Why Our Classification System Is Broken

I don’t think that anyone in their right mind denies the need for a system of classification for media content. Such a system provides a valuable tool for anyone to understand the content of material, as part of the decision process of whether or not that material is for them.

In Australia, we have had a long debate over the last couple of years in regards to our classification system, and the recent addition of the R18+ category for computer games shows that we can make progress.

Over on the internet side of things, the debate has been heated in regards to the so-called “RC” or “Refused Classification” category – which of course is a classification, even though the name suggests it is not.

Our federal communications minister, Stephen Conroy, tells us quite clearly in this press release on his own website that “RC” is about:

“Child sexual abuse imagery, bestiality, sexual violence, detailed instruction in crime, violence or drug use and/or material that advocates the doing of a terrorist act.”

Care to explain this one, Senator?

“A film banned in Britain for its graphic portrayal of sexual violence, forced defecation and mutilation will be screened in Australian cinemas after the censors approved it in a decision that has surprised its distributor.”

“The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence) will screen in Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth after the Classification Board gave the film an R18+ classification without demanding any scenes be removed.”

Clearly some “sexual violence” is less “classification refusable” than other “sexual violence”.

This is getting beyond a joke. RC does not work. If an example like this does not demonstrate the need to get rid of it as part of the classification review currently underway, I don’t know what would.

Fix it.

  • Anonymous

    While I agree that RC is a bad idea Mr Conroy is trying to turn it into another category of “the worst of the worst”.

    RC should be referred to as written in the classification system : a piece of media that cannot be classified.

    That is all it means. It means the reviewers could not decide where to put it. If too many things end up there maybe we need to revise existing categories or create a new one.

    A lot of MA15+ games should be RC by virtue of there not being an R18+ rating, however they have been put in MA15+ because they aren’t considered violent enough to be RC. That is where our classification system is broken, that this under-classification needs to happen because RC effectively means banned.

    • Sure.

      But they’ve identified it as “sexual violence”, and that’s a “trigger point” – (apparently) – for RC.

      I think we’ve just demonstrated two different ways it is broken.

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