On February 25, 2020, South Australian senator Stirling Griff
wasted the time of gave a speech to parliament about depictions of “child abuse” in anime and manga. You can read the whole speech here, in case you’d like to follow along while I break down every inaccuracy (and boy are there a lot).
After a pretty solid opening to his speech about the importance of protecting children from abuse, Griff throws it all away by ending with “There is much more to be done, and areas where we need to focus more attention, such as the child abuse material that comes into Australia via Japanese amine [sic] and manga.”
Nah, buddy. You lost me there. If we need to focus more attention on anything, it’s making sure that actual children are safe from abuse, offering resources and counselors for children affected by abuse, etc. Every resource wasted on protecting a drawing is a resource that could’ve gone to the protection of an actual child.
“Experts that advocate against child exploitation have referred to this type of anime and manga as a gateway to the abuse of actual children.”
Except for the experts at the Prostasia Foundation, who aim to fight against actual child sexual abuse by focusing resources on…well, actual child sexual abuse. A direct quote from their site: “Candy can be used as part of a process to sexually exploit children too, but we wouldn’t think of criminalizing the possession of candy.”
IMPORTANT 2021 UPDATE: This statement was made entirely on the account of the Prostasia Foundation’s work to protect fiction and, as the author has become aware of other aspects of the foundation, they must clarify that they do not support or endorse the “minor-attracted person” support campaign that Prostasia has pushed.
If you’ve made it this far into this post, you’re probably thinking that Griff is talking about the banning of “lolicon” material – pornographic anime and manga involving depictions of young children. Griff certainly makes it sound like he is for a while too. However, let me assure you that I would not be raising this much of a fuss on my age rating blog if that was the case. Griff isn’t even talking about normal hentai.
So, what is he talking about?
“My staff recently alerted me to a series that was distributed in Australia by Madman Entertainment called Sword Art Online.”
Yes, Sword Art Online. The very popular series available on Netflix which aired on television in many countries. The first season was broadcast in Australia – albeit with some edits – on ABC ME, a free-to-air children’s channel.
First off, what the hell is your staff doing to where they’re just randomly combing through anime and bringing it to your attention? Clearly overpaid and underworked – and I’m talking about both Griff and his staff.
Griff namedrops a TV special from the series, Sword Art Online: Extra Edition, which is classified as ‘M’ in Australia for “Sexualised imagery, sexual references and animated violence”.
He then proceeds to describe the “rape” scene, making it appear as though a helpless girl is graphically raped on-screen and another boy is forced to watch. The language he used manipulated the parliament, without any kind of photo or video material to work on, to picture a graphic rape involving explicit underage nudity and penetration.
However, it is mentioned multiple times in the series that the villain does not actually manage to rape Asuna in this scene (age-restricted, probably NSFW). And yes, that is the same scene from Extra Edition, as it is a recap of the series. If anything, Extra Edition‘s version is lower in impact than the original, as it cuts the scene down for time restraint.
I’m not expecting Griff to have watched all of Sword Art Online to know this – I’m expecting him or one of his cronies to do some research, as well as provide the parliament with the video of the “rape” in question, and ask themselves if it’s any more graphic then what can be seen on typical television shows on free-to-air Australian TV after 9pm.
(This is why I linked the video here – does anyone who keeps up on age ratings think that it needs to be refused classification?)
Furthermore, Kirito is ultimately the hero of the story and saves Asuna from the situation, even if things do look dire for a bit. The story does not in any way glamorize or encourage sexual assault. It seems that Griff subscribes to a logic that is becoming scarily common that villains are not allowed to do bad things.
“In another scene high school girls are at a swimming pool and one of the girls indecently assaults another character by repeatedly squeezing her breasts and bullies her because of her physicality. The Classification Board’s decision report for this movie justifies the M rating by saying that the nudity through the film is ‘moderate in impact’ and ‘justified by context’. How can the sexual assault of a child, even in animation, be justified by context?”
Hold on now, Griff. You were talking about a scene in a swimming pool – girls in swimsuits – and then started talking about nudity. Sexual content and nudity are different areas. Furthermore, if the comic groping of an underage girl is enough to get something banned in Australia, then I guess Sixteen Candles is on the chopping block.
“Further research by my staff uncovered another series called No Game No Life. This series is hypersexualised and features incest themes between the two main characters: brother and sister Sora and Shiro.”
…Okay? So does Game of Thrones. Furthermore, while there is some innuendo, there is no indication in the anime of No Game No Life that Sora and Shiro are in a romantic or sexual relationship.
Griff then reads off a brief snippet from the Classification Board about the series having an occasional camera focus on “crotches, breasts, legs and/or buttocks”, and says that the report is referring to “children.” Again, no visual evidence, take his word for it and let your imagination go wild.
Another NSFW video clip for you – here’s a fast compilation of pretty much all the fanservice in the series. For those who can’t or don’t want to view it, with the exception of a few shots of Shiro bathing (no close-ups on her breasts, hair obscures sensitive detail), the clips involve young women with ample busts. When Griff keeps talking about ‘children’, I am certain that is not what the parliament is thinking of.
“The worst anime my office discovered is Eromanga Sensei. The plot is beyond what any person would consider normal or appropriate.”
This generalization was made by Griff taking a poll of one person – himself. Based on this, there are plenty of films and television series with plots that “any person” – which apparently has been adjusted in the dictionary to mean ‘one old chode with too much power’ – would find offensive.
“The series also heavily features incest themes, and many scenes are so disturbing I just won’t—I just can’t—describe them.”
Man, I can be a politician in Australia just by fearmongering? I don’t have to do any actual work, or even justify myself? Sounds like an easy pay! Sign me up!
I’m not even going to get into the fact that the brother and sister pair aren’t biologically related, nor did they really have any kind of relationship with each other before they realized they were working on manga together. A far cry from the biological incest of Game of Thrones.
“The Classification Board appears to be making decisions in isolation to criminal law.”
Except they obviously don’t, because the Australian police submit suspected illegal material to the Classification Board for review. I guess his office was far too occupied with circle-jerking to Eromanga-sensei behind Griff’s back to consider going on Google and finding out more about the Classification Board they’re screeching about.
“The rape of children is abundant in manga, like the series Goblin Slayer, which, in my office, we showed to a number of people today and they were absolutely horrified.”
By ‘a number of people’ Griff means his cat, who he held the book up to and hacked up a hairball in response.
“In Goblin Slayer children are often portrayed as frightening or resisting but they’re also shown as enjoying sexual abuse—enjoying it.”
If you define a child as anyone under 30 and ‘enjoying it’ as ‘yelling in fear for help’, then yes, Griff, you’re on the right track.
“I’ve already made a submission to the review of Australian classification regulation, currently underway, to raise these issues, but we cannot wait for the review findings. We must act now.”
It is not enough for Griff to waste the Classification Board’s time – he has to waste parliament’s time as well. We must act now! Lord knows how many children are being groomed by pedophiles with Sword Art Online: Extra Edition! (Hint: zero.)
“South Korea has managed to ban anime and manga of images of child sexual abuse.”
For all we know, any plan that Griff plans to take could die in parliament. However, I am viewing this from the perspective of someone who is aware of the hyperbole-free reality and context that Griff left out of his speech, painting him as a xenophobic asshat at best. (Why didn’t you talk about Big Mouth, Griff? That’s on Netflix! Kids can access it!)
However, I doubt that many, if any members of parliament are familiar with anime beyond a basic understanding and as such may jump to action based only on Griff’s manipulative half-truths of what they think are children being sexually exploited for the pleasure of pedophiles to groom children with.
If that is the case, a lot of anime and manga are in danger in Australia. I’m not just talking about ecchi, or even just the titles Griff listed. I’m talking about very mainstream titles such as Dragon Ball, My Hero Academia, Naruto, and Yu Yu Hakusho.
Griff could destroy anime in Australia, and it’s likely the fault of one of his office members being caught watching anime at work and justifying it as some kind of research. Twit.
If you live in South Australia,
tell Griff where to shove it write a serious message to him expressing your concerns as a citizen about his misrepresentations of anime and manga in front of parliament. And then, if he gives you some bullshit response, tell him to shove it.