Monday, January 26, 2009

"Milk," starring Sean Penn: rated C, for Catch-22

Yesterday, Rosie and I decided we wanted to go see Milk at the local Vue cinema right here in Islington (Anne was interested in seeing it also, but she was a good mother and took Lena to the Natural History Museum instead). We looked on-line and saw that it was rated "15," which according to the British Board of Film Classification (the Brit's version of the MPAA), means that it is:
"Suitable only for 15 years and over. No-one younger than 15 may see a ‘15’ film in a cinema. No-one younger than 15 may rent or buy a ‘15’ rated video or DVD."

This is in comparison to the R rating in the States, which means no on under 17 can be admitted without a parent or guardian. Evidently the British Board decides it needs to usurp parental responsibility in deciding which movies teenagers can see (it appears that most R-rated movies in the U.S. are rated 15 here). Rose assured me, however, that all of her friends at school go to 15 movies all the time.

Being the dutiful parent that I am, I went on-line to see what the parental advisories were for the movie. I found out that the main concerns were things like:

  • multiple uses of the F-word and S-word -- nothing that Rosie hasn't heard in Avenue Q, [title of show], Rent, or any other of a number of musicals she's attended
  • sexual situations among men -- as best as I could find out ahead of time, which was confirmed in the film, was largely dark, shaded scenes of men kissing. Well, we (and she, for that matter) have enough gay friends that she's used to seeing men kiss before. Hell, she's seen me kiss a man before. But you know, just in that European kiss-on-both-cheeks kind of way.
  • partial male nudity -- she's seen me getting in and out of the hot tub enough times that this doesn't bother me
  • frequent depiction of alcohol and drugs -- hellooooooo, she watches TV
  • violence, shootings and rioting -- hellooooooo, she watches TV
So given this homework, I decided it was fine for her to see it. So we walk to the cinema, which was very crowded on the Sunday afternoon. I ask for one adult and one student ticket. The clerk doesn't ask Rosie's age, but she does ask to see her student ID. I truthfully say she doesn't have it with her, which means she doesn't qualify for a student price. But if she did have it, she wouldn't have been admitted because it would say she's only 14. So I have to buy two adult tickets (£17.70, after a £1.50 off coupon), and we see the movie.

Which, by the way, was very good. It was interesting listening to the British audience (the cinema was almost full, it had just opened on Friday) reacting or not to many of the American cultural references. But they seemed to enjoy the film also.
One thing I noticed walking around the streets of London is you see very few people in baseball caps in comparison to the states. If you do, about 90% of the time they are New York Yankees caps, and judging from the accents of the wearers, they're not Americans. So going into the Angel Tube station with Anne this morning, we were heading down the extemely long escalator (think something like Dupont Circle in Washington), when she spots a guy coming up the other escalator in a Red Sox hat and wearing a Tufts sweatshirt. Certainly both are an unusual sight, at least based on our experience so far. As he gets up about parallel to us, I say, "Go Jumbos." He looks a bit shocked and at a loss for words, and just replies, "Yeah."

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