Underbelly: articles

Newton, Hutchison

Underbelly's bare breasts and sex scenes are 'soft porn'

BARE breasts and raunchy sex scenes have sparked fierce debate following the second outing of the Underbelly prequel with critics likening the show to soft porn.

While the premiere telemovie, Underbelly: A Tale Of Two Cities, kept nudity and foul language to a minimum, viewers and family groups expressed their concern over intimate scenes between heroin kingpin Terry Clark (played by Matthew Newton) and his drug-running mistress Allison (Anna Hutchison) saying they edged on soft porn.

The prolonged nudity of Hutchison, a lead character in the one hour episode, raised concerns about the M rated gangland crime drama screening at 8.30pm.

Under the Commercial Television Code of Conduct, Channel 9 is within their rights to telecast the program at 8.30pm, the first available time slot to show M rated material, as it's considered the beginning of adult viewing in prime time on weekdays.

TV networks self-regulate their show's classifications and time slots, which includes enforcing general (G) ratings between 4pm and 7pm and parental guidance (PG) zones between 7pm and 8.30pm on weekdays.

Mature audience (MA) classifications come into play seven days a week between 9pm and 5am and adult violence (AV) ratings are recommended from 9.30pm to 5am. Pay television follows almost identical guidelines.

"The 8.30pm time slot isn't a family friendly zone, it's always been the adults time slot," Nine's chief classification officer Richard Lyle says.

However, the excessive nudity in Underbelly: A Tale Of Two Cities, which attracted a national average audience of 2.46 million on Monday evening, was condemned by Australian Family Association representative Joe Lopez yesterday.

Lopez called on the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) to review the self-regulation codes because the 8.30pm time slot is still open to teenagers.

"The laws governing censorship need to be reviewed because teenagers are still up at this time," Lopez says.

"There's no excuse at anytime to show excessive pornography or violence like they do in Underbelly. They are trying to put a dramatic representation of how crime was in relation to the illicit drug trade in that time by glamorising it with sex.

"If you are trying to show that illicit drugs are a driver for criminality, why lump the whole thing with pornography? This isn't soft porn, it's pornography."

With one season of Underbelly, which showcased Melbourne's underworld blood-drenched shootings, breasts galore and potty mouths, down, Lyle says the network received just three complaints following Monday's episode.

"Those people who says it's soft porn have clearly never actually watched soft porn because you see actual intercourse," says Lyle, who also said offensive swear words including c... would usually only be shown under an MA classification.

By Erin McWhirter
February 18, 2009
The Daily Telegraph