What you can get away with….


When you have kids, and a love of film, something that can be frustrating is wanting to share your favourite movies, but not being able to because the content is not always appropriate. It is a constant balancing act between knowing your child and knowing the film; wanting to delight them, but not wanting to upset or scare them or expose them to content that they really shouldn’t be seeing.

I’d love to sit and watch the Lord of the Rings Trilogy with my two, but I fear that some of the darker battle scenes, with their various Orc and Uruk-hai would possibly be a bit too scary for them; certainly the younger of the two.

Of course, every kid is different and the BBFC classification system is invaluable in helping to make an educated decision, as are the parent guides on IMDB. They are also useful alongside my own knowledge of films and what I think may be acceptable to the kids. A recent trip to see Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children was well-informed before-hand using these sites and discussing them with the kids.


In contrast, the 15-rated Deadpool has been sat on my watch pile for a few months now and I finally sat down to watch it last week. This was on my own, I hasten to add, NOT with the kids – although they said they wanted to watch it as a “friend” at school claimed to have seen it. I hadn’t seen it at this point but, with what I knew, there was no way I was going to let them watch it.


Sorry, kids, no chance – not for another 5 years at least.

I watched it and enjoyed it for what it was – a tongue-in-cheek superhero film that simply appeared to be designed for (adult-oriented) fun – which it was. However, I didn’t think it was appropriate viewing for 10/11 year olds; even the DVD Menu page swore at me!

I had also been toying with the idea of letting the kids watch Gremlins (1984) which I absolutely love, but is also rated a 15 (or at least my Blu Ray is) but I didn’t remember there being anything too bad, other than a bit of mild language and some green goo. I certainly didn’t remember it having anywhere near the level of “mature” content that Deadpool did. Ultimately the film is a lot of fun and tame by today’s standards and, when watching it, the kids could see this and were not at all phased by it. It was certainly a few steps away from the “reality” of Deadpool.


By the end of the film we wondered what all the fuss was about? I couldn’t help thinking that the classification was a bit heavy-handed for Gremlins, when compared to Deadpool. I was pretty sure it would be rated 12 if it was reviewed today and, possibly even a PG, if the swearing was removed and the goo was toned down slightly.

I went back to the BBFC website and, to my surprise, noticed that it HAS been reclassified as a 12A!

Where am I going with this?

“Who knows?” I hear you cry.

Well, it just got me thinking about how I decide what to put in my screenplays and the content that I can “get away with” in my children/family scripts. Times have changed and kids are subjected to a lot more media than they were when I was a kid in the 70s. Indeed it is difficult to protect them from exposure to a lot of things we would not have been exposed to when we were younger. The TV and Internet means that they are much more informed than I ever was (and probably am now).

So, it is important that we, as writers, are aware of the history of films and how “what you can get away with” has changed over the years. This isn’t so you can put as much “on the edge”, controversial material into your scripts as you can, but to help make sure we don’t dumb down or patronise audiences. Audiences aren’t stupid and they know what they like and what they expect from a certain rating/classification – it’s important that we know that too!

Do you think about the “rating” of your stories when you start writing them?

Or, do you just write and see what happens?



Posted on November 30, 2016, in Writing and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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