This week in BBFC guidelines, Part 3

Wednesday March 10th 2010

Don’t worry, we won’t do too many more of these. We know the idea is getting a bit stale.

Contains very strong violence, sadomasochistic sex scenes and child abuse

I can’t help but think that warnings like the one above for Michael Winterbottom’s controversial neo-noir The Killer Inside Me are gratuitously specific. Distributors wear them like badges of honour (most explicitly in the marketing of last year’s Antichrist) while the Daily Mail see them as an excuse to forego the act of actually watching the film before writing a reactionary ‘ban this sick filth’ op-ed.

Update: The Daily Mail’s resident madman Baz Bamigboye has in fact already covered the film, and with a surprising degree of restraint. We’ll let you off this time Baz.

Contains moderate violence and scenes of smoking

Don’t go visiting the BBFC page for this unless you’ve already seen it, because the Extended Classification Information is a spoiler minefield. This is however the first instance I’ve seen of a rating mentioning smoking. I’m sure it’s probably happened before but it still seems bizarre. The guidelines cite the fact that there is ‘no clear criticism of smoking, rather it is portrayed as an incidental habit in the lives of some people’. I honestly don’t know what to make of it.

Contains strong language, once very strong, and sustained threat

I know I go on about this too much but the insanity of the ‘once very strong’ clause never ceases to astound me. The BBFC seem to look on the word ‘cunt’ in 15s in the same way that they do ‘fuck’ in 12s: once at the most, maybe a couple more in exceptional circumstances. In the guidelines for Buried they even clarify that ‘the intended recipient of this invective was unable to hear it, and the fact that the man is almost hysterical with fear and anger at this stage provided a compelling context for this single use of very strong language to be contained at 15’ as if people are going to write in to complain that a single use of ‘cunt’ would be better contained in the same category as gential mutilation, graphic torture and even the aforementioned sadomasochistic sex scenes.

Tl;dr? Cunt aint that bad, get over it.

Contains moderate sex references and one use of strong language

Sometimes I can be too harsh on the BBFC and in this case, they’ve done a good job. Like many of its contemporaries, Date Night has been carefully (and cynically) crafted for the PG-13 and 12A ratings, complete with the obligatory single ‘fuck’ and some fairly risque (but not too risque) sexual references. I’d love to see the look on the producers’ faces when they were informed that their ‘references to group sex, anal sex and nipple clamps’ could not be contained at the lower category.

Saying that, the joke’s on me because it’ll probably do quite a bit better at the box office appealing to teens who consider the 12A category too tame.

Contains strong language and sex references and infrequent strong violence

Inside the Extended Classification Information, you’ll find details of all the slightly cringy sexual references you were expecting, but by far the most disturbing detail is the revelation of the unbelievably crap central premise: ‘an American comedy about two police officers trying to recover a valuable baseball card to pay for a wedding’.

There isn’t a rating in the world that could contain that.