Posted by: themoviecheese | March 15, 2011

Why The BBFC Is Total Bollocks

The BBFC (British Board of Film Classification) has always had some serious problems. It’s been through quite a lot of hypocritical chairmen and other staff members who don’t know a disturbing movie from the latest Hannah Montana “film”. The biggest problem though lies in the actual certifications themselves. So I’m going to take an in depth look at each one:

“U”

The “U” certificate stands for “Universal”, as in the featured product is suitable for everyone in the Universe. Now, what’s always amazed me about this is that all three of the original Star Wars movies are rated “U”. Seriously? Did the Board even watch them?! Between the intense sword fighting, the suggested incest between Luke and Leia, the fact that Luke gets his entire hand cut off, the downright scary nature of Vader, the crazy beasties in the movie, that skimpy bikini that Leia wore in Return of the Jedi, you would have thought that the movies would have been given “PG”. You may think I’m being a little silly here. I mean, sure, the average child wouldn’t be fazed in the slightest by all that aforementioned stuff, but the Board is saying that these movies are suitable for EVERYONE, including little 3 year olds who wince at the sight of Barney the Dinosaur jumping over a wall. Seriously, when you think of it this way, the gap between U and PG seems no narrow. If something like the Star Wars trilogy is rated “U”, then why is something like Toy Story rated “PG”?

“PG”

Like I said before, the bridge between U and PG has become more and more narrow. The biggest example I can think of this is the Toy Story trilogy. The first movie was rated PG, which would be understandable (afterall that crazy toy-killing punk kid was quite distressing, and a lot of his disfigured toys were quite frightening for younger children), but what I don’t get is why Toy Story 3 is rated “U” when it’s clearly the “scariest” of the trilogy. The furnace scene had my nieces in total shock and distress, and yet the Board are claiming this movie is even suitable for toddlers?!! Fucking stupid.

“12/12A”

The “12” certificate has always been horribly flawed. The first ever film to be given the certificate was the theatrical release and DVD re-release of Tim Burton’s Batman. On VHS, the film was given a “15”. This always really confused me. In fact, the 12 certificate is probably the most flawed. Take for example the likes of Iron Man and Spider-man; two very “silly” comic book movies with a very bright comic feel, and a huge emphasis on comedy, at times almost making them slapstick. Both of these films are rated “12”. Now consider James Cameron’s Titanic; also rated “12” and yet it contained a full on sex scene, tits, ass, heaps of violence, dead babies, and two instanced of the word “fuck”. Hmmm…

“15”

I don’t really have a specific problem as such with this certificate. There is the odd horror film released that clearly needs more a 12 certificate than a 15, especially when you consider the standard set by Titanic like I mentioned earlier. Remake movies like The Grudge contain absolutely no bad language or sex, and very little actual violence, bar a woman missing a jaw. Yeah, some find it scary, but not many, and the average 12+ year old has progressed enough to not feel too distressed at all. Afterall, they are called horror films for a reason. If you come away feeling scared then such a film has clearly succeeded. It’s just another case of the Board covering their own fucking backs, rather than giving the average movie-goer what they clearly want.

“18/R18”

And here we go. The big one. The MPAA (Motion Pictures Association of America) is MUCH better than the BBFC in quite a lot of ways. Yes, they cut and edit quite a lot of movies, but the actual idea around their certificates make a lot more sense. First, they have G, which is their version of U. Then they have PG, which is self-explanatory. The distinction between the two, however, isn’t as flawed or narrow as the BBFC. A G rating will ONLY be given to a product that contains NO violence, sex, or bad language . So literally the lightest of entertainment like Hannah Montana or Dora the Explorer is given this rating. The PG rating is more or less the same as ours, except it’s a lot more broad.  The Star Wars films for instance were rated PG. Granted Toy Story 3 was also rated G, but at least Joan Graves (from the MPAA) has gone on record saying it should have been given a PG. After G and PG the actual ages start to come into it. First there is PG-13, the “13” part being just a standard, like a guideline. In other words, if you’re under 13 you can still see the film at the discretion of your parents. It is completely up to the parents (and let’s be honest, American parents are a LOT stricter than the average British parent) if they want the child to see the film. Then there is “R” rating, again the restriction is merely a guideline for the parent to follow. Anybody under the age of 18 who wishes to see a R movie must be accompanied by a parent of guardian adult. So, in theory a child at the age of 3 could see the likes of Inglorious Basterds providing he’s with a parent. But nobody’s that stupid. Then after “R” there is “NC-17”, which is a LOT more strict. It’s a full restriction on anyone under 17. Basically anyone under 17 isn’t allowed, full stop. The reason I prefer these rating is that the “18” certificate just makes no fucking sense. In the modern day of film, the one thing that really pushes a movie into “18” territory, apart from extreme violence, is sex and nudity. Bad language is no longer a worry, as evidenced by films like Bad Boys 2 (rated 15) and RocknRolla (rated 15). It is either extreme violence or sex and nudity that pushes the boundaries. The extreme violence I sort of understand. But the sex and nudity makes no sense. Films like 9 Songs that are only rated 18 because of their sexual content should be rated 15. Why? Because the age of consent is still 16. So that means that at the age of 16, you can have sex…real hardcore sweaty sex, oral, anal, with toys…what ever you fucking want…you can do all that, but according to the BBFC you can’t watch it?! That’s fucked up…

Note: the R18 rating is only ever given to porn movies. So yeah, no real problem with that…

 

 

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Responses

  1. I once went down to London and visited the BBFC, they told us that some movies such as Titanic and Saving Private Ryan are not given such a high rating because they are ‘true historical story’s’ which makes sense really… And also they never cut movies unless given promission by the film makers, which is used to get the rating down abit. The only time they would ever cut something from a movie is if it was iligal, overwise you can make any kind of movie you want. And they would give it a 18 or im guessing if it was so made a R-18 which is normally only given to porn… Basically, if it’s legal (no real deaths, hurting animals ect) it’s allowed…

  2. ” they told us that some movies such as Titanic and Saving Private Ryan are not given such a high rating because they are ‘true historical story’s’ which makes sense really ”

    – I’m sorry but, no, that simply doesn’t make sense at all and it’s just the Board making up an excuse. Educational or not, Titanic STILL contains a copious amount of nudity (full on tits, ass, and extreme eroticism) – this does NOTHING towards explaining the reality of the tragedy that conspired. It also contains horribly distressing footage like full on footage of dead babies being cradled by their parents. There is a level of how “educational” something has to be before it just becomes “wrong”. Calling Titanic “educational” is just a ballsy excuse. You were on a TOUR, so obviously they have to explain their own discrepancies. If Titanic was made a 12 for educational purposes, then it didn’t HAVE TO contain a copious amount of violence, it didn’t HAVE TO contain dead babies, it didn’t HAVE TO contain two instances of the word “fuck”, and it certainly didn’t HAVE TO contain all those tits and ass.
    And in the case of Saving Private Ryan, I don’t understand why the BBFC even mentioned it at your tour. There is NOTHING in Saving Private Ryan to suggest that it should have been higher than a “15”. There was loads of violence in the opening scene. Wow. Trust me dude, I’ve seen MUCH worse “15”-rated movies.

    ” And also they never cut movies unless given promission by the film makers, which is used to get the rating down abit. ”

    – It’s not quite as black and white as that dude. Here’s what happens:-
    In the 1980s, Sam Raimi directed Evil Dead. It was his directorial debut and he practically sold his LIFE to get it made. It was a low budget grindhouse horror film that had the potential to reach a mainstream audience. He sends it to both the BBFC and the MPAA. Both companies refuse to release it AT ALL unless Raimi makes some serious cuts – which he refuses to do. It’s HIS movie and he has worked his blood sweat and tears into making it. And so because he refuses to make these extreme cuts, both the MPAA and the BBFC refuse to release it and ban it completely. It wasn’t until VHS that people finally got to see it – but it was HEAVILY cut. Now a days, of course, the film has since been re-released on DVD fully uncut.
    THAT is what’s wrong here. Raimi went a full TWENTY YEARS before the general public could see his movie uncut.
    It’s not as simple as “the BBFC have to get the film maker’s permission” – obviously that’s what the tour guide is going to tell you because he WORKS FOR THE BBFC. It’s more like “the film maker has to do what the BBFC say or he/she gets shafted”. Film is an art form and yet with the BBFC, ALL art goes out of the window.
    And don’t tell me “Oh that was 30 years ago, times have changed now” – if that’s the case then why is almost EVERY single HORROR film released to cinemas edited and then get an “extended” version on DVD?!
    The BBFC will never change. It’s a horribly broken system. The 12A is the WORST decision in cinema history. We went to see Thor (rated 12A) just last week and somebody brought a fucking BABY into the theater. A FUCKING BABY!! Now tell me it’s not a completely broken system.

  3. As much as I agree that the BBFC system is extremely flawed, I disagree with many of your points.

    Titanic was rated a perfect 12. In case you forgot, the 12A system was introduced to cinemas in 2002. Titanic came in the late 90s. So basically, if you were above 12 you could watch it. So if you really think a 12 year old is gonna freak out at the image of bare nipples, you must have issues.

    Secondly, if you read the BBFC guidelines, they actually explain how they rate their films. Once again, it’s pretty common to get kids who constantly swear and watch porn at the mere age of 11 – if you didn’t know that, I can guarantee you that you’re kid is doing it. I doubt the presence of a ‘fuck’ would really affect them.

    Most of the BBFC’s criteria is fairly reasonable. The most extreme stuff simply gets an 18. For example: Saw, Kill Bill and Blade were given this rating for extreme graphic violence. I’m sure, all 3 of these series’ could’ve been passed with a 15 if such scene were edited more quickly without dwelling on the gore. That’s where the BBFC checks whether it can be accepted.

    You get movies nower days which have plenty of ‘cunts’ and ‘fucks’ which are only rated 15 which I think is perfectly fine because no 15 year old is a saint. They’re gonna be used to that language.

    What the other dude said was right. If a movie is submitted and the distributor is looking for a lower rating, they can request the BBFC for a checklist of stuff they can cut to achieve that lower rating. For example, if the movie was rated an 18 whilst the distributors were anticipating a 15, they can ask for cuts to be made. Whether they make the cuts or not solely depends on the choice of the distributors. Same with 15s, some cut out a bit of the cussing and they get a 12A rating.

    In the case of Evil Dead, not only the BBFC but also the MPAA found it too graphic. Obviously, back at the time of the release, such extreme horror movies didn’t exist so attitudes were different. Compared to now, Evil Dead is a like kiddies film in terms of violence.

    But I agree about the U and PG. The existance of the U rating is almost as useful as a white crayon.

    • ” Titanic was rated a perfect 12. In case you forgot, the 12A system was introduced to cinemas in 2002. Titanic came in the late 90s. So basically, if you were above 12 you could watch it. So if you really think a 12 year old is gonna freak out at the image of bare nipples, you must have issues. ”
      You misunderstand me completely. My issue isn’t that Titanic was given a 12…my issue is that any other film containing the same footage as Titanic would receive a higher rating. The only reason Titanic got away with a 12 is because it was deemed “Educational”. Just take a look at the BBFC website. The film was released to cinemas with a runtime of 194 minutes. Then when it was released to video a year later, they shaved off around 10 whole minutes of footage. I’m telling you, something about Titanic’s rating just doesn’t add up.

      ” Secondly, if you read the BBFC guidelines, they actually explain how they rate their films. Once again, it’s pretty common to get kids who constantly swear and watch porn at the mere age of 11 – if you didn’t know that, I can guarantee you that you’re kid is doing it. I doubt the presence of a ‘fuck’ would really affect them. ”
      On one hand, this makes sense…but on another it makes no sense at all. A person at the age of 16 can have sex but can’t watch porn, so surely by your theory, such sexually explicit films as 9 Songs and Lie With Me should receive a 15 instead of an 18? But that just further proves how fucked up the BBFC system is.

      ” What the other dude said was right. If a movie is submitted and the distributor is looking for a lower rating, they can request the BBFC for a checklist of stuff they can cut to achieve that lower rating. For example, if the movie was rated an 18 whilst the distributors were anticipating a 15, they can ask for cuts to be made. Whether they make the cuts or not solely depends on the choice of the distributors. Same with 15s, some cut out a bit of the cussing and they get a 12A rating. ”
      Indeed, but my point is that the director does NOT have the final say in his piece of art. Even with the checklist, it is the producers who finalize that stuff. All the director can do is hope that the studio allow him to release a director’s cut somewhere down the line.

      ” Evil Dead is a like kiddies film in terms of violence. ”
      Are we talking about the same film? You realize Evil Dead contains a scene in which a tree pins a woman down and rapes her right? I can guarantee you that same scene will NOT be in the remake that has just gone into production.


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