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How to avoid overstepping broadcast 'graphic material' barriers?

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Tom Clasman
How to avoid overstepping broadcast 'graphic material' barriers?
on Aug 23, 2018 at 7:53:16 pm
Last Edited By Tom Clasman on Aug 23, 2018 at 7:57:28 pm

I am making a 5 min video for an animal rights organization which has the option of gaining a rather wide spread, lots of media channels. I am not an experienced video wiz though, my area is audio and I ended up doing this video by .. a slip on a banana peel.

This video needs to show some graphic animal abuse, there not many ways around that. Frankly, the stronger abuse it shows (without going over the limit to gore and real nasty stuff), the stronger the emotional reaction and the more the video cuts through. But it's not a slasher film or .. it's actually a pretty slick corporate looking presentation, more like a music video than some tasteless Youtube animal abuse material. The nasty stuff here is packaged fairly nicely.

But in the world there are different rating systems and traditions that prevents material with too graphic or disturbing content. This is made to protect younger and more sensitive audiences, but also because a media outlet has a profile towards their audience which is more restrictive, undramatic or mellow. In america, MPAA and the Parental Guide rating system are examples of such standards.

I don't want this video to get stuck in such restrictions and be prevented from as large of a potential audience as possible. So I'm trying to decide how to display 'provocative' stuff in the video, and how much of it, in order for the video to get past as many restrictions as possible.

I remember Star Wars episode I, Phantom Menace, at the end of the film Darth Maul gets cut in half, and visibly falls away with upper torso and legs separate. But everywhere I have heard from, that film was run as permitted for all ages'. So it seems that the Star Wars guys were kindof aware of how to make it graphic enough to make it exciting, but at the same time knowing how to not trip the 'low age alarm' in rating processes. And that was (probably) how they got away with showing a man sliced in half to 7 year olds.

In order for me to avoid my video from getting dismissed, I thought I was going to have to read up on the rating parameters on every major rating system and major media traditions across the world. That seemed so cumbersome to do. So I thought I was going to ask here about if someone has some general information on how to deal with this? Perhaps there are simpler ways of achieving this without becoming a broadcasting standard expert first?

thx for any kind of input, help, tips etc.


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Mark Suszko
Re: How to avoid overstepping broadcast 'graphic material' barriers?
on Aug 26, 2018 at 10:29:59 pm

Every TV station or web based broadcaster is going to make their own determination on what to show from your video, and what to cut or blur out. Aside from posting very clear graphic warnings at the beginning, the rest is really out of your hands. Which argues for showing everything you've got, after due warning.

I'd suggest you offer a shot in the package with an expert who describes in detail what the video shows. Then the more squeamish folks can play just the verbal description told by this person, and leave individuals to go see the full footage on a separate site.

Darth Maul isn't a good case for reference: he's a fictional alien "monster", his bisection showed no guts, spine, or other innards, or even blood. Apparently a lightsaber can cauterize as it cuts. Don't doubt that some people at MPAA had a lengthy discussion about just how gory this was allowed to be.

Go see the youtube/facebook footage of the sea turtle getting a plastic straw removed from it's face, and tell me if your footage is worse or less painful to watch than that.


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