February 2017 has brought the release of Fifty Shades Darker. The film features three or four sequences of incredibly unimaginative sex but nothing particularly brutal or over the top. Yet the BBFC has given it a rating of 18, citing its one single reason as “Strong Sex.”
On the other hand, we have John Wick: Chapter 2. Rated 15 by the BBFC, they list the reasons as “strong violence, gory images, suicide scene and language.” Numerous men and women are killed throughout. After all, it’s a film about a hit man, there’s a presumption that it will be filled with brutal murders, gory violence and strong language. The suicide scene the BBFC refer to is actually quite harrowing. But comparing the two films brings about a question: “Just what rating system are the BBFC using?”
In what world does it make sense where two people having sex is worse than a woman slitting her wrists in a giant bath? Who decided that a man being shot dead directly through the top of his head is safe for someone age 15, but they can’t watch Jamie Dornan put a blindfold on Dakota Johnson and fuck her? Where is it written down that having sex with someone should only be viewed by those over 18, but murder and brutality is available for people 3 years younger?
Sex is one of the most natural parts of human life. Murder is not. So why do we consider it such a taboo to watch people having sex? The legal age for sex is 16, but owning a firearms licence is 18? The whole situation seems unwittingly backward.
I think the issue lies in outdated views and opinions that simply have not been changed to an updated social standing. I’m not suggesting that the age should be brought down on Fifty Shades because the sex in that is boring and nobody deserves to watch rubbish like that. But what needs to be reassessed is whether the levels of violence we are now excepting as normal or low should be changed. No violence is normal, which makes it more ridiculous that sex is still hidden away in a dark corner.
John Wick: Chapter 2 is incredibly brutal and this isn’t something that a young adult needs to see. This is part of the reason why the BBFC was created. Protecting anyone from images that may disturb. The fear is that an audience will be too young for what they are watching but quite frankly, they are not serving their purpose, they are not doing their job. We live in a time where violence is rife in popular culture, and sex is still seen as a taboo within the media. Change is needed, and the BBFC need to take responsibility for that.