Stupid Australian Censorship and Damon and Hunter

Damon and Hunter - censoredI’m Australian and I’m a bit embarrassed to say that my country has censored Tony Comstock’s excellent “pornomentary” Damon and Hunter, Doing It Together.

The film recently screend at a gay film festival in Melbourne and was due to show at QueerDoc in Sydney but the Office of Film and Literature Classification (OFLC) deemed the movie was too explicit to be shown in public. Tony has now re-edited the film so it can be screened but he’s also spending a fair bit of money appealing the decision.


Support independent, ethically made, award-winning porn. Bright Desire features all of my erotic films and writing. A membership to Bright Desire gets you access to every movie I've ever made and lets me keep making female friendly porn!
Click here to find out more.

You can read all about it at Tony’s blog.

I made a comment there that it’s Australian apathy which allows censorship here. We have no official bill of rights protecting our freedom of speech and so the government can happily censor anything it likes. Australians are, for the most part, fairly relaxed about sex and porn, but we also don’t stand up for our rights in this area; it’s too much effort and kind of embarrassing. Everybody likes their bit of smut, but nobody will admit to it by complaining too much. Thus the few religious zealots in power have more control over what we watch and see than they should.

In the 70s nudity featured regularly on Australian TV, but shows like Number 96, which broadcast the first pair of boobs on TV, would not pass the censor’s knife now. That saddens me.

So I thought I’d post and say: go and buy Damon and Hunter. It’s a great movie and it’s also an example of why allowing other people to decide what we can watch is never a good thing.

12 Replies to “Stupid Australian Censorship and Damon and Hunter”

  1. I’ve read about this one, and I think this film would have been censored in the United State as well, so it’s a bit harsh to practically condemn Australia when the reaction would have been more overstated in the United States, and people know this, but Australia cops it. I mean, seriously it’s a joke when hyperbole is added, considering a bare boob is a big deal in the United States.

    I think we’re pretty relaxed where sex is concerned, and there is a difference between porn and a movie with other themes tied with sex, and Damon and Hunter is porn, and all porn is subjected to a certain level of censorship if it’s supposed to be released as a mainstream film so I don’t see why this issue has been made a huge deal, or yes I can… it creates more attention, possibly enables more income to be made, and I don’t really see the ‘big deal’ when the maker of the film can make a profit online through online sales of this film anyway.

  2. and the other thing, I find the ‘Australian’ issue that people overseas have (being pissed off ‘with Australian apathy’ or whatever else), just because they’re worried they won’t make a profit, quite discriminatory as an Australian. But I dont see why I should even comment, because it may just be ‘censored’ because my view doesn’t really fall into line with ‘Australian apathy’.

  3. You mention that shows like Number 96 wouldn’t pass the censors knife now. That’s a big of an exagerration isn’t it? I guess you don’t get SBS where you live?

    – full frontal nudity
    – adequate sex scenes, varying from low level to high level.

    But it’s easier to ‘Australia-bash’ isn’t it?

    It’s like your own view is biased toward one angle: to promote a film, and bugger all the rest isn’t it so?

    Frankly, I can’t see why a big deal is made when porn can be sold uncensored over the web.

  4. OK, firstly I’m not making any money by suggesting my readers buy Damon and Hunter. I actually posted this because I’m glad that Tony Comstock is challenging Australia’s censorship system using his own money and I think he should be supported in his efforts.

    Secondly, isn’t it a bit much for you to label my criticism of my own country’s censorship system “Australia bashing”? Or are you assuming I’m American? I don’t agree with our current system of censorship. I believe it has become far too conservative and I reserve my right to say so. Next you’ll be saying that any criticism of the government is “unpatriotic” or even “anti-American” (an insult that I’ve always found to be confusing when it comes from an Australian).

    Yes, the Americans are far more prudish when it comes sex, and yet they have a bill of rights that means that sexually explicit material is protected as legitimate expression. It’s a strange dichotomy, especially when compared to Australia where the opposite seems to be true. I find that fascinating and worth commenting on.

    Is there really a difference between porn and movies with “other themes tied to sex”? How is it that Irreversible and Bais Moi – films which depicted horrific, extended rape scenes – were allowed to be shown in cinemas yet Damon and Hunter must be banished to the shelves of a Canberra porn shop? Why is it acceptable to have sex in the context of violence but not in the context of love or simple “prurient interest”? Why does the government feel the need to protect people from becoming aroused?

    Regarding SBS and Number 96, my point is this: in 1972 that show featured frequent nudity and an unremarked-upon gay couple every night at 8.30pm and no-one gave a damn. That was nearly 35 years ago. Today SBS shows lots of lovely sex at about 10pm, which is great. At the same time, the prudes in our government want to censor streaming video on the internet because of “turkey slapping” on Big Brother and they’re doing their best to censor anything else that comes their way as well.

    I don’t think that’s progress.

  5. The film is not looking for mainstream release into cinemas in this instance, it is looking for an exemption to be screened at a film festival to people who are over eighteen. It is unable to be made exempt because is was lawfully classified, it gained an X rating because it shows actual sex, so it automatically gets X regardless of whatever else the film might be saying – about what it is like to be a gay man, about coming out, about tolerance…

    You may think “it’s only porn” but the programmer of the film festival, a man with over 25 years experience in documentary films thought it was a documentary, documentary enough to be invited to screen at a documentary festival.

    A bare boob at a public event – yes I know that was crazy stuff. A bare boob at a film festival? Who would care?

    The maker of the film can certainly sell his films online, yes that’s right, but 400 people who would have liked to have seen the film in a cinema don’t get to choose what they get to see. That choice will be made for them.


  6. Sorry, forgot to mention a couple of things, sex on SBS is simulated (erotic nonetheless) but it is not real/actual sex, that’s where the X rating comes into effect.

    A filmmaker wanting to make money from his/her film appearing at a film festival can hardly be blamed for wanting to do so can they? A film festival may draw attention to your film but it doesn’t make you a whole lot of direct dollars and as far as I can tell filmmakers and their families need to eat.

  7. “as far as I can tell filmmakers and their families need to eat”

    This is sort of true, Ell.

    It’s a little known fact that filmmakers can live for extended periods of time off of fanmail and blog comments. Fortunetely this trait is genetic, so as long as those love letter keep streaming it, my daughters can go without traditional nurishment for extended periods as well. But after more than 6-7 months we do require at least a little bit of what you call food.

    Sadly, Kodak and filmlabs do not take either fanmail or blog comments, no matter how glowing, in trade for either stock or processing services.

  8. Ell, I took a quick look at the doco listings for queerdoc, emphasis on ‘doc’ okay, now there’s a diffrence between pornography and documentary. A documentary has a wider story angle, more themes.

    Miss Naughty, I’m not implying that you’re American, but what I am implying is that the hyperbole you use is amusing. This entire hoopla is about, what is essentially, a sexually graphic film that can be classed as pornography being included in a list of films that ‘aren’t’ pornography, and there is a difference between between porn and movies with sex and other themes, that usually go beyond genitals, but I do understand the need to market a film, my question is whether or not any of you would give a damn about the ‘gay’ issue if you weren’t making something out of it – which is fine, but when it involves using ‘Australia’ as the lynchpin, it’s unnerving. I’m just really looking forward to the possibility of this film being submitted in the UK, and then you can cut and paste this entire post, except omit the ‘As an Australian’ part, and it would be the same where censorship would be concerned.

    No one really bothers to answer the issue fully when a question is put forth, most of you that are busy going on about Australia in a negative fashion, really avoid the reality that it would be the same in the United States (in terms of mainstream viewing), same in the UK…but no, because the director wants it to coincide with a certain event (more exposure, possible profit etc) then it’s ‘let’s slam Australia’.

    As for the Big Brother turkey slapping incident, it wasn’t just about a penis, it was largely about non consent.

    Every supposed sexual ‘revolutionary’ of today speaks of consent, and responsible safe sex and so on and so forth, but how far does the media take it when they want to expose certain things to minors, which in turn seep through society..does it set up a foundation (even educational) for minors to develop into functional adults or is it all about dollars, which is what the Big Brother show is all about. I wouldn’t mind them removing Big Brother altogether, because it’s trash television. If there wasn’t some element of censorship in society, in order to distribute content to its appropriate category, then it would be a free for all, and as it stands now, it’s mostly about money/profit.

    I’m not anti porn, anti gay etc etc, porn always had a place in society, not just now, but centuries ago, but intelligent debate isn’t about tarring and feathering nations either. Each nation has its laws, and each are to be respected, that’s it.

    You know, and I know, that this film can be sold freely in any sex store in Canberra and NT, but you choose to ignore this, like many have, and continue on about our ‘strict’ censorship. To me, this approach is no different than propaganda, and propaganda has no place in pornography, it never did, and to give it a place in the 21st Century is just unbelievable.

    Mind you, certain Australian ezines (like Sydney Star Observer) have given positive feedback about this film, have effectively publicised it in a positive way, and why not, it’s a film about consentual sex between two people who are into each other, and then of course, having to read the other blog propaganda type stuff that is.

    As for the government censoring internet content? That’s only been hot air, the government really can’t afford to censor the internet, too much at stake for that (in the corporate sense). As long as corporations make profits based on sex, the internet will stay as it is.

  9. Umm, OK. Now I’m not really sure what you’re arguing about, but I suggest you go back and re-read what’s already been written. And also, try using a bit more punctuation in your sentences, it will help you to make more sense.

    I don’t feel like writing a large essay in reply, but I’m going to end up doing it anyway. Shall I repeat myself?

    I do not agree with the way Australia censors sexually explicit material. I also don’t agree with the way other countries censor sexually explicit material, but I’m disappointed about Australia because our government doesn’t reflect what everyday people think. We ARE relaxed about sex, and I’m pleased with that, but I’m embarrassed that our institutions and government don’t reflect that.

    You seem to think censorship is fine. Giddy up for you, but quit telling me that my opinion is wrong, or motivated by money, or whatever the hell it is you’re saying.

    I think adults should be free to watch what they want to watch. I think X-rated films should be available for adults to buy in any state in Australia, and I think adults should be given the right to see a film with sexually explicit content regardless of whether it’s porn, a documentary, or some wanky arthouse drama with more interest in violence than sex. I don’t like the double standard that the OFLC – and our government – has towards permitting violence but restricting sex.

    Sure, let the OFLC put their ratings and warnings on stuff. Let people be informed about what they’re watching. But I don’t think they should have the power to decide what I as an adult should not be allowed to see (and yes, they DO have that power).

    And I’m not just talking about Damon and Hunter here. I’m talking about the broader issue of censorship of sexually explicit material in our society.

    “Each nation has its laws, and each are to be respected, that’s it.” Yay. Way to go with your unquestioning happy acceptance of the status quo. Must be a very pleasant way to live. I choose to express an opinion otherwise.

    As for “propaganda has no place in pornography, it never did, and to give it a place in the 21st Century is just unbelievable”… well, it took me a while to try and work out what that sentence means, but you seem to be suggesting that porn is not political or should not have an agenda.

    If that’s the case… please, go back to your undeconstructed Barbie doll fake tits racist guff porn from silicon valley and enjoy the brainless idiocy therein. Indeed, I’m not sure what you’re doing here reading my blog, which has always had a feminist agenda.

    To me, porn can be more than simple stroke material and that’s why I’m happy to support Tony Comstock. His vision of erotic material that has something to say is worth standing up for.

    That’s it, it’s late, I couldn’t be bothered writing any more.

  10. “Ell, I took a quick look at the doco listings for queerdoc, emphasis on ‘doc’ okay, now there’s a diffrence between pornography and documentary. A documentary has a wider story angle, more themes.”

    The QueerDoc programmer, a man with 25 years experience in film and in particular documentary films, chose Damon and Hunter to screen. What you you believe it is or is not seems a bit besides the point. If you’re suggesting that a documentary shouldn’t or couldn’t be arousing or that being aroused is somehow less “noble” a reaction or response than being horrified or saddened at the content of a documentary then I think that may be a seperate point, one on which we would disagree.

    An X rating in Australia doesn’t necessarily mean a film is pornography, it just means it has actual sex in it.

    You might like to visit the Electronic Frontiers website to get across the internet censorship position — or google Hansard for the topic and read some of the debates.

    “No one really bothers to answer the issue fully when a question is put forth, most of you that are busy going on about Australia in a negative fashion, really avoid the reality that it would be the same in the United States (in terms of mainstream viewing), same in the UK…but no, because the director wants it to coincide with a certain event (more exposure, possible profit etc) then it’s ‘let’s slam Australia’.”

    You’re still on about mainstream viewing and that is confusing me. Beyond that, yes perhaps it would be the case in the US and the UK but the issue right now, right here in two weeks time is in Australia, Sydney Australia, not in the UK or the US.

    And I do so wish you’d leave off on the profit thing – publicity and promotion and yes, even profit aren’t the dirty words you’re making them out to be, really they are not. If you’re trying to fight against hypocrisy, inertia, fear and archaic laws, you need all the exposure you can get – that’s not dirty tactics, that’s just common sense.

  11. Anastasia’s point (I’m still not sure what it is) will soon be moot.

    QueerDOC has already cancelled one of the DAMON AND HUNTER screenings and stated that they are “dedicated to screening within the law”, which precludes showing D&H at the session that remains on their festival schedule.

    You can still buy D&H on DVD in Australia, but unless you buy it in either NT or Canberra, the person selling it to you is breaking the law.

Comments are closed.