Eric Crampton writes:
University of Otago Associate Professor Nick Wilson argued that Disney’s classic 101 Dalmations should carry an R rating. Why? Because Cruella de Vil smokes. Wilson argued that children need protecting, and ex-smokers might appreciate the trigger warnings where films induce cravings.
You might find it amazing that in a world with Zika and Ebola, researchers concerned about public health have time and funding to watch and categorise 73.5 hours of broadcast television. They conclude that legislation could require R-ratings for programming with tobacco imagery. But their policy suggestion misunderstands how ratings work in New Zealand and points to a disconnection from the real world.
TV show ratings come from the Broadcast Standards Authority; they are not set by legislation. And the BSA has no R-rating. But Restricted ratings are set in legislation for content screened in cinemas, streamed online, or sold in DVD sets where the Office of Film and Literature Classification has jurisdiction.
An OFLC R-rating means it is illegal to let a child under the required age view the programme. Watching South Park with your 13 year old on broadcast television is legal regardless of whether it has the strictest broadcast rating: AO 9:30. The same episode streamed online or watched on DVD could carry a fine of up to $10,000 or up to three months in prison, if the episode were rated R14 by OFLC.
So calling for something to be restricted with an R rating is a pretty big deal: it means the state should be able to fine parents or put them in jail for letting the kids watch it.
There seems to be something about some Otago University professors where they just inhabit a parallel dimension. Go to jail for letting your kid watch 101 Dalmations!