Tuesday, July 31, 2007

WebQuest Report: Film Censorship Issues

1. What are the governmental ministry and agencies that oversee the policy?

In the past, film censorship in Singapore was largely strict as its population is deeply conservative. It was necessary to prevent any offensive political, racial or religious, violence or sexual themes from being screened to the viewing audience, as this might upset the balance of Singapore's delicate multi-racial society.

Presently, Singapore’s regimental film censorship has been lightened. This enables most of Hollywood’s major films to be released locally after several cuts by the Board of Film Censors.

The importing, making, distributing or exhibiting of films in Singapore is governed by the Films Act of 1981. Films are first presented to the Board of Film Censors (BFC) to review. The BFC classifies the films under different ratings for different groups of audiences (eg. PG, NC16, R21 etc.) before they are released to the public.

Critics of this policy, such as Alex Au, argue that the true intention is to buttress the continued political dominance of the People's Action Party, and to do so partly by promoting the Government's social engineering efforts.

2. Who are the direct parties involved in the transaction? Are there any indirect (external) parties that are involved or affected by the transaction?

The direct parties involved includes the whole population of Singapore which include children, teenagers , adults and the aged. All age groups will thus be affect by the film’s various standards and limits (PG, NC16, M18, R21). External parties would include entertainment companies and outlets which sell forms of video entertainment which will include content from films shown (VCD, DVD, etc). Films banned in Singapore would not be able to be sold in outlets in Singapore and these forms of censorship would be a negative externality to the companies and outlets who sell video cd’s as it would be less income coming in.

3. Are there any other supporters or critics of the policy? Examine their views.

The Censorship Survey 2002 conducted by the Censorship Review Committee on a representative of 1000 respondents has shown that on average, 70% of respondents were satisfied with the current censorship standards. Technological advancements have spawned a new array of media formats and communication platforms, which have in turn challenged the existing censorship policies and guidelines. For example, film bans are becoming more irrelevant in this age of broadband Internet access; this allows users to download films from websites that are hosted overseas. (Internet penetration rate is 59.4%, while 24.2% of our households have broadband access.) This survey indicates the strong public support (65%) for the retention of the age 21 restriction from 70% in Censorship Survey 1992.

The results of the survey has shown that respondents generally supported less censorship for adults (53%) and, in particular, more censorship for the young. A little more than half of the respondents supported the existence of controlled places where disallowed content can be watched or purchased. 71% of the respondents felt that parents and not the government are responsible for what their children see or hear, however, 84% of them would not take any action even if they were unhappy with the film’s content. 67% of respondents thought that censorship for local and foreign mediums should be the same. Nevertheless, critics claim that such findings are limited as they do not consider the wider context of the film and its effect on the viewer.

Censorship itself is insufficient to maintain the moral tone of our society as it also depends on the industry, artists and community and on what the society deem as being acceptable standards for media content. A shared responsibility among various stakeholders is needed for censorship to complement public education for greater media awareness.

4. Do you agree with the Singapore government’s policy in addressing the issue?

I think censorship is useless in the eyes of the many people who watch movies online/downloaded or those who frequent video CD outlets. Even though films in Singapore are given strict ratings, underage audience may still view it through the many avenues mentioned above. Nevertheless, it is also the duty of the government to protect the country’s youths and children from material which might harm them such as extreme gore and violence as well as pornography Many lobby for the banning of films and TV programmes, on the grounds that media images of sex and violence are in part responsible for the decline of moral standards in society. Accounts from psychologists and researchers clearly prove the link between violent acts and exposure to violent images.

However, in order for the censorship to be successful, control over the internet must also be ensured which is almost impossible. Ahh I don’t know what to say. Ok bye-bye. Oh yeah, parents play an important part too … shouldn’t allow their young children to watch movies such as SAW. Less censorship and cuts should be put in place for movies which have adult rating. Since adults are already mature enough to understand the consequences of their actions should they follow acts shown on movies…I should think they know right from wrong and too much censorship is bad.

Credits: Aretha Poh, Adarsh Dinesh, Wong Shi Yi and Woo Yuan Ying

8 comments:

samantha said...

i feel that everyone should get a chance to see what the 'real world' is like. many of the movies reflect real world situations and by censoring many of these scenes, singaporean youths become too guliable and have the wrong impression of the world outside. too protected. and are easily brought a stray when they go overseas. to study or work.

zoe

Joy Ong said...

Are u sure that films banned in Singapore are not able to be sold here?

There are still cases of pirated VCDs......

Anonymous said...

they did not specify how the negative externalities of film ccensorship issues lead tp market failure
-- Xu Lu, 1SC5

Anonymous said...

personally, i think censorship is useful to a certain extent because it indeed prevent some people to watch movies that are not suitable for their age such as pornography and gruesome acts.

however, i am aware that people are taking advantage of internet and the ability to buy pirated dvds and thus leading them to watch those censored movies. but i guess all these cannot be prevented. how is the govt supposed to control internet? and we often hear it in the news that they are trying to discourage the sales of pirated cds. but deep down we all know, how successful it is.
not everything is within govt's control.

carine.

Anonymous said...

yo yo..hmm good job on the research and stuff yeah. However, i still dun see in your write up..whether censorship is a postive or negative externality?..lol. Anyways, i feel that the government is already doing its best regarding this issue. Like this group said, its "useless" and impossible to totally banish these goods as there are "other avenues" But the governing body has done its best to make these material as unaccessible and keep them out of the reach of the public ( airing shows with mature themes after 11 or the rating system as stated.)

r1n9o

Anonymous said...

I think joy should be tied up and slaughtered SAW style for watching pirated vcd's

Anonymous said...

This group did not mention whether film censorship has led to market failure. As mentioned , even though the government is trying its best to curb out undesirable content which could corrupt minds of singaporeans which include areas of pornography and extreme gore/violence , films can still be accessed through ways such as illegal download programmes(limewire ect) and pirated vcds(joy) which would mean that the desired underconsumption of the good by the government is actually overconsumed which would result in market failure.


However on the other hand , i feel that this group has put in the effort and time to come up with relevant information and idea and deserves due praise.


Adarsh.

Anonymous said...

However hard the govt. may try to censor films with excessive sexual content, gore and violence, by deleting certain scenes for example, it is impossible to prevent people from viewing it through other means...youtube, DVDs which have the entire movie without any cuts, etc...let's face it, the more we are prevented from doing or viewing something, the more we are eager to do or view it out of curiosity...well..this is human nature..what to do?
Aloysius