Media regulation holds the power to determine what we see and where we see it. In Australia, television content regulation strictly classifies all films, TV shows, videos, publications and games allowing people to know what to expect before taking part. Their aim is to make sure that these media classifications appropriately reflect community standards, ensuring a specific code of practice. This code is conducted by the Australia Classification Board, a statutory classification and a censorship body established in 1995. They have the ability to refuse any sort of classification if need be, making the specific media illegal for hire, exhibition or importation. Today, there are five ratings that affect how we perceive a movie. They are G-general exhibition, PG- parental guidance, M-mature audiences, MA15+ mature accompanied and R- restricted exhibition. These ratings are based on the amount of sexual scenes, sexual references, mature language, drug use, violence and nudity involved.
While it might not influence you as much when you are of age and have the ability to see every classified film, but growing up I’m sure it’s affected you. When I was fourteen years old I desperately wanted to go to the cinemas to see all the latest MA15+ films but was obviously too young. However, these classifications never stopped me, my friends and I would always buy tickets to an ‘appropriate’ movie and sneak into the one we originally wanted to see. Some cinemas were stricter than others and sometimes we’d get caught out. I was always so mad that we weren’t allowed in by law even though our parents had given us permission. Looking back, whenever I did see the films nothing ever shocked me. I felt as though I had already matured enough to understand everything anyway. We see today’s children maturing at a faster pace than twenty years ago due to the introduction of advanced technologies. If we were to go back twenty years we can see a lot has changed, so why are we still following a classification that has not?
The Australian Classification Board imposes a lot of rules to classify what is acceptable and what is not. Although at times we believe they may not all be appropriately suited, without them there would be no guide and we would struggle with the process of picking a film/ TV show suitable for children. I remember years ago a clear example of the time I first noticed my parents complying with the classification code. My Dad was going away on a business trip to China and asked us if we wanted him to purchase any cheap films or television shows for us. My sister, who was only sixteen at the time, asked him for the first season of True Blood. Not knowing the rating was R my Dad brought it back with him. Before she had a chance to watch it, he found out that it was in fact rated R18+. After all the effort, my Dad decided to watch the very first episode with my sister to see how bad it actually was and if she should be allowed to have it. If you have never watched True Blood, I can tell you it was a very distinct ‘no’ within the first couple of minutes. My sister is the eldest child and after that my parents definitely appreciated the Australian classification system a whole lot more.
The Government may hold the power when it comes to regulating our media and determining the classification of films, TV shows, videos, publications and games. There are both advantages and disadvantages to this. I have experienced being underage and not being allowed to see an MA15+ film, something that definitely can be seen as a disadvantage, but in the future I know when I’m a parent it is going to come in handy.