Australian Classification Review Board
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|Jurisdiction||Commonwealth of Australia|
|Parent agency||Attorney-General's Department (current parent agency), OFLC (original parent agency), Australian Classification Board (brother agency)|
The Australian Classification Review Board is a statutory censorship and classification body overseen by the Australian Government. The corporate body is responsible for reviewing classification decisions made by the Australian Classification Board concerning films, video games and publications for exhibition, sale or hire in Australia. Review decisions need to be initiated by an appeal from a previous applicant, most commonly referred to as "aggrieved party", or a Federal or State Attorney-General.
The Classification Review Board is a statutory body established by the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995 (Cth). This Act also provides a basis for the National Classification Code which guides their decision making. As the State and Territory governments retain responsibility for enforcing censorship and could withdraw from, or ignore the national classification scheme if they so wished, any changes to the national classification scheme must be agreed to by all the State and Territory Censorship Ministers (usually Attorneys-General). South Australia is the only state to maintain a separate Classification Council which can override national classification decisions applicable within the state.
The Classification Review Board does not censor material by ordering cuts or changes. However, they are able to effectively censor media by refusing classification and making the media illegal for hire, exhibit and import to Australia.
There have been various films and video games that have appealed the ratings as set by the Australian Classification board. Appeals include:
- Home & Away – due to the violent/sadistic content and graphic bloodshed. It was decreased to M based on the content being similar to the previous installments, which were rated G. The notable scenes were the eye gouging, autopsy scene, hair scalping scene and hammer bashing scenes.
- Prometheus – Originally classified MA15+ for strong sci-fi violence specifically the birth scene, it was later downgraded to an M classification due to said scene being mitigated by a medical context.
- The House of the Dead: Overkill – Extended Cut – Sega successfully appealed its rating for an MA15+ on the basis that the over-the-top violence mitigated the impact.
- We Dare – Federal Attorney-General Brendan O'Connor failed to appeal the game's rating and thus stuck with its PG rating on the basis that the sexual references were only mild in impact.
- Mortal Kombat – Warner Bros. failed its appeal to attain an MA15+ rating due to violence being of a high degree; due to a lack of an R18+ at the time, the game was subsequently refused classification for a second time. Has since been re-rated R18+ uncut after said rating's introduction.
- The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1 Originally received an MA15+ classification due to the strong themes involving an intense birth scene. It was later downgraded to an M rating due to the fantasy nature of the themes.
- The Karate Kid – Lowered its M rating to a PG due to the consensus being that the violence was not detailed and was relatively infrequent within the narrative.
- Salo – Federal Attorney-General Brendan O'Conner tried to appeal its R18+ rating. It was originally banned since 1997 but was recently re-rated by the classification board. The film was again awarded an R18+ rating due to the additional three hours of extras which give context to the film, the same reason as the classification board.
- Alien vs Predator – Appealed its RC rating and won, attaining an MA15+. The reason they deemed it as suitable for 15-year-olds is its science fiction context and how the mutilations were randomly generated and the player had no control over it.
- Charlie Wilson's War – Bob Debus, the Minister for Home Affairs at the time, appealed the M rating of the film as he thought the nudity should have given the film a higher and restricted MA15+. He failed and the film retained the same rating of M, though with the added consumer advice of 'partial nudity'.
- Friday the 13th (2009 remake) – Appealed its R18+ rating but lost due to how the violence frequently dwells on detail.
- Hydrolord the Game (board game) – Bob Debus, the Minister for Home Affairs at the time, tried to appeal the M rating of this board game to cause it to receive a restricted rating of 'Category 1 18+' due to drug references, the board found that the drug references were very discreet thus awarding it the same rating of M.
- Julie & Julia – Appealed its M rating and won in which it was re-rated PG for 'Infrequent coarse language'. It won the appeal as the word "fuck" was used briefly and can easily be missed and is used in context to calm another character down.
- Left 4 Dead 2 – Appealed its RC rating but lost. This was due to the relentlessly graphic and detailed depictions of violence and gore throughout the game and thus could not be accommodated at the MA15+ rating.
- The Loved Ones – Appealed its R18+ and won, it was then re-rated MA15+. This was due to that the most violent scenes generally had a dark comedic overtone to it thus reducing the impact.
- Stone Bros. – Appealed its MA15+ but failed. This was due to how, despite the film showing negative effects on drugs, there are certain scenes explicitly detailing how to actually form them.
- F.E.A.R. 2 – Appealed its RC rating and was awarded with a MA15+. The board found that the violence was expected in its genre and the most violent events occurred without player control.
- Open Season 2 – Appealed its PG rating but failed as the violence was a bit too intense for younger viewers.
- Space Chimps – Successfully appealed its PG rating and won its G rating as the comedic overtone lessened the impact to young children.
- 300 – Won its appeal and its R18+ was downgraded to a MA15+ due to how unrealistic the CGI effects were causing all the violence to be highly stylized.
- 30 Days of Night – Won its appeal and was awarded an MA15+ rating over its previous R18+. The reason was that it took place in a clear fantasy environment and that the vampires bled black blood lessening the impact.
- Notes on a Scandal – Lost its appeal and stayed with its MA15+ rating due to how sensitive the public is to sex with a minor even with the film's implied sex scenes.
- Sleuth (remake) – Successfully appealed its MA15+ rating for an M rating. The board found that the two uses of 'cunt' was, while aggressive, still infrequent.
- Saw IV – Was originally rated R18+ due to the violent/sadistic content and graphic bloodshed. It was decreased to MA15+ based on the content being similar to the previous installments, which were rated MA15+. The notable scenes were the eye gouging, autopsy scene, hair scalping scene and hammer bashing scenes.
- Sea Patrol (season 1) – Lost its appeal and stayed with its M rating due to certain scenes dwelling on detail of blood.
- Marc Ecko's Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure – Federal Attorney-General Phil Ruddock applied to appeal the MA15+ of the rating to force into the RC (banned) territory. He succeeded and banned the game as the board noted that while all the violence, coarse language and drug references may be accommodated within the MA15+ category, the theme proved to be high impact due to the glorification of graffiti.
- Eragon – Lost its appeal of the M rating due to violence being too frequent to fit within the PG classification.
- Stormbreaker – As with Eragon, lost its appeal of the M rating due to the frequency of the violence.
- River Queen – Won its appeal for lowering its MA15+ rating for an M rating. This was due to the historical context of the film mitigating the impact.
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – Lost its appeal due to the dark nature of the film being deemed too impactful to fit into the PG category.
- Big Momma's House 2 – Won its appeal to lower its M rating into a PG rating. This was due to the overall comedic tone lessening the impact of the violence.
All appeals before 2006 were done when the review board was not owned by the Attorney-general's department but instead when it was overlooked by the Office of Film and Literature Classification (OFLC).
- 50 Cent Bulletproof – Lost its appeal to drop its RC banning due to the frequent detailed violence.
- A History of Violence – Won its appeal for a MA15+ rating as while the violence was very detailed and realistic, it was infrequent within the film.
- Mysterious Skin – Attorney-general Phil Ruddock once again tried to get another film banned. He failed due to how the film does not glorify sexual abuse of children.
- Kingdom of Heaven – Won its appeal for an M rating due to the historical context of the film mitigating the impact.
- Wolf Creek – Lost its appeal and stayed as an R18+ due to how realistic and frequent the violence is.
- Wedding Crashers – Was awarded a downgrade to an M rating due to the sexual references being while frequent, only moderate in impact.
- Constantine – Was awarded an M rating, down from its MA15+ due to how the violence was generally undetailed and stylized.
- Guess Who – Lost its appeal and stayed with its M rating due to how frequent the sexual references are.
- 9 Songs – Won its appeal for an R18+, it was originally given an X18+ but due to a technicality in the guidelines of how even fetishes are not allowed in the X18+ category, something which the classification board overlooked, they awarded it an R18+ based upon artistic merit.
- Fantastic Four – Won its appeal for a PG rating due to how highly stylized the violence was.
- Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron – Won its appeal for a G rating due to there being a low sense of threat for children.
- Baise-Moi – The General-attorney succeeded in appealing its R18+ rating. However, The film was subsequently rated Refused Classification (banned) on 10 May 2002 by the classification board due to "very high impact sexual violence throughout" which resulted in the film being banned Australia wide since then.
- Australian Rules – Awarded an M rating due to the drug use, violence, and course language being justified by its context and message, thus the film was only moderate in impact.
- E.T. the Extra Terrestrial: 20th Anniversary Edition – Failed to lower its PG rating due to there being certain scenes that may be distressful for young children.
- Black Hawk Down – Was originally rated R18+ due to its graphic and relentless violence and a detailed scene of war injury/surgery later on it was appealed and it awarded an MA15+ on the basis that the graphic war violence was justified by its strong anti-war message.
- The Monkey's Mask – Lost its appeal to drop the R18+ due to the theme of fetishes not being treated discreetly enough to warrant an MA15+
- Almost Famous – Dropped its MA15+ to an M due to how the drug use was not exploitively used in its depiction and shows its negative sides
- The Color of Paradise – Successfully appealed its M to the PG rating. This was due to that the themes depicted are mitigated by their complicities for young children to understand.
- The Blair Witch Project – Won its appeal to lower its MA15+ to M as while there were instances of aggressive strong language, they were limited to only two scenes and thus infrequent within the narrative
- Eyes Wide Shut – Lost the appeal and stuck with its R18+, as the sex scenes were too realistic rather than implied/discreet to fit into the MA15+ rating
- Fight Club – Lost appeal for the MA15+ rating as it had adult themes of a high degree of intensity that were not discreet
- The General's Daughter – Won its appeal and lowered rating to MA15+ as the theme of rape was not high impact and the rape scene was more suggestive then graphic.
- The Iron Giant – Lost the appeal and stayed a PG due to several scenes being too intense for young children
- Human Traffic – Lost appeal for MA15+ due to its promotion of drugs as an escapism
- Romance – Won its appeal to unban the film and rerated R18+ due to its serious intent and artistic merit despite explicit sex
- Tarzan – Lost appeal to lower PG rating due to several menacing themes that could not be accommodated at the G rating
- Madness – Lost its appeal to lowers its RC rating due to explicit sexual violence
- Analyze This – Lost its appeal to lower its MA15+ as it contained constant coarse language that were too aggressive to be in fit into the M rating. It was later re-rated M in 2003, and again in 2006.
- Saving Private Ryan – Won appeal to be rated MA15+ as despite having intense, prolonged graphic scenes of violence, they were non-gratuitous, infrequent and contained a strong anti-war message
- Passion – Appeal failed as the pervasive theme of sado-masochistic behaviour could not fit into the MA15+ category
- Hurrah – Won the MA15+ rating as the noted sex scene was while somewhat graphic, was shown in a series of shots mitigating its impact
- Anastasia – Appeal for a G rating failed due to the various scenes that were found to upset small children
- Men in Black – Appeal failed as the violence was too frequent to be accommodated within the PG rating
- Fairytale: A True Story – Won its appeal for a G rating as the themes were discreetly used to avoid distressing younger children
- The Devil's Advocate – Lost its appeal for a MA15+ as the board noted that the sex and violence were gratuitously detailed and/or prolonged. In 2012 the film was re-rated MA15+ on Blu-ray.
- Primary Colors – Won its appeal to lower its MA15+ to an M rating as the frequent use of "fuck" was not gratuitous and contextually justified
- Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom – The Attorney general at the time appealed to ban the film (originally R18+) and was successful, the board noted the film depicted sexual violence as highly cruel and portrayed the characters in a demeaning manner. (It was rerated R18+ again in 2010)
The current permanent members of the Classification Review Board:
- Victoria Rubensohn (Convenor)
- Hon Trevor Griffin (Deputy Convenor)
- Ann Stark
- Helena Blundell
- Alan Wu
- Melissa de Zwart
- Advertising Standards Bureau (Australia)
- Australian Classification Board – A statutory censorship and classification body for Australia
- Banned films – includes an extensive list of films banned in Australia
- Banned video games
- Censorship in Australia
- Internet censorship in Australia
- List of pornography laws by region – Australian hardcore pornography laws
- Video game controversy – includes the history of games censorship in Australia
- Classification Review Board Members