Sunday 24 November 2013

Sex and Violence-the Age Appropriateness of Media

This weekend, two films I'm interested in seeing come out.

One features two girls falling in love  and go through all related experience, including having sex. One features twenty four people, most often teenagers, fighting to the death. The British Board of Film Classification will not allow me, a 16 year old, to see one. Guess which.
These two films are Blue is the Warmest Colour and Catching Fire. Blue has been awarded an 18, meaning strictly no under 18s, certificate, Catching Fire has a 12A, meaning 12 and overs get in unaccompanied and 11 and unders get in with an adult. I think  if you stripped both stories to their bare bones  and took them out of the book/film context, you might say some romance is more suitable. Why the difference between the two?

First, let's look at  the BBFC's reasons for each certificate.
Blue- Contains strong sex and very strong language.
Catching Fire- Contains moderate violence and threat, and infrequent strong language.
Put like that, I do think that Blue deserves a higher rating than Catching Fire. But is it necessary to give it the highest rating that they can?
Both are adaptations of printed media, one a graphic novel and one part of a bestselling trilogy. Blue is aimed at an adult audience, Catching Fire at a teenage one. I don't know exactly how explicit Blue is in graphic novel form (according to Caroline, "you see them but they're illustrations"), but I remember as a 13ish year old being woah at certain descriptions of people getting beaten up in The Hunger Games (even more so at Mockingjay. I had nightmares at the deaths in the tunnels of the Capitol).

 I think the main reason for the difference is the way directors decide to do things. Director Abdellatif Kechiche has, apparently made the sex scene in Blue very explicit, and the way he did so has prompted complaints from many people, including Julie Maroh, the original author. Director Francis Lawrence, I'm not sure how they're treating it, but remember the 7 seconds of footage that was cut from The Hunger Games to get it taken down to a 12? Those seven seconds were the "sight of blood splashes and sight of blood on wounds and weapons.”
If both films had been placed on equal terms of explicitness, say with Blue's sex scene  being cut to before and after, or maybe with closeups on wounds and deaths, would there still be a different rating for them? I think yes.
This society has grown a lot more accepting of violence than sex in media. Both are more common in society than say 50 years ago, but you won't see anyone hiding the fact that they have the latest edition of Call of Duty.

The whole point of censorship in this country, day and age is to protect children from seeing certain things. But why do we stop the viewing of a sex scene in a society inundated with sex? It's used as a selling point for so many things, that you can't go anywhere without it. Music videos, perfume adverts, the freely available adult images on the internet. This society can't be as shocked, or at least shocked enough to force change, about casual sexuality being everywhere, but when it's shown in a loving relationship, it's adults only.

Now let's look at violence. It's prevalent in, sometimes even the basis of, many fictional products. A lot of film's climaxes are giant fight scenes. In the case of The Hunger Games, people are killing each other while people watch, cheer and bet on the winner.

Don't get me wrong, I am  against the idea of younger young people having to be exposed to explicit material without proper education surrounding it, but surely more mature teens can handle it?
Children and teenagers are good at self censoring. If they don't feel comfortable with seeing or reading things, then they won't. This goes for content of all types.
I don't see the point of age ratings because everyone will take everything differently. I also don't see why one day, when you see 17, you can’t do things and a day later you turn 18 and you can. You don't get a magical dose of maturity with each birthday. But I do see why we have them because we need to draw a line somewhere. I prefer content warnings and recommendations from trusted sources to decide what is suitable for me, and that's why I like the fact that books, while having general warnings like "not suitable for younger readers" but no set limits, instead of saying you can’t access something  until you’re a certain age.

The Hunger Games is a great series. I love the commentary on divides in society, on what's held up as entertainment, and the general actionfilledness of the films and books. And you’ll find young people, mainly young queer women, who would enjoy and provably benefit from seeing Blue is the Warmest Colour and the honest presentation of lesbianism, at least in the non-sexual bits. But they don't even have the chance to go and see it.
Because some people have decided that one long sex scene is more inappropriate than glorified violence. People have decided on the morals coming through to society and have decided what is suitable for the young people of today. These people have decided to not let the young people experiment and decide for themselves what is suitable for them, something which would  ultimately make them a more mature person. 

1 comment:

  1. I'm often frustrated by movie ratings. Where I live, Hunger games/Catching fire got a G rating. When I think of G ratings, I think of all audiences - even little ones. There is no way little kids should be watching this movie. I tried to look up your other movie, but it isn't playing here.
    Movie ratings just don't make sense.


Thanks for taking time to read this!
Comments are much loved.
Nina xxx

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger... Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...