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OpiumHerz avatar 11:04 AM on 08.21.2013
The worst thing about censorship is ███████ - 018 - All the other stuff

The worst thing about censorship is ███████ - 018 - All the other stuff

Salida dear readers,
my name is Jim aka "OpiumHerz" and as some of you may already guess by that nickname: I am german. With the blog series "The worst thing about censorship is ███████ " I want to simply give you a little insight in videogame censorship, which is still pretty much alive and kicking here in Germany (but I won't restrict myself to Germany exclusively).I'll try to post entries at least all two weeks or so. Feel free to comment for suggestions, corrections or critique.

This episode is about: everything besides games

So I've explained how all that indexing and stuff works. But what about the rest? We have other media besides videogames, so how are they treated? Well, this entry is supposed to tell you about them.


Movies

The, by far, biggest part. Movies have their own ratings board, the FSK. On principle there are almost the same rules as for games. Stuff gets rated 0, 6, 12, 16 or 18, can be indexed or banned by a judge. It really is almost the same system at work. The real difference is the cinema section.

You see, movies in the cinema usually get rated a bit "softer". Let's say the newest part of "Mass Blood Gore Rape Trilogy" comes out. It gets rated 18 for the cinema release, but denied a rating afterwards for the home cinema market. Even though it's the same version. The reasoning here is that our age controls in cinemas are quite strict. I remember when The Matrix ran and they literally checked EVERYBODY for the id. No id and maybe underage? Well, fuck off, you bought that ticket for naught. But when the DVD is standing the shelf at home, it's far easier for kids to get their hands on it. Thus the ratings for that are stricter.

Besides that movies have another level of rating videogames don't have, the so called SPIO/JK. The SPIO/JK doesn't really rate movies, it checks if they are what we call "strafrechtlich bedenklich". That means it checks if the movies are violating any german laws, such as the §131 of our youth protection right (§131 is the glorification of violence paragraph and the one most stuff gets indexed on). The SPIO/JK only gets active when a movie is denied the rating. The reason for this: if the SPIO/JK approves a movie, it can't be indexed or banned anymore. So the movie is not rated by the FSK, but it can't be indexed or banned anymore. It's practically a step between those two worlds and something that does not exist for video games in Germany.
There is something like a "low level tier"-SPIO/JK rating, but this would get into legal mumbo jumbo that would most likely not be very interesting.


TV

As for stuff that runs on TV, there is an own little set of rules.
Stuff rated 0 and 6 can be broadcasted the whole day.
Stuff rated 12 can be broadcasted after 8pm.
Stuff rated 16 can be broadcasted after 10pm.
Stuff rated 18 can be broadcasted after 11pm.

It is not allowed to broadcast indexed or banned stuff, although sometimes the TV stations just do it anyway. When a censored version is running on TV and when not is quite the gamble. We have, for example, a heavily censored Predator version, rated 16. Now the movie got re-rated recently - it's rated 16 and completly uncut. But the TV stations still have their old censored master, so they still broadcast it. Those censored versions are often made by the TV stations themselves, so one movie might have multiple censored TV versions, because every station is doing their own stuff.
Whenever something is rated 16 or 18, there is an announcement before the movie with the rating. This isn't in place for too long. I actually remember the time when those announcements were put in place. 

We also have the FSF. TV stations can give their programs to them and they say if it's okay for a certain slot or not. Or they just bitch about it afterwards and the TV station might have to pay a fine. I guess one could say that the FSF is to the FSK what Canada is to the USA, jokingly speaking.


Books

Books don't get rated at all. You can publish ANYTHING in written form here. But books can get indexed and blacklisted afterwards. The process for this is the same as for games: someone has to file an application for that, the book gets checked afterwards. Comics are treated the same way.
It has become a trend for mangas to be sealed and the publishers slap a sticker on it "Recommended for age 16+" or something like that, but no one has to follow that. It's just a recommendation by the publisher and has no legal worth at all.


Music

The same as with books. They are not rated before release, but can be indexed/banned afterwards. Some labels keep the "Explicit lyrics" label on it, but no one gives a flying fuck about those here. Some bands, like Cannibal Corpse, are also (in)famous for censoring their covers to prevent indexing. Because, yes, a picture in the booklet can be enough to get on the black list. And if a single track gets indexed of course the whole CD it is on is automatically indexed too.
Yet, some music CDs actually have a FSK label on them. Those are music CDs with documentaries or music videos packed on them.


So I think that covers it. I'll talk about games again next time, with pretty pictures and stuff.


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