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Dark Knight rating dispute

The Dark Knight rating is...

Too lenient33%[ 11 ]
Too harsh9%[ 3 ]
Just right58%[ 19 ]

Total Votes : 33

Posted: Tue, 5th Aug 2008, 2:58pm

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Simon K Jones

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Here in the UK The Dark Knight received a '12A' certificate, which means that any children under the age of 12 need to be accompanied by an adult in order to see the film (which, of course, works on the dubious assumption that adults are responsible, but that's another topic entirely).

There's currently debate raging even in government over whether the rating was too lenient, given the film's dark tone and the Joker's penchant for knives and being scary.

The UK ratings board, the BBFC, meanwhile say that the lack of blood and gratuitous on-screen violence make it perfectly suitable for a 12A, rather than the high 15 cert. They also insist, rather patronisingly, that as a comic book film it is a fantasy and shouldn't be taken too seriously.

What do you think?
Posted: Tue, 5th Aug 2008, 3:08pm

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TemporalCoder

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I went to see it the other night and on the advice of a friend i left kids at home... Which i am glad!

The rating is incorrect and i am disappointed with the film because of this (flaming commence).

Batman should be a family film (not the same as a kids film by the way)

Hellboy is a good example of the correct balance between kids and adults.

anyways... just my twopenneth.

another thing... it may not have had blood, but it did have sadistic intent which i find worse.
Posted: Tue, 5th Aug 2008, 3:13pm

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Xcession

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No film "should" be anything, other than "good".

If any parent takes/sends their kids to a film they haven't sufficiently investigated themselves, they're just irresponsible. Don't forget that the first batman was 19 years ago - that means that on the whole the vast majority of the fans are well over-age.

You didn't take your kids to it and I'd say that was sensible. No flaming is necessary, but your statement that batman (or any film) should be anything, is simply ridiculous. If The Little Mermaid series turned towards hardcore porn it would certainly be jaw-droppingly "inappropriate" but provided that it was rated accordingly, there can be no laws to say what it "should" be.

Having said that, I am frankly surprised at a 12A rating. I don't have kids, but having seen the film I'm unsurprised that people have issues with the rating.

Last edited Tue, 5th Aug 2008, 3:41pm; edited 7 times in total.

Posted: Tue, 5th Aug 2008, 3:18pm

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Sollthar

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Haven't seen the film yet as it's still not out, so I can't really comment on the rating. :I

Batman should be a family film
What???? Since when is Batman a family franchise? crazy

Batman should be dark, twisted, flawed and gritty. That's what makes the whole character so interesting. The whole "this is for the whole family" approach was what killed the Batman franchise for a long time in my opinion.

it did have sadistic intent
Sounds great to me. Sounds like that's one of the reasons the film is so successful, because that's what Batman and the Joker should be about to some extent.
Posted: Tue, 5th Aug 2008, 3:24pm

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Simon K Jones

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TemporalCoder wrote:

The rating is incorrect and i am disappointed with the film because of this (flaming commence).

Batman should be a family film (not the same as a kids film by the way)
An interesting viewpoint. I can see how it would be frustrating as a father to not be able to take your entire family to a Batman film, but Batman has always been a darker, harder and more serious look at the superhero genre.

The 80s and 90s films riffed more on the 60s TV series than the comic, so retained its general sense of pantomime and harmless fun, which has skewed people's idea of what the character should be, I think. Although, having said that, Batman Returns is a pretty disturbing film as well - not least for its odd take on mental illness.

I think there's definitely room in the genre for a wide variety of styles, themes and audiences. There's still stuff like Spidey, Iron Man, Hulk, Fantastic Four etc for family viewing. Material like Batman and Watchmen inevitably move towards an older audience, though.

I think the problem isn't so much with Dark Knight getting a 12A rating, but the 12A rating itself (which, coincidentally, was introduced for the 89 Batman). It's a confusing, muddied certificate that sits uncomfortably between PG and 15. Given that 'PG' stands for 'parental guidance', 12A's requirement for adult accompaniment seems a bit unnecessary. That 12A films automatically end up as 15 certs when they come out on DVD speaks volumes, I think.

another thing... it may not have had blood, but it did have sadistic intent which i find worse.
I'll agree with you there. The focus specifically on blood is a bit daft. The Dark Knight is a very harsh, very forbidding film. Personally I love it, but I wouldn't take kids to see it. It's odd that the BBFC focus on blood and gore specifically, rather than the overall effect of the violence.

Sure, in the interrogation scene the Joker doesn't get bloodied. But it still looks hugely painful, and involves the moral complexity of the supposed hero beating up the supposed villain. It's a hugely powerful scene for adults, but its arguably too intense and morally complex for kids.

The main thing that surprises me about the rating, though, is Harvey Dent's face. It might not be oozing blood and saliva, but it's pretty damned unpleasant.
Posted: Tue, 5th Aug 2008, 3:28pm

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No Respite Productions

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The BBFC is getting more lax with their standards of film ratings these days. Their decision on awarding Silent Hill a 15 rating was an utter joke.

As a body they seem to be getting far too lenient, their comment that just because there was no blood in it, then it can be a 12a is a very weak justification.

My two pence, and a nice little rant after a hard day at work smile

NR
Posted: Tue, 5th Aug 2008, 3:36pm

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Simon K Jones

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I think what irritates me the most is the BBFC's apparent assumption that its comic book origins mean it isn't as serious as a non-comic book movie. With that attitude, they're going to have serious trouble when Watchmen comes along. smile

BBC News wrote:

Ms Clark emphasised the fantasy nature of The Dark Knight and its basis in comic books.

"Batman can jump off buildings and fly and The Joker is not a realistic character and bounces back with a smile on his face."
This in particular annoys me. Not least because she thinks Batman can fly...makes you wonder just how much attention she was paying. As for saying the Joker is not a realistic character...sure, he's hugely extreme, but the entire reason people love Ledger's take on the character is that he's actually made him feel realistic for the first time on screen. Rather than a fun pantomime villain, he feels like a genuine psychopath.
Posted: Tue, 5th Aug 2008, 3:38pm

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Mellifluous

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I find the ratings system bizarre and a bit uneven to be honest, but The Dark Knight itself is being focused on because we're in a moral panic over knife crime.

What we need to remember is that most stabbings are committed by over 12s, so that focus on the rating is silly. On top of that, stabbings come about from fear of bullying, street crime, gang protection... if you start saying all knife crime is caused by the media we may as well ban Ready Steady Cook.

What I don't get is how some films get the ratings they do, and how ridiculous some of the ratings actually are.

To me, The Dark Knight (12A) is more adult than the original Batman (15). But 15 is a rigid certification whereas 12A is retarded and I don't really see much difference between it and a PG. I heard on the radio a man saying he'd brought his 6 year old to watch it and that the 6 year old found it fine. Cool, the 6 year old wasn't affected, pleased about that, but I find it disturbing that he wasn't. Are children becoming so desensitised these days?

Anyway, to me bringing in a 6 year old, whether affected or not, is bad and I don't think a rating should allow that kind of leeway. I'm not a proponent of the violence is caused by movies camp, but what we are doing is eroding innocence and playfulness. When I was a kid, I liked the idea of copying Batman but I wasn't too aware of details. Now, if they like, kids can pretend to be Batman fighting the guy who cuts people's mouths. It's just the idea of kids knowing this kind of stuff occurs, before their time, that I am unsettled by. I don't think for a moment any kid will copy it, that's not the point.

From what I can tell, ratings are now dished out like exam grades, in that they just count instances of certain things. Can't they just use commonsense? Don't know if the straight 12 certificate still exists, but I would have given it that. The 12A just allows lazy parents to not have to hire a babysitter.

Edit: you've got 2 topics on this...
Posted: Tue, 5th Aug 2008, 4:39pm

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Hybrid-Halo

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Batman Begins was hardly a family film, what were people expecting with Dark Knight? The problem isn't with the ratings at all, the BBFC Advise parents not to take their children to see 12A movies. The problem is that parents aren't researching what they are exposing their children to. In this regard the rating is irrelevant.

The computer game market constantly faces the same problem, parents/people in general have a habit of not paying attention to what they are allowing their children to experience though are quick to pick out computer games/films as a scapegoat to explain their childs undesirable behavior.

It's not that I don't agree that this movie should have been a 15 rated, it's simply that I can't let go of an opportunity to comment on the populations level of stupidity and lack of logic.

Regarding what this film 'Should have been' - that statement is a bit of a joke. Pandering to family audiences is what very nearly sold the franchise irreversibly down the river. I for one am very glad that Batman is once again an intelligent, gritty piece of cinema.

-Hybrid.

p.s. Hehe, I think rating Watchmen will be easy. There's simply no family way of cutting someones arms off in a prison cell with a circular saw.
Posted: Tue, 5th Aug 2008, 5:04pm

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Mellifluous

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Hybrid-Halo wrote:

Batman Begins was hardly a family film, what were people expecting with Dark Knight? The problem isn't with the ratings at all, the BBFC Advise parents not to take their children to see 12A movies. The problem is that parents aren't researching what they are exposing their children to. In this regard the rating is irrelevant.
Hmm. Why advise against something it explicitly allows? Isn't it a bit hypocritical? I agree there's a problem with parenting, which goes beyond bringing in kids to see this kind of film, but...

They may as well bring in an 18A certificate, if they're going to advise certain audiences against seeing the film but technically allow it.
Posted: Tue, 5th Aug 2008, 6:33pm

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TemporalCoder

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mmm... all very valid points...

"Batman" was a 15 at first it came out just before my 14th birthday and i was gutted sad but then it was reduced it to a 12 and i was happy.

I have watched all Batman films with my family and i did take my kids to see batman begins.

I think i was just disappointed because i like to watch these sort of films with my children.

I do agree that too many parents see 12a and think it is ok for anyone

18a made me laugh smile

I do always vet films before allowing my kids to watch them. I don't mid them watching the matrix, but not fairly odd parents!!! it turns them into disrespectful morons...

anyway that's me done smile


...and don't get mke started on ratings of computer games, parents buying their 10 years olds GTA... grrrr....
Posted: Tue, 5th Aug 2008, 6:46pm

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Garrison

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Despite the rating issue, I agree with Hybrid. What parent could not base their decision off of Batman Begins?

But that aside, in this digital age, there is the Internet, movie trailers and early reviews of the movie to give parents an informed decision.

Now, my daughter is 8, but if she were around 15, I would err on the side of caution if I was borderline or even questioned it. But that's my parenting. Some parents just don't care.

Case in point, when I saw Passion of the Christ, there was so much warning with the media and early reviews about how brutal the beatings were that it was not for children. And still, in the theater, there were families that brought their FIVE year olds to watch it. Insane.
Posted: Tue, 5th Aug 2008, 7:24pm

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Sollthar

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It's never too early to watch blood covered superhero jesus suffer for the sins of mankind on a big screen and with gore in closeup I guess. smile
Posted: Wed, 6th Aug 2008, 8:19am

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Simon K Jones

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Yeah, violence and gore is OK as long as it's Jesus. That was the message I got from the release of that film, anyway.
Posted: Wed, 6th Aug 2008, 8:40am

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Atom

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Tarn wrote:

Yeah, violence and gore is OK as long as it's Jesus. That was the message I got from the release of that film, anyway.
I still haven't seen it (because of the gore and horrific-ness of the entire ordeal- which is funny considering the thread), but that's still fairly different. The Passion of The Christ isn't entirely for entertainment purposes. I'd even go as far as saying that's not its intent at all. And violence and gore in the right context, powerful for the right reasons; can be entirely justified.

In school, since even second or first grade (age 5-7) we've been told horrific things, shown grotesque pictures, and had violent images placed into our heads from stories of the Holocaust "so that history will never forget"- and while I think it's slightly wrong to subject someone or substantiate showing someone young such graphic content- I certainly understand the intent and why such powerful images are used. The same can be true for religious material, and can be translated into movies.

Any important message or story to an individual can inspire someone to be completely oblivious to a rating.
Posted: Wed, 6th Aug 2008, 8:46am

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Simon K Jones

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Atom wrote:

Tarn wrote:

Yeah, violence and gore is OK as long as it's Jesus. That was the message I got from the release of that film, anyway.
I still haven't seen it (because of the gore and horrific-ness of the entire ordeal- which is funny considering the thread), but that's still fairly different. The Passion of The Christ isn't entirely for entertainment purposes. I'd even go as far as saying that's not its intent at all. And violence and gore in the right context, powerful for the right reasons; can be entirely justified.
The violence and gore in A History of Violence I also consider to be entirely justified and vital to the film's message (ie, that violence is horrific and you can never escape it once you start down that path). Doesn't mean I think the film should be seen by children, though.

Same with Jesus' Passion, which I also have yet to actually see. It's not the film I have a problem with, as I'm sure the violence and gore is perfectly justified in its context. The problem I have is with hypocritical parents who wouldn't dream of taking their kids to see a hardcore action or horror film, but have no problem with The Passion of Mel Gibson, simply because it has religious connections. Having the story rooted in religious texts doesn't suddenly give you carte blanche to do whatever you like, or somehow make it 'OK' for kids.

Films like Schindler's List clearly aren't purely for 'entertainment', either, but that doesn't mean they're suitable for young children.
Posted: Wed, 6th Aug 2008, 8:55am

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Atom

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Perhaps you're not seeing what I'm saying, then.

Violence and gore can be used properly and improperly; that's certain. What I'm talking about isn't justifying the violence or gore, it's justifying showing said violence or gore to a young/specific audience.

Under the right circumstances, the latter is possible, I believe. When a message requires or uses these adult elements but transcends them to speak to all ages (And this goes with more than just movies, more than just religion. Like I said, this is true for retelling history as well.)- it can justify young/specific audiences seeing the adult parts.
Posted: Wed, 6th Aug 2008, 8:59am

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Sollthar

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Jesus and Batman have a lot in common for me, except one of them has no superpowers. But in terms of their superhero characters fighting for an idea, fighting evil, I'd say they convey similar messages about human psychology, despite in different contexts and their entertainment and intellectual value is roughly the same - but that's coming from a Batman fan, I know the Jesus-franchise has more followers obviously.

It shows this: Violence isn't violence. It depends on the context. And that's why the whole rating issue is so utterly complicated. You can't base a rating on a clearly measurable thing like "litres of on screen blood" or "amplitude of painful screams" or something, as that makes no sense. There's so much layers when it comes to violence and what's associated with it and ultimately to the question wheter that's suitable for children or not. And that ultimately comes down to what we assume is a healthy message to kids. And that's already where the problems start.

Personally, I find those ratings to be fairly odd. Especially as I think they should be entirely looked at as guidelines, not actual laws. As the question to "what is suitable for kids" depends so much on subjective viewpoints and even more so on the actual kid in question that it should be handled differently and left within the hands of the respective parent. Obviously though, with so many parents not paying any attention to what their kids really do, that's also a somewhat dodgy solution.

Rating disputes will most likely always go on as it's simply impossible to find a common solution everyone's happy with. Is it okay for an 8 year old to watch jesus get shredded to pieces in slowmotion but not to see Batman offscreen-punch a badguy?
Violence is part of the human spirit. I'm always amused at how violent certain kid cartoons are - Tom and Jerry beating the crap out of each other or random cartoon guy X fighting monsters. Not to mention the nice bedtime stories we tell kids of burning witches, being eaten etc.
Posted: Wed, 6th Aug 2008, 9:00am

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Serpent

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I think 12 is an appropriate rating. I was 12 more recently than most people in this thread, and I think the only thing TDK would do to me was scare me a bit more, I'd love the badass aspect, but I wouldn't appreciate or understand it quite as much (compared to me now at 18 ). 12-years-old is pretty old.

Is 12A the same as PG-13 in terms of restrictions? In the US, PG-13 means theaters part of NATO have to enforce the rule that children under 13 (12 year olds and under) have to see the film with a parent. So I'm assuming 12A restricts 11-year-olds from going to the theater with no parents to see it and advises parents on film's content?

So really, there is a one year difference between the two ratings, and it got PG-13 in the US. I really don't see what the big deal is and I think it's a perfectly appropriate rating. When a kid turns 12 or 13, they should be able to see this with parents or even friends, honestly. There is some brutal content, but 13 is an age where someone can morally tell the difference between bad and good. This is more of a ghost story/thrill ride effect if anything, it certainly isn't something that will affect development. I saw a lot worse stuff when I was that age (some really horrible stuff). It didn't affect me at all. If your kid doesn't take things well, then you should not let him/her see the film. Chances are they'll sneak it at a friends house when it's out on DVD. Ratings are there for parents, and parents should know where their kids are when they are 13. Once it's on video, not much you can really do unless you watch it with them and explain.

Reminds me of this sort of thing:
http://www.thebestpageintheuniverse.net/c.cgi?u=ticket_to_hell
(Warning - explicit. I'd give it an R or 18+ rating.)

Not same issue but same idea. I hate rating systems. I don't mind parental guidelines, but enforced rating systems are pointless and fascist. And honestly, even as a guideline, 12 is about right for TDK. It's a harsh film, but toughen up. wink 12 is honestly the perfect age for a parent to say "alright, I guess you can watch the new Batman movie," and that's exactly what this is saying to do. Some parents are more strict. They can easily choose to wait for their kid to be 16 to watch it. Obviously that's a bit much, but technically your parents have control over you until you turn 18.

Last edited Wed, 6th Aug 2008, 9:10am; edited 1 times in total.

Posted: Wed, 6th Aug 2008, 9:09am

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Atom

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Serpent wrote:

to me now at 1cool. 12-years-old is pretty old.
I don't know exactly what age 1cool is, but I want to be it very badly.
Posted: Wed, 6th Aug 2008, 9:10am

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Serpent

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Damn PHPBB smilies.
Posted: Wed, 6th Aug 2008, 11:48am

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Xcession

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Rating films based purely on statistical content does seems incredibly dumb. Whether its two thirds of a nipple, 5 litres of blood, 15 killings or 20 beatings, it seems to me that all could be valid additions to a film in given the correct context and treatment.

What confuses me is the fact that our DVDs these days come with hilarious phrases on the back like "contains extended scenes of mild peril", but our cinema viewings do not. If TDK said "12a: contains prolonged scenes of sadism and matter-of-fact treatment of murder", it would be a completely different matter. Parents would go "wtf thats not a 12a!" and would either not take their kids or would complain to the BBFC in sufficient quantities to get it changed.

This thread seems to have firmly established that its not what you see on screen that is the problem on its own - its the psychological effects of what you see. You don't have to see the knife go in, to feel the victim's pain.
Posted: Wed, 6th Aug 2008, 1:01pm

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Arktic

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Actually, lots of trailers and print adverts for movies these days do carry the "Contains strong fantasy violence" or whatever strap line.

But I think the rating was fine. I wouldn't personally take a 6 year old to see it - but I also think that it's fine for a 14 year old, or a mature 11 year old, so the 12A seems appropriate. Like Hybrid says, it's not encouraging parents to take their young kids to see it, but it does mean that if they DO want to, they're not breaking the law. That's the whole point of the 12A rating - introduced for exactly this kind of film where it SHOULD be up to the parents discretion.

And why it shouldn't it be up to the parents to decide? Is it because the 'great unwashed' have to be protected from the 'evil influence' of the mass media? What is this, the 1920s?! neutral I find the whole argument a little rooted in classism and prejudice against parents who are seen as 'not clever enough' to make the morally right decision.

That 12A films automatically end up as 15 certs when they come out on DVD speaks volumes, I think.
I disagree - I think you'll find it's more to do with the repeat playability of a DVD, and it's potential to do more psychological harm with repeat viewings, as opposed to the one-off effect of a cinema screening. It's why lots of movies have additional cuts when released on DVD.

And seriously, who out of us all here stuck rigidly to the ratings guidance as children? Probably very few. I watched Robocop, Terminator, Aliens, Halloween and a whole host of other films that had 18 certificates before I was 13 or 14 - as did almost all my mates - and it's really done us no harm. My parents just taught me decent morals and encouraged me to do well in life - THAT is why I haven't stabbed anyone or turned into a renegade cyborg, nothing to do with the films I watched as a kid.

Cheers,
Arktic.
Posted: Wed, 6th Aug 2008, 1:32pm

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Simon K Jones

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Arktic wrote:

And why it shouldn't it be up to the parents to decide? Is it because the 'great unwashed' have to be protected from the 'evil influence' of the mass media? What is this, the 1920s?! neutral I find the whole argument a little rooted in classism and prejudice against parents who are seen as 'not clever enough' to make the morally right decision.
I would argue that a huge proportion of parents (I won't say 'majority', as I've no idea if it is or not, but it's certainly...a lot) are indeed not clever enough to make the right decision. Or, perhaps to be more accurate, they simply don't care enough to make the right decision.

It's nothing to do with class, though. If there's one thing that crosses all class and economic boundaries, it's stupidity. smile

My parents just taught me decent morals and encouraged me to do well in life - THAT is why I haven't stabbed anyone or turned into a renegade cyborg
Unless you're just lulling us into a false sense of security.
Posted: Thu, 7th Aug 2008, 6:30am

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my uncles friend was co-director on this but it should be 15 i think
Posted: Mon, 11th Aug 2008, 5:45am

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I don't have much to say regarding the Dark Knight's rating specifically, but I think what some countries deem to be important enough to mention, censor, or block is interesting.

The one that always surprises me about the UK is the regular removal of headbutts and Nunchaku use from television shows and the like. Is a headbutt that much worse than a bullet hit?

The channel Sky One is notorious for having cut episodes of Buffy The Vampire Slayer.
Posted: Mon, 11th Aug 2008, 8:10am

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Simon K Jones

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BackOfTheHearse wrote:

The channel Sky One is notorious for having cut episodes of Buffy The Vampire Slayer.
Channel 4 were also notorious for over-active snipping fingers. Or, rather, completely idiotic scheduling. I remember an episode of Angel that ran about 30 minutes long, and made absolutely no sense, because they'd cut so much out of it, with absolutely no thought towards story cohesion.
Posted: Mon, 11th Aug 2008, 10:33am

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Arktic

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The one that always surprises me about the UK is the regular removal of headbutts and Nunchaku use from television shows and the like. Is a headbutt that much worse than a bullet hit?
No - if you're talking in terms of the fictitious impact on the character, then of course a bullet is 'worse'

But if you're talking about imitability, then a headbutt is far more likely to be copied by kids in a school playground (at least, in the UK, where access to weapons is vastly limited) - and so is far more likely to lead to real-world harm.

But though there was a phase when the BBFC would censor ANY nunchaku scenes regardless and likewise broadcasters would do the same (in the 1970s, there was a fear about the ease with which a nunchaku could be 'home-made' and copied by idiots; again, much harder to build your own gun at home!) - nowadays there are less strict 'rules' and, as Tarn has mentioned, more of a tendency to examine the overall context of the scene in question and the potential for harm.

That's why a programme that is likely to be viewed by youngsters will have nunchaku, headbutts, ear-claps and rabbit punches removed as a matter of course; but a more adult-oriented programme will often leave these scenes in tact.

Cheers,
Arktic.