Schoolchildren across the Fylde will legally be allowed to watch movies packed with obscene langauge – but councillors will still have the power to axe films they think are beyond the pale.
Censors at movie watchdog the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) claim parents have thrown in the towel on trying to protect their children from obscene language and they are to reflect this by lowering the decency threshold for some films aimed at teenagers.
Under the new rules 12-year-olds could potentially be exposed to more profanities.
The BBFC said in future it will further scrutinise the “psychological impact of horror” examining “gore” among the strong visual detail which may be featured in films.
It will also be tougher on strong language in films aimed at family audiences but will be more “flexible” for films at the 15 classification after public research showed context rather then frequency was the key factor for viewers.
Films rated 12A – which can be viewed by younger children if accompanied by an adult – can have strong language, even if frequent, with certain conditions on whether it is justified by its context.
But the moves have angered some parents, family groups and religious leaders across the Fylde coast. One local cinema boss has voiced her concerns.
The Rev Dan Connolly, at St Johns Church, in Cedar Square said: “It’s a huge generalisation to say parents have thrown in the towel from protecting their children from bad language. Some parents might have but many more are still fighting.
“Children are exposed to so many different forms of media today and the media do carry a responsibility, but so do parents.
“Parents do need the support of the censors so they can be confident that what is being put in front of their children is suitable.”
Linda Wong-Hunter, manager at the independent Island Cinema at South Shore, Lytham, said: “I generally find kids these days are rarely shocked by bad language as it is in every day use in modern society but children should still not be exposed to it in entertainment media.”
However, under a rarely used statute, local councillors have the power – under the 1909 Cinematograph Act – to ban any film they deem unsuitable from being screened.
Coun Adrian Hutton, vice chairman of Blackpool Council’s licensing committee, said: “We’ve not used this power, to my knowledge, but if we got enough complaints we would definitely look at pulling a film.
“There is a line which has to be drawn. Bad language seems to be everywhere in society and it’s not a good thing, it’s a lowering of standards.”
The new guidelines came out of a BBFC consultation of 10,000 people across the UK and aim to reflect the concerns of the general populace.
In a statement BBFC bosses said: “Reluctantly, parents were accepting there have been shifts in language in recent years and awareness and use of the f-word in particular, is almost commonplace, even for primary school aged children.
“Even if their own children are not using language at home, parents are aware that it has become an accepted p art of young people’s lives and its use in the school playground as well as with social media, mobile phones and the internet is widespread.”
The research report accompanying the guidance states: “By aged 15, most parents argued that it was “game over” and they could no longer control their child’s viewing.
“The shock value of bad language is felt to be diminishing with each generation.”