Law on Mass Media & Comm 9th Exercise Obscenity (apply the Miller Test: regular or bonus)

Law on Mass Media & Comm 9th Exercise Obscenity (apply the Miller Test: regular or bonus)

   The 9th Exercise of the class in  Law on Mass Media and Communication is on obscenity. Choose one: either regular or bonus.

     The regular post is as stated in class: Please apply the Miller test in your explanation, otherwise, the score is zero.           

       The bonus post is as described in class: Please use the Miller test in your discussion otherwise, the post will not merit any points.

    Deadline is the usual Wednesday (Nov. 14), 5pm.

   A measuredly triumphant U.P.-Bonfire-week to everyone! (these cases however do not even amount to 1% of what the Marcoses stole; the charges were not sufficient; the decision is not final)


       (Photo by Pexels files from the WordPress Free Stock Photo Library, used here non-commercially for academic purposes)

5 thoughts on “Law on Mass Media & Comm 9th Exercise Obscenity (apply the Miller Test: regular or bonus)



    “MANILA, Philippines — The psychological thriller “Bliss,” which was originally slapped with an X rating by the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB), has been reclassified as R-18 and passed without cuts.

    This after director Jerrold Tarog and the film’s producers submitted their appeal to the MTRCB on Wednesday.”

    In 2017, Jerrold Tarog’s Bliss was first rated X (became R-18) because of its extended full-frontal nudity and masturbation scenes, where the board claimed that such scenes were gratuitous.

    The synopsis is as follows (from Wikipedia):

    “Jane Ciego (Iza Calzado), a successful actress, produces her own film to gain respect from the industry. During the film production, she is involved in an accident that leaves her disabled. She is left in a secluded house to avoid more attention from the press, under the care and supervision of her husband, Carlo (TJ Trinidad) and a cruel, unusual nurse named Lilibeth (Adrienne Vergara). As days go by, she descends into insanity as she experiences horrors and madness while being trapped in her own home.”

    It was initially banned but when it was shown in UP Cine Adarna, they surveyed the viewers and most said it could pass as an R-18 movie. Because of the clamor of the crew as well as Iza stating why they showed Fifty Shades to the public but not their movie, Bliss eventually got reclassified to R-18.

    Personally, I also don’t agree with the X rating because the nudity was integral to the story. Applying the Miller test, first we have to look if it goes with contemporary community standards. Going into the cinema, the audience already knows it’s a psychological thriller. The movie itself follows the contemporary lifestyle of people and taken as a whole, it appeals their interest as well. Second, it doesn’t offensively depict sexual conduct as defined by the law. There is some nudity and sex scenes but it’s not outside of the norm. Finally, taken as a whole, the nudity is part of the art and beauty of the movie. As a matter of fact, the nudity really doesn’t destroy the film nor do you focus too much on it. It adds to the impact it’s supposed to have on the audiences. Thus, overall, I think this movie should have been rated R-18 or even R-16. Despite it being R-18 though, a lot of cinemas still didn’t release it.

    As for the audiences, this link below can help give an incite into their views and opinions of the movie:


    “Paris court hears arguments in Facebook censorship case centering on Courbet’s Origin of the World”

    by Victoria Stapley-Brown
    2nd February 2018

    “The question of Facebook’s power to limit users’ freedom of expression is at the heart of a years-long legal battle that is now being heard by a court in Paris, with arguments starting yesterday (1 February). In 2011, a French teacher sued the social media giant for closing his account after he posted a photograph of Gustave Courbet’s 1866 painting L’Origine du monde (Origin of the World), a realistic depiction of a woman’s genitals.”

    The plaintiff, Durand-Baissas first sued Facebook in 2011 for censorship when the site allegedly took down his profile after posting a picture of the Origin of the World. On the day of the hearing Durand-Baissas reportedly said that “Calling Courbet a pornographer… is to call me a pornographer.”However, the court in 2011 said that because the plaintiff failed to present evidence that Facebook took down his profile because of the photo, no violation of freedom of expression can be declared. This is another case that shows how Facebook’s measures for tagging photos as “obscene” can be problematic and oftentimes inaccurate. Moreover, Durand-Baissas’ lawyer Stephane Cottineau left a striking remark upon leaving court saying: “Where does art begin and where does pornography end? That is an interesting debate to have—but Facebook refuses to have it.”

    Using the Miller’s Test, the picture of the art in question is clearly not a form of pornography, does not show actual sex, and is an artistic creation used to elicit critical thoughts. If indeed it was true that Facebook took down Baissas’ profile because of the photo, then indeed Facebook should have a review of its “standards” and really take into consideration opening its doors to discussions regarding the matter as well as to changes in the way they handle these kinds of cases.

  3. [9th Bonus Post]


    “Set against the backdrop of extrajudicial killings in the country, ‘Bomba’ is the story of a middle-aged deaf and mute man played by Allen Dizon who has a dark past and is involved in a taboo relationship with a 16-year-old girl portrayed by Angellie Nicholle Sanoy.”

    Bomba is a Filipino independent film released in 2017. It was initially rated X (not for public exhibition) by the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) because the “material contains adult theme; blood and violence; illicit relationship with a minor; children using cuss words and language; depiction of improper use of uniform and no redeeming value”.

    Eventually, Bomba filmmaker and screenwriter Ralston Jover appealed to MTRCB for a second review. From a different MTRCB review committee, Bomba received an R-13 rating with no cuts. According to the new review committee, “The film is attuned with the event of the times. No accusing finger is pointed to anyone or any sector of the society. The relationship between the adult and the minor is implied, and there is not even a kissing scene or a torrid embrace. The content of the film falls within the parameters of the applicant’s preferred classification of R-13.”

    Bomba should not be considered obscene because it does not satisfy all the conditions of the Miller Test.
    1. In the film, nude and sex scenes are part of the story. Sex scenes are non-graphic.
    2. The film does depict an illicit adult-minor relationship but it does not show physical intimacy between the two main characters.
    3. The film tackles a political issue: extra-judicial killings.



    ‘2 Cool 2 Be 4gotten’ trends on social media due to MTRCB’s R-18 rating

    The film “2 Cool 2 Be 4gotten” initially got an R-13 rating when it was shown at the Cinema One Originals Filmfest in November 2016. It was submitted for review in March 2017 in time for the commercial release and got an R-16 rating again. When the producers requested for a second review in the hopes of getting an R-13 rating, the MTRCB gave “2 Cool 2 Be 4gotten” an R-18” despite the absence of nudity or sex scenes.

    The film, which tackles gay relationships and coming out in the early 90s, does not satisfy the three conditions needed in the Miller Test to consider it obscene. It does not even have any nudity or sex scenes, which makes the R-18 rating extremely questionable. The movie tackles gay themes, none of which are displayed too sexually on-screen. The coming-of-age movie as a whole has deeper themes such as colonialism and survival, making the decision from MTRCB even more absurd. I stand with the production crew of the film in saying that the movie should have at least been R-13, not R-18.


    2 Cool 2 Be 4gotten (2016)
    Dir. Petersen Vargas


    “The youth gay film “2 Cool 2 Be 4gotten,” Best Picture winner in the most recent Cinema One Originals Film Festival, trended on Twitter recently because it received an R-18 rating from the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board.”

    The film depicts the coming-of-age story of Felix (Khalil Ramos), a friendless and smart high school sophomore, who lives in post-lahar Pampanga in the late 1990s. His life takes a turn after the two new half-American students, the Snyder brothers, Magnus (Ethan Salvador) and Maxim (Jameson Blake), transfer to his school. He finds himself drawn toward them, especially Magnus, who becomes his classmate. Magnus befriends him and he infiltrates the private lives of the Snyder brothers. He interweaves himself to the dark and mysterious motives of the Snyder brothers and at the same time, his interactions with them uncover desires within him that he has never confronted before. (Wikipedia)

    During the 2016 Cinema One Originals Film Festival, Petersen Vargas’ “2 Cool 2 Be 4gotten” originally got a rating of R-13. But when the producer submitted it for review for its international commercial release, the MTRCB gave it an R-16 rating. The producers appealed for it to be available to a wider audience, but the MTRCB slammed it with an R-18 rating saying that the film “lacks any social redeeming value”.

    Consulting the Miller Test, I personally don’t think that the film deserve its R-18 rating because:
    1. The film doesn’t appeal to prurient interest because it did not contain any sex scene, aside from Maxim’s nude scene which only happened once and only for a brief period of time.
    2. It doesn’t depict or describe a sexual conduct in a patently offensive way. There was only one nude scene (masturbation), but it was only brief and not graphic.
    3. In contrary to MTRCB’s statement, I don’t think the film lacks any social redeeming value, because it is one of the few films that dared tackle and give a deeper look onto the LGBT narrative.

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