From the Independent
French customs officers will be searching for a new form of
contraband from New Year's Day, recent Hollywood movies. The struggle of the French
state to maintain its cultural boundaries against the tide of globalism will enter a new
phase in 2001, with a ban on imports of video discs, or Digital Versatile Discs (DVDs),
from North America.
The measure, intended to protect cinema as a public spectacle, may prove as doomed as
other efforts to defend French "exceptionalism" from the information revolution.
French movie buffs say they will still be able to order new films, illegally, in DVD
directly from America, long before they appear in French cinemas. And, from the end of
next year, they can download movies over the internet.
French regulations currently block the sale of films in video or DVD format, until nine
months after the title is released to cinemas. The new edict from Catherine Tasca, the
Culture Minister, reduces the waiting period to six months but bans DVDs from North
France has gone DVD-crazy. In recent months there has been a flourish in the sale of
DVDs, which are the same size and weight as compact discs, especially those
containing brand-new Hollywood movies. Since the French public often has to wait many
months for a new Hollywood release, the ultimate in movie one-upmanship here is to own the
DVD weeks or months before the film appears in the cinema.
Movies imported from the US are not dubbed or subtitled in French but so many young
people in France speak English these days that this is no longer a barrier. If anything,
it adds to the status symbolism of owning a transatlantic DVD.
Chains of small shops, and larger stores such as FNAC and Virgin, have
begun to import American DVDs and offer movies to the French public, long before before
the film appears on general release. There is also a trade in direct sales of DVDs from
America over the internet.
For instance, the Woody Allen movie, Small Time Crooks, released in America in
the spring, has only just appeared in cinemas in France. It has been available on DVD in
Paris for several months.
In the past year, sales of DVD players (at £200 a time) have tripled, making France
more plugged into the new form of video entertainment any other European country.
Technically, it should be impossible to view American video discs on a French-bought
DVD player. The discs are encrypted to be played in only one of the six DVD
"zones" established by the audio-visual industry. America and Canada are in Zone
One. France, Britain and the rest of Europe are in Zone Two.
But beating the encryption system is easy. On some DVD players, the code can be changed
with the zapper.
Other disc players can be switched from one zone to another with computer chips
(available in specialist shops) or by down-loading codes from several sites on the
internet. The French ban on DVD imports from America is intended to protect not so much
the French film-making industry as the movie-going industry.
There is no evidence that the transatlantic flood of DVDs has reduced the cinema-going
audience in France, but the film distribution and cinema-owning industry (including the
American-owned chains) has pressed for the loophole to be closed.
The centre-left newspaper Libération accuses the government of setting up a
commercial "Maginot Line". "Banning French consumers from buying products
available across increasingly virtual borders at the click of a mouse risks making pirates
of us all," it said.
to Stuart for providing follow up to earlier news of FUCT like
The major media chain, WOM have restocked with Region 1 DVDs and it appears that they
are back to stay.
Perhaps someone can tell me why Region 1 DVDs have recently vanished from Amsterdam's
Fame Music store?
The Heavens Open, the
Seas Parteth & Italian Blasphemy Law is Strikethed Out
Theprovision that up
to now punished anybody who committed blasphemy (vilification of the Catholic religion)
with imprisonment for one year has been struck out from the Italian Criminal Code. The
Constitutional Court has in fact declared Article 402 of the Criminal Code to be
unconstitutional, as incompatible with the principles of equality and freedom of religion.
The case had been raised by the second Court of Cassation, which held that Article 402,
granting Catholicism, "the State religion", alone a "privileged
protection", is null and void because it violates articles 3 and 8 of the
Constitution re the equality of all the citizens without religious distinction and
the equal freedom for all faiths under the law.
The Court furthermore points out that the agreement amending the Lateran Concordat has
explicitly asserted that the principle of the Catholic religion as the single religion of
the State has been diminshed. Hence the conclusion that the presence of Article 402
in the Criminal Code represents an "anachronism" which it had to remedy.
(A few pointers to the UK where the even more diminished Church of
England is still protected by an equally anachronistic blasphemy law.)
in the US have been unbelievably threatened by the French courts who have given
three months to find a way to keep French Web surfers away from auction pages involving
Nazi memorabilia - or face a $13,000 per day fine until it does comply.
Both the popular Internet portal and free speech advocates decried the ruling. The
Associated Press says they fear it sets a dangerous precedent by granting one country
the right to reach across borders and impose its laws on Websites based in other nations.
(It surely does not set a precedent unless Yahoo stupidly pay heed to
this threat. I remember Europe getting well pissed off when the US tried to impose
penalties for European firms trading in Cuba)
Yahoo says France has no lawful jurisdiction in the matter. Yahoo attorney Greg Wrenn
says the company would ignore the ruling unless an American court steps in to enforce it -
and would refused to pay any fines.
France has laws banning exhibiting or selling anything deemed to incite race hate. Two
Paris-based groups - the International League against Racism and Anti-Semitism and the
Union of French Jewish Students - sued to compel the law's enforcement against Yahoo.
Judge Jean-Jacques Gomez agreed with their case.
Yahoo! argued mostly that its English-language Web pages and services can't be blocked
because of U.S. Constitutional rights to freedom of speech, and that Yahoo!'s
French-language version doesn't host Nazi memorabilia auctions - though French surfers can
find the English version just like anyone else can.
Canada: Baise-Moi Banned
The Ontario Film Review Board have decided to ban the controversial French film Baise-moi
Baise-moi should be seen because it's a challenging, important film, both politically
and aesthetically, said Kay Armatage, a professor of women's studies and cinema studies at
the University of Toronto, and a programmer at the festival. She also suggested there's
some hypocrisy afoot. It seems to me the controversy has been about connections
between women's sexual pleasure being depicted realistically and violence, women angry,
women killing guys. But those scruples don't seem to operate the other way. . . . There
are zillions of films in which women are brutalized, killed, beaten up and they're popular
movies and nobody seems to mind that at all.
Last month, a three-member panel of the film review board decided the graphically
explicit movie, about two young women on a sex and killing spree, was not suitable for
commercial release in Ontario - a decision upheld this week after an appeal to a
five-member panel. Board chair Bob Warren said board members - who are regular citizens -
issued the province-wide ban because the film was so clearly over the line.
rape was particularly graphic and objectionable. We would probably look at it differently
if that rape scene were gone.
It's still extremely rare for a mainstream film to be banned in Ontario, citing only
two other examples in the last four years; a re-released version of Caligula,
and Spike and Mike's Second Perverted Cartoon Festival, which was
approved after edits were made.
Baise-Moi has been approved in Quebec and British Columbia. An enraged
audience member stormed the projection room and damaged the print during a screening in
Craig Adlard of Remstar Distribution, which appealed the original ban, said the company
hasn't decided on its next step, including whether to consider making edits to the film
and resubmitting it to the board.
Farmers Censored in Singapore
This is an outrage...this issue features a few choice
quotes from yours truely
The British magazine The Face has been withdrawn from sale in Singapore
for featuring a picture of a topless woman - but only after keen readers snapped up copies
from newsagents. The November issue of the magazine was sealed in a pink plastic wrapper
with the word "sex" emblazoned across the front page in capital letters.
One newsagent says the issue quickly sold out, but authorities say the
magazine should not have gone on sale because it broke Singapore's strict regulations on
pornography. The country's New Paper asked: How did smut slip into Singapore?
while reproducing the front and back covers of The Face and the offending topless picture
- with the model's breasts blacked out.
Distributors usually regulate themselves using guidelines set down by the
Films and Publications Department, part of the Ministry of Information and Arts. A
spokesman says The Face's latest issue should not have been distributed under the
Registered Importers Scheme.
Thanks to Phil for spotting nutters at work.
October 30-November 3 was Pornography Awareness/White Ribbon Against Pornography Week.
Together, American Family Association,
Morality in Media (MIM) and other pro-family
groups are making sure illegal pornography
prosecution is a campaign issue. Voters need to know where the candidates stand in
order to make informed decisions in the booth on November 7.
From its members, MIM received copies of correspondence from the
Bush-Cheney campaign on its letterhead with
candidate George W. Bush's signature. The letters stated, in part, Pornography has no
place in a decent society. As
Governor of Texas,
I have used the bully pulpit of my office to send the message that pornography is not
welcome in the Lone Star State. The letters continued,
If I am fortunate enough
to be elected President, I will insist on vigorously enforcing federal anti-pornography
MIM members did not receive any responses from the
campaign. The campaign's Web site states, Al
Gore supports an approach that: Increases law enforcement resources to crack down on
material on the Internet that is clearly illegal, such as child pornography and
Pro-family advocates are anxious for change. During the Clinton administration,
obscenity prosecutions dropped more than 80 percent. In 1998, the Department of Justice
prosecuted only eight obscenity cases. Even after pro-family groups met with Deputy
Attorney General in 1998 and the new Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division
this year, the department made no progress in halting this critical problem.
Thanks for the response from Keith
I feel that I must offer another point of view about you branding
of George W. Bush as an Arch-Nutter. The simple fact is that Bush is electioneering and
trying to play up the god-fearing family man image and in doing this pornography is an
easy target. I would suggest that it is very unlikely that a Republican President would be
able to interfere with the law governing pornography in the US too much as the business is
worth $8bn and is the third largest domestic industry after guns and chemicals. Simple
economics suggest that there will be no interference in the industry because it would be
too economically costly.
Furthermore America has always had a large pornography industry,
it just that in the 1960's it pretended that it was producing shocking exposes of teenage
behaviour, in fact in 1978 President Jimmy Carter gave an interview in Playboy which
suggests that the culture has always been tolerant of such material.
On a more legalistic note, pornography is protected by the First
Amendment and undoing this would require the Supreme Court to change its mind - something
which it would be loathed to do as this would start a bad precedent - Courts would undo
each others rulings.
I would suggest that Bush is doing nothing more than playing to
the extreme right as a candidate, I doubt much will change if he got elected.
From the Irish Times
A company which owns a Galway sex shop was convicted and fined £2,400 at Galway
District Court yesterday for being in possession of prohibited X-rated videos and
magazines as well as distributing an advertisement for a brothel.
Charges were brought against Shardam Trading Company (Limerick) Ltd. The company's
licence to deal in videos was forfeited for five years. Gardaí raided the Galway shop, 4
Play, at Buttermilk Walk, off Shop Street, in the city centre on two occasions last year.
New Zealand: Half
From AVN News
New Zealand is closer to decriminalizing prostitution, a bill now in first
reading in Parliament has bipartisan support, and would eliminate laws making it illegal
to offer sex for money. The kicker: it won't change the law which makes it illegal to
pay for sex. Christchurch lawmaker Tim Barnett proposed the bill, saying he hoped it would
promote safe sex.
Thanks to Jouni
Finland's parliament has decided, that adult censorship will cease after 1st January
2001. After tha time adult material can be published without advance vetting. This will
improve things for the video/DVD producers but is doesn't sound as if Finnish censors have
been too strict anyway. They have not cut or banned anything from cinema releases since
Thanks to Stu
We've fallen foul of the 'English' disease. At the beginning of April, the German
equivalent of FACT sent out an open letter saying that it would raid, confiscate from and
prosecute shops stocking Region 1 DVDs. At first, no-one really seemed to take it
seriously; a few Dixons-like chain stores, which hardly ever had any R1 material anyway,
stopped stocking imports.
Then things warmed up. Approximately two months ago WOM (World of Music) in Berlin was
raided. This is a big chain store, very much like Virgin. About a month after that, my
local branch of WOM in Stuttgart suddenly removed all its R1 stock (which was nearly half
its DVDs) - including all of the legal, under-the-counter, 'indiziert' material. I
honestly don't think that they were raided, so it was most likely a knock-on effect from
what happened in Berlin.
Some of the independent cinema shops have kept their stocks, but it's probably only a
matter of time before we are forced to rely on the internet and mail-order. Welcome to the
Thanks to Mark for pointing out that things are not always quite as reported.
I have indicated follow up comment in red
The Irish Censors have relented and removed the ban on the film of James Joyce's Ulysses.
It was refused a certificate originally in 1967 and then unbeleivably again in
1974. It has now been awarded a 15 certificate.
Although it was banned, there was never any difficulty getting
hold of it prior to it being deleted about 5 years ago. Most major chains like HMV or
Virgin carried it, and just about any decent video store had it available to rent. I
suspect the reason the film has remained banned for so long was simply that it wasn't
resubmitted after 1974 (remember its 7 years before the Irish Censor will even _consider_
a reapplication). At a guess, its up for reissue or something and it was submitted as a
matter of course. The really bad old days of censorship of non-porn have pretty much
passed here now though (though its still not great).
I also read last week that the Irish are considering removing their media gag on
terrorist organisations. A generally ineffective measure in eliminating propaganda which
only serves to diminish the standing of the state that imposes it.
Thats not entirely fair - Our media ban on terrorist
organisations was the same as in the UK (remember the dubbed voice of Gerry Adams?). It
was also lifted at the same time (about 4 years ago, I think). All that's happening now is
the law regarding this is being taken off the books completely
On another issue it will be interesting to see if the UK liberalisation of porn has any
knock-on effect in Ireland where our shared border is open.
First Hardcore Channel
Beate Uhse says it won a license to set up an erotic cable television
channel with Premiere World. This clears a path for Germany's first known all-porn
The license comes by way of local broadcast authorities in Brandenburg, and Beate Uhse
plans to launch the channel in October on the Premiere channel Movie World. Neither Beate
Uhse nor Premiere World gave more details, though the German press is reporting the porn
channel would air from 8 p.m. through 5 a.m. seven days per week.
Beate Uhse is a rising porn player in Europe, with a chain of hardcore video and sex
shops in Germany. They reported profits before taxes of about $8.6 million over the first
six months of 2000.
US: Shopping Censors
Wal-Mart Stores and Kmart said they would restrict sales of
violent video games to children. The announcements come as the entertainment industry
braces for a congressional hearing Wednesday on the marketing of violent music, movies,
video games and other material to children via legislation that would require warning
labels on violent material.
A U.S. Federal Trade Commission study to be made public on Monday concludes that
companies are flouting their own voluntary ratings systems and failing to warn about the
amount of blood and gore that will be shown in the games. Lieberman and other lawmakers
say they will see how entertainment companies, movie theaters and retailers respond to the
FTC report in deciding whether to push for labeling legislation.
Legislators have been pressuring retailers to help stop children from getting access to
games rated "M," or "mature" content, by the Entertainment Software
Rating Board (ESRB), a panel run by the software and video-game industry. These games
typically cast the player in the role of the killer, said Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kas. The
higher the body count, the higher your score.
Kmart sells M-rated "Mortal Kombat Gold," "Alien Trilogy,"
"Syphonfilter II" and "Shadow Man." One of the Mortal Kombat series is
touted as "a digital bloodbath" on a company Web site. But Wal-Mart and Kmart
aren't waiting for Congress. Both companies said their cash registers will prompt cashiers
to check the identification of customers buying an M-rated video game. The changes would
take effect before the holiday shopping season.
Troy, Mich.-based Kmart said it won't sell violent video games to children under 17
without a parent of guardian present. The company would restrict access to M-rated video
games, which are now sold alongside other titles in its stores. Kmart's policy will take
effect in all of its 2,164 stores Oct. 15. M-rated titles generate 2.9 percent of Kmart's
total sales of video games and software.
Wal-Mart and Kmart join Sears Roebuck and Montgomery Ward Holding, both of which
recently stopped selling all M- rated titles.
White House Porn
A consultant hired last year to beef up security for the White House's computer network
found massive pornographic video files passing through the system's Internet firewall The
real-time video files -- which came from hard-core porn sites featuring homosexual,
farm-animal and teen sex acts -- were so large in byte volume that they accounted for most
of the traffic coming into the firewall.
All Internet links and e-mail must first pass through the firewall before coming into
the local area network for the Executive Office of the
President and on to individual network users. The firewall system is designed to screen
Internet traffic for messages containing network-crippling viruses.
A Y2K computer consultant in early 1999 discovered the unusually large volume of
porn-site traffic coming into the White House while reviewing the firewall logs. It
looks like the majority of traffic going through the firewall is pornography, said a
White House employee, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Well Fuck Me Again
From the Observer
An explicit French film featuring graphic scenes of sex and violence is set to go on
show at cinemas in Britain. The film, called Baise-moi ( Screw Me
), caused huge controversy when it was screened in France because of its close-up sex
shots. It was released in France with a '16' certificatein June and drew more than 30,000
filmgoers in its first week. However a campaign group linked to the far Right forced
cinemas to withdraw the film temporarily, but it is now to be re-released with an '18'
certificate. In fact the French seem to be acting remarkably quickly to define a new
version of the 18 certificate which is acceptable in mainstream cinemas and presumably
avoids the additional taxation associated with porn films.
Optimum Releasing, a London-based independent distributor, last week said it had been
speaking to Canal Plus - the French entertainment giant that is marketing the film - and
hoped to show it in British cinemas. Films like this can perform an important
function, said Will Clarke, Optimum's managing director. We are interested in
quality movies. The controversial angle is of interest but it has to be decent
artistically. Two other film companies have confirmed their interest to The Observer
. The English version is entitled Rape Me, but is no different from the one that - in
France in June. It offers 90 minutes of almost non-stop hardcore sex and violence. British
companies hope shifts in the UK in attitudes to screen sex may help get Baise-moi
shown in cinemas. Last year Romance, a French production, was passed almost uncut but for
a one-second excision of an ejaculating penis.
Baise-moi will face resistance in Britain. You cannot possibly
allow a film like this, said John Beyer of the National Viewers and Listeners
Association. We have a rising number of sexual crimes and if you constantly put up
lifestyles and roles glamourising what is harming our society then it is just going to
make things worse.
The film was shot in northern France and follows the fortunes of two bored young
suburban women who set out on a spree of sex and murder after one of them is brutally
raped and then shoots dead her brother in a row. A passer-by is shot for her
cashpoint card, a tramp who leers at the two women is gunned down and two gendarmes who
stop them for a check on papers are summarily executed. A man is picked up for sex and
then stamped to death with high-heels, another dies during a shoot-out in a sex club when
he is forced to strip and pretend to be a pig before being shot in the anus. There are
graphic sequences of fellatio and intercourse.
Anyone who goes to see it for a thrill will be disappointed, said Coralie
Trinh Thi, co-director and ex-porn star. Many critics have praised the film's examination
of the 'moral nihilism' of modern life. The liberal establishment is behind Trinh Thi and
her co-director and writer Virginie Despentes, with politicians calling the pornography
Vincent Maraval, in charge of marketing the film for Canal Plus, said it had been sold
to 30 countries, including Spain, Italy, Japan and South Korea.
Well Fuck Me
Baise Moi, (translated variably as
Fuck/Screw/Rape Me), will be shown uncut in Frech cinemas without the 18 rating usually
associated with hardcore. Presumably it has been awarded a 16 rating.
The first film by author Virginie Despentes is a violent, sexually
explicit film featuring porn actresses in leading roles. Despentes adapted Baise
Moi from a best-selling book; her co-director is porn actress
The two adult performers play bad girls who want nothing other than sex. Baise
Moi drew considerable interest at the Cannes Film Festival. It's
going to be shown in Italy, Spain, Germany and Britain, with prints being previewed in the
United States by various distributors who showed interest.
A spokesman for the distributor said: The French censors' decision not to rate it
18 shows that France is a civilized country, The censors realize the film is good, that it
represents a certain subculture in France and its aim isn't to excite people [in the
same way as] a porn film.
Baise Moi is scheduled for a June 28 release in
The French are currently seeking to equalise their
definition of liberty with that of our very own JackBoots Straw...brotherly or what.
Web users in France who want
to publish online will have to register their intent with the government, if a bill being
considered by French Parliament this week is passed. The Liberty of Communication Act --
passed by the House Tuesday and being debated in the French Senate this week -- stipulates
that users will have to fill out an online registration form in order to post to the
Many have suggested the added complexity to users could force French Web hosting
companies to relocate. Others have damned the bill as a serious infringement to online
freedom of speech and privacy that could spread across Europe. A spokesman from The
European Internet Service Providers Association (EuroISPA) said that if passed, the French
government could try to get the European Union to consider enforcing similar regulations
Supporters of the bill say it is intended to make people legally liable for the
material they post on the Internet. Opponents say the bill goes too far in removing
personal privacy. This is a terribly conventional approach, said British Internet
legal expert Nicholas Bohm of civil liberties group, Cyber Rights and Cyber Liberties. It
comes from a government's long standing fear of freedom of speech. Bohm added: This
is an example of what happens if you don't talk to industry and don't have the required
expertise to deal with these issues.
Robin Bynoe, partner with law firm Charles Russell, said that the bill, ironically, is
in keeping with European directives. The basic approach [of the EC] is that the
intermediary existing [ISP] is not liable for content posted. It is the responsibility of
the individual. He added however that, those who want, will be able to circumvent
French laws to post scurrilous material.
Spotted on Usenet
Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, has been ruled by the military for the last 40 years.
The rulers have banned the Internet fearing that it will allow citizens to have access to
opposition Web sites operating abroad. The regime, which is accused of denying its
subjects political and human rights, imposes a 7 to 15 year prison term for unauthorized
ownership of a modem. The government also shut down the few private email services in the
country and now runs the only authorized email server itself. The use of email is
restricted to about 600 foreigners, privileged officials, and businessmen with close ties
to the government.
(They're only banning it because they can't afford to listen in to
every single message like what rich old Britain can)
Votes in Porn
The Australian sex industry
yesterday warned MPs opposed to a relaxation in the classification of X-rated videos that
it would make it a political issue in marginal constituencies.
The Eros Foundation, the industry's lobby group, said it was prepared to use its
extensive mailing list in an aggressive campaign to target subscribers in marginal seats
held by politicians from the right-wing, rural-based National Party. The National Party,
which governs Australia in coalition with the conservative Liberal Party of the Prime
Minister John Howard, is resisting moves to change the X-rating of videos to
"non-violent erotica". They want the word erotica replaced with the more loaded
A spokesman for Eros said that theirs was no idle threat. I think there are a
number of National Party MPs in marginal electorates who wouldn't want this brought up as
a political issue. He then outlines an example constituency where they could target
4,797 purchasers of sex products; 6.2 per cent of the electorate, perhaps more if partners
are counted. In total, he said, there were 1.1 million Australians who could be targeted
with political information by the industry within 48 hours.
Earlier this month a Senate committee recommended that the rating be changed. De-Anne
Kelly, a North Queensland National MP who has led the campaign to persuade the Cabinet to
adopt the word pornography, was unmoved yesterday. She said:
I and my colleagues who
raised this matter initially aren't going to be put off.
(I wonder if the Melon Farming monthly
readership of 30,000 could be put to equally good use)
A surreal story noticed in What Satellite. Do they have April Fool's Day in
A group of Swedish hotel maids have been protesting about the downside of hardcore
hotel TV. They feel that the AIDS risk in clearing up after excited male customers is
unacceptable and they are demanding more 'protection'. They are apparently also none too
keen on the embarrasment caused by the ocasional entry into rooms at an inopportune
You'd think that the problem could be easily solved in openly
liberal Scandanavia by the provision of suitable door signs:
- Do Not Disturb: Having a Wank
- Please Make Up the Room: Mind the Gism
Spotted in the Guardian
Attempts to ban a novel which portrays Jesus Christ as a philander who finds it hard to
resist Mary Magdalene intensified as religious zealots ran amok in an Athens court.
As the protestors shouted "blasphemer", lawyers for the author, Mimis
Androulakis, were granted a postponement of the hearing to decide if the bestseller, M
to the Power of N, should be banned throughout the country. Last month sales were
stopped in northern Greece to prevent violence after the Greek Orthodox church declared it
The book seeks to explore the theme of misogyny. Its opponents have taken particular
exception to passages that allude to Jesus's simmering sexual desires. The Orthodox
church's governing board said: Our religion may teach love but we will never speak to
Mimis Androulakis again.
Mr Androulakis, a former MP, said: I cannot understand all the fuss. We are not a
theocratic regime, we are a European country. (so...)
Land of the Not So
Two weeks ago the US Supreme Court upheld a ban on public nudity in
Erie, Pennsylvania. The law was written to ban all types of nudity outside of the home
from streaking downtown to topless dancing bars. The law had perviously been struck down
by a lower court presumably for being anti-constitutional.
Of course this judgement is like a red rag to a bull for the nutters of America as
reported in a local paper from Columbus Ohio. An aptly named councillor, Mike Mentel, is
looking to ban nudity in his town (as long as it would pass constitutional muster):
give that serious consideration. I will explore that to see what we can do. Its certainly
a concern of mine with Columbus that we have all these adult entertainment establishments
in a community that really is family oriented. There may be places for these
establishments but I don't know that they're in the communities and the back yards of our
(It sounds like the plot development to some awful moralistic blame
movie from the fifties)
couple of stories from Hong Kong:
Poster for lesbian film banned
Government censors have banned a poster for a lesbian-themed film which shows a woman's
bare back. The poster is a realistic spray painting of two women embracing each other,
showing one woman's naked back to just above her buttocks. Classified as Category III -
suitable for viewing by those 18 and over - the film needed the approval of the Film
Censorship Authority for its advertising material.
A spokesman for the Television and Entertainment Licensing Authority said the poster
for the Canadian film Better than Chocolate failed to fulfil the
advertising guidelines of the Film Censorship Ordinance. The spokesman said:
advertising material should not contain materials which are offensive to public morality,
decency and ordinary good taste.
Hint of controls on porn in press
The Hong Kong Chief Executive,Tung Chee-hwa, has hinted at tighter controls on
pornography in newspapers and magazines. He said the community and the Government were
concerned about articles which profaned the morals of young people. The Government
attaches much importance to the control of pornographic publications and is determined to
tackle the public concern.
The statement came amid reports that a set of stringent measures would be proposed to
curb the distribution of pornographic publications. The proposals include requiring the
obscene contents of newspapers be sold separately or in wrappers. Mr Tung said:
younger generation represents Hong Kong's future. We have the responsibility to create a
healthy environment for their development. This is not solely the responsibility of the
press. We need the joint efforts of
parents, teachers and the entire community.
Poland recently passed a bill banning porn (see Poland Joins UK Back in the Middle Ages)
but their President has recently pulled them back from the brink.
Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski has vetoed the Penal Code amendment passed by
the Polish parliament that would have banned production and distribution of all
The Criminal Code bill approved by the Polish Sejm on March 3, 2000 would have
criminalized the production and distribution of so-called soft-core pornography by up to
two years' imprisonment, and up to five years for production and distribution of hard-core
President Kwasniewski, in his veto justification, said that current regulations that
apply to pornography are sufficient to protect minors and individuals who do not wish to
be exposed to pornography. He also said the proposed pornography prohibition will not be
enforceable. The president's Secretary of State, Barbara Labuda, said the ban would mean
the return to censorship and would harm civil liberties.
The Sejm may over-ride the veto by a three-fifths majority (a quorom of 50% must be
present). Analysts say this seems very unlikely, since the bill was passed with only a
Romantic, Confused & Updated
Breillat's film Romance has found itself banned in Australia. This arty
film contains a few hardcore images that caused some confusion at their censors. It was
judged too pornographic for the mainstream R certificate (Restricted to over 18s) but did
not qualify for an X certificate (for hardcore porn) on the grounds that the sexual
activity is not fully consensual.
For the record, the UK censor passed the film uncut for the cinema with an 18
certificate but decided to cut it for video.
The film has been classified R uncut. The ban lasted about a
week. The Classification Review Board took only a few hours to decide that the sex scenes,
although explicit in parts, were justified in context and the film merited an R
classification. It's now playing nationally.
Australian classifications are valid for both cinema and video,
so the Australian video release will be uncut.
Joins UK Back in the Middle Ages
A bill banning pornography has been passed
by the Polish senate sparking accusations that the Catholic country was returning to the
Deputies from the ruling party Solidarity pushed through the bill, which won by the
narrowest of margins, as part of a penal code bill still to be ratified by the lower house
of parliament and the president. Under the bill, the distribution of any pornographic
material carries a maximum two-year term.
The actions of fundamentalist AWS deputies are moving us back toward the Middle
Ages, Ryszard Jarzembowski, senator from the ex-communist opposition SLD party, said.
He added: Solidarity is pushing us towards regulations...encountered today only in
fundamentalist Islamic states. (And the UK!)
Another senator said the bill marked a return to the values of the pre-World War Two
period when judges decided what constituted pornography.
(As opposed to
the even worse situation in the UK where magistrates and individual customs officers make
Since the collapse of communism in 1989, Poland's sex industry has thrived, with
countless sex shops, peep shows and escort agencies.
Pornographic books and magazines are widely available at news kiosks, petrol stations and
other retail outlets across the county.
However, the Senate dominated by the religious right-wing ruling Solidarity party - did
not go as far as some feared, not raising the age of legal sexual consent to 18 from 15,
as had been originally proposed.
From the informative newsgroup rec.arts.movies.erotica (RAME)
A debate on the subject or porn has arisen in Scandanavia. A recent cable TV
documentary was reshown to the swedish parliament and caused 'shock waves' among
the politicians. The minister of culture said that the fact that such a disgusting mix of
sex and violence could easily be watched by children, called for a change of laws. Parts
of the documentery was also shown on television in Norway, and the issue made the first
page of two major tabloid newpapers. A celebrity lawyer and antiporn-activist is now
planning a screening for the norwegian parliament in March, in order to prevent a planned
liberalisation of the porn laws. Norway is the only anti-hardcore country in W. Europe
outside of UK/Ireland)
The documentory, made by Alexa Wolf, bears all the well-known marks of feminist
anti-porn propaganda: Particulary 'nasty' scenes from ultra hardcore movies
(being in no way representative of ordinary cable porn) are removed from their context,
given the worst possible interpretation, and presented as The Terrible Truth of
Pornography. The most controversial scene is from Gregory Dark's Shocking Truth 2,
and shows Mila Shegal being fucked rather roughly by four men. At one point she seems to
have problems standing on her own two feet, and her eyes doesn't look too clear as
she talks to the camera with cum all over her face. Based on these scenes the activist,
politicians and the media has jumped to the conclusion: The girl is being raped!
She's on drugs! This is how women are being degraded and abused in pornography! This
how young men (in front of the TV) are being instructed how to rape girls! This is the
same cynicism that lies behind the making of child pornography! And so on.