Children given booklet showing guns and torture

KIRSTY JOHNSTON
Last updated 11:11 11/12/2012
Fresh Meat

'LIKELY TO DISTURB': A promotional image for the film Fresh Meat included in a booklet given to school children.

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Pictures of simulated torture, guns and women in their underwear brandishing weapons were included in a booklet distributed to primary-aged pupils by promoters for the Armageddon Expo.

The images have been deemed unsuitable for children, following a complaint about the promotional material.

In a ruling released today, the Advertising Standards Authority said the booklets were "likely to disturb" the youngsters.  

It is the first time Armageddon has been complained about.

Authority members were asked to investigate earlier this year after the parents of a six-year-old Aucklander came home with a booklet about the October gaming and entertainment event.

"While the Armageddon event is itself billed as a 'family event', the booklet is full of adverts for games and movies that carry restricted ratings that are well above the age of primary school children, such as Assassins Creed III, Halo 4, Fresh Meat and The Vegas Horror Show," the girl's parents told the authority.

They said the booklet showed "tons" of imagery unsuitable for primary and intermediate children, including violence, lots of guns, someone about to be hacked with an axe, a man buried up to his chin, blood, simulated torture, severed fingers in a soup of blood, women in their underwear brandishing weapons, "and a woman in a PVC cat suit unzipped to show her pneumatic cleavage".

"All in all, not the kind of home-time reading that's suitable for a six-year-old," the complaint said.

The pair asked the authority to consider the complaint under The Code for Advertising to Children. It requires the board to consider whether the advertisement was prepared with a high standard of social responsibility; portrayed violence, undue aggression, or menacing or horrific elements likely to disturb children, depicted toys that could be confused with real weapons, included sexual imagery or contained anything that promoted gambling.

The authority also had to consider whether it contained claims that were likely to deceive or be likely to deceive children, abuse their trust or exploit their lack of knowledge, or without reason play on fear. 

The authority found that it did breach those codes, and "did not observe the high standard of social responsibility".

Armageddon Expo organisers said once the school received the material it was up to them whether to distribute it. 

"We have been producing a yearly magazine for our Auckland expo for the last 10 years for a broad age range and have never received a complaint before," it said.

There is no punishment for breaching the standards.

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