I am outraged.

The Board of Directors have got their heads in the sand if they think that's offensive. These images are not crude. We don't need to be ashamed of how our bodies look.

An M rating [PG-15] (stipulates) that nudity must be justified by context. The nudity in my film is completely in context. The only way these images can be harmful is if they continue to be censored.

Andrew Mackie added for the film's producers, Transmission Films:

This is a very disappointing decision. The whole point of this entertaining and educative film is the message that all bodies are different ... and that girls and women should be encouraged to love themselves exactly as they are.

This is a message that needs to be heard by girls under the age of 15.

[One can't help wondering if the filmmakers would be so keen on young boys oggling the 'message'].

Transmission Films also confirmed today that Facebook would not allow a post of the film's poster to be boosted to reach an additional audience because the image has excessive skin.

After screening at this year's Sydney Film Festival, Embrace is to be released in cinemas nationally on August 4.

Update: New Zealand ruled by Australian censorship

17th July 2016. See  article from stuff.co.nz

nziff logoThe Australian film censor's decision to give Taryn Brumfitt's Embrace a 15 rating has had a knock on effect in New Zealand.

Before the Australian decision, Embrace was exempt from classification in New Zealand on the grounds it was an educational documentary. Now the 15 rating has caused major problems for the New Zealand International Film Festival (NZIFF), which plans to show the documentary later in July. E

New Zealand's censorship laws mean that if a film is restricted in Australia, it needs to be classified for New Zealand audiences by the Office of Film and Literature Classification (OFLC). While the film is being classified the festival is not allowed to sell tickets to anyone under the age of 18. A decision on its rating is expected by July 26, but that is just three days before the documentary is scheduled to screen in Auckland.

NZIFF communications manager Rebecca McMillan said the age restriction could prevent mothers taking their daughters to see the film, limiting potentially important conversations about body image. She hoped the New Zealand OFLC would give the film a more lenient rating than its Australian counterpart. McMillan said the NZIFF wanted girls as young as 12 to be able to see Embrace . That's the most vulnerable audience with body messaging, she said.

Update: M rated in New Zealand

20th July 2016. See  article from stuff.co.nz

new zealand mBefore the Australian Classification Board's decision to award an MA 15+ rating, Embrace was exempt from classification in New Zealand on the grounds it was an educational documentary.

Nudity depicted in a documentary about positive body image was deemed too much for young Australians, but New Zealand censors have decided the film is for all Kiwis.

New Zealand film censors of the OFLC have decided  to award the film an M rating, with a descriptive note for offensive language and nudity .

The mature M rating is an advisory rating recommending that the film is suitable for over 16s. However there are no restrictions  but a person of any age may see the film.

The OFLC said in its official decision that Embrace was a well-made, thought-provoking and uplifting examination of body positivity, self-worth and diversity of representation. It also said it would likely be an educational resource for younger and older viewers alike, and facilitate discussion.

Embrace director Taryn Brumfitt says New Zealand's censors have made the right decision not to restrict her film. She said:

Embrace is an entertaining, life-affirming film that leaves audiences feeling inspired. The decision of the New Zealand Classification Office can give New Zealand audiences confidence that Embrace is a film for everyone.

Rebecca McMillan, the NZIFF's communications manager, said they were thrilled at the change: she said:

The NZ classification decision means that this educational documentary can reach the people who need to see and hear body positive messages the most. New Zealanders of all ages can decide for themselves whether they are mature enough to see the film and understand the themes that it raises: themes of body positivity and representation of women in the media.

We're encouraged that the Classification Office considers New Zealanders more culturally aware and willing to have these conversations with our children by allowing an unrestricted rating for the film.

Taryn Brumfitt will be in attendance at the Auckland and Wellington screenings of Embrace to participate in a Q&A session.

 

 Offsite Article: Top adverts in Australia...


Link Here 8th July 2016
we love our lamb advert Australian advert censor reveals its most complained about ads

See article from smartcompany.com.au

 

 Update: Australian Censors Overreach...

When banning video games. By Matthew Sainsbury


Link Here 4th July 2016  full story: Banned Games in Australia...Adult games ban
meiq labyrinth of death