Monday 21 May 2018

Revealed: Sexual language and subliminal ads top 25 movie complaints

Megan Mullally in ‘Why Him?’
Megan Mullally in ‘Why Him?’

Darragh McDonagh

Children's animation 'The Jungle Bunch' and Oscar-winning musical comedy 'La La Land' were among 16 movies that prompted complaints to the Irish Film Classification Office (IFCO) last year.

A total of 25 complaints were received during 2017, which included objections to "subliminal advertising" of a beer brand in 'Kong: Skull Island', and a request to ban superhero spin-off 'Logan' "to protect the flagging morals that are left in our country".

US comedy 'Why Him?' attracted three complaints, one of which concerned the use of sexual language. "There is one scene in particular which describes a sexual practice which I myself had not heard of until a few years ago (I am 43)," the complainant wrote.

They insisted they were "no prude" but provided the film classifier with this advice: "If you're unfamiliar with the term, I suggest if you are looking it up to maybe not Google image search if it's early in the morning."

Action comedy 'Baywatch' was the subject of a complaint from a man who had seen the film with his wife and 15-year-old daughter. "In all my years of going to the movies, I have never seen male genitalia shown up close on more than one occasion," he wrote.

In his response, assistant film classifier David Power noted the nudity referred to was that of a naked male corpse, and had been "non-sexual" in nature.

Another complainant had concerns about alcoholic product placement in 'Kong: Skull Island'. "I suspect it is a form of subliminal advertising," they wrote. "How can I protect my son from these sophisticated 'association marketing' techniques?"

Mr Power said the scenes mentioned were not sufficiently explicit in terms of instruction or encouragement to constitute subliminal marketing.

"James Bond has been ordering vodka martinis in each of his many adventures for over 50 years," he noted.

IFCO also received correspondence from a 10-year-old boy, asking the film classifier to consider changing the rating for sci-fi prequel 'Alien: Covenant', so that he would be allowed to see it.

He insisted he "can handle" violence, gore, nudity and mature themes; and promised if the classifier agreed to change the rating to 15A, he would "send you amazing sketches saying 'Thank you for being the best'".

Mr Power declined the offer and regretted IFCO was not in a position to change the film's rating, but said: "You sound like a big movie fan, so I know you'll find some other good movies you can attend instead."

Another individual wrote to IFCO to complain about a film they had not seen, but they felt strongly the rating for 'Insidious: The Last Key' was likely to be inappropriate.

One parent complained they had walked out of 'The Jungle Bunch' with their three children (aged between seven and nine) due to the "amount of death and threat" throughout the movie. This included "illegal fight-club scenes… human rights abuses, taking animals as slaves… all in an exceptionally poor movie".

Another complainant questioned whether use of the phrase "f**k 'em" in 'La La Land' had been overlooked by IFCO when it decided on a rating of PG. Other films that were the subject of complaints last year included 'Thor: Ragnarok', 'The House', and 'Goodbye Christopher Robin'.

Irish Independent

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