By Andrew L. Urban
Censorship these days is essentially about the use of minority power; the power of a small group denying the entire wider society access to a film (or book, or painting, etc). Besides all the rational arguments against censorship in general, the one irrefutable requirement of authority is to be transparent about the process, precisely because it is the exercise of power.
The Classification Review Board last week refused classification for The Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence), effectively banning the film as it cannot be shown without a classification; this came after the film had already been classified R18+ and screened at several venues.
The request to review the R18+ classification came from NSW Attorney General Greg Smith, whose office has refused to answer any of our questions:
Who / what triggered the AG’s request;
Were there any complaints from the public? How many? If not, from whom?
How many of the complainants had seen the film?
While we believe that the RC classification should be abolished altogether and films should be released with content advisory notices as they are now (with the G, PG, M, MA15+ and R18+ ratings), until that happens, classification review requests should not even be accepted from persons or organizations who have not seen the film in question – not even Attorneys General. We also question the practice of waiving the review fees in such cases; the taxpayer foots the bill.
It is not acceptable to refuse classification – and it is not acceptable to refuse to answer legitimate questions. The public is entitled to answers to these relevant questions. It should be clear who is wielding such disproportionate power. If lobby groups can hide behind official secrecy, the essential elements of democracy are threatened.