‘Spear’ nude rating: FPB denies meddling

2012-07-30 00:00

THE Film and Publications Board (FPB) has denied claims that it was used as a “political tool” when it placed a 16N (nudity) rating on Brett Murray’s controversial painting The Spear after it was defaced allegedly by Barend la Grange and Louis Mabokela in May.

Mlimandlela Ndamase, head of communication at the FPB, told journalists at the Blue Waters Hotel in Durban yesterday that the FPB had received no complaints from high-ranking politicians or political parties.

“We confined ourselves only to complaints received from members of the public.”

Ndamase said the FPB had received numerous complaints about the painting and its exhibition via social media, telephone and e-mail, but had only acted on those made by two people who had followed the procedures set out in the Film and Publications Act.

Asked why the FPB had gone ahead with the classification after The Spear was defaced, Ndamsase said members of its classification committee had seen the untarnished version and felt that because the original painting could still be seen in print and broadcast mediums, it had a responsibility to protect children and sensitive viewers from being exposed to the painting without warning.

Ndamase conceded it was unusual for the FPB to make classification rulings on paintings and that the organisation was aware that policing the digital space was difficult.

He said the FPB was working with the Internet Service Providers’ Association, Wireless Application Service Providers’ Association, the Press Ombudsman and various search engines to find ways to enforce its decision. But ultimately, he added, it was the responsibility of parents to control what their children were exposed to on the Internet.

The Goodman Gallery has appealed the 16N classification of the painting and the FPB confirmed a hearing would be taking place in front of its review board, an appeals tribunal headed by Professor Karthy Govender, an acting high court judge and law professor from Durban.

A date for the appeal is yet to be announced.

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