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Genre case study - Animation

Animation can be classified

Animated films and DVDs submitted to the Classification Office are generally aimed at an adult audience and often contain strong violence, offensive language or sexual content.

While the Classification Office doesn't classify television broadcasts, it does classify DVD box sets of television shows and also online TV shows. Examples of animated television shows classified include South Park and Family Guy.

Classification considerations

In New Zealand, animation is classified in the same way as other publications.

In New Zealand, animated publications have the same classification criteria applied to them as other publications. If the animation deals with extreme violence or cruelty, for example, it is likely to receive a restricted classification even though the characters are not 'real'.

Classification Office's reasons for classifying South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut as R16 (PDF, 47KB)

Public concerns

A lot of people assume that cartoons are for kids.

In 2008 the Classification Office teamed up with the Broadcasting Standards Authority to do some research into what people think about violence in films and television. The research involved young people aged 14-17, and adults aged 18 and over. As part of this research, we showed participants a clip from an episode of the animated show Family Guy. Some of the participants in the research (mainly those who were not familiar with the show) thought that because what they were seeing was a 'cartoon', it was aimed at kids. They were concerned that parents might let their young children watch it, and that children might try to copy the violence depicted.

More about the Viewing Violence research (you'll find the info on the Family Guy clip on pages 39-43 of the report).

Case studies - books, music and other stuff

South Park artwork

The show's frequent depiction of taboo subject matter, general toilet humor, accessibility to younger viewers, disregard for conservative sensibilities, negative depiction of liberal causes, and portrayal of religion for comic effect have been the main sources for generating controversy and debate over the course of its run...

Parker and Stone assert that the show is not meant to be viewed by young children, and the show is certified with TV ratings that indicate its intention for mature audiences.

Wikipedia South Park entry, June 2015
Family Guy artwork

All 13-year-old boys are on board with Family Guy. They love this show and no wonder. It's silly, subversive and caters to their endless craving for humor about bodily emissions. The fact that Family Guy is also breathtakingly smart is just a bonus (or even beside the point). But the deft blend of the ingenious with the raw helps account for its much broader appeal...

As a Family Guy fan who's long past preadolescence, I crack up watching it. I cringe. I ask myself: How do they come up with this stuff?

Frazier Moore, Associated Press

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