Who's to Say What We Should and Shouldn't See?

By Margaret Dickinson and Simon Reynell

Andreas (age 12)

A lot of the classifications are wrong.

I think film classification is a fairly good idea but I think quite a lot of the classifications are wrong.

When I was 11, I was turned away with my Mum from a ‘12’ film (Batman) at the cinema which was disappointing. When we got it from the video shop I thought it could have been a ‘PG’ because it wasn’t very violent and didn’t have any rude parts.

There are other films I’ve seen on telly which have got high ratings. There was one, The Enchanted Forest, which was rated ‘15’ but I think it could have been a ‘12’ or ‘PG’ because it was very interesting and you could learn a lot from it about how the rain forests are disappearing. It was about a boy, the son of one of the American engineers building a dam, who gets kidnapped by an Indian tribe. He grows up with them, gets accepted into the tribe and doesn’t want to go back.

The kind of things they classify films for is if it’s rude, if it’s got swearing, if it’s got sex, if it’s got a lot of violence or gore, and quite often a lot of the ‘PGs’ have also got that.

One of the reasons I think the ratings should be put down for a lot of films is because the ‘U’ films and ‘PG’ films are often not very well made. Hook’s a good example. There’s a sword fight and it’s extremely fake. He flies and it’s really badly done. The acting is terrible though it’s got some quite good and famous actors in it.

A true story or a myth doesn’t offend as much.

It’s the way it’s done that makes a film upsetting. Robin Hood is more heroic than violent. If it’s a true story or a myth – most people know the story quite well already so it doesn’t offend as much as something totally made up. If you want to do the story of Robin Hood you can hardly avoid such things, but in films like Arnold Schwarzenegger’s there’s supposed to be loads of violence for no reason and I don’t find that necessary.

Joe (age 12)

It was a comedy and that’s why I didn’t find it horrific

I haven’t ever not been allowed into a cinema. I’ve seen Black Robe (‘15’), The Commitments (‘15’), Delicatessen (‘15’). Delicatessen is set in the future where everything is very run down. It’s about a delicatessen and the owner also owns flats above the delicatessen. There’s no law enforcement and the owner keeps murdering his tenants and the other tenants have to buy the murdered person’s meat. It was a comedy and that’s why I didn’t find it horrific. It was sarcastically done and it was very funny so I think it should have been a ‘12’.

It’s the truth and people should know about it.

I saw Sallam Bombay (‘15’) on TV when I was 11. It was good. I really enjoyed it. I don’t think it should have been a ‘15’. It was about this little boy in India who was chucked out of home to earn money in a circus. One day, the circus master sends him to buy cigarettes in the city and when he comes back the circus is all packed up and gone. So he goes to Bombay and finds a friend who helps him. His friends are older. They’re heroin addicts and are working for someone who is selling heroin. The guy who is supplying the heroin is also a pimp and one day the little boy sees one of the prostitutes being taken to the brothel against her will and the little boy falls in love with her and tries to run away with her and they get into serious trouble. In the end he kills the pimp and tries to go off with the pimp’s wife or mistress but they are separated in a big festival. People rush by and the little boy is sitting and crying and that’s how it ends. It was classified ‘15’ because of drugs, prostitution and violence, but I think it should have been classified ‘12’ because it is the truth and people should know about it and it was not really upsettingly horrific.

I have been scared. When I was about six I saw Jaws on TV and I was scared by it.

Classification’s never done properly and never works.

You can’t really classify a film to suit everyone because there are loads of people seeing these films and everyone has a different idea as to how they should be classified. Classification is a good idea but it’s never done properly and it never works. People can cheat on it and it doesn’t work because everyone has a different opinion about it.

Donna (age 13)

My Mum lets me watch scary programmes but nothing rude.

I’ve seen quite a lot of ‘18s’. I’ve seen them on video – Nightmare On Elm Street and other ‘Freddies’. Either my brother or my friend’s sister gets them out.

I haven’t had nightmares from watching a film. But sometimes, because we always watch Freddie late at night, I go up and look under my bed first because I think he’s waiting for me. I had one dream. We were all in this car and Freddie was underneath and there was only me that knew. I told everybody. I said, ‘Drive quick because Freddie’s under the car.’ So we drove to our house and I got inside and Freddie just walked through the door and pulled me up against the wall and was trying to eat me. This was two or three years ago.

My Mum lets me watch scary programmes, but nothing rude. If there was just kissing she’d let me watch that because I’ve seen a lot of people kissing, but it’s when they’re actually doing sex that she doesn’t like it.

I know all about it anyway.

I watch things like that on Sky Television and RTL. There’s this man and woman and they’re always having sex or doing something disgusting and they sometimes have competitions while they’re doing sex. I don’t know what they’re saying because they’re from Germany. I don’t think Mum likes me to watch it. Everybody else watches it though, when they come in from the pub. I know all about it anyway so I don’t see why I shouldn’t watch it.

Grainne (age 10)

There should be a law, but if children are really desperate they should break the law.

I’ve seen ‘12s’ or ‘15s’ from the video shop: Kindergarten Cop, Nuns On The Run, Erik The Viking. Kindergarten Cop would be all right for 10-year-olds, but little children around five might get a bit frightened. Erik The Viking was all right. My sister watched it and she was four then. I’d have put a ‘U’ on it. I wanted to see The Commitments, but my Mum and Dad wouldn’t let me because it had swearing in it. It’s not fair on us kids. I think there should be a law, but if children are really desperate to see ‘15s’ or ‘18s’ they should see them. They should break the law.

Imara (age 10)

I don’t want to watch rude bits with Grandma

Me and Grainne go down to the video shop and we look down at the bottom of the comedy shelves where they have the rude films and we just look at the covers and then we think about what it would be like to watch them. I’ve never seen a rude film. I don’t know if I’d be surprised or embarrassed. It depends who I’m with. I don’t want to watch rude bits with my Grandma

They should put a classification on horror films but not rude films.

Horror films frighten me. Adults like them because they have been to school and they know lots more things and they know it’s not really true, but some children who are really young might think, ‘Oh this is going to happen!’ I don’t, but I still don’t like horror films and sometimes I get really panicked and think, ‘Oh no, this is going to happen!’ They should put a classification on horror films but not rude films.

Thom (age 10)

At ten you get responsible.

I think there should be a ‘10’ instead of a ‘12’ because you get considered as a grown-up then – not like 18, but at ten you get responsible. You can go to court.

I wanted to see Erik The Viking (‘15’) because I saw some of the clips and it was a comedy. My Dad watched it on video and said there was nothing wrong with it, but Mum watched it and said it was totally wrong. I saw Parenthood (‘15’) because some of my friends said it was really good and I showed Mum the magazine which it was in and she let me watch it. It didn’t disturb me at all. It was very good and very funny.

If Dad hadn’t been there Mum would have totally disagreed about my watching Parenthood and she’d have also disagreed about videoing Batman. I’ve seen Batman and it was not scary; Dad said it was totally OK, and he eventually won in battle to say what we should see and what we shouldn’t see.

In Robin Hood Prince Of Thieves (‘PG’) there were two bits that really disturbed me: when the man had his eyes plucked out and when there’s somebody hanging from the ceiling, rotting. But I think it was classified right.

Most films don’t need to be classified. If there’s something that would give me nightmares it should be classified ‘15’ or ‘18’, but I think really the only things which should be classified are rude things – some of them aren’t suitable and I wouldn’t want to see them and nobody else would. They’re silly, they’re not realistic, they’re just stupid. None of my friends have seen such films, but there was one boy at school who told me he’d seen a really rude film. It didn’t upset him but he was bored.

You should have an 11-year-old to advise.

If you are going to have classification, you should have an 11-year-old to advise. If it was something that you could definitely tell wasn’t suitable for that age, you’d get somebody a bit older, say a 15-year-old, to do that.

Emma (age 12)

Lots of my friends know zillions of ways to cheat to get into the cinema. One of the best ones is you get your friend who’s really much older than you to get the tickets. Then you go in wearing a jacket and, when he takes the tickets, cough so he can’t see your face.

Children in my class watch horror and pornos.

It’s much easier to cheat with videos than it is with cinema. I think lots of children in my class – but not the majority – watch horror and pornos about twice a week. They just think it makes them look cooler but I don’t think it does.

I went to a party where we watched a rude video. They’d chucked the Mum out and then, if an adult came to pick up a child, they’d hide it and put on something else. The video was called Bachelor House Party and it was about two people getting married and their bachelor night. The wide was with some old women and the man was with his teenage friends and the men sent two strippers round to the old ladies’ house. The strippers thought ‘Oh no, it’s some more gay oldies!’ and you saw them going round with electric whips and these old women going ‘eeeaagh!’ Afterwards I felt really guilty because I felt if my Mum found out she’d go bonkers.

There was a boy there who has a whole wardrobe full of pornos and he was stopping the tape when the women were naked and just screaming ‘bush!’ He does that because he thinks it gives him more reputation. I think those films are disgusting, disgraceful. I don’t know why women and men sell their bodies. I think 18- and 15-year-olds should choose if they want to watch them, but I don’t think they should be sold to children my age.

I’ve seen things I didn’t like in ‘PG’ films. In Robin Hood (‘PG’) I felt quite shocked when the man got his hands chopped off. But A Fish Called Wanda was rated ‘15’ because you got to see naked people in it. It should have been rated much lower because it was so funny. It was really good.

They should have children watch videos and rate them.

I think what they should do is to have children – one of 12, one of 15 and one of 18 – well a couple of kids for each – to watch the videos and rate them and then have an adult look at the things and say who voted what and found out what it should be.