Every week, “Charts & Graphs” looks past the weekend box-office numbers to examineother lists of movies that are popular right now, as assessed by the likes of iTunes, Amazon, Box Office Mojo, and other services.
After writing recently about “the dreaded PG-13-ification” of American movies—which makes films that should be for kids too grim and smutty, and films that should be for adults too juvenile—I was interested by a story I saw in The Guardian yesterday about how some overseas moviegoers are taking issue with The British Board Of Film Classification’s overuse of its 12A rating, which requires only children under 12 to be accompanied by adult. The other current BBFC ratings are U (for universal), PG, 12, 15, 18, and R18 (which is the rating for pornography). The 12A was introduced in 2002, and has generated complaints as the BBFC have allowed more and more films to go out under that classification.
Each year the BBFC tracks those complaints, and documents them as part of an annual report posted on its website. In the report for 2013 (which can be downloaded as a PDF file), the board made note of the six movies that people complained about the most last year.
A few notes:
- Jack Reacher’s 26 complaints are significant reduction from last year’s most-complained-about film, the 12A The Woman In Black, which drew 134.
- As people might expect, complaints about violence are common, but those weren’t the only elements of these films that troubled moviegoers. The Wolverine and About Time were dinged for language, while Life Of Pi bothered some people because it shows animals attacking each other.
- In an interview with the BBC, BBFC director David Cooke defended the 12A rating, saying, “At that age, children are developing at different speeds, and therefore their own parents are far better placed than us to judge whether a particular film would give their child too intense an experience or not.” I don't disagree with that at all. However, I don’t think that the concern about 12A has so much to do with whether parents are exposing their kids to inappropriate material, but whether the BBFC is redefining appropriateness in such a way as to allow movie studios and exhibitors to peddle more violence to pre-teens. The issue is more with the result of the rating than the intent.
- British people need to complain more. These seem like an awfully small number of gripes, given the size of the citizenry. I live in a town where I can’t drive two blocks without seeing a yard-sign protesting something. Step up your game, Brits.