Thursday, 26 June 2014

X is for X-Rated

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Film Classification is an odd business. I’m talking about the UK system by the way, I have no idea how the US system works at all. As I understand it, your NC-17 is supposed to be the kiss of death for movie viewing figures but you can take teeny weeny children in anyway as long as they have an adult whose hand they can hold during the sex ‘n’  violence.

Here in the UK, we have 6 different classifications which is at least three too many.

Before 1982, there was none of this overly pedantic 15 rated/18 rated business for a start. There was one rating – X – for viewers over the age of 16. Not only is 16 a much more sensible age limit but it was a far cooler name. X-Rated.
Sometimes you were so proud of your X Rating you stuck it right in the middle of your title.
It was a shame we lost the X-Rating. I never got to see an a x-rated  film at the cinema. 18-rated doesn’t have the same ring to it all. Presumably the X-rating was remove precisely because everyone started associated it with XXX-rating Hot ‘n’ Wild porn adverts. Depsite the fact that an X-rating was just as likely to be applied to A Clockwork Orange or Texas Chainsaw Massacre as it was to Debbie Does Dallas.
There is something quite deliciously forbidden about slapping a big X on a movie though. This movie is prohibited. Do not go here. Here be sex ‘n’ violence. For which a mere mortal such as yourself is unprepared.

I don’t remember the first 18-rated film I saw, sadly. I know the one my daughter saw first – Sweeney Todd because it was at my insistence that she watched it. Sure, she was only 13 or 14 at the time but I knew she’d love it. It’s the perfect film really. It’s got everything – Johnny Depp! Helena Bonham Carter! Everyone looking all pretty and gothy and Tim-Burton-y! Sondheim songs! Brutal Murders! Pies! What’s not to love? I don’t even know why it was 18 to be honest. I’m sure we’ve seen just as much violence in episodes of Doctor Who.

It’s funny that sex and violence always get lumped together, come to think of it. That’s a bit of a dodgy message to send out to young people.

Sometimes the two things don’t even happen at the same time.
So how much sex can you expect in an 18-rated film? According to the British Board of Film Classification, “there can be strong and detailed portrayals of sex at 18, including full nudity”. Also, “An 18 film or video might also contain depictions of real sex, as long as the film or video is not a sex work.”
So what’s a sex work? Glad you asked. “Sex works are works whose primary purpose is sexual arousal or stimulation”

Something like this, perhaps?
So you can portray real sex as long as nobody gets aroused? That’s a little odd. To be fair, there is a separate classification for porn – the R18. Not that anyone’s really classifying porn these days. Adult cinemas are long gone and who buys porn videos these days? The internet has totally got everyone’s porn needs covered and out in the wilds of the non-safe-search internet, everything is XXX-rated.
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1 comment:

  1. I fear Porky's was my first rated R movie...and I'll never forget my first XXX. My brother stole a "Valley Girls" porn from the video store, so we owned it. I would show it to our friends at sleepovers while we all gagged over the cum... TMI? Sorry, it's just my nature...