The Chief Censor's decision to ban the manifesto written by the Christchurch gunman is the latest example of the need for some material to be kept away from the public.
While such moves attracted a lot of comments and criticism, less attention is being given to the most common example of censorship in New Zealand: Film classification.
It is surprising that the New Zealand classification system was last changed 25 years ago, which was a time when the internet was only just gaining popularity, and so what people watched, in the form of movies and television, was much easier to regulate.
The experience of seeing a film in cinemas is unparalleled as a viewing experience and cannot compare with a computer screen. So access to films at cinemas needs to reflect the reality of accessing films online.
As an increasing amount of content is now viewed online, is it time for the law to be updated so that the censor's work can reach this area? I think so, and so does the Chief Censor David Shanks.
I recently interviewed Mr Shanks and asked him for his views about whether a new system of classification was likely. He stated that "The time has come for a real step back and re-look at media regulation as a broad topic - not just film classification, but more broadly about how we regulate media."
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He makes a good point, there needs to be a wider look on how media is classified. But will there be specific approaches for film?
Films are a main area of classification and are also a big influence on children and young adults. Whether it be the younger child watching the magnitude of Marvel films coming out or the angsty teenager that watches Tarantino films, there is no doubt that they are an impactful medium.
A child watching a restricted film in New Zealand is committing an illegal act, which
can result in large fines and imprisonment for many months. As a young cinephile who wants to make films for a living, I find it incredibly difficult to try gain inspiration without breaking the law.
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This raises the question of whether the classification system needs a change. It's extremely limiting to contemporary society. Shanks states that the current system is outdated, and young people are able to stream films online, and make informed decisions for themselves on what they will and will not view.
However, the experience of seeing a film in cinemas is unparalleled as a viewing experience and cannot compare with a computer screen. So access to films at cinemas needs to reflect the reality of accessing films online.
And lastly, will there be a new censoring system for films? The chief censor has told me that there is work being done, but what changes will there be to ensure that films available online will be accessible to young people in cinemas?
In our current legislation, there are RP classifications, which restrict films unless the child is accompanied by a parent or adult guardian. I feel parents should be incorporated into a child's film viewing, which can help kids process a film by going over it with a parent. And with kids growing rapidly in psychological terms, it is better to have a helping hand for films, rather than watching alone.
So should an RP system be incorporated for every restricted film? Should there be a limit on the maximum rating eligible for an RP rating such as an R16?
I think that there should be such rules to ensure films can be enjoyed and appreciated by younger viewers, and that starts with changing the current classification system.
• Stefan Moon is a Year 10 student at Mt Albert Grammar School