TVNZ won a High Court appeal against the Broadcasting Standards Authority who had ruled a sex scene (the horror!!) in Hung, a show about a male prostitute, airing after 10pm violated the standards of good taste and decency.
Hung airs late at night, in this case at 9.50pm, is rated AO and as the title and advertising suggests an average episode would contain sexual content. Anyone who chooses to watch realizes this and shouldn’t be outraged at sex scenes being included.
The BSA Chair, Peter Radich was the sensible minority and “…consider[ed] that the scene complained about was acceptable in the context in which it appeared: in an AO-classified programme targeted at an informed adult audience”.
The High Court said it was “plainly wrong” to rule against it and Justice Asher said that sex “plays an inevitable part of the narrative”.
We’re all capable of choosing not to watch something and that needs to be reflected in BSA decisions.
Hung’s protagonist is a down and out former teacher who turns to providing sexual companionship to women for pay. Sex plays an inevitable part of the narrative. No viewer could be surprised at a scene with some strong sexual content. The scene formed a natural part of the storyline both of the episode and the series. In its immediate context the scene shows a reversal of the traditional role where sexual exploitation is by men of women, and in a mildly humorous way. In terms of the initiation of sexual contact and payment traditional gender expectations are turned on their head. The themes of role reversal and the exploitation of a male for sexual purposes are reflected in the scene. It is the only sex scene in the particular episode. It demonstrates a modest victory for Lenore in her battle with Tanya for control of Ray. For Ray, it is another dollar. He performs a sexual service for a woman he does not like. It fits naturally into the episode’s storyline. It was not the case, as the majority decided, that the scene was designed “solely to titillate”.