16 July 2006

On film censorship in Singapore

There's an interesting thread going on in Singabloodypore, sparked off by my fellow contributor Clyde posting a clip from Youtube, of Royston Tan's Cut, a diatribe and musical condemning the Film Censorship Board's historic and boundless butchering of films.

You'll have to understand it was made in 2004, shortly after the Film Censorship Board made an incredible 37 cuts to his arthouse homoerotic gangster film 15. You'll have to understand that in Q4 2005, the Media Development Authority of Singapore (MDA) announced a broad restructuring of the censorship system, such that
Distributors indicate preferred ratings upon submission. The Board of Film Censors (BFC) assesses if the film is suitable for the requested rating. If not, the BFC will suggest an alternative rating. Distributors may either accept the BFC's recommendation or edit the film to meet the guidelines for their preferred rating.
Anonymous posters in SBP charge that this is a purely cosmetic change, that "though MDA censorship board no longer cuts films, they can tell "distributors to edit the film" till MDA approves - which is just as good as cutting films.

You'll have to understand that the changes made to the Film Classification Board puts Singapore's film censorship procedures in line with that of the US MPAA film classification process.

You'll also have to understand that the claims made by various anonymouses about the cosmetic changes to Singapore's film censorship system can be easily verified or disproved. Surely any of you can click on this link to the Film Classification Database with me, and look at the films of 2006.

1. Controversial films with sexual content

Basic Instinct 2. R21. Passed with cuts. Of course, audiences need to be protected from sex scenes starring a 47 year old Sharon Stone.
Brokeback Mountain. R21. Passed Clean.
C.R.A.Z.Y. M18. Passed Clean.
Combien tu M'aimes (How much do you love me?). R21. Passed Clean.
Capote. NC16. Passed Clean.
Ask the Dust. R21. Passed Clean. Salma Hayek's rocks rock!
4:30. NC16. Passed Clean. Disturbing images of a 13 year old snipping of sleeping adult's pubic hair didn't get the chief censor incensed. Royston Tan complaineth too much.
Zombie Dogs. R21. Passed Clean.
Kinky Boots. PG. Passed Clean. Sympathetic account of drag queens.
The Hours. M18 DVD. Passed Clean. Lesbian kiss survives.
Chicago. M18 DVD/VCD. Passed Clean.

2. Simply controversial films believed to be blasphemous by fundie Christians
The Da Vinci Code. NC16. Passed Clean. Take that, NCCS!

3. Horror films. Presumbly the biggest beef in "Cut" was the rampant censoring out of all gore in horror films. In 2006, has anything changed?

The Devil's Rejects. M18. Passed Clean.
Boo. NC 16. Passed Clean.
House of the Dead. R21. Passed Clean.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003 remake). RA. Passed CLEAN on second submission even though distributor didn't do any censorship or cutting on their own.
Frostbiten. NC16. Passed Clean.
Saw II. Distributor submitted one uncut version for M18 and one self-edited version for NC16. Both PASSED Clean without tampering from the censors.
Mortuary. NC 16. Passed Clean

All gore in horror films are intact in 2006.

Verdict: Anonymouses should just do some research before shooting off your mouths and indulging in masturbatory spiels, conspiracy theories, and rants on how the film censorship board is oppressing you.

Verdict: Since the liberalisation of film censorship and the reformation of the Film Censorship Board into a proper Film Classification Board, much less censorship has been exercised, with horror/controversial/sex-themed movies moving into NC16, M18 and R21 categories, where they tend to be overwhelming Passed Clean, i.e. passed without cuts.

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