The chief censor hunts for the big five: Sex, horror, crime, cruelty and violenceStuff co.nz 14 August 2016Family First Comment: “Society is becoming more permissive, but parents are becoming more concerned, and rightly so.” – Family FirstChief Censor Andrew Jack says protecting freedom of expression is often the starting point for debates potentially affecting issues like these. When his office had its origins a century ago, the same year a law emerged to regulate the new-fangled “cinematograph”, more topics were contentious.Today, fewer things are candidates for censorship, but a complex media landscape and interplay between lobby groups, prosecuting agencies, and Dr Jack’s independent agency keeps his office busy, sometimes making it the centre of controversy itself.Jack’s Office of Film & Literature Classification has an obligation to protect the public good – the same term used in law a century ago. Irreconcilable arguments on what damages the public good, and on who should be allowed to view or read exploitative or sadistic content, fall on this office.A century ago, with the new Cinematograph-film Censorship Act, officials grappled with the surging popularity of motion pictures, and the controversial storylines some presented. Among the first flicks deemed “objectionable” was 1921’s Certain Rich Man, dealing with drunkenness, young love and business ethics. Eternal Three, featuring an old doctor who took a trophy wife who herself then had an affair, also earned opprobrium in the censorship law’s first decade.After tweaks to the law in recent decades, the independent Crown entity covers films, books and computer games. One thing hasn’t changed. Most people still agree definitions of the “public good” will always be subjective.From his Wellington office, Jack says social attitudes to controversial issues have moved since he took over in March 2011, but the pace is slow.What’s important is ensuring the censorship office keeps in touch with the community, maintains relevance, an ability to reflect social values, not impose them from above. Key to that is frequently escaping the “Wellington ivory tower” and ensuring staff have a life outside work, so Dr Jack says he spends much time talking to community groups.The office’s workload gives you another indication why having a life outside work is encouraged.Jack says “sex, horror, crime, cruelty and violence” are themes his team of around 25 must tussle with most often. And he reckons 40 per cent of his staff’s work relates to studying content police, customs or Internal Affairs supply during investigations or prosecutions. Of that, perhaps two-thirds is child abuse imagery, trafficked online.It can be distressing, disturbing work, and having to review it is the worst part of the job. But one reward is knowing the office can help prosecute predators and traffickers of exploitative content.And while some groups feel society is in a perpetual freefall of increasing permissiveness, Jack says Kiwis are less tolerant of some things than they were five years ago.Surprisingly, he feels society is increasingly intolerant of offensive language. And teenagers are probably more conservative than might be imagined. Depictions of self-harm, sexual violence and animal cruelty are especially out of favour with teens right now, he says.“Young people are often more discerning than they’re given credit for.”The biggest recent controversy erupted when Into the River was slapped with an R-14 rating last September. Conservative lobby group Family First slugged it out with author Ted Dawe. Foreign media, even Hollywood, weighed in too.President of the Film and Literature Board of Review Don Mathieson, QC, a conservative Christian, issued the interim order, overturning deputy chief censor Nic McCully’s decision to not restrict the book. The issue see-sawed until that R-14 restriction was lifted six weeks later. Mathieson stood down soon after.Bob McCoskrie, Family First’s national director, defends the stance he took, and feels the media garbled the issue by presenting the R14 classification as a ban. “We felt that the book was inappropriate for young children the way it dealt with the sexual content and the language.“You can’t be silent and just see things get worse..We’ll always put a line in the sand.”He uses a story of families in the video store – a declining, dying business model – to provide an analogy around crumbling, decaying morals and the utility of age-based restrictions.“If Little Johnny brings you an R18, we immediately say ‘That’s R18, we’re not even even going to read what that movie’s about’.”He said the R14 rating for Into the River had a similar goal in mind.“At the end of the day, it comes down to parental advice, but based on correct information.”He’s sceptical of claims any publicity is good publicity, and thinks the Into the River decision flowed against a current of consciousness many parents share. “Society is becoming more permissive, but parents are becoming more concerned, and rightly so.”He paints a vivid picture of parents in the living room always on edge, quick on the draw with the remote control, ready to mute or change channels when adult-themed ads or promos for salacious TV shows emerge during “family viewing time.”READ MORE: http://www.stuff.co.nz/entertainment/books/82968384/the-chief-censor-hunts-for-the-big-five-sex-horror-crime-cruelty-and-violenceKeep up with family issues in NZ. 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• None of this changes the nature of fan support in SoCal, which remains heavily pro-Lakers. Legacy fans, you might call them. We could call it peculiar to the area, but as Turner Sports’ Stan Van Gundy pointed out, there’s a similar imbalance in New York between the Knicks and the Brooklyn Nets.• SoCal is sometimes strange in its allegiances, to be sure. The proportion of Dodgers fans to Angels fans is primarily geographical because the Angels are an Orange County franchise regardless of what Arte Moreno wants them to be called. The same is true of the Kings-Ducks relationship.• And in football … well, I hate to say it, and I know Chargers executives won’t like it, but didn’t it seem like there were at least as many people rooting for them in Nashville this past Sunday as there were in Carson the previous Sunday?• The process of rebuilding the fan bases of L.A.’s two NFL teams is difficult enough. Explain to me, then, why it makes sense for the schedule-makers to have both teams pretty much out of town for a huge block in the middle of the schedule.• This is, in part, due to the league’s insistence on regular-season international games, and the fact that both the Rams and Chargers have had to donate one home game each year to the effort to sell tickets and merchandise in England and Mexico. Yes, there are many facets to the desire to milk as much revenue out of the international audience as possible (and trust me, the NBA is discovering the complications in its dealings with China) Alexander: Playoff series takes a turn Clippers weren’t expecting The world according to Jim:• If it weren’t for a certain someone who couldn’t manage his relief pitching effectively two Wednesdays ago, we might have been spending the days leading up to Tuesday evening debating if this is a baseball town or a basketball town.• Right now, of course, there is no debate. The World Series opens in Houston, but the center of attention in L.A. is Staples Center and the start of the season-long passion play involving the Lakers and Clippers, who play the first of their four scheduled regular-season meetings.• Is L.A. the basketball capital of the world, or at least of the NBA? You decide. ESPN’s NBA nerve center has been located in its L.A. Live studios for some time. But the networks who cover the NBA will spend an inordinate amount of time with L.A.’s teams – each of the four Lakers-Clippers meetings will air nationally, and combined the teams will account for 76 national games between ESPN, TNT, ABC and NBATV. (For those keeping score, the Lakers are scheduled for 42, the Clippers 38.) Moreover, a number of print and digital media outlets will have a full-time presence in L.A., or close to it. Alexander: Baseball’s ‘unwritten rules’ need to be erased Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error • Zlatan Ibrahimović said it after that game: “I enjoy when I play against them. I enjoy to play in this stadium. … The stadium is too small for me here, but I make the stadium bounce anyway. It looks awful big when I play here.”• Buckle up. LAFC and the Galaxy will be playing downtown Thursday night, win or go home in a Western Conference semifinal. LAFC finished 21 points ahead of the Galaxy in the standings, but the Galaxy is 2-0-3 in the two-year-old series. So there might be a bit of anxiety for the higher seed and its fans.• Ibrahimović has scored eight of the Galaxy’s 13 goals in the five matches, five of them in this year’s two meetings. And he has supplied enough bold talk, including the famous “Ferrari among Fiats” line from earlier this season, to power this derby almost by himself.• If this is indeed the end of the line here for Zlatan, who might be headed back to Europe, we’ll miss him. (LAFC probably won’t, but that’s another story.)firstname.lastname@example.org@Jim_Alexander on Twitter Alexander: Lakers-Blazers is not your typical No. 1 vs. No. 8 series Alexander: Lakers fans, it’s been a long wait • The view here, in the case of the NFL: If the league really had a clue about the uphill battle the Rams, and especially the Chargers, have in igniting civic passion and getting fans back on board, they’d make games here a priority as opposed to London and Mexico City.• Instead, the folks at 345 Park Avenue, the NFL’s corporate offices in Manhattan, figure a new stadium will solve all the problems. Memo to Roger Goodell and his lieutenants: Sometimes it does. Sometimes it doesn’t.• As a result, the Rams have a full month between Coliseum appearances, their next one a Nov. 17 Sunday night game against the Bears. The Chargers are home once in an eight-week span, Nov. 3 against the Packers (and guess who will be supplying the noise that day).• So yes, it’s a basketball town.• But is it maybe a little bit of heresy to say Lakers-Clippers isn’t the best L.A. rivalry this week? Not if you’re an MLS fan.• Remember when LAFC and the Galaxy played in late August, at Banc of California Stadium, and LAFC rallied from a 3-1 deficit to earn a tie? The second-year team was en route to the Supporters Shield as best regular-season team – even then it was evident they were the league’s dominant team – and the Galaxy was still battling for a spot in the postseason.Related Articles Alexander: Coping with the desolation, and silence, of empty seats