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Movie rating system 'unfeasible'

Updated: 2010-01-27 09:38
By Xu Fan (China Daily)

A movie rating system cannot be implemented at the present time, a municipal official said on Sunday.

Zang Zengxiang, deputy director of the Beijing municipal bureau of radio, film and television, said the bureau has been researching the feasibility of a movie rating system for several years.

He said the research proved clearly that Beijing couldn't carry out a movie rating system for many reasons, according to the Beijing Times, but without stating them.

Audiences in the capital have grown used to spending their money on "censored" movies. All domestic and foreign movies must be censored in order to receive public viewing licenses from the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television.

Movies that show numerous sexual or violent scenes undergo large-scale deletions, an act that has been fiercely criticized as producing "emasculated stories" by some film industry insiders.

The continual struggle against censorship - started in 2003 with the first movie rating proposal by Wang Xingdong, a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference - also seems to be exhausting the efforts of some filmmakers. Li Yu, director of the Berlin Film Festival's nominated film Apple, which went through censorship a total of five times for its sex scenes, told METRO she never believed a rating system could be implemented under the current cultural and economical environment.

"We refer to censorship as an 'iron' rule, meaning that no one can move or dodge it," Li said.

She added that the absence of a rating system took away the adult audience's right to watch "adult" scenes, and made it impossible to prevent younger moviegoers from seeing films with violence and sexual content.

"But to be honest, I don't think Chinese directors should complain. Even without the censorship, I feel that some directors are unable to create excellent movies such as the Hollywood epic Avatar, because they have already forgotten how to tell a good story," Li said.

Yin Hong, a professor with the school of journalism and communication at Tsinghua University, said it would be difficult to rate films because people with different backgrounds have mixed stances on ethical issues.

"A compromise, such as a rating guidance system, might be more suitable for the Chinese mainland. For example, if parents bring their children to watch a splatter film like The Message, theaters can put up signs to say they might be too violent for kids," Yin said.