Censorship News & Updates

Postal 4: No Regerts (2023) – IARC ban

March 24, 2023

Postal 4: No Regerts (2023)

An RC decision has just appeared in the National Classification Database for POSTAL 4: NO REGERTS. It was triggered by the March 21 release on PlayStation 4/5 and banned under the automated International Age Rating Coalition system.

The original POSTAL (1997) was one of the earliest games Refused Classification in Australia. The sequel, POSTAL 2: SHARE THE PAIN (2003) suffered a similar fate. It was passed in 2013, along with POSTAL 3 (2011), following the introduction of an R18+ rating for games.

The original and sequel were reviewed by members of the Classification Board. In comparison, POSTAL 4: NO REGERTS (2023) has been banned under an automated system where the distributor completes an online application and receives a rating based on their description of the content.

The distributor, Running With Scissors, discuss the censorship on the latest edition of their I Regret Nothing Podcast. They mention that they will look into the Australian refusal and possibly try and deal with the Classification Board directly rather going through the IARC system.

The full list of all 1722 banned games and apps can be found in the Game IARC Censorship Timeline.

Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996) – Censored Disney

March 23, 2023

The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)

Back on the site is the Disney’s THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME.

Roadshow released a censored G-rated version after failing in their appeal to the Classification Review Board.

The nearly two-minutes of cuts were carried over to the VHS release. Most of the censorship was made to the song Hellfire.

It would take five-years before an uncut version was released in Australia.

Classification fees for physical media

March 19, 2023

Red Sun (1956)

David Flint’s The Reprobate recently published an article concerning the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC). Some of this is equally relevant to the Australian Classification Board.

He asks why ‘…if streaming services can self-certify based on BBFC guidelines, why can’t the distributors of physical media?’. He goes on to question why the BBFC ‘..allow huge, wealthy corporations to self-certify’ while ‘…still charging much smaller distributors through the nose’ and concludes it is ‘ indie physical distributors who are paying the price while global giants get to do as they please’.

Australia is already ahead of the UK in allowing the use of self-assessment. A trial of the Netflix Classification Tool began in December 2016 and approved for use in December 2018. It was joined by the Spherex Classification Tool in November 2022. The only problem seems to be that the outcome can be more conservative than the Classification Board which results in higher ratings and lengthy consumer advice.

The Australian Classification Board charges for physical media based on the length of the film rounded up to the nearest minute. This starts at $550 for 0 to 60-minutes and goes up to $8090 for 1901 to 2000-minutes.

Umbrella Entertainment is an Australian independent with a line of vintage westerns that they release under their ‘Six Shooter Classics’ DVD line. All are submitted for a rating and a fee paid.

An example is RED SUNDOWN (1956) which received a PG (Mild violence) in August 2022. Going by the Classification Board’s fee list, this 81-minute film would have cost them, after paying distribution rights, $730 (for 61-120 minutes).

Umbrella must pay a classification tax, in an ever-shrinking physical media market, on a title that sells for $19.95. This is while two American companies, Netflix and Spherex, are allowed to self-classify. So why are Australian distributors of physical media not allowed to do the same?

The Reprobate is highly recommended for its wide-ranging articles, many of which are censorship related.

Smallfoot (2018) – Audio cut

March 10, 2023

Smallfoot (2018)

Now back on the site is SMALLFOOT (2018) which was censored for a G-rated theatrical release.

The Blu-ray and DVD reinstated the ‘bad language’.

Stygian: Reign of the Old Ones- Banned

March 9, 2023

Stygian: Reign of the Old Ones (2019) - Fulqrum Publishing Ltd.

There are already 45 Refused Classification IARC entries for 2023. Ten of these come from one publisher, Powerups LLC, who obviously did not understand how to complete the application. Most of the rest are gambling related.

Just added on Monday is STYGIAN: REIGN OF THE OLD ONES. This supernatural horror roleplaying game takes place in the world of HP Lovecraft. Released in 2019, the IARC entry describes it as ‘Modified’, so presumably, it already held a rating before being bumped to RC.

In February, LIFE IS STRANGE 2 appeared briefly on the list but was soon removed and rated R18+ (High impact drug use, Online interactivity). Around the same time, the April 2022 RC rating of HOBO: TOUGH LIFE was dropped to R18+ (Interactive drug use).

All 1727 RC titles are in our Game IARC Censorship Timeline.

Ellie & Abbie (& Ellie’s Dead Aunt) (2020) – Audio cut

March 3, 2023

Ellie & Abbie (& Ellie’s Dead Aunt) (2020) - Poster

ELLIE & ABBIE (& ELLIE’S DEAD AUNT) suffered a single audio cut to reduce the rating from MA15+ to M.

The Australian DVD and current Netflix streaming are the same censored version. It is unclear if the unedited audio is available outside Australia.

Penguin Bloom (2020) – The cuts

February 24, 2023

Penguin Bloom (2020) - DVD

The theatrical release of PENGUIN BLOOM (2020) was modified to remove shots of a pool of blood. This was to ensure a more commercially friendly PG-rating.

The same censored version was carried over to Australian DVD, Blu-ray and Netflix. The uncut version is reportedly available on Netflix outside Australia.

Freeway (1996) – Cut footage

February 17, 2023

Freeway (1996) - Poster

Following problems with the Office of Film and Literature Classification, only the censored MPAA R-rated cut of FREEWAY (1996) was released in Australia.

This uncut version remained unseen until late last year when Vinegar Syndrome restored it on disc in the US. The database entry is now updated to document what caused FREEWAY to be banned and censored in Australia

Island of Terror (1966) – Cuts list

February 3, 2023

Island of Terror (1966) - Blu-ray

The entry for Terence Fisher’s ISLAND OF TERROR (1966) is updated.

In this case, the distributor skipped an SOA (Suitable only for Adults) and censored all the violence for a more child-friendly A-rating. Luckily, K&C Video preserved the cut version on tape, enabling us to document the trims.

Please e-mail us if you can confirm if the RCA/Columbia Pictures/Hoyts Video VHS is uncut.

IARC Decisions – 2022 Review

January 15, 2023

HASAMI-SHOGI by Kotake Studio LLC

78 titles still hold Refused Classification ratings under the automated International Age Rating Coalition (IARC) system. This is an increase over the previous two years but below the 101 of 2019.

A further 27 RC decisions were removed from the National Classification Database. Some, such as ASSASSIN’S CREED SYNDICATE, received lower ratings. Others, such as PUZZLE FOR BATTLEFIELD HARDLINE, just disappeared.

A lower rating does not always mean the removal of a refusal. In the case of PEAKY BLINDERS: THE KING’S RANSOM – DEMO – MAZE THEORY, it currently shows the original RC and an M-rating.

Others, STAR MEMORY ~BRAIN TRAINING~, went from G-rated in 2015 to PG in 2018 and RC in 2022.

Once an RC rating is registered, it triggers its removal from Australian app stores such as Google Play. This results in a ‘We’re sorry, the requested URL was not found on this server’.

Via a browser, try accessing HASAMI-SHOGI by Kotake Studio LLC in Australia vs. overseas to see the difference. View this YouTube clip and work out why it is banned in Australia. Yes, it is a Japanese chess game blocked because the IARC system does not work.

In the reporting year 1 July 2021 to 30 June 2022, the Classification Board checked 4563 of the 275159 automated IARC decisions or 1.7%. Of those, 3450, or 75.6 % were revoked. This means the rating was either too low or too high. In the case of IARC, it is usually the latter.

A 75.6% failure rate proves the system is not working. An incorrect rating should not matter, as a game will remain in the Australian app stores. However, in the case of RC decisions, they disappear entirely.

The most notorious case was the 2018 refusal of the ORBIT RESCUE child safety app. This space-themed online game, launched by the Daniel Morcombe Foundation, provided strategies to avoid sexual abuse. Although eventually dropped to PG, it remained unavailable in the Google Play store because of the RC.

The Classification Board should therefore be checking 100% of RC decisions.

The full list of 1688 banned apps can be found in our IARC Censorship Timeline.

How NOT to Summon a Demon Lord (2021) – Banned

January 8, 2023

How Not To Summon A Demon Lord (2021) - Season 2

One week into 2023 and we already have our first Refused Classification. The honour goes to Season 2 of HOW NOT TO SUMMON A DEMON LORD (2021).

January 26, 2023 – Update

The decision report reveals one image was responsible for the refusal. See the entry for more details.

The Cannabis Encyclopedia (2015) – Seized

January 6, 2023

The Cannabis Encyclopedia: The Definitive Guide to Cultivation & Consumption of Medical Marijuana (2015) by Jorge Cervantes

One book we missed from last year was Jorge Cervantes’ THE CANNABIS ENCYCLOPEDIA (2015) which was seized around April.

Unlike EDIBLES (2019) and PSYCHEDELIC CANNABIS (2019), it was not submitted to the Classification Board.

Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile (2022) – Censored

December 28, 2022

Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile (2022) - Poster

The G-rated LYLE, LYLE, CROCODILE that opened on Boxing Day is the censored version. Modifications have been made to ‘themes’ and ‘violence’.

It appears the forthcoming Blu-ray and DVD releases will be PG-rated and uncut.

January 27, 2023 – Update

We now have the differences between the PG and G reports. This should make it easier to identify the cuts.

Please get in touch if anyone views the G-rated version before it disappears from cinemas.

Peaceful Pill Handbook – Seized

December 24, 2022

The Peaceful Pill Handbook - Australian Edition (2006)

More confiscations of THE PEACEFUL PILL HANDBOOK have been reported by Philip Nitschke.

It originally received a Category 1 rating from the Classification Board in December 2006. The following month, Attorney-General Philip Ruddock applied to have it re-examined by the Review Board. That seven-member panel unanimously agreed it should be Refused Classification.

Since then, it has been seized numerous times at the border. The full sixteen-year censorship history can be found in our Publications Database

Ladies in Black (2018) – FOI

December 22, 2022

Ladies in Black (2018)

Eleven documents related to the classification of Bruce Beresford’s LADIES IN BLACK (2018) are available as part of a Freedom of Information (FOI) request.

The film was viewed by three-panel members on 11 July 2018. Their classification matrix decisions agreed there were no drug use or nudity and G-rated themes, violence and sex. The language was judged higher, because of ‘pissed’, and was the reason for the PG (Mild coarse language) rating.

A complaint was made about it containing nudity, so on 25 June 2019 the Director of the Classification Board asked for it to be ‘purchased ASAP’ and reviewed. The following day the classification matrix was amended to increase the nudity from none to G-rated. The overall classification remained PG (Mild coarse language). The complainant was unhappy, as they wanted nudity added to the consumer advice and not just a tweak to the online matrix.

The FOI request, made via Right to Know, is available on their site

Spherex Rating Tool

December 16, 2022

Spherex Global Ratings Tool

The Minister for Communications, Michelle Rowland, approved the Spherex Classification Tool on October 18, with her decision announced on November 7.

The first rating was THE PROBLEM WITH JON STEWART, SEASON 02, EPISODE 206, ELECTION WRAP-UP SPECIAL which was classified M on November 16.

After the IARC and Netflix tools, this is the third to be approved in Australia and will be used to classify online films, series and episodes. As with the other two, the Classification Board will still be able to replace a decision if they believe it is incorrectly rated.

For the period 1 July 2021 to 30 June 2022, there were 275159 IARC decisions. 4653 were checked and, of these, 3,450 revoked. Netflix had 1290 decisions, 43 were checked by the Board and 40 revoked and updated in the National Classification Database. We suspect many of these were rated too high. Both tools can be too conservative and award excessive ratings or consumer advice.

In March, Spherex released a report titled ‘Global TV Snapshot: Culture Age Ratings and Audience Demand’. It compared how AMERICAN HORROR STORY, GREY’S ANATOMY, HOUSE OF CARDS, THE WALKING DEAD and PRISON BREAK were classified in Australia, South Korea, Indonesia, India, Brazil, the UK and the USA. The full report is available for download from Spherex.

As physical media disappears, and with their workload increasingly outsourced to online tools, the Classification Board will eventually be viewing only theatrical and enforcement submissions.

O-LYM-PIC Football Dreams – M to PG

December 16, 2022

O-LYM-PIC Football Dreams (2022)

The Australian documentary O-LYM-PIC FOOTBALL DREAMS (2022) has been modified for a PG rating.

The minor censorship would appear to have obscured swearing in the subtitles. The M-rated version had already bleeped them out.

Let’s Sing 2023 – M to PG

December 11, 2022

Let’s Sing 2023 with Hits from Australia & NZ

The karaoke game LET’S SING 2023 was initially M-rated, before being censored for a PG. It is this version that was released on November 15.

The removal of SOLO by CLEAN BANDIT FT DEMI LOVATO helped reduce the classification.

Psychedelic Cannabis (2019) – Banned

December 4, 2022

Psychedelic Cannabis: Therapeutic Methods and Unique Blends to Treat Trauma and Transform Consciousness (2019) by Daniel McQueen

Daniel McQueen’s book, PSYCHEDELIC CANNABIS (2019), has been banned by the Classification Board. The decision was made back in September, but has only now been added to the National Classification Database.

The reason for refusal is not listed but is presumably the same as EDIBLES (2019). That was also seized at the border and submitted for rating.

Riki Rhino (2020) – M to PG

November 30, 2022

Riki Rhino (2020)

Another recent case of censored animation is the Indonesian feature RIKI RHINO (2020). Jigsaw Entertainment found the M-rating was too high for its target audience and censored it for a PG.

January 29, 2023 – Update

We now have the differences between the M and PG-rated versions. They confirm that the words ‘screwed’ and ‘flucking’ [flocking] were the issue.

Please get in touch if you own this DVD and can confirm how the censorship has been applied.

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