Wednesday 18 September 2019

Angry cinema-goers accuse film censor of lacking bite in rating children's films

Grounds for complaint: Films that sparked public complaints included ‘Show Dogs’
Grounds for complaint: Films that sparked public complaints included ‘Show Dogs’

Darragh McDonagh

A scene from the children's comedy 'Show Dogs', in which a talking rottweiler has its private parts inspected by a judge, was the subject of eight complaints to the Irish Film Classification Office (IFCO).

This accounted for a third of all complaints during 2018. Other films that attracted criticism from the public included 'Red Sparrow', 'The Shape of Water', and 'Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle'.

There was also a complaint that a trailer for the Famine-based revenge movie 'Black 47' was mistakenly shown immediately before a screening of 'Pope Francis: A Man of His Word'.

'Show Dogs' was branded "pro-paedophile" and "a mechanism for grooming children".

The complaints related to a scene cut from the film in the US but retained in the version in Irish cinemas. A talking rottweiler called Max is advised to "go to his happy place" while having his genitals examined.

"Max is trained to suppress a 'no' feeling when some stranger feels him up… This is an offensive pro-groomer message in a kids' film," wrote one complainant who called for IFCO to ban the film.

In response to eight complaints about Show Dogs, assistant film classifier David Power said IFCO's classifiers "didn't ascribe any hidden meaning or subtext to the scenes".

Animated comedy-drama 'Isle of Dogs' also attracted a complaint over the use of the phrase "son of a bitch" - "meant as a pun or not".

One cinema-goer complained about 'Tad the Lost Explorer and the Secret of King Midas', in which they said "the level of violence was unacceptable".

The complainant contrasted this with the level of violence in the G-rated Disney animation 'Frozen', which they said was "quite low", making it "easy to cover young eyes for a minute or two until it passes".

There was a total of three complaints about 'Red Sparrow', a spy thriller starring Jennifer Lawrence. One said: "I can legitimately say I was in shock when I left the cinema".

'The Shape of Water', which won four Oscars last March, was the subject of one complaint over a torture scene that was described as "very sadistic". In his reply, director of film classification Ger Connolly accepted the scene was "undoubtedly gory" but that it was not gratuitous.

'Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle' attracted a complaint because one of the characters mentioned taking an Epipen. "This wasn't vital to the story… I have a serious issue with medical products being used for product placement, and hope it isn't a growing trend," they wrote.

Irish Independent

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