Film classification for restriction [Restricted (Artistic) category]
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Restricted (Artistic) or R(A) category was introduced by the government on 15 September 1991 to tighten laws on film censorship. Movies under this category are not considered suitable for those under 21 years of age as they depict sex and violence in an explicit or exploitative manner. Such movies are shown only at specially licensed cinemas in the city.
On 15 September 1991, the government introduced a Restricted (Artistic), or R(A) category to replace the R-rated category. The R-rated category was introduced on 1 July 1991 to allow only those who are 18 and above to be admitted to films that had sex and violence content. Primarily, the main objection to R-rated movies is that they are morally destructive to the society and unsuitable for young minds particularly where exploitative sex is shown. The move to introduce the more stringent R(A) category came after feedback from a large majority of Singaporeans indicated they were against the screening of exploitative R-rated movies because of the perceived detrimental effect they had on the youth of Singapore. One of the fundamental changes under the new R(A) ruling was the raising of the age barrier from 18 years to 21 years. Moreover films with explicit erotic, violent or exploitative themes were banned.
In 1992, the government sent letters to five cinema operators stating that they could not screen R(A) movies in cinemas located in housing estates. The cinema operators were Cathay Organisation, Shaw Organisation, Golden Village, Cathay Cinema Sdn Bhd and Overseas Movie. The Government followed this with a total ban on screening of R(A) movies from cinemas in all housing estates some time later. This move was to ensure that films being screened at these neighbourhood cinemas had only the 'G' or General category or the 'PG' or Parental Guidance category, to maintain a more conservative ambience in these estates where most Singaporeans live and bring up their children. The R(A) films however were allowed to be screened at specially licensed cinemas in the city.
Later, in addition to the R(A) category, the government introduced the NC-16 (no admissions to children under 16) category. This film classification was introduced on 1 June 1993. This further tightened the existing standards for the 'PG' or 'Parental Guidance' movies. The NC-16 is aimed at protecting young people because although scenes of nudity, sex and violence in 'PG' movies are censored, some are still considered unsuitable for the young without parental guidance.
Naidu Ratnala Thulaja
Tan, Y. S., & Soh, Y. P. (1994). The development of Singapore's modern media industry (p. 159). Singapore: Times Academic Press.
(Call no.: RSING 338.4730223 TAN)
Stewart, I. (1991, September 07). Singapore set to tighten laws on film censorship. South China Morning Post, p. 7.
Tan, H. Y. (1992, May 21). No R(A) films at HDB estate cinemas. The Straits Times, p. 24.
Media Development Authority. (n.d.). Censorship Review Committee Report. Retrieved March 9, 2004, from www.mda.gov.sg/content/CRC_executive2.html
Ho, K. (2002, April 10). Film-rating system here is maturing. The Straits Times, Life!, p. 1.
Koh, B. S. (1998, May 16). Rocky road for S'pore artists in search of more freedom? The Straits Times, p. 44.
Koh, B. S. (1994, February 8). Liberalising the arts takes time. The Straits Times, p. 4.
The information in this article is valid as at 1998 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.