Anyone who reads my blog or who follows me on Twitter or Instagram will know how much I loved Paul Feig’s Ghostbusters this year. It had me laughing so much and in such a deranged manner I was surprised that I wasn’t escorted out of the screening and off the premises by big burly ushers! Luckily, there were none. In fact, I cannot remember the last time I saw an usher sit in or even occasionally pop their head through the door of the auditorium to ensure there were no disturbances to the screening. All joking aside, we could have done with some ushers when watching Wiig and Co. busting ghosts.
In the first ten minutes of the film our view of the screen was blocked by a mother and her three young children getting up out of their seats and sitting in another part of the cinema. The children were probably around eight, seven and the third was probably five or younger. The five year old talked loudly and incessantly throughout the film, which the mother encouraged, and he also whined in horror at the more scary parts of the film. At the end, the older children decided to stand in front of me and Mrs Film Fluff during the final scenes until, in very British fashion, I politely but sternly bellowed “Excuse me!” and they moved on.
So, not the best behaved family in cinema-going history! The presence of ushers might have prevented their antics, but alas. Despite their seat-swapping and lack of consideration for their fellow audience members, the bee in my bonnet was how a child so young got into the screening.
Ghostbusters has been certificated by the BBFC as a 12A, which means that a child of any age can see this film as long as they are with an adult. The 12A certificate caused some controversy when it was first announced and the flames of this controversy were fanned even more so with the release of The Dark Knight under this age rating due to its suggested violence and tone (who can forget that scene with the pencil?). I for one was against the 12A rating before I started this blog, but only because I have had many a 12A film ruined by children much younger than twelve years old who were brought to the cinema and did nothing but disturb the screening. However, having done a bit of research into this I find my mind has been changed.
Here’s the official blurb taken from the BBFC’s website on the 12A certification:
“No one younger than 12 may see a 12A film in a cinema unless accompanied by an adult. Adults planning to take a child under 12 to view a 12A film should consider whether the film is suitable for that child.”
So, when a film is rated 12A what the BBFC is saying is “We don’t think anyone under 12 should see this film but if they do then they are the responsibility of the accompanying adult so don’t come running to us if it mentally scars the kid for life!”
Of course, this is the Film Fluff interpretation. After some consideration, I now agree with the BBFC and this certification. This is because when I was growing up, my parents would never let me watch a film they didn’t think I could handle and I know that if The Dark Knight was released when I was, say, eight years old I could have watched it without getting scared or thinking “knives are cool” and I would have felt hard done by if I wasn’t allowed to watch it. On the flip side and, admittedly, it’s an extreme example, a film like Alien would have scared me silly and given me nightmares at that age but my folks had the common sense not to let me see this film until I was much older. I wouldn’t let my four year old niece watch Coraline, rated PG, as I think it would scare her (and, if I’m honest, it gave me the creeps and I’m thirty-one!).
With the 12A certificate the BBFC are giving us their recommendation whilst respecting the adults’ decision to make an informed choice about what they think their child can handle. They also offer lots of information on any film on their website that details the level of any drug use, bad language, nudity, imitable behaviour, etc, so that adults can do more research into a film that they have any potential concerns about.
So, hurray! The BBFC have won me over. Yet it doesn’t solve the problem that I intermittently have when I go to the pictures and have a film spoiled by a badly behaved child. Under the guidelines set out by the BBFC, the mother who brought her young son in to see Ghostbusters did nothing wrong and was well within her rights to. A fellow blogger recently saw Spielberg’s The BFG, which has been rated as PG, and was shocked to find that two mothers brought their babies in with them! I shared her disbelief at such irresponsible parenting and I’m sure every mother and father reading this would feel the same way, not only because of the screaming they did at the start of the film, but surely a cinema environment with bright, flashy visuals and loud speakers wouldn’t be the best of conditions to be in if your sight and hearing is still being developed when you’re that young!
Well, if you find yourself in the cinema and your 12A screening is disturbed by young children, the BBFC advises that:
“Cinema managers have the power to refuse entry to anyone whom they reasonably consider to be disruptive and we would strongly recommend that anyone whose enjoyment of a film is spoiled by noisy or disruptive young children should make their views known to cinema managers or staff.”
So, with the two babies in the screening of The BFG and with the five year old watching Ghostbusters, staff at the cinema should really have intervened and refused entry, in my opinion. However, in this day and age where “the customer is always right” (which is very very wrong!), the staff who work so hard and during unsociable hours probably think it’s not worth the hassle for the wage they are paid and with a line manager who will most likely side with the customer over them anyway. However, we cinema-goers are the customer, and I recommend that if your screening is disturbed by anyone, no matter what their age or the certificate of the film you are watching, do not approach the culprits but report it to a member of staff will all the politeness and courtesy you can afford and you should either get your money back or receive complimentary tickets. If not, ask to speak to the manager and then you should see some results, especially if you remain polite and say something like “I don’t want to have to go to head office about this and rather just resolve this here…”
Can you tell I used to work in customer service! Don’t rant and rave at the staff as you will likely get a more positive result if you don’t. You can always take to the social media page of the cinema afterwards if you’re not happy, and there is always their head office. I can honestly say that when I have complained in the correct manner I have always been happy with the way it has been dealt with. Okay, it’s not ideal to leave a screening and have to return to it at a later date but there are some inconsiderate cinema-goers out there and I think this is the best response to it as they will never change and may react badly to any challenge to their behaviour. Until ushers are employed to ensure a film isn’t disturbed, this is all we’ve got I’m afraid.
For more information on the BBFC and age ratings, visit: www.bbfc.co.uk