French Say "Non!" to Violence, Weed

By ~lostgurl~ · Dec 28, 2006 · ·
  1. ~lostgurl~
    French Say 'Non!' To Violence, Weed

    View attachment 1603
    28 December 2006
    Rebecca Leffler

    Marijuana, jail-based violence and torture all have recently been given the big "Non!" in France by film and television supervisory bodies.

    The moves - including the Culture Minister's decision to ban people younger than 18 from seeing the US horror hit Saw III - have put media censorship at the forefront of public debate here.

    The 18 rating for Saw III last applied to Michael Winterbottom's British import 9 Songs in 2005, is used only in exceptional cases judged to be too extreme for the more ubiquitous 16 rating.

    The movie's French distributor, Metropolitan, said it feared the move might be the precursor to similar decisions in the future. "This is the first time that a measure of such gravity has been taken against a genre film. We hope that this decision will not strongly limit the possibility of distributing genre films in France whether they are foreign or French," the company said.

    On top of the Saw III decision, the Conseil Superieur de l'Audiovisuel (CSA), an independent administrative authority created in 1989 to guarantee broadcasting freedom in France, publicly disagreed with broadcasters' ratings for two American TV programs, Fox's Prison Break and Showtime's Weeds.

    Whereas films are classified by the government, Gallic broadcasters have the freedom to label their own programs and overstep the opinion of the CSA if they so choose. The CSA last month wrote to terrestrial channel M6, asking that it change its 10 rating for Prison Break to a 12 rating, a shift that would relegate the show to a slot after 10 pm.

    M6 screened the final episode of the season in its usual primetime slot despite the opinion of the CSA, and stands by its decision. "Our argument is that the show is broadcast in primetime everywhere. It's a series that communicates a positive message, namely fighting against the death penalty, and doesn't feature any gratuitous violence," a spokesperson for M6 said.

    The CSA also asked Canal Plus to change its 10 rating for Weeds to a 12 rating because "this classification does not correspond to a program that treats as commonplace the consumption of cannabis."

    On the question of film censorship, the commission for film classification president Sylvie Hubac said, "Maybe it's the content that is becoming more violent rather than France becoming more strict."

    All films intended for theatrical release in France have to be granted a visa by the Ministry of Culture, upon the recommendation of commission for film classification.

    Certainly, Saw III, released November 22 in France, is the first film to be banned there for those younger than 18 under a ruling not justified by explicit sexual scenes.

    Additionally, it has been given a higher rating than the 16 rating previously given to the first two installments in the trilogy. Culture Minister Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres cited "the violence and incessant and unbearable sadism of scenes explicitly linked to physical and moral torture" to justify his decision, made upon recommendation by the Commission for Film Classification.

    Hubac added that Saw III was barred because of a "pleasure in persecution and violent torture that just went too far."

    Saw III opened in France 48% stronger than Saw II and about three times stronger than the original Saw said Stephanie Denton, president of the film's distributor, Lionsgate International.

    Although the censorship debate centers on just three specific projects to date, the industry at large is looking closely at how some upcoming decisions, including ratings for Hostel 2 and The Hills Have Eyes 2 will come down.

    "We're not here to start any movements, we're here to view film after film. We don't have an agenda, we'll look at each film individually, then we'll see," Hubac added.,,12254-6747711,00.html
    ©2006 Xtra Limited

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  1. Nature Boy
    It seems as though the French authorities are a little bit out of touch with the younger generation. No surprise there. Still though, chances are all this controversy surrounding these movies and shows will only make them more popular in the long run - particularly Weeds. Prison Break would hope to draw large TV audiences, a lesser-known show like Weeds may well reap the rewards of cult DVD sales as a result of this taboo placed on it.
  2. Alfa
    Movies like SAW often get a 12 year old rating here in Holland. I know I would probably have had a bad night at that age after watching movies like SAW.

    But what I find strange is that the article describes a rating as if it's a ban. As I understand it, it's advise. No one controlls who sits behind the TV anyway. And the rating does affect at what time it is being broadcasted.

    I think the effect of TV and movies on society is greatly underestimated. Simply put: TV brings violence normalisation and I can't blame governments for attempts to temper that.
  3. Benga
    the over 18 rating in a cinema implies carding of young looking viewers, and is in the way a form of ban. Some theaters might also refuse to show an 18 film if their film selection is family related, but since this is just a pop horror flick I doubt this would be the case.
    as for tv broadcasts, the law is quite strict for over 18movies, I actually doubt that they're allowed on terrestrial channels. Then again ARTE did broadcast Oshima's "In the realm of the senses / ai no corrida" at 23h a few years back, which is really teasing the limits of erotism and pornography, as you have non simulated explicit sex scenes...beautiful movie though...
    Kubrick's "a clockwork orange" initially got a 18 classification, and was then downgraded to over 16, but was not broadcasted on terrestrial channels.
    the only channel which might broadcast this film would be canal +, but it's a paying channel, so the rating issues do not apply. They also broadcast a pornographic movie a month.

    as for the over 12 rather than over 10 rating of "weeds", which i haven't seen, it seems rather reasonable, if you support the idea/logic of such advisory ratings, that is...

    peer to peer is really changing availabilty of contents anyway, and it's true that having access to porn or violence is really much easier than when I was 12 or so these days. I just wouldn't really jump to conclusions on a decadence of society based on content availabilty either...
    I think it actually is pretty much in synch with the way western society has developped today.
    as for the french right wing cultural reactions, well they're pretty much just that, reactionary, which I would have less of a hard time with if french society was not so hypocritical.
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