Monday, 10 November 2014

How young is too young?

While sitting in the cinema eagerly awaiting the Frozen Sing-along, I saw the trailer for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie.  And of course, I got to thinking (it's a dangerous habit, I know).  The film is rated 12A, which surprised me, because surely the Turtles are aimed at an audience much younger than 12!  But from what I saw of the trailer I wasn't entirely shocked, as it looked to be quite a violent film.

Fortunately, Squeaky isn't at all interested in watching Turtles, according to her they are "boring and for boys" - which I can't really argue with, and I'm not exactly chomping at the bit to see it either.  However, at least 2 of her boyfriends are Turtles fans, and have been pressing their families to take them to see the film over the half term break.

Small children out of shot, demanding ice cream
Now, I had a little look online to understand exactly what a 12A rating means, as it's been a long time since I had to be all that concerned about film ratings.  According to the BBFC website:

"[The] BBFC considers the content of 12A rated films to be suitable for children aged 12 and over, and we would not recommend taking very young children to see them. Works classified at these categories may upset children under 12 or contain material which many parents will find unsuitable for them."

Vague, but clearly it's leaving the decision making to the parents, rather than making a firm decision themselves.  I'm not quite convinced by that.  OK, some parents will make appropriate decisions about what their child watches, but others clearly do not. I visit families at home on a daily basis and am shocked at what I see very young children watching on music channels and dvds.  Not to mention various high profile cases of young offenders being repeatedly exposed to violent movies and video games.

I'm not saying that watching a 12A would automatically lead to a child becoming a young offender, but surely even with adult accompaniment, there should be some limit to how young children are able to watch films in the cinema.  I actually do consider the content of PG (parental guidance) films before I let Squeaky watch them, and there's no way I'd consider letting her go to a 12A film, even if it was "Barbie, Tinkerbell and Frozen go to the Ice Cream Shop" (which would be pretty much her dream movie, especially if they rode My Little Ponies to get there).

I sort of question what's going on?  A film which clearly targets a young audience, but has content that is unsuitable for them.  Why does it need to?  The television series isn't restricted to after the 9.00 watershed, so why make a film too violent or scary for the characters' fans?  I think I'd rather see a firm minimum age rating - be that 5, 9, whatever, than this wishy-washy 12A nonsense. If it's suitable, it's suitable, if it's not, it's not. Simple as that.

What's your opinion? How old, or young, a child would you take to a 12A film? And what regard do you have for film ratings at home?

(Photo thanks to Michelle Storey, used with permission. Other cinema brands are available.)


  1. I don't get why they have made a film aged for older children when the toys are aimed at younger children....It's a bit silly! I try to make sure my girls watch age appropriate films.....Which means even though my 12 year old is old enough for some films she doesn't watch them as her sister is only 7....
    My friends 11 year old daughter watches anything she wants....Most recently The tv show The Walking Dead which I don't agree with at all....
    hahaha! Barbie, Tinkerbell and Frozen go to the Ice Cream Shop would be my 7 year olds dream film too :)

  2. Think it has to be down to parental choice .
    Certain ages have no clue what is going on but always parental choice.


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