Tuesday 20 September 2011

Movies and Australia

Yet another bunch of 'public health professionals' has called for films which show smoking to be given 18 certificates. And, yet again, the BBFC has told them where to go.

David Cooke, director of the BBFC, said: "Smoking is a major public health issue and we consulted the public very extensively on it in 2005 and 2009. Their clear expectation is that we should be vigilant, sensible and proportionate in how we deal with the issue.

"Glamorising smoking has therefore been included as a classification issue in our published classification guidelines and we frequently use our extended classification information to draw the attention of parents and others to depictions of smoking in films.

"There is, however, no public support for automatically classifying, for instance, a PG film at 18 just because it happens to contain a scene of smoking. We always look carefully at all research on this and related subjects drawn to our attention.

"Experience suggests, with media effects research generally, that attempts to claim a causal link between a particular depiction and a particular behaviour are often disputed and seldom conclusive."

Are we getting the message yet, anti-smokers? You can keep on knocking but you can't come in. Accepting your junk science would mean accepting the junk science of every two-bit Mary Whitehouse from here to eternity. And you can tell your friends in 'alcohol control' to give it up too.

On an only slightly different topic, I wrote an article for Spiked in May in which I described Australia as the world's number one nanny state.

There is a PhD thesis waiting to be written some day about how Australia came to be the world’s number one nanny state; how a country that was once renowned for rugged individualism capitulated to puritanism with barely a whimper.

This little article got a mention in the Sydney Morning Herald.

Ours was a history of extending freedom, of resisting and repelling the enforcement of conformity. Now, we stand by and witness the curtailment of the many for the protection of the few.

The British writer Christopher Snowdon was surprised by this acquiescence. Australia, he wrote, was ''a country that was once renowned for rugged individualism'' but had ''capitulated to puritanism with barely a whimper''.

We want smokers to quit, so we wrap their cigarettes in yuck-coloured packets. Some people bet too much, so we try to limit gaming opportunities for all. We censor the internet and ban more video games than does China, that bastion of liberty. We went after lolly-coloured alcohol drinks because they appealed to teenagers.

There's a Victorian move to stamp out swearing, and much noise is made about stopping kids from seeing junk food advertising on TV.

And a poll released this week finds that a majority of Australians agree.

‘A new poll shows the number of people who strongly agree Australia is becoming a nanny state has increased by a fifth over the past year, with 55% believing Australia is a nanny state and more than 70% thinking plain packaging won't be an effective policy', said Policy Director, Tim Wilson, today.

‘Recent nanny state proposals from fat taxes, removing cartoon characters from food, to text-based alcohol warning labels show the number of nanny state laws is rapidly increasing.

‘Australians clearly understand governments are frequently introducing new measures, bit-by-bit, on how we live our lives taking us further down the nanny state path. ‘These nanny state policies cannot be treated in isolation.

‘Government should get out of people's lives. It's immoral to create a culture of victimhood where people aren't exposed to risk, responsibility and reward', Mr Wilson said.

55% sounds like a reasonable majority. Perhaps it's time for one of Australia's political parties to run on an anti-nanny state ticket and end the torment.


Angry Exile said...

There is such a party in Australia, and funnily enough it's called the Liberal Democratic Party. Don't let the name put you off - unlike the UK namesake their polices actually live up to it. They're by far and away the most liberty focused party here but unfortunately they're also pretty small. The Sex Party aren't a bad second choice, though. The Shooters and Fishers Party in NSW sound good since shooters have been on the receiving end of nannying for years, but when you look in detail at their ideas you can get the impression that they don't mind other people being nannied. The LDP is the only one consistently for individual liberty and therefore dead set against nannying. Maybe when people realise that they can't vote for one lot to be nannied without the nannies being interested in them the LDP will get more attention and votes.

Anonymous said...

Below is my mini thesis, posted below this article


in Smokles, back in April

"A little off topic, but here’s my pet theory about Australians (I am Britsh).
Back in the 70s, Australians had almost mythical status among young English men. I encountered many on my student travels round Europe. They were, to a man, confident, fearless and remained unruffled by any crisis. It is an Australian cricketer who holds the record for the amount of beer consumed on a flight from Australia to England. Crocodile Dundee was based on fact. Last year, during the Ashes cricket series between Australia and England, commentators were poking fun at the vast number of ridiculous Health and Safety warnings in the stadiums. What changed during those thirty years?

The young men I met in the seventies were the children of adventurous pioneers. More recent immigrants to Australia are misanthropic people with an authoritarian and conformist tendency, who think they will find the order and uniformity they perceive as lacking in the UK. Fat (big obesity crisis now), horrified at the slightest whiff of smoke (unless it’s cooking them something) and plastered with sun cream on the dullest of days; their children must have Crocodile Dundee turning in his grave. California, but less money and worse teeth."

Jonathan Bagley.

Frank said...

"often disputed and seldom conclusive."

Weren't the effects of SHS described in similar terms? and still are? Lot of difference it made! however, I sense the feeling of it all going too far. The question remains as to how far it can be rolled back.

Anonymous said...

"often disputed and seldom conclusive."

What one could equally say about the tobacco control cartel is:

Often wrong, but never uncertain.


Anonymous said...

It's about time that all references to the 'The Nanny state' were banned.

It should be given it's correct title...THE NAZI STATE...