BBFC: Behind The Curtain

Unlike America’s shady MPAA, the UK’s British Board Of Film Classification (aka the BBFC) is a far more open, accountable and reasonable institution. 


They sometimes get a lot of flak but generally I think they do a pretty good job. It can’t always be a fun to place to work at either – sure you get to see movies for a living but think of the sheer amount of crap you have to sit through – either cos they have no artistic merit what so ever or just because they’re terribly made.

I remember when I was in school every year someone from the BBFC would come down to talk about recent decisions or the different ratings made for home videos. It always made us chuckle when the guy would show a bunch of 16 year olds 18-certified clips of extreme violence and sex and how it made see our stuffy teachers squirm!

Empire Magazine interviewed BBFC executive director David Austin to get a glimpse of what it’s like to work at the BBFC and how the classification process works.

There are also some juicy details on past controversies like Cronenberg’s Crash, the 80s Video Nasty outcry, A Good Day to Die Hard, Gremlins, What Ever Happened To Baby Jane? and more.

The point on the introduction of the 12A is interesting. I remember when it as introduced back in 2002 after parents demanded their kids should be allowed see the 12 rated Spider-Man – regardless of whether its appropriate for their kids or not! So much for good parenting.

Personally I’m not a fan of the 12A ‘cos it means really young kids see films which either they shouldn’t or probably don’t have much interest in. And that means screaming kids in cinemas which is always annoying. It almost defeats the whole purpose of ratings! Don’t get me started on the equally pointless R-Rating and needlessly reviled NC-17.

SEE MORE: PG-13: Drop The (F) Bomb

What’s also interesting is how the BBFC update criteria for ratings every few years based on what the public deem acceptable. So what might have been an “18” 20 years ago could be a “15” or “12” now. What’s remarkable is how in some areas society has become far more liberal and in others surprisingly uptight…

But anyway have a listen for yourself:

 What do you think of the BBFC? Do they get it right or not?

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