FPB guidelines to protect artists, public

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Communications Deputy Minister Pinky Kekana says the draft Film and Publication Board’s (FPB) Classification Guidelines seek to determine the extent to which media content is reflective of the public’s values and expectations.

The Deputy Minister was speaking during a discussion document on the review of the draft FPB Classification Guidelines, on Thursday, at the Constitutional Hill in Johannesburg.

She said the document seeks to determine the extent to which the public is aware of the age ratings attributed to media content, and the degree to which they adopt and apply the age ratings when making decisions relating to media consumptions.

“The document seeks to determine the level of awareness of the South African public regarding the Classification Guidelines and ascertain the extent to which the public agrees with the specified guideline, as well as assess the extent to which the public comply with the guidelines,” Kekana said.

Evaluating work of artists, cultural practices

Kekana said if the public accept the premise that artists have a fundamental role to play in building a society cohesive nation, “then we must also be willing to ask if culture is a reflection of the human spirit, then what is the spirit of South Africa”.

“These are some of the lenses we have to apply when evaluating the work of artists and cultural practices. These two very important principles in our society may violently clash at times. We must develop the tools to sensitize our people of the clash that may arise.

“This is precisely what FPB guidelines seek to achieve, they are not means of distorting one’s artistic expression or condoning an irrational critic of one’s culture. The guidelines are there to explain to people the nature of the content they may be exposed to, so that one may choose whether they are ready to view society through the lens of a particular film or artistic works,” Kekana said.

Kekana also called on South Africans to express themselves about the content of the classification guidelines.

Consult when making films

During a panel discussion on the guidelines, Chairperson of Culture and Heritage Committee in the National House of Traditional Leaders, iNkosi Xolile Ndevu, expressed his concern about film writers’ lack of consultation with the custodians when making a film concerning peoples’ traditions and cultures.

“Our main concern in the whole film making and story-telling is that it should not be simple for the producers to make a film without getting a feeling and understanding from the custodians on the very same issue,” Ndevu said.

However, co-writer of the controversial movie Inxeba The Wound, Melusi Bhengu, argued that one of the biggest problems with African customs and culture is the secrecy and hiding of information.

“As a story teller I’m responsible to the entity, which is society not the custodians of the culture, but people who live and practice the culture. If the people who practice the culture are not happy because of the culture, I’m not going to turn a blind eye because I’m not carrying my responsibility as a story teller. My responsibility is to administer and reflect…..I keep my finger on the pulse of the society, check what’s going on and tell the story,” Bhengu said.

Cultural sensitivity

Bhengu added that as a story teller, he is highly sensitive, adding that a culture demanding sensitivity should also be sensitive to the times and the season that it finds itself in.

FPB Chief Operations Officer Abongile Mashele said culture evolves, but tradition stays the same, and “this is an important conversation that we need to have”.

“Our discussion is about cultural sensitivity. As we do classification, what extent is it important that we’ve got so many criteria that we used, your nudity, sexuality, violence, language etc… how important is it that we include cultural sensitivity, perhaps as one of the criteria, or is it something that we can find a way to accommodate into our daily discourse,” Mashele said.

The FPB will hold consultations in all nine provinces. The public is urged to participate in the consultations in order to take ownership of the guidelines. – SAnews.gov.za

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