Archived: Remove The 12A Certificate! - archived

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Wow, that was really violent

Pepper Potts – Iron Man 3

I’m a movie geek and a self-confessed film snob. I admire the motion picture and appreciate it as an art form. When I go and see a film I like to enjoy it in a cinema with a big screen and a superb surround sound system. I like to focus, I like to be able to follow the plot uninterrupted and without distraction.

Super-hero movies have been a staple of the blockbuster schedule and I’ve been an avid watcher of all of them, taken particularly by Marvel’s movies and their interconnected storylines. So with their latest movie being released this week in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, I wanted to be one of the first to see it. I booked my tickets early, selected my seats and collected my popcorn as I do on every trip to the cinema.

What I hadn’t expected on an otherwise usual trip to the cinema was the complete obnoxiousness of other people who decided to ruin the entire movie-going experience for me and everyone around them. Sitting in the row in front of me were two parents and their three children, all a lot younger than the 12A certificates recommended age for children to view without an adult. These children had to be around six or seven years of age, the youngest, still with a dummy in its mouth could not have been older than three.

The disruption can in part be put down to bad parenting. The certificate says this movie probably isn’t suitable for anyone younger than twelve, the BBFC website describes the content of the movie and warns parents of the rather violent nature of the Captain America sequel. But I can’t in all honesty say the violent tone of the movie was what caused the disruption the most.

The youngest child was clearly unaware of cinema etiquette and the adults devoid of parenting skills. They allowed their youngest to run up and down the gaps between their row and the one in front of them, not only distracting me but the poor people sitting in the row in front. The child then climbed over into the row in front and stood on the chairs bouncing. When not exploring, the child was sat talking loudly to its siblings or its parents. The parents would occasionally shush the child and eventually they’d shout back at him.
I had this in my eye line throughout the entire film and being in the row behind, heard everything too. I think I missed a number of key plot points in the movie due to this distraction. I complained about my experience after the film had finished and Vue Cinema were accommodating and understanding but I have been scarred in my cinema going experience and I’m not sure who to blame.

Do I blame the BBFC for giving Captain America: The Winter Solider a 12A certificate? I’ve read their guidelines and whilst there is blood, shots fired and explosions I think the system is flawed. It’s all well and good having people “shot off screen” where death is implied but never shown, but this film in particular contains full on murder. It might not be shown but both the “good” and “bad” sides shoot and kill a whole host of people, dozens if not more are slaughtered. It might not be shown on screen but the implications that so many people are lying dead at the hands of Captain America or the Winter Soldier is more shocking than having seen the bodies pile up.

Do I blame the 12A certificate as a rule? Yes, children can see a film as long as they’re accompanied by an adult, but should there be a cut off? Children between 9 and 12 perhaps? Toddlers, infants, children who don’t have the concept of what a movie or a trip to the cinema is, should be left at the door.

Do I blame Vue Cinema? They should have known that letting a toddler into an auditorium would cause chaos, but there is no law thanks to the 12A certificate that prevents this. Should the cinema have put on an 18s only screening? I think so, but when I asked Vue Cinema to put more of these on, they told me:

Understandable, they want to make money, but for someone of my age, I don’t want to be at the cinema late at night, I’ve responsibilities of my own and I don’t feel I should be excluded or segregated to another showing. If I were to take the completely negative approach, Vue could be telling me just to not bother coming if I’m not willing to be flexible. But they wouldn’t say that to a loyal and valuable customer would they? (I’m the Mayor on FourSqaure of my local Vue!)

So where does the blame lie?

I think both parties are responsible. The parents had a duty to check the film first to assess its suitability for their children, but they also had a duty as parents to know that their youngest would get bored and disruptive during the long run time. But I also feel that if we didn’t have the 12A certificate then it might start to put it in parents’ minds that they can’t bring their children to this show. We only have to go back to ‘The Woman In Black’ which was rated 12A and would have given this youngster nightmares for weeks having witnessed it. I then ask, would the parents have taken their toddler to a film like that or would they have known it wasn’t appropriate? But then, why did they not think that of The Winter Soldier?

It’s a tricky and complicated subject, but I believe that with the removal of the 12A certificate is a good starting point. The certificate doesn’t exist against home media, so Iron Man or Captain America that was rated 12A in the cinema would get a 12 or a 15 on DVD and blu-ray. The 12A rating therefore seems to merely exist to allow cinemas to put more people in seats and get that extra income which is a sorry state of affairs.

I’m a movie fan, I support the art and there are many like me. However this experience has dented my experience of visiting the cinema. In future I may take my business elsewhere from Vue or even from the cinema altogether and just wait for the film to arrive on home media. If you’re like me, sign my petition below to remove the 12A certificate!

Archived: Remove The 12A Certificate! - archived
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