Celebrating Great Films

Friday, September 18, 2009

Kids In Mind

The MPAA and the BBFC give films age ratings so you know if they're appropriate for your children. And recently they've started giving a brief bit of consumer advice alongside, like the laughable "Contains mild peril" (Finding Nemo), or the ridiculous "Rated PG for non-stop frenetic animated action" (The Powerpuff Girls).

But Kids-In-Mind reckons that's not enough - parents need better information so they can make up their own minds rather than the MPAA deciding for them. Kids-In-Mind claims to provide "Ratings that work".

To this end, they've condensed all worldly vices into three categories: 1. Sex & nudity; 2. Violence & gore; 3. Profanity. And they've given every film a score out of ten for each. (Apparently, other morally dubious activities such as drug taking, theft, racism, etc. don't matter so much.)

So, for example, the recent remake of Halloween gets 10.10.10. The 10 for sex/nudity is for a variety of reasons including, shockingly, "A husband and wife kiss."

The Muppet Christmas Carol gets 0.1.0. The 1 for violence/gore is because "some of the ghost scenes are a little scary and may bother younger viewers."

Year One gets 8.7.5 - a high score despite being only a PG-13. The Favor gets 3.2.3, a very low score for an R.

For me, this just serves to highlight the absurdity of any supposedly objective ratings system. The idea of a bunch of indignant puritans subjecting themselves to ghastly movies just so they can warn other pious parents that there are 398 instances of the word "fuck" in Casino strikes me as hilarious.

This is all very harmless and amusing, but the fact that the official ratings organisations routinely cut material out of films before we can watch them is something else. Why should I be allowed to watch some of the rapey sex and wincey violence in Ichi the Killer, but not all of it? How is anyone qualified to draw that line for all sixty million of us Brits? What's the point if I can just get the uncut version anyway? Isn't the whole system deeply flawed and deeply hypocritical?

Kids-In-Mind might not be the right solution, but they're raising good questions.


  1. Anonymous3:34 pm

    I am a parent of five young boys and find Kids in Mind very useful because of the detail of the reviews unemotional more or less factual analysis.

    For example I recently checked imdb.com parental guidance details on a movie and when it said 16 F-words, there were in fact in excess of 40. Somebody must have just watched the movie and thought back on it and said, oh, there were about 16 F-words. I can handle a few F-words in context, but the difference between 16 and over 40 F-words means the movie is much less palatable. Kids in mind had not reviewed the movie in question, but I have not had an accuracy problem with them. SO they say if two people kiss. This at least tells me something. They say if there is substance abuse (at the bottom of the review - along with themes). Most of all morally objectionable content is enumerated thoroughly. This is helpful to me as an adult, and in filtering potential movies my kids might watch.

    So, you can live with or reconcile non-religious moral relativism and Kids-in-mind ratings, simply by taking them for what they are.

    What I can't bear is the sliding scale of official movie ratings from (i.e Police Acadamy 1 - 18yrs and over because of a brief scene of breasts) but these days you get that in movies rated 10 and up. DO you see the slippery slope?

  2. Anonymous7:38 pm

    I think the ratings system needs a serious overhaul. Why is it that I can view someone cleave another's head in half with gory detail ON TV, but they edit out even mild language, or cut a scene with an exposed nipple? Ridiculous! Violence is fine. Sex is bad. I'd much rather let my child see some nudity than excessive violence.