Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Violence is bad m'kay!

The BBC report on violence in the cinema and the BBFC's attitude to classification (remember, it's not censorship);

British film censors are toughening their stance on horror and violence in movies, taking a stricter line than their American counterparts. Requests for 12A ratings for a number of Hollywood films were rejected by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC), the body's annual report said. Films like Cloverfield, I Am Legend and Disturbia got a PG-13 rating in the US, allowing access to children of any age.

In the UK, however, the films received the more restrictive 15 certificate. The BBFC said the ratings showed an "increasing divergence" from the US system, regulated by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA).
"While the MPAA takes a strict line on issues relating to nudity and sex, the BBFC is significantly more restrictive on violence and horror," BBFC director David Cooke said.

'Violent threat'

The distributors of Cloverfield, I Am Legend and Disturbia had been "very keen" for the films to receive a 12A classification, according to Mr Cooke.

Thriller Disturbia starred Indiana Jones actor Shia LaBeouf (left)That rating means the film is suitable for viewers aged 12 and over. Children under 12 may also see 12A films if they are accompanied by an adult.
But the BBFC felt the films in question should be rated 15 for their "extended periods of intense violent threat and moments of horror".
Films rated 15 cannot be seen in a cinema by anyone under that age.
In the US, PG-13 means anybody can get into the film but parents are warned that some scenes that may be inappropriate for those under 13.
"The board's view was that, based on the extensive public consultation exercises, the films went beyond what most members of the UK public would consider appropriate for children younger than 15," Mr Cooke said.
These were not the only cases, he added. "Around 10% of films each year which come in with a particular category request end up with a higher one than asked for."

'Psychological impact'

The BBFC's current guidelines, published in 2005, were drafted following consultation with more than 11,000 people in the UK.
This year, the body will begin a new programme of consultation in preparation for its next set of guidelines, to be published in 2009.
The BBFC has pledged to consider a number of issues, among them the treatment of such issues as racism and homophobia and the importance of "psychological impact".
"BBFC decisions reflect UK public attitudes," said Mr Cooke, who has been BBFC director since 2004. "Notions of harm and appropriateness remain culturally dependent.
"That is why all past attempts to develop a pan-European film classification system have fallen at the first hurdle."

Do we really need to protect young people from "extended periods of intense violent threat and moments of horror"?

It reminds me a little of the attitude of the late Mary Whitehouse who was angered at, the then 25 minute episodes of, Doctor Who ending in a cliff hanger. She cited children as being susceptible of stress due to the wait for the resolution.

I've seen both Cloverfield and I Am Legend and can't see why they couldn't be rated a 12A instead of 15. Especially I Am Legend that has nothing more frightening in it than an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

What has been pissing me off the most is Hollywood studios lightening movies that are clearly for adults, then releasing "uncut" versions on DVD. Die Hard 4.0 being a prime example. What it means is that adults like myself who enjoy a violent movie won't go and see the "theatrical cut" of movies like Land of the Dead, knowing that an unrated DVD will come out.

I suppose I should expect this from the Nanny state that the United Kingdom is.

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