KAPOW! Batman grows UP!

Holy censorship Batman! The Villainous Passportiser is attacking us again with “Do You Know Who I Am” press release gun.

Apparently, people have been shocked to discover that the new Batman film isn’t for kiddies. A year’s worth of advertising centering around the horrifically disfigured villain, plus the fact that it is a sequel to the already dark Batman Begins, wasn’t enough of a clue.

Vaz has a brilliant line in logic here:

“The BBFC should realise there are scenes of gratuitous violence in The Dark Knight to which I would certainly not take my 11-year-old daughter”, said Mr Vaz. “It should be a 15 classification.”

No one is forcing you to take your 11-year-old daughter to see anything Keith! Instead of insisting that every film gets reclassified to your exact specifications, why not simply exercise some parental judgement? If you are incapable of that, then what the hell are you doing chairing a Parliamentary committee? Hmm? HMMM??!!

The ratings system has always been a bit kablooey at around the ages of 11 to 17. The 12 rating (of which IIRC, the 1989 Batman film was the first to have that rating) was widely abused simply because it was impossible to enforce. The main problem was that parents would insist on taking younger children to 12-rated films. Having responded to public pressure then, the BBFC are now getting harranged from the other direction.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that The Dark Knight has dark themes and violence in it. The last film was pretty dark as well and The Dark Knight Returns, Killing Joke and Arkham Asylum have been on the bookshelves for 20 years now. It isn’t even as ambiguous as Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter. Lazy parents who refuse to take responsibility for their own research don’t have any excuse in my view, and giving Keith Vaz the opportunity to jump on yet another bandwagon is simply unforgiveable.


  1. I sometimes wonder if the world would implode if Keith Vaz and Norman Baker ever got together to discuss moral indignation. I personally thought the classification was spot on for allowing parents who think their kid can deal with the violence to take them. The ironic thing I find is classifications are only there to stop kids from going to the cinema without parents and seeing “naughty” things…yet in reality are those kids really unlikely to be able to see that film some other way?

  2. Thankfully, for the good of the world, I don’t have an 11-year-old daughter, nor indeed one of any age. Yet if I did, I would take her to see this film, and I’d also allow her to stuff high-calorie popcorn and Coca-Cola down her throat – then I’d explain to her why we shouldn’t have to accept paternalistic, moralising shite from politicians who think it’s fine for us to be locked up for six weeks without trial so long as the politician in question is duly “rewarded” for voting in favour of such incarceration.

  3. I really do wonder if some people live in a cave. The most common publicity photos contained the Joker pressing a knife against Maggie Gyllenhall’s mouth and every review I have read has talked about the intensity of Ledger’s performance.

    Given a choice between 15 and 12A, I’d say that 12A was probably the correct rating. Certainly the film does not revel in scenes of actual violence (almost all is committed off-screen) but instead gives us tension with the threat of violence. If the old 12 rating still existed however I would say that would have been a more helpful one to give this film (even if it was never enforced).

    What this has shown up is that people will just treat the 12A rating like a PG. Responsible parents can research the content of the film or even watch it without their children before making a decision.

    As for complaining about the use of knives in the film, I do not think a character who clearly is being shown to be unhinged using a knife will make people more likely to use them.

    Are there really scores of psychopathic teenagers sat around who have never thought of the idea of using a knife to hurt somebody? Who are ignorant of the stories in the news that appear seemingly every day? Who are oblivious to Keith Vaz’s party making repeated pronouncements about knife crime?

    I am fed up with society blaming immorality and “bad things” on the media. It abdicates people of responsibility for their actions to say that a movie or game made them do something. If a child takes the wrong message away from this movie then that is the parent’s responsibility – for not watching it with them or talking to them about the issues in this picture (which are wide and include terrorism, vigilantism, anarchism, the nature of morality as well as wider issues of due process, democracy and grief).

    There are websites out there that list in detail the themes of movies and discuss their suitability for family audiences. For instance http://www.kids-in-mind.com/ which lists instances of sex, substance abuse, swearing and boils down discussion points from each movie. Given the abudance of information around there really should be no excuse!

  4. I thought Gremlins 2 was the first 12 Cert. but I might be wrong.

    G2 was certainly the first 12 I saw. I was 10. It was by brother’s 12th birthday.

    The first 18 I saw was Robocop, which I got from a video shop when I was aged 7.

  5. I went to see Dark Knight last week – and I have to admit to a certain amount of bloody-mindedness when I saw parents walking in with young kids (one was about 5!) despite the certificate. I was actually willing more and more extreme acts of violence upon the screen, hoping at least one of them would wake up and leave the cinema. I thought the pencil scene would do it. But nope. Not one of them left.

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