What is an Infamovie?

Quite simply: Infamous + Movie = Infamovie

An Infamovie is any film that has had trouble with the Australian censors, in terms of banning, cutting, or problems with distribution. The infamy is earned if it was/is banned in Australia, or came close to being banned. It is not necessarily a well known movie.

Background

I’m anti-censorship. I don’t believe that at the age of 18, once someone is declared a legally responsible adult that they should still be patronised to by a partial committee as to what they can and can’t view.

I am, however, a firm believer in the ratings system (G, PG, M, MA, and R18+) even if the decisions made by the Office of Film and Literature Classification (OFLC) are sometimes laughable. Clearly, there is some stuff that should just not be seen until certain maturity has been reached – no 6 year old should see Dawn of the Dead for instance.

But I believe that once you’ve reached the age of 18 and have had the barrier (mostly) removed from what you can and can’t see, you should have it removed completely. There are exceptions to this – I strongly support the banning of snuff films and child pornography (the makers of which should be automatically castrated).

Now you can wage all the philosophical debates you can at me (many have done so) in favour of a government body controlling what you can and can’t see. You can try and persuade me that it’s better to have the option of banning films. If this is your viewpoint, I respect your opinion and your right to hold it – but it’s not mine and I’m not changing mine anytime soon.

The way the ratings system works is (essentially) this.

A film is made, and the company that wishes to distribute it in Australia submits it to the OFLC. They then determine what rating it will have, based on the quantity and severity of the content, as well as its tone. So a movie that is constantly violent, but the violence isn’t too graphic, or too serious, or too brutal in the context of the film, might be rated M, whereas a film about fluffy bunnies that has a disturbing, graphic and brutal slaughter scene in the middle might be rated R, despite it only being one scene.

Based on their decisions, the film is given the G, PG, M, MA or R rating. That is, of course, unless the content is a bit too extreme for the censors. If there’s too much sex or too much violence or too much…well anything that the censors can be offended by, the film is ‘Refused Classification’ and anything that doesn’t have a classification isn’t legally allowed to be shown, viewed or sold in Australia.

It’s interesting, as they aren’t technically banning the movies – they’re going about it in a way that does the same thing without the label. But, because very few people are even thatidiotic, we understand it to be banning, and I’ll be referring to the process as such.

Now, Australia being a liberal democracy, there is the chance to appeal these decisions, and that is where the review board comes into play. The distributor gets slapped with an RC (or any rating they’re not happy with, for that matter) and they want a second opinion, the film gets sent to the review board, who now view the film in light of the distributor’s protest, and in light of the Classification board’s decisions. They then assess whether or not the rating is fair, and either support it or re-classify. Often, the review board has lowered an RC to a very high R18+ rating, but if the film gets two RCs, you can pretty much guarantee that won’t change for at least 20 years.

It is of course a bit more complicated than what I’ve set out above, but that is the process in a nutshell.

Some things the censors really don’t like:

  • Sexual Violence
  • Sexual dialogue
  • Sexual deviance
  • Sexual perversion
  • Sexual abberance
  • …sex.
  • Graphic violence
  • Excessive gore
  • Religiously offensive material

This is not to say that when any of these appear in a film, it will be banned, but it’s a lot more likely to be banned if one or more of these things appears in it.

The main problem I have with the OFLC, other than their ability to ban, is that they aren’t consistent with their ratings. One film may be released with a mild rating despite graphic content, another might be released with a restrictive rating despite comparatively inoffensive content, and the OFLC makes no effort to streamline or regulate these ratings.

So hopefully that gives the uninitiated a bit of a run down.

EDIT: At the time I started paying attention to film censorship in Australia,long before I ever wrote a single word about a movie, the department was still officially titled the Office of Film and Literature Classification. It has since been retitled the Australian Classification Board. I am well aware of this, and most of the films I’ve written about had troubles with the OFLC, not the ACB, so that’s stuck. I’m aware of the different names now, but will stick with the OFLC as its the more unique acronym – I don’t need anymore emails about this one.

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