The problem with classification standards

4 04 2012

The problem with classification standards is that they have to be updated on a regular basis. I say this from experience.

You only have to look back at the great films of the twentieth century to see what I mean. ‘Psycho’, when it was originally released, would have been quite a scary film to sit through, yet by the standards of today, it is quite tame, especially as the most memorable scene from the movie only implies strong violence. Not once in the shower scene do you see the knife penetrate the skin, even the blood looked extremely watered (pardon the pun) down; today it would look a lot realistic. Yet at the time, it still attracted a rating of ‘R’. To attract a rating of ‘R’ today, there would be a lot blood and gore, if that got it to ‘R’, that might only warrant an ‘MA’ toady.

The same can be said about ‘Dracula’, which was released in 1937. I can comment upon this film as I have actually seen it. While it did make use of all the leading technologies and film techniques of the day, because of all the editing software that we have today, if you watched it because you wanted to watch it because you like a good horror movie that scares you a bit, you’re in for a bit of a yawn fest. But back then though, I don’t know how the rating system worked, but I imagine that it would have been given quite a restrictive classification, yet if it was released to an audience today, the worse that it would get is a PG because of some of the themes in it.

The same goes for sexual content. As we all know from the much derided stereotype, there used to be a time when a women was not allowed to show her knee in public. In fact, I remember reading an article for a history subject a few years back, and it said that the only people allowed to show any skin in daylight hours at a beach were children under the age of five. Everyone else had to wear a full bathing suit that could up to about 5kg once wet. Today however, you got to a beach as look at all the different types of bikinis and blokes without shirts on, and nobody bats an eyelid. Yet in the early 1900s, no matter how innocent the intention was, it would have bought a massive public backlash.

It is for this reason, that the classification of a movie alone is not enough. One should also know what genre the film falls under to gain a better understanding about where the director is coming from. Because comedic violence is going to be much different to that of a medical procedure or an action movie.




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