Wednesday, November 13, 2002

Scary development

I don't think anyone can view the news from Australia that some CDs are going to be made illegal for under 18 year olds with anything but concern. Ever since Tipper Gore and her befuddled perm-headed cohorts brought in the ridiculous concept of rating records for content, it's been on the cards that someone, somewhere would take the censorship to its logical conclusions and start to make tricky artists illegal. The Australian Record Industry Association (ARIA - anagram of, and analagous to, the RIAA) have introduced new levels of 'bad' record, to go with their existing Level 1 (Moderate Impact - coarse language or themes) and Level 2 (Strong Impact - coarse language or themes). Level 3 and 4 are the new "restricted" levels which covers High Impact themes.

But what does it mean? Aria explains:

Level 2

"This sticker means the album contains more explicit and/or
assaultive language or deals with issues which may offend
some sections of the adult community. This can include
lyrics which combine large quantities of expletives with
detailed descriptions of violence or acts of extreme
aggression. The album is not recommended for those under
the age of eighteen. This recording contains explicit language and is not recommended for persons under the age of eighteen. or disturbing to people under 15 years of age.[sic]

Hope that's clear.

Level 3:
*The MA category is legally restricted. Children under fifteen will not be allowed to purchase MA video or multimedia,

- there's a hanging comma, which means we suppose they might add some more things, like booze and knives to the list later. Why does it feel like they've copied these categories wholesale from a movie website.
The R category is legally restricted to adults. Material which
is given a restricted classification is unsuitable for those under 18 years of age. Material classified R deals with issues or contains depictions which require an adult perspective. The classification is not intended as a comment on the quality of the material. Some material may be offensive to some sections of the adult community. Material which promotes or incites or instructs in matters of
crime and/or violence is not permitted.

That doesn't sound like some sort of catch-all for records that we don't like, does it? Are there any issues which don't benefit from an adult perspective? It doesn't mean that young people can't bring their own understanding to them. And what exactly is this nonesense about instructing in matters of crime? Does this mean Billy Bragg's Greetings To The New Brunette ("trying the handles of parked cars") or that Barron Knights song about nicking lead from the roof of churches is to be put out the way of tiny ears?

But surely the people of Australia have stood up to demand this change? Not quite. A campaign has been led by a "Queensland Christian mother of five" to have all explicit material banned, totally, from Australia. Her name? Robin. Robin what? Nobody knows. Apparently ARIA's policy is to be bullied by a minority interest group who won't even debate the issues in public. Fold up your free speech and put it back in the box on the way out.

Under the old system, Level 2 records included VAST by Vast. We didn't count, but we can't help but notice a large number of Level 2 acts are black.

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