Chief Censor vs Rodney Hide

Rodney Hide squared up against the Chief Censor at NBR.

New Zealand’s chief censor has defended claims he is “unfit for office” after banning several Wicked campervans and labelling them objectionable.

Another Wicked campervan was banned by the Office of Film and Literature Classification this week that features a depiction of a Japanese sexual act that is “denigrating to women.”

Former politician Rodney Hide believes political pressure was involved in the decision and has taken issue with chief censor Andrew Jack’s ban being retrospective.

“While [the classification office is] not in charge of what the courts might do, once you’ve labelled something objectionable, those who are involved in producing that material are breaking the law,” he says.

Mr Jack confirms “if something’s deemed objectionable it is objectionable and always has been objectionable.”

The highest punishment for distributing objectionable material is a $200,000 fine for a corporate or up to 14 years in jail for an individual.   

Mr Hide notes the ban applies only to the Wicked campervans themselves, not images or descriptions of the campervans, which can be freely distributed. But chief censor Andrew Jack warns such distribution would be “irresponsible.”

“You have to think about how likely it would be that that photograph would be classified as objectionable and as you’ve noted, once it’s been made objectionable you have committed a whole bunch of offences yourself. You need to think very carefully,” he says.

Mr Hide says such a warning demonstrates why Mr Jack is “unfit for the office”.

“You’re threatening me that if I took an image of that campervan and sent it to someone, that someone could make a complaint and retrospectively I’d be liable for jail,” he says.

“Well you’re entitled to your opinion Rodney, but you’re wrong,” Mr Jack responds.

Actually most Kiwis would agree with Rodney Hide. I think the role of Chief Censor is a Victorian anachronism and should be abolished, especially when you look at the context.

Mr Jack says the office executes only the first part of the classification process and has no mandate to issue punishments.

“After we deem something objectionable, the complainant has a number of options and once they’ve made their mind up it’s open to the courts. They don’t automatically dish out the most serious punishment,” he says.

This, Mr Hide says, is inappropriate when displaying images of Snow White doing Class A drugs attracts a higher sentence than actually doing Class A drugs.

“I have no mandate to involve myself in your snorting coke on a public street in New Zealand. But most New Zealanders would accept you cannot advertise the consumption of Class A drugs on a four-foot high moving billboard and drive it around the city,” Mr Jack says.

Actually I think it is Mr Jack who is on crack.

Rodney Hide is right, the Chief Censor is unfit for the office.


Hide: “If I actually had an image of that camper van on my computer could I distribute it to my friends?”

Jack: “Look, the camper vans are objectionable and it would be grossly irresponsible of you to put a picture of those camper vans — a different publication — but if someone then took your computer screen — if you sent it to somebody — you would have to think about how likely it would be to end up being classified as objectionable and — as you have noted — once it’s been made objectionable — then you have committed a whole bunch of offences yourself — so you need to think carefully about that.”

Hide: “That shows why you are unfit for the office because what you are doing is threatening me that if I took an image of that camper van and sent it to someone you are saying, “Yes, that would be quite lawful to doing it right now — but just understand sonny, if you did it, someone, i.e. the police, would make a complaint, and retrospectively I would be liable for (14 years) jail” now if that’s the way you think of your job, you should not be in your job.”




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  • Vlad

    Rodney is of course right. It is hard to defend the cunning smarty-pants who is manipulating the lame media to get marketing exposure for his ordinary little van rental business. Much like the expensive and not very good pizzas cranked up by Hell Pizza.

    But the whole process is a symptom of the twitterati pile-on outrage phenomonen. Amped up by our current excuse of a newspaper and MSM industry that chases click-bait rather than reportage.

  • Orange

    Rodney Hide, defender of Cocaine. Far out Rodney, can’t you find something more worthwhile to do with your time? Most of NZ are not interested in this kind of complete ego centered ethical relativism and lack of community responsibility.

    • Crowgirl

      Apparently defender of hardcore pornographic acts on the sides of camper vans as well.

      • [MOD] You’re better than that.

        • Crowgirl

          I appreciate it’s not my finest argument and apologise.

    • [MOD] Not happy with this response at all. If the outcome is that people won’t come here because they get abused, then I take that very seriously. Time for you to have some time away.

  • RightofSingapore

    No one is forcing these precious petals to look at the Wicked Campervans, if you don’t like them, then don’t look. Its not rocket surgery.

    • Crowgirl

      Normally I’d agree with you but if the image is showing what I think it’s showing that’s pornography and has no business on the side of a camper van, where anyone not seeking out pornography has to be exposed to it. Pornography is available for people to enjoy in the privacy of their homes – I see no reason why everyone’s eyeballs need to be assaulted by something that offensive to the vast majority of women, just so a minority of men can get their jollies. There has to be a line and I think pornographic acts are it. Wicked are way over the line allowing their vehicles to be decorated with such. We can all enjoy a non-PC joke, but pornography is now a useful marketing tool for camper vans? Really?

      And who are the absolute morons hiring vans with this stuff on it? I wouldn’t be caught dead in a van with pornography on the side.

      • RightofSingapore

        Is it still porn if its in cartoon form or some such?

        • willtin


          • Crowgirl

            I concur – the sex act I know of that fits this description as above is hardcore pornography, and in no way, shape or form should people not seeking out such acts for viewing be exposed to it against their will.

          • willtin

            I think it boils down to an Aussie taking the piss, thinking one is clever, but not understanding New Zealand.

          • Crowgirl

            I would argue whoever painted that on the van doesn’t understand New Zealand, women, families and the majority of the world. I don’t have kids, but I would be incensed if my kids were unwittingly exposed to that so a camper van service can advertise itself.

      • Think not know. It isn’t pornography. It’s a cartoon of snow White snorting coke.

        • Crowgirl

          The article above refers to a Japanese sex act that denigrates women. Doesn’t sound like cocaine snorting Snow White to me.

        • RockinBob625

          “Bukkake ruined my carpet” is the phrase in question. Sourced from the official documents which are online.

  • Kevin

    ““I have no mandate to involve myself in your snorting coke on a public street in New Zealand. But most New Zealanders would accept you cannot advertise the consumption of Class A drugs on a four-foot high moving billboard and drive it around the city,” Mr Jack says.”

    Since when have Wicked Campervans be advertising Class A drugs? Snow White snorting coke certainly isn’t an advertisement.

  • Orange

    My dearest Rodney
    1. Exactly my point. Which is why all the arguments defending it are silly.
    2. Your time is your business. Which is my point again, about everything being about you rather than wider community responsibilities. It even implies that your time is “your” business and “not” mine for commenting. But if everyone is free to say whatever they want you shouldn’t be chastising me for commenting on you with the time that I have. Kinda hypocritical.
    3. The common description is libertarian which I presume you are. It pretty much boils down to the same thing at that point despite protestations to the contrary. If you’re not libertarian then I most wholeheartedly withdrawn and apologise for saying such a thing. The argument regarding ruling actually implies that more issues should become political is that is the only situation in which issues will be resolved.
    4. Really makes you sound like a keyboard warrior arguing the endless what-ifs of going around trying to upset people and break laws just to prove a point. Great stuff.

    Writing from the Super City
    Your best fruit

  • [MOD] What Rodney ‘did to Auckland’ is completely irrelevant to the topic. I’m disappointed. Leave your baggage at the door, or be outside the door.

    • willtin

      I appreciate I overstepped the mark.

  • duve

    What if I screen printed this on the side of a van? Would it be acceptable?

  • reubee

    Ultimately I think the right decision was made with regards the campervans (availabe here if you’d like to read) My thought is if you couldn’t show it in a commercial during What Now on Sunday morning, then it probably shouldn’t be painted on the side of a van driving round NZ roads.

    Although an interesting argument would be what if the offending phrase/image was on a bumper sticker?, what if the offending phrase/image was printed on a tee-shirt.

    I also await a carpet cleaning company generating publicity by running an advertisement that shows their product getting the ‘Bukkake Udon’ stains out of the carpet!!!

    • duve

      I guess the argument is that the decision whether or not to show a commercial on a TV channel rests with the channel management and its perceived public image, and has no bearing on whether the subject matter is legal or not.

  • J Ryan

    As I have said before these campers go to far and the scabby things should be banned as such. They are viewable to the public and many people find it offensive. There has to be a line drawn somewhere. Otherwise would everyone be okay with pictures of couples copulating on the side of the vans? It lowers the tone, like some trashy backwater of a country with slack morals. Kids have enough trouble navigating through their teens without these vans downgrading the standards we endeavour to teach them. Put them through Crusher Collins crusher machines I say and be done with the tasteless heaps.

  • island time

    Rodney, I agree with your comments regarding the penalties involved and the mechanism. I just do not agree with what has been on some of the Campervans. I enjoy your commentaries but of course it does not mean I have to agree with all of them.

    keep up the good work!!

  • taxpayer

    “But I must say poking a stick at government and its excesses is good fun”
    Very good Mr Hide, you keep poking that stick, the sharper the stick the better too.
    Keep up the good work and keep having fun.

  • Whitey

    Well said, Rodney. And I notice Mr Jack didn’t actually address the very important point that it is ridiculous for displaying a picture of Snow White doing coke to attract a stiffer penalty than actually doing coke. The whole thing is a farce and deep down Mr Jack knows it.

    It’s long past time our pointless, anachronistic censorship process was retired.