Changes in film classifications

The British Board of Film Classification has announced that it has adjusted how it rates films, DVDs and computer games. As someone who often watches films thinking, 'How on earth is this a 12A?' I'm glad to hear this.

An article in The Times focuses on how the rule-change has meant that the Friends box-set is now a 12 because of Rachel describing herself once as a "laundry spaz". Given the amount of sex references Friends contains I was surprised it's not a 12 anyway. Which just goes to show what a tricky business classification is: in the first Transformers film, for example, the references to masturbation would probably go over the head of any under-12's in the audience and parents might be more concerned about Bumblebee urinating on someone he doesn't like.

This is the line that encouraged me:

Discriminatory language, crude sexual references and scenes that do not show actual gore but are frightening are now much more likely to attract a higher certificate than before.

What this looks like will be interesting, especially with blockbusters which are made with a wide audience in mind. The Dark Knight is a chilling experience, visually and psychologically, yet you can buy the action figures from Argos and it was rated 12A. The BBFC has since disclosed that fully 40% of the complaints it received last year were about this one film, and perhaps the changes it is now suggesting were influenced by that.

I don't believe that legislation changes human hearts but it should protect the vulnerable, so I hope the BBFC's changes will help with this. I also hope that they continue to use the warning phrase "mild peril" because it sounds so funny.