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“Concerned Parents’ Group”: The three most dreaded words in the English Language…

It looks like the moral guardians have been out in force. The New York Times yesterday featured an opinion piece focusing on the evils of red band trailers, just one of the more modern marketing gimmicks. Apparently – and brace yourself here – kids can lie about their age and watch these things. I am… shocked. Shocked and appalled. Next thing you know they’ll be lying to get their hands on booze. The second, and more predicable, piece of news that broke yesterday was parents groups campaigning against Kick-Ass. That’s sorta expected, seen as it features an eleven-year-old assassin. Surely we’d all been expecting some sort of objection to the pint-sized killer, but – and brace yourself again – she used “the c-word”. You’ll have to excuse me while I hyperventilate.

Kids these days are such c-words...

Don’t get me wrong. I respect the age ratings on movies. Mostly. Seriously though, the age ratings are a fairly strong backbone of any form of film regulation and a solid guideline in keeping the wrong films out of young hands. I’ve sang the praises of the Irish Film Censor for adopting the policy stance that actual censoring of movies (cutting and editing films) is unnecessary – within reason, there is very little you can put in a Hollywood film that an adult shouldn’t be free to watch. The key is marking material only appropriate for adults as such.

Kick Ass, when released, will have a hard 16 rating. We all know what this means, but let’s articulate it: nobody under the age of sixteen should see the film. At the risk of being smart, it’s as simple as that. It’s up to cinemas and – let’s face it – parents to keep underage children from sneaking in. Any arguments complaining about the impact the film will have on anyone under sixteen doesn’t have a leg to stand on. There is nothing wrong with the film, but something wrong with the regulation.

And, as a kid who has snuck into films when he shouldn’t have, I know that it seems a trite observation. I know that children are sneaky and manipulative and I know that nobody teaches you how to be a parent. I know because, let’s face it, I think that most of us look back on our youth and are right to be embarrassed at some of the stuff we put our parents through. But it’s the job of parents to stop this sort of thing from happening. The answer isn’t to complain about the material itself, but to work harder to keep it out of your children’s hands.

The belief that these films contribute to the perceived downward social spiral – with ASBOs and hoodies and yobs, oh my! – is a fundamental misunderstanding of the situation. It’s the same sort of casual indifference to what children watch that carries through to an indifference about what they do. The fact that children can so easily see these movies is a symptom of the same sort of societal neglect and disinterest that leads to this sort of ‘youth out of control’ atmosphere. To claim that allowing them to see these movies is a direct cause of the increasingly violent nature of children ignores the fact that they shouldn’t be seeing these movies. At the risk of editorialising, I think we’re afraid to say that the parents do need to be trying harder.

As for the age of sixteen… let’s face it, children have heard the c-word by the time they reach that age. My eleven-year-old sister knows that particular word (we don’t dwell on it). Here’s a crazy idea though: knowing it and using it are two very different things. I knew a whole heap of swear words by the time I left primary school. I learnt a few new “s-words” in my first year of secondary school, but I was a verbose little so-and-so.

And yet, somehow, I managed to avoid swearing like a little sailor. Hell, I swear in conversation now, but my “good Catholic upbringing” has left me more than a little uncomfortable typing it. Seriously, it’s bizarre. I’m going to try now, so brace yourselves. The sensitive among you may want to look away. You have been warned.

And… ffffffff… freakin’ hell!

Okay, maybe… shshshshshshsh… shugar!

Yep, I know. It’s strange. I just can’t do it with all you people watching. It doesn’t feel right. Anyway, I saw movies containing various profanities at ages a lot younger than sixteen and I can’t even bring myself to use “the c-word”. I don’t know why, but it just seems a horrible word. As you can imagine, it makes quoting Tarantino dialogue quite difficult.

What strikes me about these stories (and a new one pops every few months) is the sheer absurdity of what these groups choose to complain about. I would still feel the same way, but I’d be more likely to understand if, say, they were complaining about the sheer scale of violence in the film (I hear it’s absurd). Then again, it’s always the same way. These sorts of arguments are always self-defeating, like the suggestion that The Dark Knight crossed the line when it came to knife violence. Seriously? That was the mainstream cinematic release that you had a problem with?

Ah well, such is life.

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6 Responses

  1. And breathe…that was quite the rant there young Darren. You’re absolutely right though, the onus is on the parents and cinema proprietors to ensure that the age-limit is obeyed.

    But as bad and all as the cinematic one is, the ratings on videogames never seem to be enforced. And they allow you to engage in the activities never mind just watch them! I don’t blame the censors, I blame the passive reluctance of society to care for its young.

    • Yep, I may have been a little carried away, but this really gets my goat or grinds my gears. As you said, videogames certainly need tougher regulation to even bring them in line with movies. It just seems like a wasted effort to blame it on media – if action movies promote violence, how come comedies don’t promote random bouts of slapstick humour in society?

  2. Some people go so overboard! (not you Darren, these apparent “moral guardians.”)
    Okay, I’m all for ratings and ensuring that kids only see age appropriate films. But, sometimes I wonder about how a film’s rating is judged. I mean throw in a few swear words and hey presto it’s 16 or 18. But, sometimes it can be extremely violent and be just for over 12s.

    • Yep, it doesn’t seem particularly well weighted. I think that blood (or something absurd like that) is the difference between a 12 and a 15. So you can show all the carnage and violence you want, but as long as there’s no blood (and, bizarrely, no consequences), you’ll get a 12 rating. For example, even though there’s no blood, I’d consider The Dark Knight a 15’s film.

  3. One fun thing I like to do is watch movies with curse words on cable and see what words are dubbed in. My personal favorite is “Motivator please!,” subbed in for “Motherfucker please!” in “Resident Evil: Apocalypse.” I shudder to think how “Kickass” will be censored. Probably it won’t be played at all considering it has — gasp! — a BAD WORD RIGHT THERE IN THE TITLE.

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