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The BBFC are stupid

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Posted on 14 Jun 2010 16:04:40 BDT
Warren218 says:
It does, but having watched Baise-Moi (and agree it is likely to gain a narrower market) I can't see any justification for the pornographic part of it and don't buy it at all as 'art' nor sympathise with the film-makers sense of aggravation at it's censorship and subsequent limitations of its' distribution. Having said that it's not nearly as tasteless as 'Law Abiding Citizen'.

In reply to an earlier post on 14 Jun 2010 15:56:28 BDT
Last edited by the author on 14 Jun 2010 16:00:54 BDT
PoochJD says:
Hi Waz-dogg. There were several reasons why "Baise-Moi" (which can mean "F___-Me" or "Rape Me" depending on which part of France you live in, and colloquial usage) was given an 18.

Firstly, the film was never, and has never been given an uncut 18 certificate, in cinemas or for DVD, in the UK. (It was released uncut in France, then cut after government censors intervened, but was only legally available in France on DVD, earlier in 2010).

When originally submitted, the BBFC asked for cuts to two sequences. 1) When a gun is placed inside a man's rectum, and fired! 2) The brief sequence of hardcore pornography, that appears during one of the rape scenes. The film's distributor's in England, reluctantly agreed to the cuts, because they wanted English audiences to see it. On DVD, the film was cut by a further few seconds, to tone down the rapes by fractions of a second.

The reason it was passed as an 18, was because the film is only going to be of interest to a limited audience. In general, foreign-language films don't (generally) appeal to the mass majority of cinemagoers, in comparison to an English-language film. That goes across the board, irrespective of what kind of film it is. If it's not in English, and is subtitled, then you are going to significantly reduce the audience who see it.

It also means, that fewer cinemas will show your work. Again, this reduces the number of people who will view it.

With that in mind, and again - in general - the BBFC know that foreign-language films usually only appeal to the more selective of film audiences: people who know more about cinema, how it works, and are considered more filmically-literate and sophisticated in their tastes. (This dates back to the 1970's, and the early days of James Ferman, as it was he who decided this.) It was thus decided that foreign-language films, would be likely to receive more leniency than mainstream cinema works would, because of the lesser chance of the moral majority viewing the subtitled work.

There is also the film's moral trajectory: are the violent and sexual moments in the film contextualised (that is, relevant to the film's plot or theme) or just put in for no real purpose, except to be entertaining? Again, the works from Hollywood, like "Saw" or "Hostel" are sold as works to entertain. However, the opposite usually applies to foreign-language cinema, where films are seen not just for entertainment purposes, but also as cultural statements on issues of politics, their country of origin, or historical events. "Baise-Moi" is not meant to be entertaining, and it isn't. The fact that both of the lead characters are female, also made a major difference, because whilst they are being depicted as victims of rape, they are also strong women, who know how to deal with matters - albeit in the wrong way. They are not shown as being weak-willed, and subjugates of men. If anything, the film shows the men to be sleazy, nasty and reprehensible. This helps make the film's tone and theme more morally acceptable.

It is this reason, why many controversial films, or arthouse works, are often released uncut, but an English-language equivalent would not. The "Saw" or "Hostel" series would not get the same leniency for depictions of certain kinds of violence or sexualised violence, that might be seen in works like "Anti-Christ", "Inside", "Baise-Moi", or numerous other foreign films of recent years. "Salo" would never be released uncut, if it wasn't the fact that there is a deeply hidden, but justifiable historical attack on Fascism, in the film's theme. It is not a film, that is supposed to entertain, nor is that the film's aim. It is meant to be a parable of sorts. "Saw", however, is purely made and shown for sick thrills, for the average cinemagoer, to be watched as easy Friday-night/Saturday-night entertainment at the flicks, to be viewed with popcorn and coke. The audience for foreign-language films in the UK, don't generally view their films like that. We view them as works of art, that are often making a point about an issue.

Similar factors apply to animated works too. This is why something like "Urotsukidoji: Legend Of The Overfiend" may be passed at 18 as an animation, but would be banned outright, if this were a live-action film utilising CGI-effects. The animation itself, makes it one-step-removed from reality, and is divorces the audience, instilling in them the knowledge that these are only drawings, and not actual people, being harmed. (Yes, with live-action, most of the time no one is hurt, but there are occasions when it isn't possible to tell from what is seen in the film, if the action was harmful or not. This is most noticeable in pornographic works, where what looks consensual, may not, and vice versa. Hence, the reason for the BBFC being so careful with what is given an R18 certificate here in the UK.)

Lastly, the BBFC have decided that providing sexual content is not harmful to the intended audience, and doesn't breach UK laws on obscenity, then - in most cases - such material will be passed uncut at 18, becaue it has now been claimed that visual depictions of real people really having sex on screen, is unlikely to offend adult viewers. Which is how works like "9 Songs" and "Ai No Corrida: In The Realm Of The Senses" have passed successfully, despite the graphic nature of the material included, and the fact that the actors were genuinely performing for real (and not faking it). I hope that answers your query. :-)

Posted on 14 Jun 2010 14:00:35 BDT
Last edited by the author on 14 Jun 2010 14:01:07 BDT
Warren218 says:
What I don't understand is why something like 'Baise Moi' (doesn't this mean f - - - me?) was given an 18 when there are close ups of b jobs and real sex in it? I understand that 9 Songs was similar and 1 or 2 others?

In reply to an earlier post on 14 Jun 2010 13:51:46 BDT
Warren218 says:
I think Croc Dundee was a 15 due to coke use in a scene?

In reply to an earlier post on 12 Jun 2010 21:27:11 BDT
Kamil Othman says:
Agreed that the BBFC is with, and not lagging behind, the times. Imagine being a film buff in the UK in the 1970s and 80s, where even over 18 films could be cut to shreds. Excruciating to undergo films with huge chunks being taken out (some examples then were "Flesh For Frankenstrein" and "Blood for Dracula" ). Amazing to think how films previously mutiliated by the BBFC (then called "censors" and not classifiers) are now available uncut at Cert 18 in the shops. So I would say the BBFC is now one of the most progressive in the world.

Posted on 8 Jun 2010 16:17:41 BDT
Last edited by the author on 8 Jun 2010 16:24:30 BDT
PoochJD says:
I think, for the most part, the BBFC get it right - especially nowadays. And don't forget, the BBFC have to try and rate films, based on what the "average, everyday" citizen is going to think is appropriate. As such, those of you who are, for example, into watching/collecting horror films, may think that a film with an 18 should be a 15 certificate instead. However, you have to compare such a film not only against other horror films, but also against other films of a similar nature and certificate.

Ultimately, the BBFC has to try and please everyone, which is impossible. Most of their decisions are accurate, but occasionally, they'll make a misjudgement. With "Kick-Ass", it should definitely have been an 18, only because the violence is very strong, and although comedic at times, it is very distressing watching the violence being dealt-out and too, a 12-year old character. The torture scene is also very strong, but because the film was based in a fantastical situation (12-year old superheroine, with a dad who's also a superhero), the BBFC felt that this mitigated the impact the violence had. However, from cinema patrons and film-fans, nearly everyone has said it should have been given the more restrictive certificate. When it comes to DVD, it may well be upgraded to an 18, just as the BBFC did with "Starship Troopers". Again, the BBFC misjudged public tastes on fantasy violence, and when released to cinemas with a 15, viewers felt the violence was too strong visually and in duration to be suitable for teenagers.

The history of censorship is long and detailed, and to be honest, everyone has films they think should be classified at different ratings, but some of the examples cited in this thread do not deserve re-classifying at this time, because the BBFC did get it right first time. "Jaws" had the option of being given a PG or 15. Clearly, as their was nothing in between, they had no choice but to release it with a PG rating. However, although it is scary, and sometimes distressing, the fact that the film is over 30 years old, mitigates much of the impact of the movie's horrific nature. Also, with the exception of the decapitated head in the boat-wreck, most of the terror the audience/viewers experience, is implied, and not actually depicted on-screen. Ditto with "Jurassic Park": much of the violence is made-up of "menace" and "threat". Little actual violence is depicted, and whilst the film is "intense", it is not graphically intense - which is a very different thing altogether. Spielberg is very careful to make films he knows that most, average children of 7-12 will be able to handle. Kids are, for the most part, far more tolerant to scary movies, than adults are. However, if you carefully watch these films, you will see how little actual gore or violence is actually shown. What you think you see, and what is shown, are again, very different things!

As for "The Dark Knight", again, it should have been given a 15, because of the intensity of the violence. Unfortunately, the 12A cinema rating, is treated by most parents (and children) as a PG. It isn't the same at all. In fact, a 12A rating is advising people that the film is NOT suitable for the majority of under-12's, but that IF parents feel that an under-12 can cope with the film's content, theme or subject matter, then the parent can accompany the child. Sadly, too many parents ignore this, or simply don't care, and so let their kids see 12A rated films and 12 certificate DVD's!

In the case of "Crocodile Dundee", this film came out in 1985, and was deemed more adult in tone, because of the comedic use of drug usage, Dundee's treatment of transsexual men (he grabs their crotches to check their gender), and the occasional shock sequence (the crocodile attacks, for instance). The combination of the bawdy humour and other material I've just described, pushed it into the higher 15 certificate category. Likewise, the BBFC gave the Eddie Murphy "comedy" (and I use that word advisedly) "The Golden Child" a PG, despite a lot of bad language and cussing, as well as the dark tone of the adventure itself. When both films came out, in the same year, and at roughly the same time, nearly everyone in the public suggested that the films certificates should have been swapped, as "The Golden Child" was seen as having a more detrimental effect on a child, than "Crocodile Dundee" could have. The BBFC did admit, in later years, that this was one occasion when they wished they had swapped the certificates around, but that wasn't a legal option available at the time of release. As such, the video and DVD releases remained with the same ratings.

"Gremlins" was a very controversial title. In the US, it was given a PG, by the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America - the US equivalent of the BBFC), despite the fact that Spielberg himself said he was shocked the film was considered suitable for youngsters. In fact, eventually, the film was re-classified with the stronger PG-13 rating, because of the sheer number of complaints from parents, thinking the film wouldn't be so dark and frightening. (Don't forget, the film show's gremlins being destroyed in a microwave, and with heavy-duty weaponry at the end. There's also a relatively sadistic tone to their violent attacks on the people, and vice versa. Plus, you also have the gore - or rather, the gooey splatter - that is left behind, when a gremlin dies!) All of this contributed to the fact it was (and remains) a 15 certificate. Unless Warner Bros. decide to release a new version of the film, and resubmit it to the BBFC, then it will remain a 15, adn rightly so. I don't think I'd be happy with under-15's viewing this. It's a dark and occasionally shocking horror/comedy, but the tone is definitely more aimed at adults, than youngsters!

As for swearing, strong language or rude words, again, what one person finds offensive, another won't. We have to realise that kids nowadays know far more rude words than many adults did at their age! It's a fact, albeit a sad one. Swearing can be mitigated in some contexts, e.g. comedies, but in other film genres, even the mildest of bad language can seem very intense and offensive. (The use of the word "bloody" as spoken by Edward Woodward in the TV series "The Equalizer" sounds far worse, because of the sparing use of the word, but because of the way he spoke it. He used to inflect the word with such ferocity, it made this very tame word sound absolutely disgusting, which was very clever.)

With that all said and done, I don't think films should be censored for adults (over 18's), but I do think parents and children need to realise and accept that they can't and shouldn't be allowed to view anything, simply because friends or family have said it's okay for them to do so. The certificates are there for a reason, and should be abided by!

In reply to an earlier post on 7 Jun 2010 13:17:19 BDT
vnllaS0ulMan says:
I think "language" is as good a noun as any for "swearing". I don't think a statement which uses a verb as a noun would look very professional.

In reply to an earlier post on 28 May 2010 00:57:15 BDT
Last edited by the author on 28 May 2010 00:59:13 BDT
Martin says:
I Love when "Contains Strong Language" is added to a 18 rated DVD... you think "Duhhh!!!! - Didn't you Idiots at the BBFC rate it 18?" Never got why THE PUNISHER (2004) was rated an 18 (I've Seen more violent and rude 12A films)

Posted on 27 May 2010 16:36:31 BDT
L. A. Prince says:
Swearing isn't weak-it's a 'sentence-enhancer' quote Spongebob..Kick-Ass should NEVER have been an 18.Shaun of the Dead used the same dirty word to equally comic effect-and I'd say the violence in that is more graphic too-so there.I liked all the butterfly knife twirling in K.A...similar stuff was cut from Face-off a while back.I'm glad we can all see Bruce Lee twirling nunchucks nowadays-you couldn't when i was a kid.BBFC are pretty good now.

In reply to an earlier post on 27 May 2010 14:49:01 BDT
A. W. Vijn says:
Actually, I consider swearing to be "weak language" so yeah, the statement is dumb.

Posted on 27 May 2010 14:46:00 BDT
A. W. Vijn says:
My least-favorite BBFC clunker was when the anime series "Paranoia Agent" was refused any rating at all unless two minutes were cut from an episode which showed a (botched) hanging attempt by a teenager. This in a series which was still labelled 18 without that scene.

To put into perspective why the BBFC's hang-up (haha) was so asinine, here is an explanation of the story in that episode. It concerns a group of strangers who have met on the internet and have decided to meet each other for a group suicide. The group is shocked when they discover that one of their members turns out to be a 13-year old girl, and secretly the other members make a pact to sabotage her attempts. As suicide after suicide keeps failing and their plans get more outlandish, the group starts to enjoy each other's company so much that at the end they have to face whether or not they still want to end their lives. The episode itself is one of the best in the series, and the hanging attempt is both sweet and funny.

So I ordered the uncensored version from Australia. Stupid BBFC...

In reply to an earlier post on 27 May 2010 07:47:21 BDT
Yeah! It's like saying "Contains Strong French"!

Posted on 26 May 2010 22:24:36 BDT
M. Dowden says:
I love when it says on the back of a dvd 'Contains Strong Language'. That is really quite an ambiguous statement. If a child sees it they will pester you forever to know what it means. Why don't they just put 'Some Swearing'?

Posted on 25 May 2010 17:58:36 BDT
Last edited by the author on 25 May 2010 18:11:29 BDT
JJG says:
I actually think the BBFC got it right on Kick-Ass. The violence and language are obviously extremely strong, but it's handled as a comedy. What else could a man being fried in a giant microwave like that be conceived as? The language from a 13 year old girl is a problem, but let's face it, handled with humour again. It's not what I would consider an 18 really, a very strong fifteen sure. The violence is handled in a very cartoon way, and although strong, is hardly realistic.

Dark Knight, I have sympathy with people wanting a higher rating for, as the violence is far more realisitic, and frankly disturbing, than most 12A films and even some 15 films. But I think it's a case for having some films where 12 is applied instead of 12A. The same could be said for Casino Royale, I remember seeing that film and a number of eight to ten year olds being disturbed by several moments of that film, and in all honesty no sensible parent would have taken them to it. But I could have understood the mistake in thinking 'it's a James Bond film, it'll be alright', with Dark Knight not much of an excuse.

I think most of that Terminator merchandise was for the sequel, which was a 15 on release, so again a little odd. Though I remember playing with a Queen Alien and Ripley Power Loader at a young age after seeing adverts on TV in the mid 90's.

In reply to an earlier post on 25 May 2010 12:33:34 BDT
Bluto says:
My 'benchmark' for nutter classifications has always been Silent Hill - some really disturbing scenes, topped by the torture & burning to death of a wpc - should've been a 18.

Generally then, it seems that if your movie is considered 'fantasy/sci-fi', you're far more likely to come away with a lower classification, because somehow the violence etc. is less real. And the US system is just as bad, where a movie can get an Adult rating because the f-word is used, but a lower classified film can be awash with blood & severed limbs.


Posted on 25 May 2010 12:16:25 BDT
Tikka says:
Chris Dilke Wing said:

"Watership Down - Surely anyone who has seen it has wondered why it's always held on to its U rating. "

Continues a long tradition started by by Disney with Bambi - most youngsters spend the last half hour or so in post-traumatic stress after Bambi's mother gets killed.

As for the others mentioned, I always thought it a bit strange that Terminator was an 18 when there's various associated merchandise available including toys suitable for 'three years and up'

Posted on 25 May 2010 11:44:31 BDT
Back when Gremlins was released there was no 12 certificate, but the film was considered too extreme to be given a PG. I agree with that, but am surprised that it hasn't since been re-rated. Until the 12 rating came to video releases, it was used at cinemas for films like Tim Burton's Batman and Mrs Doubtfire, and those films were raised to 15 or cut down to PG for video.

BBFC's ratings I disagree with are:

The Dark Knight - should have been a 15
Bolt - Enjoyed the film, but how did it get a PG? I've seen U rated films that were worse, some of which from Disney as well!
Cars - Same as Bolt.
Watership Down - Surely anyone who has seen it has wondered why it's always held on to its U rating.
Kick-Ass - I agree with Sera69, it should've been an 18. Not just for its violence but also because of vile language, said by a 12 year old girl in the film!

Posted on 20 May 2010 17:31:06 BDT
Yep, and that got a PG?

Posted on 20 May 2010 10:43:31 BDT
Drachensturm says:
I still refuse to watch Jaws now, and I'm 34.Terrified me as an 8 year old. Glad I waited until I was about 20 until I saw the likes of Aliens,Poltergeist,and The Exorcist as at that age I didn't find them remotely scary. Unlike Jaws, I just hear "that" tune, and I get nervous!

In reply to an earlier post on 17 May 2010 14:58:17 BDT
Mr. M. Looke says:
The current Jaws DVD is rated 12 due to the bonus features, the film itself is still a PG. I watched the 1950's Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier last week and was amazed it was rated U. This is inspite of gunplay, hand to hand combat and knife fights! It's all pretty full-blooded stuff too. I can't think of another film with quite so much knife action in it with as low a certificate.

In reply to an earlier post on 17 May 2010 13:10:58 BDT
vnllaS0ulMan says:
On the back of DVD's they put something like "Contains strong violence" next to the certificate. From time to time the BBFC state the stupidest things here, usually for U-rated films. The classic one must be, "Contains mild peril". There was another which said something like, "Contains one implied soft drug reference". Seriously??

Re: Jaws. The DVD I have is a 12 so perhaps the BBFC agreed with you. I have also noticed that the certificate of some films have been brought down. I.e. Leon and The Shining, previously 18, are now 15.

Sometimes I don't quite understand how they rate films. I watched Sweeney Todd which was given an 18, but I've watched FAR gorier 15s.

Posted on 17 May 2010 09:33:13 BDT
Mr. K. Arts says:
BBFC aint half as bad as they were in the eighties... evil dead for example was a monumental disaster it was so heavily edited and they banned the exorcist based on the sole judgement of the boards director James Ferman who thought it would turn young girls mental. Other policy included cutting ANY shot of blood on breasts because they thought it was a trigger for rapists and even ferman himself admitted their concern was for the working classes who were not smart enough to deal with screen violence which is why a lot of 'Art' movies remained uncut.

Personally in the age of the internet the idea that they can prevent anyone from seeing 'unsuitable' material is pretty dumb so they don't really act as censor anymore, rather as an advisory service as the age rating system is still a useful guide for anyone who may not be certain of a films contents. As people have said occasionally a decision may seem strange (lucio fulcis Lizard in a womans skin is a 15, as is 'video nasty' contamination!) but if you do find yourself questioning a decision just looke their site up on the net as they are required to justify their decisions.

I also find it weird to cut out scenes of animal cruelty from films... ok it's pretty sick tripwiring horses or staging cockfights but this is a product of a less enlightend era before animal protection rules were around and should be left in films as a reminder of WHY the rules are there.... cutting them out seems like sweeping the whole mess under the carpet.

In reply to an earlier post on 17 May 2010 07:48:57 BDT
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Posted on 16 May 2010 23:49:50 BDT
Sera69 says:
Kick Ass should definitely have been an 18. Great movie, good black comedy but the violence is bloody and direct, with no mitigating levity.

Posted on 16 May 2010 23:41:51 BDT
Charlieost says:
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Initial post:  14 May 2010
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