....LMB: "I'm with the Banned"....

September 04, 2002

Here's some strange news: Greece has banned video games. If you are found playing video games within the nation's borders, you can face fines from 5000-75,000 euros (1 euro pretty much equals 1 dollar) and 1-12 months in jail. Why? Apparently, it's an attempt to ban electronic gambling. Since the Greek government can't tell the difference between gambling games and non-gambling games, they went and banned all electronic games. An English translation of the law can be found here, and you can sign a petition opposing the law here.

And here's an interesting article about a form of movie censorship here in the US. Maybe you've heard of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA). It's an independent organization, founded and funded by the major motion picture studios. The MPAA is most famous for rating movies' content, giving their opinion of how old you should have to be to see the movie. Nearly every movie released in the US faces the MPAA board, who judge the movie primarily based upon its use of violence, sexual imagery, and naughty language.

The MPAA has amazing control over the movie industry in the United States, because most movie theaters refuse to show movies that have not been given an MPAA rating, and also refuse to show movies that receive the most mature of ratings, NC-17 (no one under 17 years of age admitted).

Meaning that if you are a film director, and you're movie gets an NC-17, you're fucked. Instead of having your movie show on thousands of screens nationwide, you'll be lucky to have it seen on hundreds. The same goes for films aimed at younger audiences. If you made a film for kids or teenages, you'll need to have a rating of 'PG-13' or lower. If your film's ratings are too high, you can re-edit the film, trying to cut out the "objectionable" scenes, and re-submit it to the MPAA. Films sometimes go through this process for months, scooping out the meat until all that's left is a hollow, offense-less shell.

The MPAA has virtual veto power over which films will receive wide release, and which will not. And the board of the MPAA is made up of the chairmen and presidents of the seven largest US movie studios (Disney, Sony, MGM, Paramount, 20th Century Fox, Universal and Warner Bros.). Indie films are reviewed by the CARA, which is essentially the same thing (in fact, the MPAA and CARA share a mailing address).

See where I'm going with this?

The article above argues that the MPAA/CARA discriminates against indie films due to its relationship with the big studios. But even worse, the MPAA seems to discriminate against films that don't hold to a bizarre, quasi-Puritan standard of values. It's okay to show graphic sex and incredible violence, just so long as the film lets you know that these things are bad (except for violence against "bad guys." That's perfectly fine). If you don't want to follow their rules, fine, but you'll get an NC-17 and your film's reach and profits will be cut drastically. Which means that if you want to have a successful film, you probably have to abide by their standards.

But it's not censorship. Heavens no.

Posted by Jake at 01:01 PM
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Lying Media Bastards is both a radio show and website. The show airs Mondays 2-4pm PST on KillRadio.org, and couples excellent music with angry news commentary. And the website, well, you're looking at it.

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Media News

November 16, 2004

Tales of Media Woe

Senate May Ram Copyright Bill- one of the most depressing stories of the day that didn't involve death or bombs. It's the music and movie industries' wet dream. It criminalizes peer-to-peer software makers, allows the government to file civil lawsuits on behalf of these media industries, and eliminates fair use. Fair use is the idea that I can use a snippet of a copyrighted work for educational, political, or satirical purposes, without getting permission from the copyright-holder first.

And most tellingly, the bill legalizes technology that would automatically skip over "obejctionable content" (i.e. sex and violence) in a DVD, but bans devices that would automatically skip over commericals. This is a blatant, blatant, blatant gift to the movie industry. Fuck the movie industry, fuck the music industry, fuck the Senate.

Music industry aims to send in radio cops- the recording industry says that you're not allowed to record songs off the radio, be it real radio or internet radio. And now they're working on preventing you from recording songs off internet radio through a mixture of law and technological repression (although I imagine their techno-fixes will get hacked pretty quickly).

The shocking truth about the FCC: Censorship by the tyranny of the few- blogger Jeff Jarvis discovers that the recent $1.2 million FCC fine against a sex scene in Fox's "Married By America" TV show was not levied because hundreds of people wrote the FCC and complained. It was not because 159 people wrote in and complained (which is the FCC's current rationale). No, thanks to Jarvis' FOIA request, we find that only 23 people (of the show's several million viewers) wrote in and complained. On top of that, he finds that 21 of those letters were just copy-and-paste email jobs that some people attached their names to. Jarvis then spins this a bit by saying that "only 3" people actually wrote letters to the FCC, which is misleading but technically true. So somewhere between 3 and 23 angry people can determine what you can't see on television. Good to know.

Reuters Union Considers Striking Over Layoffs- will a strike by such a major newswire service impact the rest of the world's media?

Pentagon Starts Work On War Internet- the US military is talking about the creation of a global, wireless, satellite-aided computer network for use in battle. I think I saw a movie about this once...

Conservative host returns to the air after week suspension for using racial slur- Houston radio talk show host (and somtime Rush Limbaugh substitute) Mark Belling referred to Mexican-Americans as "wetbacks" on his show. He was suspended for a couple of weeks, and then submitted a written apology for the racial slur to a local newspaper. But he seems to be using the slur and its surrounding controversy to boost his conservative cred with his listeners.

Stay Tuned for Nudes- Cleveland TV news anchor Sharon Reed aired a story about artist Spencer Tunick, who uses large numbers of naked volunteers in his installations and photographs. The news report will be unique in that it will not blur or black-out the usual naughty bits. The story will air late at night, when it's allegedly okay with the FCC if you broadcast "indecent" material. The author of this article doesn't seem to notice that Reed first claims that this report is a publicity stunt, but then claims it's a protest against FCC repression. I'd like to think it's the latter, but I'm not that much of a sucker.

Posted by Jake at 04:02 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
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Mission: Mongolia

Jake's first attempt at homemade Mongolican barbecue:


What went right: correctly guessing several key seasonings- lemon, ginger, soy, garlic, chili.

What went wrong: still missing some ingredients, and possibly had one wrong, rice vinegar. Way too much lemon and chili.

Result: not entirely edible.

Plan for future: try to get people at Great Khan's restaurant to tell me what's in the damn sauce.

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