Fifteens are the new eighteens

Nowadays it seems like there are no 18-rated films . Imogen Scott-Chambers investigates the causes and effects of this phenonemon

7th March 2016

Recently there seems to be a shocking lack of censorship within the film industry. Fifteen year olds are being exposed to sex, violence, drugs and horror, much more than they were 10 years ago. So what has changed? When Deadpool was released 3 weeks ago, it was released with a 15 rating, despite a multitude of scenes of excessive gore and brutality, which some would say it for more worthy of an 18 rating. A further example of this can be seen in Jurassic World released last summer, which rather sadistically showcased bloody and pointless dinosaur deaths and a ferocious final fight scene.

So what does it take for a film to be rated an 18 nowadays? When I watched Jurassic World, I was thinking that if I had a 12 year old child, I wouldn’t want he or she exposed to so much violence. Even though it was fictional, it was too distressing for a child who had just started secondary school. When I was 12, films with that level of violence and loose morality were rated 15. It would seem that society has changed.

“In the UK, until you reach the age of 16 you are still classed as a child, so why are you being exposed to adult themes?”

The rise of the internet and the fact that 12 year olds can access whatever they want on it (if parents haven’t cracked the parental control function) has meant that they are becoming more aware of the violent realities of life. In the UK, until you reach the age of 16 you are still technically classed as a child, so why are you being exposed to adult themes? Last Christmas, the comedy film, Daddy’s Home, was rated 12A, despite repeated reference to sexual activity, swearing and moderate violence, - even the child actors were swearing. Is this really an example that should be set for the youth of this country? That it is okay for children to swear? Also, presumably for 15 year olds to be knowledgeable about sexual activity, even when it is illegal to have sex in this country until you are 16?

Another recent film exposing 15 year olds to horrific scenes is Sinister 2. It was released last year, it also rated 15 despite sex scenes, blood, torture and fear. However, Sinister 2 was even worse for ignoring the notion of censorship. The film has scenes of torture, excessive profanity, sexual activity and gratuitous violence throughout which could easily disturb any 15 year old (in fact, any adult). I found the film completely distressing; not because it was scary, just because it was disgusting.

The sensationalism and ‘sexing up’ of films in recent years may be designed to appeal to a larger audience. Therefore, films with extreme adult themes are managing to slip in through the backdoor of censorship. However, disregarding this argument, Quentin Tarantino films continue to be appropriately rated 18, and yet audience numbers have not declined. Django Unchained made over $162 million gross total. So obviously, the size of an audience is not dictated by the rating of a film.  Place Django Unchained next to Sinister 2 and consider: which is the more adult film?

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