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Resisting age-ratings in China: The ongoing prehistory of film classification

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This article investigates the ongoing absence in China of a system of age-ratings for films. We provide a history of contemporary Chinese debate about establishing age-ratings, comprehensively examining former censor regimes’ content restrictions and conceptions of youth. Drawing on archival research and interviews, this history describes the authorities responsible for film regulation, stakeholders advocating for reform, and the techniques involved in restricting content. We show that the Chinese state continues to resist an age-rating system for films, while arguing that this exceptional position masks historical and current similarities between China and elsewhere in governing acceptable content for youth.
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Keywords: Chinese film history; age-rating; censorship; film governance; media classification; youth

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: The University of Sydney 2: Changzhou University 3: Ningbo Institute of Technology, Zhejiang University

Publication date: April 1, 2019

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  • Asian Cinema is a seminal journal, which has been published since 1995 by the Asian Cinema Studies Society under the stewardship of Professor John Lent. From 2012 Asian Cinema will be published by Intellect as part of our Film Studies journal portfolio. The journal currently publishes a variety of scholarly material - including research articles, interviews, book and film reviews and bibliographies - on all forms and aspects of Asian cinema. The journal's broad aim is to advance understanding and knowledge of the rich traditions of the various Asian cinemas, thereby making an invaluable contribution to the field of Film Studies in general.
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