Allowing 16yo students to watch 18 film

(24 Posts)
Middleagedmotheroftwo Sat 23-Nov-13 11:29:09

We've had a letter from DDs college asking our permission for her to be shown two 18 cert films as they will help enormously with her History AS course.
WIBU to tell them they are breaking the law, and that films are given these ratings for a reason?

soul2000 Sat 23-Nov-13 11:55:43

Do you let her play Grand theft Auto/ Call of Duty, or other games with 18 ratings, if so you've answered your own question.

Isabeller Sat 23-Nov-13 11:58:00

You might ask for a parental screening so you can judge. Is it actually against the law for a 16 year old to watch an 18 cert? If so how would your permission allow the school to do this?

ILoveRacnoss Sat 23-Nov-13 11:58:04

If the teacher genuinely feels that the films will help the learning on the course, it may be useful to check the detail of what aspect of the films led to the 18 rating. Full details of all film ratings are available here www.bbfc.co.uk/what-classification/what-bbfc-insight . You searching for the film and it will state whether it's violence, sex, drugs, etc. You could then make an informed decision.

Perhaps simply ask the teacher whether they'll be showing the entire film, or just extracts?

I teach primary. I had to request permission to show some bits of Horrible Histories because it's got an overall PG rating. I just wanted to play a couple of songs to launch a topic!

DrivingToDistraction Sat 23-Nov-13 11:58:26

They're not breaking the law. Certificates don't apply for educational purposes, although it is good practice to inform parents and allow them to opt out, as they have done.

BoneyBackJefferson Sat 23-Nov-13 12:18:19

Certification by the BBFC is a guide not a law. In the same way that a PEGI cert is a guide not a law.

The school is doing the right thing by asking permission

Middleagedmotheroftwo Sat 23-Nov-13 15:11:29

She doesn't play Grand Theft Auto, or any other 18+ games - we're not an electronic games family.

I'm not objecting as such to showing the kids the films for the sake of education, and won't withdraw her. Just thought the college us setting a bad example. Where would they draw the line? Would they show the film if it was very sexual, rather than violent?

What's the point of the classification if even schools ignore it?

And can my DDs use the "it's only a guideline" line next time they want to get into an 18 at the cinema?

DrivingToDistraction Sat 23-Nov-13 15:15:49

The BBFC have very clear explanations on their website:

"What is the legal position of a teacher who wants to show pupils a film or video at a higher category than their age?

The BBFC's cinema age ratings only apply legally to licensed cinemas, so it is not illegal for schools to show BBFC-rated videos or DVDs to its pupils of any age. Merely showing an age restricted film to underaged persons - or allowing them to see one - is not in itself an offence. We would, however, strongly discourage such a practice unless (a) the children in question are only a year or so below the age stated on the certificate, and (b) there is some kind of serious educational purpose to showing the recording (eg showing a 15 rated 'Macbeth' to 14 year old GCSE English students). Even in those cases, we always recommend that the school should obtain permission from parents or guardians"

I'd want to know more: what film, for what purpose & is it all being shown. And why is it an 18? There are many reasons for an 18 certificate.

AnAdventureInCakeAndWine Sat 23-Nov-13 15:23:54

The point of the classification is to control access to material that would be likely to disturb or be unsuitable for the average under-18 year old. The school is asking for your consideration of whether the material is suitable for your individual under-18 year old. They've sent you a whole letter explaining the certificate of the film and making it clear that it won't be shown to any pupils under 18 without express parental permission, which is hardly "ignoring it". And watching a film removed from any context in the cinema is a different thing from watching it as part of a guided discussion about the issues it raises.

No, they can't use "it's only a guideline" line to get into an 18 at the cinema, because the law applies to cinemas. It doesn't apply to schools or other groups.

To answer your original question, YWBU to tell them that they are breaking the law, because they aren't.

Middleagedmotheroftwo Sat 23-Nov-13 16:09:06

Thanks Driving, and Adventure.

One of the films is Platoon. I can't remember the name of the other one.

DoctorDonnaNoble Sat 23-Nov-13 16:14:59

Platoon is an excellent film. Don't think it would be an 18 now. Is the other Full Metal Jacket? Vietnam is a key part of the History syllabus these days and I think they talk a lot about how it was represented (secondary sources).
When I did A Level History we watched the 18 cert - La Reine Margot. It had both violence and sex, but what I remember was the historical detail about the St Bartholomew's Day attacks in Paris. And just how evil Catherine de Medici was!

morethanpotatoprints Sat 23-Nov-13 16:22:32

Platoon is a good film, also The Killing Fields, which if I can remember was an 18 too.
I agree they wouldn't be 18 now and I'm sure its more to do with the topic of the war.
I don't think there are any 18 certs, that would be unsuitable for a 16 year old, unless they had led a sheltered life.

AnAdventureInCakeAndWine Sat 23-Nov-13 16:38:54

It's at least arguable that if the main thing you come out of a film thinking is "oooh, wasn't Character X evil ?" then it wasn't a great choice to support the History syllabus... grin

Catherine de Medici wasn't over-burdened with scruples, and wouldn't be top of my "historical characters to have round for tea and a biscuit" list, but she had a pretty traumatic early life, was married off at fourteen to someone who largely ignored her while flaunting his mistress around the place, was left in a very precarious position after his death and did an awful lot to keep her sons on the throne when without her influence they'd probably have been overthrown (in which case it would be unlikely to have ended well for them).

Um, sorry, off on a bit of a tangent there...

DoctorDonnaNoble Sat 23-Nov-13 16:42:47

I was of course oversimplifying when I called her 'evil'. It's actually a really good French film. Well worth a look. Made a chance from always watching Blackadder as well.
In British History we watched Elizabeth R - left me thinking Glenda Jackson was a rather awesome actress in her day.
I think La Reine Margot was more historically accurate though. It helped being able to picture all the European monarchs (they had very similar names).

AnAdventureInCakeAndWine Sat 23-Nov-13 17:15:23

Oh, I enjoyed the film. But it's based on the novel by Alexandre Dumas, so it's about as historically accurate as using The Three Musketeers as a source for early-seventeenth-century history (actually, IIRC Dumas is pretty good overall on historical detail, but he obviously needs to make the real people of history fit into the hero/villain templates his story requires).

When you get a fight called "the war of the three Henrys" you know you are in trouble when it comes to keeping all the different people straight in your head... grin

BackforGood Sat 23-Nov-13 17:31:52

I actually suggested my ds watch Killing Fields when he was doing AS last year grin - never though of Platoon.

I think watching a film like that, in school/college in the context of studying the period in history, is a very different prospect from going to the pictures for a shot of gratuitous violence.

DrivingToDistraction Sat 23-Nov-13 17:53:38

For A-level Film Studies some of the set/suggested films are 18s, so showing them to 16/17 year-olds is pretty much inevitable.

exexpat Sat 23-Nov-13 18:01:00

DS has watched some 18-rated films in English lessons at school, eg they studied The Usual Suspects last year in year 10, when the class was aged 14/15. I think the teacher may have edited out some of the most violent scenes in class, but I let him watch the whole film at home.

I think the school is handling it well, by the sound of it. There is a difference between watching violent scenes as entertainment in the cinema, and using them as a discussion point in a history class.

exexpat Sat 23-Nov-13 18:03:16

I also actively encouraged DS to watch some Vietnam war films when he was covering that in history - I'm surprised to see that Full Metal Jacket and Apocalypse Now are only a 15 rating, according to Amazon.

nooka Sat 23-Nov-13 18:23:54

I'd expect a 16 year old to be able to get into a 18 film at the cinema pretty easily too. I know that I did, and my parents wouldn't have had a clue (not cinema going).

The school wants to show the films for an educational reason and the context will be completely different than if they were simply watching for entertainment. I'd a be a bit surprised if a 16 year old was majorly traumatised by the sex/violence/adult references in most films, and although I have watched a few things that had a big impact, it wasn't usually the blood and guts that was the issue.

pointyfangs Sun 24-Nov-13 16:01:26

I think films which get an 18 rating these days are very different to films which got an 18 rating in the 80s and 90s. We can have the argument about whether or not we have become desensitised or have just developed a more sophisticated approach to content, but the fact remains that an 18 now cannot be compared to an 18 from 20 years ago. I'd have no trouble at all letting a 16/17 year old watch Platoon, especially in the context of teaching and discussion.

MrsDavidBowie Sun 24-Nov-13 17:34:26

Ds will be nearly 15 when he does the Vietnam war in the spring term.....I would have no problem with him watching Platoon or any other type of film like that...Born on the Fourth of July, Apocalypse now etc. (not sure if the last 2 are 15certificate)

eofa1 Tue 26-Nov-13 14:16:02

I think you're being precious to complain about this because of the 18 certificate. The idea of stopping a 16/17 year old watching an 18 certificate film that could help their understanding of a historical event seems daft to me; what on earth do you think the negative consequences will be?

However, I'm not sure why an A level teacher would want to devote 4 hours of valuable and very limited teaching time to watching both these movies, when they could be doing more useful things like developing essay writing skills, actually reading relevant material etc. Can see why they would suggest them as helpful things to watch at home, or set up a lunchtime/after school showing, but in lesson time? Maybe one movie, followed by a discussion about how useful it is as a piece of historical evidence, but two? Lazy teaching!

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