The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) announced its annual report for 2020, and explained why some movies had seen their classifications upgraded, with most moving from PG to 12A. Among the movies getting a ratings change are Star Wars, Rocky and Flash Gordon, which have been deemed a little too mature for their previously intended audiences. The Fast & Furious and Karate Kid ratings are also changing, but i the opposite direction.
“A film that is PG, or parental guidance, suggests it shouldn’t unsettle children aged eight or older, while a 12A rating means that the movie should not be watched by people younger than 12 without an adult. Of the 93 complaints last year, 27 of them were about the 1980 space opera Flash Gordon, which has now seen its rating rise to a 12A due the inclusion of ‘discriminatory stereotypes. Ming The Merciless, Flash Gordon‘s villain, was of east Asian descent, but was portrayed by French-Swedish actor Max von Sydow.”
Rocky has also been upgraded to a 12A due to ‘moderate violence, mouthed strong language and domestic abuse,’ while the latest version of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back has been given a new PG rating from U, for ‘moderate violence and mild threat.’
The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring also switches classification, moving up to a 12A for its ‘moderate fantasy violence and threat.’ which brings it in line with the other two movies in the trilogy. The Elephant Man, which stars Sir Anthony Hopkins and Sir John Hurt, was also upgraded , and is now a 12A for ‘moderate threat, upsetting scenes and injury detail.’
However, not all changes resulted in films seeing their classifications tightened, with films like Karate Kid seeing its rating going from 15 to 12A. The Fast And The Furious, the first film in the franchise of the same name, has also been downgraded to a 12A from a 15, for ‘infrequent strong language, moderate violence and sex references.’
Elsewhere in the BBFC report, there were nine complaints about the Netflix film Cuties, which follows the story of an 11-year-old Senegalese girl who lives in Paris and rebels against her conservative family’s traditions by joining a “free spirited dance crew”. All the complaints were about the perceived sexualization of children in the controversial film.
However, the BBFC described Cuties as a ‘mature and thought-provoking coming of age drama that shows the influence that aspects of sexualization in popular culture can have on young people.’ The BBFC said it was suitable for a 15 rating.
The process for the BBFC’s rating system hold two people accountable for the rating. They explain it this way: “Films for cinema release are usually seen by at least two of our Compliance Officers, and in most cases, their age rating recommendation is approved by a Compliance Manager. If Compliance Officers are in any doubt, if a film is on the borderline between two categories, or if important policy issues are involved, it may be seen by other members of the BBFC, up to and including the Chief Executive, the President and Vice Presidents. Occasionally, we may also call for expert advice about the legal acceptability of film content or its potential for harm.”
Two. Persons. Or more, if they need a tiebreaker. Their website is an interesting albeit dry read, and also you get a read on how culture is changing. Some of their decisions are interesting and worth a scroll through. https://www.bbfc.co.uk/
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