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Early Warning System

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Mark Kermode | 12:55 UK time, Friday, 9 April 2010

Kickass is in your cinemas and carrying nothing more to warn you of its content than a BBFC '15' certificate. And while I applaud the common sense that results in such decisions couldn't some of that wisdom be applied retrospectively?

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  • Comment number 1.

    Once again, I cite South Park: Bigger Longer and Uncut.
    "Remember what the MPAA says; horrific, deplorable violence is okay, as long as people don't say any naughty woids! That's what this war is all about!"
    Films really shouldn't be certified any higher than 15 for language alone. It's the 21st century.

  • Comment number 2.

    (apologies for being off topic)

    No!!! not Richard Bacon!!! How did that man ever carve himself a career in the media? Surely his Blue Peter blunders should have killed the beast before it was allowed to propagate - like a baby gremlin he has been immersed in water, and hell hath been unleashed.

    (I don't like him)

  • Comment number 3.

    One just has to go to a local cinema on a Friday night, which I thankfully don't have to do anymore, and you will hear more profanities from the alco-pop laced teenagers in the audience than anything you will ever hear on screen. Is the BBFC so naive to think that bad language on film will be something new to a young viewer. One doesn't need to go to the cinema to hear bad language.

    When Neil Jordan's Michael Collins came out in Ireland with a 12 certificate, despite being violent and laced with profanities, they just slapped a warning on it. Where the censors being sympathetic to the subject matter of the film? Either way, a twelve year would have went to see it been subjected to the same foul language and violence that will get a film with less "credibility" an 18 certificate.

    The censors are hypocritical when it comes to giving "prestige" or "important" pictures lower rating than exploitation fare, despite containing the same amount or more violence and bad language. Why should Michael Collins go out with lower cert than say Rambo 3 or Universal Soldier just because of subject matter?

  • Comment number 4.

    i thought this thread might have been a warning for richard bacon standing in for the pair of you today

  • Comment number 5.

    The Irish rating system it total absurd... some examples...
    Citizen Kane UK: U, IRE: 12
    The Passion of the Christ, UK: 18, IRE: 15

    I can't think of anymore on the top of my head but I always have to check Irish rating cause they often absurd

  • Comment number 6.

    I find myself agreeing with the BBFC in the argument about Kick-Ass and This Is England (very rare for me to be doing that mind you!)

    Here's why:

    Kick-Ass from every angle is a movie of non-realistic and cartoon style violence. Just like Bugs and Daffy and Roadrunner and Coyote (all being Universal) depict all manner of violence including shooting, crushing, decapitation etc etc. It is at the end of the day fantasy violence that has a place in young people's entertainment.

    Now, in This Is England we are seeing horrifically real violence that goes beyond entertainment and requires an adult maturity to be able to digest.

    Unlike the BBFC citing the racial dialogue as the reason for it being given an 18 - I'm saying that it should be an 18 because of details in the racial attacks that have no lawful consequence.

    We see a man pull down his trousers and lay excrement onto the Asian man's shop (this simply cannot be permitted in a 15 certificate movie). And most importantly, those involved in carrying out the attack are never brought to any moral justice by law or otherwise.

    Meadows is leaving the moral decisions to the audience and so it requires a greater level of maturity. Luckily I do remember being 15 and I can see how this type of violence without consequence can be a little ahead of that age of audience.

    Lets not forget that certificates are only a guide anyway - many people under 18 and 15 see movies of stronger violence and profanity on the dvd player, TV and Internet.

    So if someone genuinely interested in the subject of This Is England (besides the fact that it's violent) - really wants to see it then they certainly can!

  • Comment number 7.

    I have always believed (not long after seeing "Exorcist", "Officer and a Gentleman"..) that Americans do not truly understand how utterly offensive, to non-anglish ears, the "C" word actually is....

  • Comment number 8.

    I just watched 'This Is England' last night & I couldn't agree with you more. Many an "eff" does not an 18 make these days. This seems to be about youth engaging in 'immoral' activity, as the young Turgoose is also seen smoking & *gasp* kissing. I can't comment on Kick-arse as I ain't seen it but you're quite right about 'This Is England'. Pip Pip!

  • Comment number 9.

    Kick Ass is a comicbook movie, that cinema goers know instantly not to take seriously, as the action scenes are over the top, the swearing is used for comic effect, and the violence is on a slapstick scale, a bit like Evil Dead 2, which is now a 15.

    This is England is a serious study in to racism amongst the lower class society, and in some ways could be misinterpreted by members of the public of a lower age.

    There are quite a few people at where I work who have seen This is England, and thought it was a good movie, and thought the shop scene in question was really funny, especially when Stephen Graham's character pulls out a machete on the shop keeper.

    The same people who watch this also love American History X, Romper Stomper, Made in Britain, Scum etc, not because it teaches them the damaging effects, and the sheer horror of racism, but because it's funny to see an ethnic person being beaten up, threatened, or have racist abuse hurled at them.

    I think the above mentioned films are good, but I've only watched them once, but also I don't own any of them, as these films are already preaching to the converted, whilst certain adults will remember the racist scenes, rather than the tragic after effects, there will be a good majority of youths who will skip to the best bits.

    Racism amongst young adults is on a large scale, whether they say it on the streets, or they write it on forums, social network sites, or Youtube.

    This is England, and the other films I've mentioned, not only have the right certificate, but also takes in to account who might find these films either as a great study in to racism in society, or finds them entertaining.

  • Comment number 10.

    I would like the help of the bloggers;

    I haven't seen Kick Ass yet, and I'm really looking forward to seeing on the big screen, but my 12 year old son is desperate to see it too.

    Now, he has a very mature attitude to watching films, he understands that they are there for entertainment purposes, and is learning HOW to enjoy films rather than just watch films because all his friends are watching them

    when Terminator Salvation was released He was roughly the same age I was when The Terminator was released. I sat him down and watched the first 3 films with him, which he thoroughly enjoyed. As he didn't appear corrupted by them or suddenly murder his entire classroom, I treated him to his very first late-night cinema trip.

    there a quite a few 18 certificate films from the nineties that are suitable for him to watch - The Crow, Universal Soldier, Bloodsports (I know, I know, not exactly Goodfellas but i'd rather wait a few more years before he sees the heavyweight stuff) and the Terminator series are certificated from an 18 to a 12, and that he's gonna watch it once it's released on DVD regardless of whether i'm there or not.

    and i can't be the only one who misses the thrill of sneaking into the pictures to watch something i apparently shouldn't!

    So, help, should I sneak him into the cinema or not.

  • Comment number 11.

    #7 - Really? Though I don't wish to be seen to be actively promoting swearing, I don't feel that any of the 'traditional' swear words hold too much power these days. Certainly I feel that more racially-toned language would be considered more offensive to many people. Not to all, I grant you, but that's just my opinion. I certainly feel that there is more 'evil', if you will, inherent in racist language than in common-or-garden swearing - whilst 'normal' swearing may well offend some people's sensibilities, it does not fundamentally attack what somebody IS... (See also the differing reactions to the recent Sky commentators' faux pas and Ron Atkinson's moment of madness)

  • Comment number 12.

    Speaking of the "C word", Linda Blair's use of it in The Exorcist (dubbed-over in post-production by, I believe, Jack MacGowran who played Regan's off-screen victim Burke Dennings) in THAT scene is an all-time corker, and my favourite line in the movie. All together now!: "Do you know what she did, your c***ing daughter?"

  • Comment number 13.

    Noble Doc,

    What is the purpose of a 12A?! To me, PG and 12A certficates are utterly indiscernible and pointless, especially when it comes to gauging cinema audiences. Personally, I also feel that the boundaries between a 15 and 18 are rapidly crumbling. It's interesting how numerous films that were originally slapped an 18 have been released, or re-released on DVD as a 15.

    As for Kick Ass, I must be missing something because I thought it was an emphatically average piece of work. Yes, I found the protagonist's rise to fame hugely funny and pleasantly original but, even though Nic Cage himself made me chuckle in places, I found the latter half and ending generic, annoying tosh. Therefore, for me, the violence and swearing didn't have much of an impact.

  • Comment number 14.

    Welcome to the 21st Century, BBFC.

    Hopefully if any other films given 18 ratings for language are re-submitted to them, they'll now mark them according to their new guidelines.

    Unfortunately, this doesn't help Sweet Sixteen or This is England who needed that important lower rating at the time of their original release, but at least this seems to imply we'll keep this new, more rational, rating system from now on.

    Now if only we can get them to reconsider 'Grotesque'...

  • Comment number 15.

    South Park has an answer to anything. :)I love that quote.
    I agree with the BBFC, and compared to other cencorship organisations such as the MPAA in America (which the South Park writers hate) and Offcom etc, they seem to have a suprising amount of sense towards films.
    And I agree with their 15 rating. I also agree with you Dr Mark.

    However I suppose their argument against your statement Dr M is that Kick Ass is supposed to be comic, and not real, when This Is England (a film I also love) is based on a true life story, its, to use that horrible word 'gritty' and realistic. So I suppose there's reason behind their contrasting ratings.

    We should be thankfull that they don't act like Offcom or MPAA...Kick Ass was brilliant btw.

  • Comment number 16.

    Swearing, in and of itself, has always been something that I've never truly understood the problem with. I remember knowing almost all these words before I was ten, and if you know them then there is no problem in hearing them, and if not they go over your head. The word in question I remember being aware of but not in any context, and as a result felt less bad about using it.

    Surely, all words are tools for us to use, and a syllable itself hurts no-one. Couple that with the fact that I've never met anyone offended themselves, but always, as Stephen Fry puts it, on behalf of someone else (There might be children in the room, etc.). We can really only judge words by the context they are in.

  • Comment number 17.


    The difference is money. The ratings mean PG and 12. A PG, I believe, is suitable for around 8 years and up with parental guidance advised, and the 12 is intended for people 12 years and up. The A is there purely to make money. It's a way for the studios to get more bums on seats. I tend to forget the A is even there these days and just check the BBFC for the content that has got the film it's actual rating, which is what matters.

  • Comment number 18.

    Kids swear all the time. The only taboo that children may have about swearing is doing so in front of adults, because adults can be sensitive and uptight about hearing references to body parts that are so common and natural that they are possessed by the entire/half of humanity. Growing up is basically a consciousness reducing process.

  • Comment number 19.

    I never actually considered why This Is England was an 18 actually, that's interesting. I always thought it was because of the overall depiction of racism, it being morally ambiguous as others here have said. There is also one scene of racist violence which is quite shocking (at the end), I'd always thought the impact of that scene had something to do with it. Very strange to hear that it's just that one scene, or that one word, that led to the certificate.

  • Comment number 20.

    I've always liked the fact that the original cut of Apocolypse Now is an 18, but the Redux version, with added violence, swearing and sex, is rated 15.

  • Comment number 21.

    It's about time the "C" word got taken down a peg or two.

    Of course kids of 15 know that word and many of them use that word.
    I don't think it's the kids that need protecting, it's the poor out of touch adults in denial.

    Is this the same Mark Kermode agreeing with the BBFC that couldnt bring himself to utter the full name of Tarantino's last film on the air? WTF?

  • Comment number 22.

    The different ratings make sense to me. I am happy for my children to watch Tom and Jerrys indiscriminate violence, I know that they know it isnt real (or acceptable in real life) and it appears not to coarsen them or their attitudes to people and relationships between people. I wouldnt let them watch Eastenders (let alone This is England) because they arent of an age to 'be their own people' and reject the drip feed of low level cruelty, selfishness and inconsiderateness, let alone the contradictory 'family ' values instilled by the skinhead adult in This is England(!) As for the former writers comements re language (i.e. that it is the 21st century etc) this fails to appreciate the power of language to lead thinking, evidenced throughout history. And basically the reason we dont allow white people to call black people by the N word these days.

  • Comment number 23.

    For me censorship is about boundaries. We all face boundaries as we go through life, and at certain times we get through them, (i.e. the first time we are left ‘Home Alone’, the first time we are allowed to go ‘into town’ on our own etc, etc.

    So the BBFC are in a ‘No Win’ situation as they have to set these boundaries for films. The trouble is we are all different and when one of us is ready to cross a boundary someone of a similar age may well not be. Plus I feel sure we’ve all tried to cross these boundaries before ‘the Law’ says we are allowed to. (Did the good Dr wait ‘til he was 18 to see The Exorcist?)

    So, I find myself disagreeing with you about re-classifying This is England not because of the language but because of the pooing on the shop floor scene. (As one of your previous film review blogs points out – poo is funny) Now picture this, a bunch of spotty little oiks (probably thirteen or fourteen) turn up with their ‘girlfriends’ (who can easily pass for fifteen) who buy the tickets, then if it’s anything like my local Cineworld pass through the ‘ticket-ripper’ who is actually on the concession stand and is more interested in reaching this week’s popcorn target than whether ‘little Johnny’ is old enough to spell ‘spotty little oik’ and they’re in. This means that ‘Screen 38’ is now full of pre-pubescent Clearasil users who will think that ‘pooing’ on an Asian shopkeeper’s floor is funny and so therefore by association that Racism is acceptable behaviour.
    The fact that we haven’t got hordes of rampaging teenagers defecating all over our high street is partly down to the likes of the BBFC who have to decide what content is suitable for certain age groups.

    I haven’t seen Kick Ass yet so don’t feel qualified to comment. But I suspect it’s a contextual issue. For example, no-one bats the proverbial when the ‘C’ word is sprinkled liberally throughout a TV show such as ‘Deadwood’ because it’s uttered by grizzled, whisky drinking frontiersmen and women (Calamity Jane) but when a young girl, in a comedy, comic book film utters it then all hell breaks loose. As a previous poster said, most teenagers can swear better than a Clydeside Docker these days, so to classify a film 18 because of language (and only one use of such) is probably a step too far. It is perhaps sad that what looks like a funny, well observed, low-budget film that will undoubtedly do well at the box-office will perhaps be better known for the use of that one word. (Or is it a clever marketing ploy?) Discuss.

  • Comment number 24.

    I am not so sure that the BBFC got it right about Kick ass. I was in a screening with some 15 year olds and most of whom looked around 12, though they did show staff id. Swearing is too common place in todays culture and Kick Ass just promotes it, makes it sound cool to young people. I have no problem with swearing in the right circumstance and I understand that kids already know swear words but they don't know how to use them inteligently or for maximum effect.

    Also kids should be banned from cinema's just because they don't know how to shut up.

  • Comment number 25.

    I feel that in some scenes Kick-Ass DOES dwell on some pretty grim torture and violence, and that actually this violence is portrayed in a realistic and disturbing manner.
    In other scenes it treats the violence as very stylised straight out of a comic book. But the tone of the violence shown is inconsistent, and i actually think that it should have been an 18 for the violence.
    I have no problem with any swearing in it.

  • Comment number 26.

    Please Good Doctor, follow the provided link and read this review of Kick-Ass...

    It's by the Daily Mail's "leading" critic Christopher Tookey, proving yet again that you can still have a job reviewing films for a big selling national paper whilst consistently just "not getting it!" This clueless buffoon just simply always gets it wrong! Take a look back at any film released over the last few years that you liked, and then read what he has said about them. It's simply hilarious.

    Even Morcombe and Wise couldn't have written a funnier piece than this... Prepare to be in stitches...

  • Comment number 27.

    I don't know why people are up in arms about the c-word, after all it is just a word but I will give the benefit of the doubt. Atonement has that one use of that particular word by a similarly aged girl, 12, but because it 'art' and 'worthy' it is allowed rather than a piece of trash.

    In regards to This Is England, that scene is shocking because racist language is used aggressively and used to shock and split the audience, when the 'very strong language' is used in Kick-Ass it is used to raise laughter and when she said that the audience all roared with laughter. It's a great piece of trash, well made but trash none the less and because This Is England is 'worthy' and the scene in mention is intended to shock and is nasty, it gets a higher classification, so it deserves the 18 certificate.

    NB. I would show This Is England to a group of people 14 and up, regardless of classification, because it is an important British film text, and as film has a language we can all understand, it needs to be seen by more teens.

  • Comment number 28.

    protecting kids from foul language is a pretty futile exercise, i think. everyone was swearing at school when i was in year 5, and how old is that? 9/10? if they're not gonna hear it in films they're gonna hear it in the playground.

  • Comment number 29.

    Fig A: Girls kills people, she de-limbs people, she takes their lives without a shred of emotion.
    Fig B: Girl says C***t.

    Which one inspires you to go on a murder spree?

  • Comment number 30.

    A couple of years ago, my mother gave me This Is England on DVD as a present. I have now just watched it at 16.
    Easioy one of the best films I have ever seen and a film Britain should be proyd to hail as a classic. Thomas Turgood is incredible in his role as are the other actors. They completely become the characters and I never once had any sense of disbeleief.

    With regards to the 18 rating, I disagree. Yes there is a lot of swearing but the greatest act of violence is towards the end of the film and is a crucial part of the message that the film is trying to get across. While I am glad that I have waited till I have reached a mature age to be able to see how fantastically made and evocative this film is which I doubt I could have handled at a younger age, I do think the 18 rating is limiting the distribution of the film to it's intended audience.

    I think this film would be a fantastic way to communicate to teenagers my age anit-racism and not mixing with a "bad" group, rather then the repetitious preachings they try to stuff down our throats. Because of this,most kids never take these messages seriously and I think showing this film would make everyone my age sit up and take notice of what a horrendous thing racism is and how it can corrupt. No-one could possibly mock any of the key dramatic moments within the film and I think that it is crucial that this is made more readily available to teenagers of my age group.

    I am pleased to see that this has recently been aired on Film4 and I think this is a tremendous step forward to the ideal: all of my generation finally understanding a subject we take for granted through a genuinly entertianing, memorable piece of art.

  • Comment number 31.

    I agree with you on Kick-Ass, Doc, but not on This Is England.
    Kids today, even younger than Hit Girl, are using language far worse and far more frequently than she does in the movie. The C word always takes us by surprise, but it's nothing we're not seeing on street corners across the UK. As for This Is England, for me it deserved it's 18 cert, for Stephen Graham's 'manipulation' and beating of the character Milky. Of course we've seen Arnie despatch dozens, but none of that would put ideas in the minds of the foolish, like this would. This as well as the shop scene.

  • Comment number 32.

    When it comes to This Is England, I agree with the doctor.
    The reason is because the racial slurs used in that film are there for a reason and aren't just off the cuff swearing/racism. Unlike, say, Tarantino, who will throw around the N word like nobodies business, Shane Meadows is using racist attitudes as an educational device.

    TIE presents the unglamorised, uncensored view of racism and everything that comes with it. It shows how a young, easily influenced boy, in certain circumstances, could be drawn to a extremist point of view and the only way to do this realistically is to show him using these racial slurs that he has picked up. But then, it goes onto reveal the brutal truth of his lifestyle and he rejects it by tossing it out to sea.

    I have a friend who is a secondary school teacher who has shown TIE in her English course for a lesson on how modern youth and subcultures are represented in film and television. I would have no problem letting, a 15/16 year old school child watch the film because it at once gives food for thought and also may discourage them from leading a extremist nationalist/racist lifestyle. Who I ever let a 16 year old school kid watch Kick Ass in class? No, they can go to the cinema and pay for their ticket on Friday night instead.

  • Comment number 33.

    My copy of Badlands on DVD is, somewhat bafflingly, an 18. (It's been rereleased in the cinema since so I don't know if the manifestly overly harsh certification was addressed then). As Badlands contains very, very limited and even then only very mild use of bad language, no use of illegal drugs, absolutely no sex and the violence, though present, being more of an undercurrent rather than something explicitly depicted, the decision seemed utterly mystifying. What it does contain is a teenage character, played by the (presumably acting beneath her actual age) Sissy Spacek, present during the commission of the violence if not, like Hit Girl, the one doing the killing.

    When viewed in line with the other decisions and rationale Mark referred to (This Is England & Sweet Sixteen) what this does suggest is that where children or people portraying youths is concerned the question is not so much the explicitness of the content (which is where most of the (somewhat onanistic) controversy around Kick Ass tends to centre) but rather its presentation, which in some cases can seemingly push a film into higher levels of certification even if the actual content is relatively mild, while a comic presentation can mitigate. I'd argue therefore that the decisions, if bizarre and counterintuitive, are not as unfair or and certainly not as inconsistent as Mark may have been suggesting they were. Badlands was pushed into an 18 because of the (this is poorly phrased) somewhat clinical and detached presentation of the murders and murders, and more importantly perhaps the thought processes behind them, not because the so-called explicit content itself merits the certificate. This Is England therefore was rated 18 because of the combination, as Mark said, of racism, youth and language. Kick Ass, while the content itself is stronger, is far less ambiguous, leading to the 15. As such I don't think Kick Ass upsets the precedent set by the earlier classification decisions, and though in some cases a rethink by the BBFC might be worthwhile, I don't agree with Mark that Kick Ass bears any real relevance to the earlier decisions- context, in the eyes at least of the BBFC, consistently proving more important that content.

  • Comment number 34.

    I think that 'This is England' should be a 15 because it is putting across a message that wouldn't work as well without the violence and swearing. Removing them from 'This is England' would lose the realism and impact of what they are trying to say with the film.


    I think 'Kick Ass' should be an 18 because the only reason for the 'C' word in that film is to add a shocking piece of titilation. There's nothing wrong with entertaining violent films but violence purely for comic entertainment should be treated more harshly, not less harshly, than violence that adds meaning.

  • Comment number 35.

    My, my - we're all terribly keen to appear 'right on' and 'hip' about all this - it's all very 'sixties' here, isn't it?

    Thing is, once a so-called 'taboo' is broken then where do you go from there? I, for one, am witnessing an increasing nasty, scary and callous society as I get older. My kids will be a part of it - and there's nothing I can do about it.

    #26: That's what Tookey's review is getting at - and I'm with him on this one. Read it again, this time sober.

  • Comment number 36.

    Re: #26 and 35...You can't help but feel a bit sorry for Tookey (whatever your standpoint on his views) when the video supposedly supporting his article (directly below the review) pretty much tells you how cool the film is and that you'll love it. Et tu, Brutus?

  • Comment number 37.

    Oh for goodness sake, its only a word! A word, I should add, in such regular use in the West of Scotland vernacular as to have been completely diminished in its true meaning, impact and taboo. It is, in fact, fairly common to hear it used as a pronoun, in place of "person", "guy" or "people" and "guys" - without malicious intent - in casual conversation in some quarters; not just amongst the 'yoof' either.

    Its hardly the death of society is it? I think [people] need to get a sense of proportion -remember what Mark was saying in those postings a few months ago about "Moral Panic"?

  • Comment number 38.

    The violent scene towards the end of This Is England was a really nasty one too. That with the racial attack in the shop are two scenes of immense racially motived violence in the film. Racism is a greater taboo than the C word and comic book violence. The BBFC got it bang on right for This Is England. I am of the opinion that racially motived violence in such a graphic form is unsuitable at a 15 rating. A similar counterpart is the racial violence in Romper Stomper and American History X. Irrespective of whether it concerned children or not, such violence is not suitable for that age group.

    If anything the violence in This Is England was worse than that of American History X. A pivotal aspect in the latter is Ed Norton's remorse and how he was punished by his own guilt and by the state for his crimes. In This Is England, Shane Meadows failed to punish Stephen Graham for his violent actions. Yes, there was a reaction to his doings to notice they were wrong, but they in no way were reciprocal to the horrors of his own actions.

    I never felt that Shane Meadows truly punished the ill actions of his protagonists in This Is England, which is a far worse crime than anything in Kick Ass, which probably had more of a sense of morality despite it's comic book nature. It's 18 certificate is well justified.

  • Comment number 39.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 40.

    @ BillPaxtonsSecondBiggestFan

    Your reply to my post was very petty but for the record I wrote the list and I chose all the films for the Video Nasties List and I even wrote Celion Dion's song for 'Titanic'. I even helped develop the 3D for 'Clash of the Titans'.

    I love Shane Meadows btw, I just agree with the BBFC that their classification for TIE was right.

  • Comment number 41.

    Do the BBFC ever go back and re-grade older films, or would they only do that if there was a specific request to do so from a distributor?

    I only ask since I bought An American Werewolf In London as I haven't watched it for well over a decade. I watched it loads when I was a kid (never did me any harm). But it still had an 18 certificate. There's no way that would be an 18 by modern standards.

  • Comment number 42.

    I agree whole heartedly with #2 and #4

    Richard Bacon should be referred to BBFC for being totally ghastly...

  • Comment number 43.

    @26. The daily mail critic Tookey has written a response on his own personal website to the comments people have been posting about his review. Its a very very very strange read.

  • Comment number 44.

    I'm going to have to agree with the BBFC and with everyone else that 'This is England' should be an '18'.
    The beating of Milky is a graphically violent and distressing scene that makes the picture worthy of it's certificate. The language and other content for me would have made it a '15'.

    One major difference between 'Kick-Ass' and 'This is England' which many are forgetting is it's audience appeal.
    Far more people are going to see 'Kick-Ass' than Meadow's powerful Social Realism.
    The certificate of the film can completely manipulate an audience. Therefore,'Kick-Ass' needs a '15' allows so many more people to see it.
    I know the BBFC aren't bothered by the box-office grossing of a picture but I bet the public would be more annoyed if the film was an '18'.

    And in regards to the 'C' word, get a grip. Every day you hear somebody say it. It's hardly a big deal anymore.

  • Comment number 45.

    re. 39 - billpaxton...

    Is it ironic that someone was censored in a discussion about censorship?

    Or is this discussion not about censorship?

    I don't know, I'm confused ....

  • Comment number 46.

    Wow. I really didn't think I'd my little comment would get censored.

    I made the remark because of S Ford's stand point on how films should be rated. Back before the MPAA rating system all bad deeds in film were not allowed to go unpunished and all crimes had to have repercussions. This was because censors didn't give their audiences much credit on standing morals and judgements so had to tell them how to think.

    However nowadays, I like to think we are grown up enough to make our own judgments on behaviour in film without the filmsmakers wrapping it all up in a neat parcel for us. This is especially true with a film like This is England, a film that is striving for social realism, that the film should a sense of ambiguity to it.If Graham's character was carted off by police in the end then film may have seemed too tidy, too conventional and too, dare I say it, Hollywood.
    Instead Meadows uses a much more subtle and satisfying ending with Shaun looking out to sea after clearly rejecting the lifestyle he was involved in. I don't think a film should be given an 18 certificate just because it fails to punish a character.

  • Comment number 47.

    I think it is unfair that some say there is no redemption at all from Milky's savage beating. It is mentioned afterwards he will recover, which I feel does make the event slighty less horrendous but strips away none of the impact. I can see how some people would be uncomfortable watching said scene but it is meant to be. It is sudden, wild and totally senseless and that is the whole point.

    Forgive if I'm wrong, but I feel that up to that point nothing else really warrants an 18. The shop scene isn't as bad as people make out - Combo is certainly frighteningly intimidating but there is no blood-splatter or an actual violence, just unnerving threat.

  • Comment number 48.

    What is it about swearing which supposedly has such a power to harm anyone who hears it? To those who are fretting over children being exposed to such words i suggest stepping into any secondary or even primary school in the country and listening to what children say to each other. By swearing like troopers they don't mortally wound each other or even cause much offense because the words themselves don't have any substance.

    The most offensive things you can say often involve no swearing at all because it is their meaning and intention which matters. A recent example would be the senior military official who was interviewed at Harry Patch's funeral, who barely hid his disdain for the man's views and even attempted to put words in his mouth as the funeral happened behind him (the news footage of this is likely to be online somewhere). None of the words he delivered were 'rude words' in the conventional sense.

    The BBFC are saddled with a difficult task in attempting to guess the moral mood of the nation with each film they view. Certainly it's not unreasonable for parents to expect advice on the content of films they show to their children, or for viewers to get some idea of what to expect from a movie. However, we do live in an age where many children have unrestricted access to the internet. Things like footage of saddam hussein's execution or other scenes of genuine or extreme violence are not uncommon to be passed around or sent in chain emails, however much the censors may find this repugnant.

    Grotesque, a dreadful gore flick which is as purile as it is lacking invention, has already been mentioned in other comments. Without the BBFC's righteous indignation it would have sunk into obscurity where it belongs. By banning it they gave it a greater boost to publicity than any ad campaign could have managed. How many people who wanted to see it were prevented from doing so by their decision? The same is true for the racism in This is England, with hateful propaganda videos easily accessible on youtube with a few clicks. By making it awkward for filmmakers to speak to younger audiences about these issues in all their ugliness, they are blunting the cinema's power to add something important to the debates which surround controversial issues.

  • Comment number 49.

    to post 29, that's a trick question, the answer is 'neither'.

  • Comment number 50.

    The problem with this entire argument about censorship is that we are not considering what the effect upon us the more realistic, "modern" violence and gore would have been if we were exposed to this when we were 13, for example. I watched a lot of video nasties when i was 13 and to be honest i never found them particularly disturbing. I cannot in all honesty say that this would be the case if i was exposed to the gore/violence in television/cinema that we have today. We sometimes forget that we were a lot younger and a lot more impressionable once upon a time...

  • Comment number 51.

    I just want to comment on how a movie might theoretically "influence" people who view it, because I think the case being made by some of the comments here, and by Kermode himself, seems to take the notion to its illogical conclusion; that there is no causal effect to movies. In which case, the effect is neither positive or negative. EVER.

    You don't have to beleive "Kick-Ass" advocates for what it portrays to be offended by how it treats its subject: violence in comic-books.

    Why should we lapse into the amoral void ensured in its supposedly unreal premise? I mean, doesn't the movie by staging itself in the real world - not the comic book world - mean that it is impossible to perceive the violence as unreal? Doesn't the movie by not showing the psychological effects that would likely corrupt and destroy the average 11-year-old girl - upon killing people and being beaten within inches of her life - exploit the very thing its supposedly satirizing? Am I not allowed to complain about it just because its not effectively real (in which case I might as well view "Goodfellas" as nothing more than an enjoyable story about the mafia? Aren't we ignoring our cognitive judgement just as easily as we attend to our unconscious impulses?

    God damn it, art is art, life is life. The two go hand in hand. If you want to make a violent movie, go right ahead. Just don't go mixing up fiction consequences with real ones.

    Note: See "Kill Bill," which doesn't need to mask enjoying violence behind the illusion of "satire."

  • Comment number 52.

    I saw Kickass last night and loved the blend of darkness, fantasy, and realism. I always think it's more reprehensible when characters in seemingly realistic movies can be wailed upon with no blood, broken bones or actual pain; that's the kind of violence that can leave a false impression for young viewers.

    I don't have anything to add about the squeamishness toward sex and language but not toward violence, but I would like to note that the sound started going all wonky about halfway through the film, a problem which continued for about 20 minutes since no one sent their boyfriend out to alert the cinema's staff. I'm coming to see Mark's point about projectionists.

  • Comment number 53.

    I saw Kickass this weekend and unlike some recent utter rubbish (Shutter Island; one of Boyd and Floyd called it correctly), this was an entertaining if rather vacuous film.

    Whatever the rating, because of the age of the young star of the film, you know that kids of 11 and younger will want to see this, and will see it by some means, probably at home on a DVD with or without their parents approval and knowledge. The use of language was a nothing event and I can't believe that this is what the people charged with certificating films (and others) think was the most controversial element of the film.

    The delivery of 'the word' was the about the most ineffective use I have heard. So much so that I would say it was pretty pointless and probably only put in cynically to drum up extra publicity for the film. I would be much more concerned of the effect that the violence especially in the context of kids becoming superheros and the blurring of comic superheros with real kids pretending to be superheros might have on very young children who will see this film. Perhaps we can just slap on a 15 certificate and wash our hands of any responsibility for that.

    The actual violence I would not put at the level of random violence in "Punisher: War Zone" from a couple of years ago, unless my threshold has increased since then, and certainly not the sickening violence in Rambo(2008). However since neither one of those depicts a young child as participating in the violence I would not be as concerned about the effect that those films would have on young children although I would take any steps possible to prevent young kids from seeing them.

    I dont know what it's like in the UK but people sell pirate DVDs of all recent films pretty openly here in the US, sometimes even before they are on general release (and that may be the real reason why we are having 3D forced down our throats) so I am certain that young kids will see Kickass.

    I am definitely against censorship in general but would hope that filmmakers do not think it is a good idea to have pre-teen children in the role of superheros that dispense or are victims of violence. I think Tookey is out of his tree thinking that there was a deliberate sexual element to the portrayal of the young star but the scene where the middle age villain was violently beating up the 11-year old was disturbing, certainly more disturbing than the use of the c-word.

    See You Next Friday

  • Comment number 54.

    I'm 31, I hate the Daily Mail - but I think the actress was simply too young to be in a film like this with the violence and language used. It's more acceptable in a comic - but this is a real person, no matter how well adjusted she may be. After all, in this country at least, (in the US the system is voluntary, not legally enforceable) she wouldn't be legally allowed to view the film she is in!

    So the word is in common use, apparently (I know -I- don't hear it very often, and if I do hear it, I'd assume the person saying it is, let's face it, a bit scummy). Is that unreasonable an assumption?

    Anyway, I felt the film was obviously low-budget, with Brit actors hamming it up in a mediocre way, while the airhead story ploughed on to to the dull, repetitive violence. The comic, however, is more realistic (no jetpacks for one thing). I do remember seeing the director on the One Show and he said he hadn't received a single complaint - if I knew the correct business address to write to, I would be pleased to offer one.

  • Comment number 55.


    No you shouldn't. I'm baffled you'd even consider doing so.

    You did ask.

  • Comment number 56.

    Sorry to post three times in a row - I just realised that if anyone used the word in question on this very forum - their post would be swiftly deleted. Just a thought...

  • Comment number 57.

    I heard that next week's programme has been shifted to Thursday because of the election.

    See You Next Thursday.

  • Comment number 58.

    See you!

  • Comment number 59.

    This is England....where do I start?

    Am I the only one who objects to the way it portrays white, working class people? Meadows might like to wallow in white working class self-loathing, but I don't, and I'd kindly ask him to stop asking the rest of us to. And Mr Meadows, the sound of actors endlessly using expletives in every other word is not enlightening, it's not engaging; it is just plain tedious, no matter how "authentic" you might like to think it is.

    Anyone who isn't white in the film is depicted as though the sun shines out their backside (even the black kid who deals in spliff), while anyone who is white is either a poor misguided little fool, or a potty-mouthed, uneducated racist scumbag. Of course, all the lefties on here - and let's face it, that includes Mark - wouldn't see that. Instead, they'd rather dance along ironically to the retro 80s Ska soundtrack, as though the soundtrack alone somehow redeems the film. Sorry, but you'll have to do better than that.

    And incidentally, my appraisal of the film, as a white person, is no different to the way some Asians reacted to the film 'Brick Lane'. They too complained of racial stereotyping, and about the way some Asians were portrayed, and this was despite the fact the film was itself based on a novel written by an Asian woman about her own experiences. My opinion of 'This is England' is no different; only the perspective, characters and location have changed.

    The emperor has no clothes.

  • Comment number 60.

    I really loved Kick Ass when I saw it at the cinema earlier this year and made a mental note to get it on DVD at some stage. I did so two days ago and picked up a Christmas present copy for my 13-year-old cousin, who loves martial arts, at the same time.

    I sat down to watch my copy this evening and within about twenty minutes I had paused it and made a guilt-wracked call to his mum to apologise and ask her to take it away and let me replace it with something else. It wasn't the c-word that made me do this, but the combination of some quite horrible violence, drug use and constant, casual swearing, plus a few sexual references best left to older teens. None of that had stuck in my mind from my own viewing, but I've learned that it's very, very different when you watch something with a child in mind.

    There is nothing cartoonish about the punishment beating, would-be-execution scene. There is nothing lighthearted about a grown man repeatedly and viciously punching a little girl in the face. Tacking a girly punk-pop tune over scenes of a kid killing people doesn't automatically make it 'cartoon violence', no matter what anyone says. You have to be mindful that this film is about 'ordinary people' becoming superheroes and being more inclined to get involved in violence they may witness. I don't think there's anything wrong with that message; I just feel that maybe one needs to be a bit more mature than 15 to process it meaningfully.

    I spent years of my post-watershed life yearning for horror and violence in films my parents forbade me from seeing. I swear in real life more than most people I know, and am certainly mystified as to why so many people are afraid of the word that has caused such a stir in Kick Ass. But when I think about my thirteen-year old cousin, his fifteen year old sister and even some of the sixteen year olds I work with on a regular basis, I really get the sinking feeling that Kick Ass, great as it is, should be an 18 and not a 15. Like so many other films its trailer was cut to make it look like a comedy, and kids everywhere are dying to see it. If you look past the c-word you can find plenty of other reasons why they maybe shouldn't til they're older.


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