Movie Watchdogs Clamp Down On Sex And Gore But Are 'Flexible' About Swearing

14/08/2014 16:57 | Updated 20 May 2015

Film certificate

Movie watchdogs are to relax the rules on swearing in films aimed at teenagers and instead focus on cracking down on sex and gore.

The British Board of Film Classification said it would look at the psychological impact of horror after consulting the public.

It also found there was concern on 'the sexualisation of girls'. But it said it would be 'flexible' about swearing in films rated 15 and that it would be judged by context, not frequency.

Director David Cooke said: "Our new classification guidelines reflect explicitly concerns raised by the public and will, I believe, ensure that we continue to be in step with what the public wants and expects in order to make sensible and informed viewing decisions."

Updating its guidance for cinema films and DVDs, the BBFC said from February 24 it would be 'more flexible about allowing very strong language at 15'.

However, it said it will be tougher on strong language in family films.

The body's consultation also showed the sexualisation of young women in film and music videos to be a major concern.

The findings revealed the content of some music promos and ease of accessibility to online pornography are also a public worry.

An accompanying report revealed that mothers of girls were found to be 'particularly sensitive to the increasing sexual and sexualised culture that their daughters are growing up in'.

Parents as a whole cited the prevalence of sexualised images and references in everyday life and how they were "pervading the national psyche" in a way that affected the concept of normality.

On-screen fashion trends including high heels and makeup among young girls and the music industry were blamed for the normalisation of overt sexuality.

One mother of children aged between 10 and 15 said: "I'm concerned about what they watch on music videos and young girls thinking this is the norm."

With regards to film, the depiction of sex rather than sexualisation of characters was of greater concern to parents, with causal and violent sex causing problems.

The general theme of promiscuity and the ways in which men treated women was another area of concern.

But the BBFC said it would adopt a more flexible approach to strong language, despite the fact that parents 'lamented' its diminishing shock value.

The report said: "Reluctantly, parents were accepting that there have been shifts in language in recent years and awareness and use of the word 'f***' in particular, is almost commonplace, even for primary school aged children.

"Even if their own children are not using language at home, parents are aware that it has become an accepted part of young people's lives and its use in the school playground as well as with social media, mobile phones and the internet is widespread."

It added: "By aged 15, most parents argued that it was 'game over' and they could no longer control their child's viewing.

"The shock value of bad language is felt to be diminishing with each generation."

However, family groups questioned the move.

Margaret Morrissey, of the family group Parents Outloud, asked: "If no standards are set by adults, what chance do our children have of being polite and decent grown-ups and parents?"


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