Friday, July 01, 2005

War of the Words

The 12A certification debate rages on. The Daily Mail has launched a campaign to "unmask" the censors who watched War of the Worlds and deemed it suitable for kids of any age to watch it (as long as they're accompanied by an adult). I've not yet seen the film as it is on this weekend's to-do list, but it apparently contains "sustained menace" and scenes of moderate horror. Several children under 12 who have seen it have been "left traumatised". So the Daily Mail's solution? Find out the names of the bastards wot done it and give 'em a good shoein'. Or at least, the middle-class tabloid equivalent. After all, pillorying two people because their opinion about the suitability of a film differs to that of a self-righteous daily rag is perfectly acceptable behaviour. The Sun does it all the time, right?

What the Mail fails to mention is that it was the one behind the campaign to get the 12A rating instated in the first place. When Spiderman came out, the paper couldn't believe the idiotic censor board had given something so harmless a "12" rating. Of course, the violence in Spiderman is just "fine" because it's all comic-book style fisticuffs with not an inch of real menace. Totally suitable for children under 12 apparently, despite the BBFC's decision that it was the most violent film aimed at a young audience that the BBFC has classified. So off they went, campaigning away and eventually the board relented and re-released it as 12A. This certificate is known around the reviewing community with some distate as "12-fuckin'-A", due to the fact that one or two strong words are allowed to be used at this level of certification before it gets bumped up to a "15". Hell's teeth - with all the swearing edited out, I've seen Beverly Hills Cop 2 on TV at 5:30, and John Woo's Broken Arrow showing at midday. So the hypocrisy surrounding this latest vindictive attack is beyond belief. What will printing the names of these two reviewers do, except for stirring up vigilante protesters? It's the board of film classification that passes the films. If you want to talk to someone, try the two people who have their names plastered all over the certificate you see before each film - Quentin Thomas and David Cooke. I'm sure they'd be happy to hear the views of a belligerent Tory tabloid that helped foist the 12A certificate onto the public.

My opinion won't change after I see the film. The certification system is flaky at best - a halfway house between full enforcement and simple resignation to the fact that kids will find a way to see the films they want to see. "12A" is no more than a glorified "PG" - the only difference being that you need to be with an adult to see the former, yet when it comes out on video you have to actually be 12 to buy it since "12A" is a cinema classification and doesn't exist in the video world, thereby contradicting the whole point of the new certificate. Utter madness.

Anyway, that's this Friday's rant over with. Hope it helped your insomnia.


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