Censorship and the Functions of Media Classification Systems

Topics: Australia, Film, Classification Pages: 7 (2035 words) Published: August 25, 2013
Essay

“Unlike censorship systems the film classification system is ever changing, negotiation of the meaning and significance of youth, Discuss the functions of Media Classification Systems.”

The concept of Media Classification Systems is a relatively new one in society and only emerged as advancements in technology created new ways for the public to enjoy performance. Historically there were laws defining what could and couldn’t be contained within a live performance, the traditional culture of public entertainment, however the advent of radio, film, recorded sound, television and eventually video, video gaming, DVDs and the internet, presented an entirely new set of challenges to those in charge of Media Classification Systems. Past censorship of books and other publications was a relatively simple matter however the broadening definition of entertainment and the massive social upheavals occurring during the birth of the broadcast industry meant that societies and their governing censorship bodies had to scramble to keep pace with not only moral and religious regulations but also the exposure to the broader public of these new forms of media. Previously, the banning or restricted availability of books or publications affected only a small percentage of the population who were literate and could afford such luxuries however the “mass appeal” of radio and films meant that, as class barriers were broken down and standards of living increased, censorship and classification applied to the entire populace.

Censorship and classification differ in the following ways; censorship is defined as “the practice of officially examining books, movies, etc., and suppressing unacceptable parts” [1] whereas Media Classification Systems in Australia define themselves on their website as “The Classification Board is a statutory body which makes classification decisions for films, computer games and certain publications. The Classification Board is a full-time Board based in Sydney. Principles for decision-making are set out in the National Classification Code, agreed by the Australian Government and the States and Territories. The Classification Board is independent from government.” [2] Whilst the work of Media Classification involves an element of censorship, its role is primarily concerned with providing appropriate classification of media to better inform the choices of consumers. This process has assumed greater importance with the evolution of media consumption from product administered by others (i.e.: a cinema requiring proof of age via identification for the viewing of an R18+ film) to online or streaming media content that is accessed via the internet, often without restriction. Restricting youth access to media content accessed via the internet and television viewing is now the responsibility of parents via internet filters and parental locks installed on hardware.

A work of art or media product has been censored if a compromise was made to suit a classification system or governing body, if a shot in a movie or words in a book or an image been cut out in a way the Author or producer did not want changed then censorship has happened.

The first real censorship on certain films were carried out by the chief secretary’s department, Federal Minister Don Chipp introduced an R-rating system in Australia in 1971 to accommodate the changing times.

Consider the film ‘Salo’ or ‘Salo o le 120 giornate di Sodoma’ (1975) directed by Italian filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini, based on the book ‘The 120 Days of Sodom’ by the notorious French libertine the Marquis de Sade (itself not released to the public for almost 200 years due to it’s controversial content) Although released in Paris in 1975, in Australia Salo was banned from 1976 for almost twenty years. Depicting a wartime re-contextualisation of de Sade’s tale of sexual gratification and horror merged with Dante’s vision of Hell, it was considered obscene and was...
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