The statement of a Movie and Television Review and Classification Board official that his agency would regulate the content of video-on-demand platforms drew so much adverse reaction that the MTRCB head had to issue a clarification on the matter.
In a radio interview, chairperson Rachel Arenas denied that they would prohibit any content, insisting that the MTRCB was not a censoring board any longer.
“It’s not like before. We go by the times,” Arenas said.
She did say that managers of VOD platforms should align their motion picture ratings and classifications to the contemporary values of Filipino viewers. What they would do, she added, is a vague term called “post-monitoring.”
If the classification given by the platform is not aligned with such contemporary Filipino values, “that's the time we're going to call on them," she said.
There is, however, something inherently problematic about the MTRCB’s renewed sense of mission even if it says it knows it is no longer the censorship tool that it used to be before.
First, it would have to spell out what “contemporary Filipino values” are. This is an impossible task because individuals and families are inherently different. Each is shaped by education, background, prejudices, experiences and aspirations. One family, for instance, may value openness, critical thinking and free discussions. Another family may place a premium on obedience and deference to elders.
Second, the proposal presents a huge problem in practicability. We do not believe that the staff of the MTRCB would be able to review every single movie or episode that is aired in every single platform, evaluate them for their values, and then compare their ratings with what the MTRCB believes they are supposed to have.
And, supposing there is a conflict, how does the agency propose to enforce what it thinks is right? Ultimately, does it not still resort to censorship, albeit carried out in a roundabout and less obvious fashion?
Technology has eliminated borders and any other barriers between countries from where such content originates and where they are consumed. Evaluating something for its alignment with values is an infringement into families’ judgment as to what they would permit themselves and their family members to watch. Policing the flow of content, in today’s environment, is simply absurd.
Perhaps MTRCB is desperate to show it remains relevant in this day and age. Alas, it no longer is. If there is any work to be done at all, it is that irrelevance and a bloated bureaucracy must be addressed, pronto. That is some denouement worth waiting for.