“UNSUITABLE FOR THOSE UNDER 12?” The Uncertainty of the 12A Rating

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21 August 2014

By Bronwen

Research conducted into the meaning of the 12A film rating concluded that 27% of viewers are confused as to what the rating actually means… so why have 321 films gained the classification in 2013 as opposed to 2012’s 234?

The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) explained that the rating means “children over the age of 12 may see the film unaccompanied, however those under 12 must be under adult supervision when viewing.” Director of the Board, David Cooke, argued that the rating remains in practice because it allows parents to decide, based on their child’s maturity, whether or not they would be comfortable seeing a particular film. If they are certain their child would be able to see the film without feeling disturbed, that is entirely their decision. This differs from the certificate “12”, which means no child under 12 may watch or purchase a 12-rated film under any circumstances.

Mr Cooke commented, “it would be more practical for the child’s own parents to determine whether or not the film would be too intense, as opposed to the guidelines set by the directors of the BBFC.”

These concerns were roused after the company received a barrage of complaints regarding the 2012 movie The Woman in Black, which has a 12 certificate. A number of parents argued that their 13 and 14 year olds were petrified by the supernatural horror and suspense created by the sinister setting and disturbing acting from Janet McTeer as the ‘woman’. Personally, I saw this film when I was 16 and was tempted to leave the cinema – I was absolutely terrified! I can only imagine a 12 year old with nerves of steel could get through the movie without either sobbing then and there or spending a few nights sleeping with the lights on…


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