The Office of Film and Literature Classification - Friend or Foe?
From the outset, I wish to note that this article is an editorial and as such, reflects my own personal views, of which I generally try to keep subjective. However, in this article, I will be giving an opinion which you, the reader, may or may not agree with. Whichever category you fall into, I welcome your thoughts in the TweakTown forums.
Whilst I consider myself to be fairly right wing in regards to my political views, I have always had an in-principle personal view against censorship. Whilst I acknowledge that there are certain things that should be seen and heard, for the most part this should be left up to the person to decide what they should view and hear, or if that person is a minor, left to the parents to monitor.
The issue of censorship is one that polarises many. I feel that for the most part, the general populace would like to make the decisions to view the content that they wish to. This is called free will. However, there are many in the community that wish to decide for others what is right and wrong, taking into account their own values.
In Australia, the Office of Film and Literature Classification is a statutory body which rates film and interactive gaming applied to community standards and norms. These ratings, commonly referred to as 'G', 'PG', 'M', 'MA' and 'R', empower citizens to make decisions as to the impact of content they choose to view. For the most part, I think the OFLC does a great job at what they do, even though I admit I personally don't pay much heed to the rating when I make a personal choice, I will do that myself based on quick research on the content itself and based on whether I feel I will enjoy the content.
The OFLC employs people from a very wide selection of sexes, ages, backgrounds and cultures. This way, they can effectively gauge the opinions of many from all walks of life.
I would also like to take the opportunity to quickly clear up a general misunderstanding with the OFLC: They don't decide what we get to see, read or play. The government does. What the OFLC is tasked to do is to fit the content into the categories that the government allows them. So when something is banned, don't automatically jump up and down at them; it's essentially not their fault.
In general, for films, only the most obscene content is considered to not fit into any of the ratings systems, and then in turn is banned. The issue of film censorship has been quiet for some time, it was a roaring issue for a month or two after the banning of Ken Park in 2003, when prominent film critic Margaret Pomeranz was arrested for organising a community showing of the film, in response to its banning. Generally speaking, the Australian community is rather receptive to the OFLC guidelines and community outrage is generally only infrequently sparked when a prominent film is banned.