Monday, 4 October 2010

Parents Beware: BBFC 12 Film Ratings are a Farce

It is self-evident that the classification of films by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) has changed over the years. Anyone who thinks otherwise needs simply to cast their mind back to X-Rated films of yesteryear and compare them to 12 and 15 rated films today.

Now I am no prude, I have worked in warehouses, offices and other work environments, and I have heard bad language. I don't approve of its use in normal conversation, it portrays a lack of vocabulary if nothing else, but I can understand the odd usage of 'Anglo-Saxon' when someone hurts them self, even if we should try to avoid such things if we are trying to better ourselves.

At the same time we all know that far too many Hollywood films are littered with foul language and blasphemy -- much of it totally unnecessary to any plot line. Its usage seems quite facetious, as if the people who plan these things like to "shock" the audience or underpin a film's authenticity by littering it with foul words.

Listening to a BBC film review show the other day, I followed some interesting points that brought home not only how much the BBFC ratings have changed since I was a boy, but how ridiculous those ratings are today and have little relevance to the films (especially in regards to what parents should let their children see).

See if you think the following makes sense.

A cartoon film, Marmaduke, with the rating U (available to all) was told by the BBFC that it would be given a rating of 12, unless it removed one slang word for disability.

Meanwhile The Hole in 3D is a 12 film, and grown men are saying it is scary, including a child with bleeding eyes, and one person phoned the BBC to say his children had had nightmares ever since seeing the film.

What I guess I'm trying to ask is how can Marmaduke almost be a 12 when something as scary as The Hole in 3D is a 12 (I have little doubt that back in the 70s or 80s it would have been X-rated).

I haven't see The Hole in 3D so I'm only going by what the BBC presenters and audience were saying.

But one 12 film I did see which shocked me was The Dark Knight. With strong violence, knives held to mouths and more, it was clearly an adult thriller that would easily have been X-rated in the past.

The worrying thing is that the 12 rating is a guideline, so parents can take young children in with them if they see fit, which is fine if Marmaduke was given a 12 rating, but for films such as The Hole in 3D or The Dark Knight, this is a nonsense.

Hollywood likes to tell us that bad films don't make bad people, that they are simply reflecting society at large. This is an argument easily shot down in flames because many thriller and horror films carry unreal violence and extreme situations, albeit portrayed in a real and frightening way.

Plus they miss the point, which is that the innocence of our children is being lost far too easily and at a far too early age. It is terrible when you read of young children being allowed to view horror and porn, and all the psychological problems that can bring, not least lawlessness and a sense of amorality.

Yet it is a nonsensical situation when official guidelines allow parents, even those who assiduously follow such guidelines to do the best for their children, to take children of 8 or 9 (or even younger) to see films as scary as the Dark Knight or as horrifying as The Hole in 3D.

I don't think we, as a society, should accept this status quo when the possibility to do harm to the young is so obvious.

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