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Remember back in March after I had an awful experience watching Captain America: The Winter Soldier thanks to some unruly brats? I wrote a letter of complaint to the BBFC and also expressed my displeasure over social media.
Thankfully, my recent experiences of viewing 12A’s in the cinema have been somewhat improved. I saw Godzilla whilst in Florida, expecting the Americans to have no manners but was pleasantly surprised. I even joined in with their applause of a particular scene. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes back in Blighty was a full house but no idle chit-chat from children. Although I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many people go to the toilet during one screening before.
Interesting point from #DawnOfApes is that there were a number of families in the audience and at one point a father took his two children, who looked around six, out of the theatre and never came back. I can’t confirm if that was due to them being naughty or the film not being suitable.
More good news is that Captain America: The Winter Soldier is out on Blu-Ray in a couple of weeks, so I can finally enjoy watching it.
In my original complaint, I talked about how angry I was that the film had such high levels of violence and yet still was able to acrue the hallowed 12A rating – the one which allows studios to get the maximum coverage of viewers and make the most money. Would we go and see a U rated Spider-Man? Kids would be unable to see an 18 rated Hulk. After a few weeks, the BBFC replied with.
The 12A certificate was introduced because there was a strong and wide-spread feeling amongst parents that some children under 12 were equipped to deal with films rated 12. There is also research to show that at this age group mental and emotional development amongst children matures at varying rates. After extensive public consultation and research the 12A was introduced to allow parents to assess whether a 12A film is suitable for their particular child. 12A, as you state, is only applied to theatrically released films.
That means that it is the parents responsibility to decide if they should let their child see the film. The danger of letting parents decide is some of them won’t care. This generation of parents probably didn’t grow up on video nasties but with the internet allowing them to view anything they want. Freedom of information and the ability to get access to a plethora of content has outweighed the impact of what it actually is they’re viewing.
Although children under 12 may see a 12A film with an adult, the classification does not indicate that it is suitable for them. Indeed, the classification indicates that the film contains material which may be upsetting or be considered unsuitable for children under 12. As you say, the accompanying adult has a duty to consider the contents of film first to assess its suitability for children under 12. We advise adults to think carefully before taking a child under 12 to see a 12A film.
Again, the emphasis is put onto the parent. It’s doubtful a parent will read the BBFC guidelines for a film, instead choosing the contents of the trailer or generalising all films are rated evenly and the last 12A they saw wasn’t bad. Perhaps then there needs to be more displays in the cinema detailing the BBFC classification or trailers need to have some extra voice-over at the end to say “contains moderate violence” or similar.
Cinema managers do have the power to refuse entry to anyone whom they reasonably consider to be disruptive and we strongly recommend that anyone whose enjoyment of a film is spoiled by noisy or disruptive young children, or any other disturbance, should make their views known to the cinema manager or staff, exactly as you did.
The problem here is that the cinema doesn’t employ people to police each screen and the general public are often far too polite to speak up. Whilst one person might make comment to ask a disruptive person to settle down or leave, their request could be met with aggression. Going to the cinema management could only cause further disruption and by then the film is ruined.
So what’s the point of all this? Well, this morning I read a tweet from the BBFC.
We've launched a new cinema advert to help increase awareness of what the 12A rating means. Find out more http://t.co/QKxUZ8D85v
— BBFC (@BBFC) July 29, 2014
Which obviously sparked thoughts that they’d done this because of my complaint but also made me wonder if this will make any difference.
Perhaps it’s just my desensitised brain, but I pay no attention to adverts. I’ve never watched an advert and thought “I must go out and buy that”. They’ve sparked discussions at times, but often only at the ridiculous nature of the ad or if it’s got that hopeless bint Cheryl Cole in it. I guess the advert has got me talking, but it’s not got me buying into the product.
The same can be said for the recent Phones 4 U adverts that are using Back to the Future props and visuals to promote their #FutureYou campaign. I tweeted how I felt that they were cheapening the Back to the Future legacy to which they replied with another tweet that only fuelled to anger me.
@Y2Neildotcom Heavy-duty Doc. But we're using it to take you to the future! What does the #FutureYou have in store?
— Phones 4u (@Phones4u) July 28, 2014
But back to the plot…
It’s all well and good the BBFC showing an advert to remind parents of the rules surrounding the 12A certificate, but how many people will actually pay attention? How many of us skipped the piracy DVD warnings? At what point would this advert play? If it’s before the trailers, many people might miss it as they don’t turn up early like me.
The BBFC say in their post that 75% of the British public understand what the 12A certificate means (although in their reply to my complaint it was only 73%). I’d like to know who they were talking to. Whilst people may say that they know what it means, it doesn’t mean that they are going to adhere to it. I mean, super-heroes are so colourful on paper or in cartoons, so the kids will pester the parents to take them to the big screen outing of their hero only to see much more violence and real life situations that their tiny brains can imagine on paper.
There still needs to be more education to the public about what a 12A certificate means and that can be emphasised by the cinemas too. They have an obligation to make sure their paying customers come back time and time again and they won’t if they have a bad experience. When parents are booking tickets, it should be the cinema employee offering advice on the suitability of the film for children under 12.
I can however understand why cinema employees would be unwilling to do that. They could then be subject to torrents of abuse demanding to know why they think they know best on how to parent a child. But in this case I say just refuse them entry. We don’t need people like that in general.
In summary, it’s good to see the BBFC trying to educate us lousy British Public, but getting this information to resonate will be a tougher task.
You can read the full BBFC statement and watch the video by clicking through this link: http://www.bbfc.co.uk/about-bbfc/media-centre/bbfc-launch-12a-cinema-advert