Time to blur the age restriction lines
Parents should regard age restrictions as more of a guideline than an actual rule.

When I was growing up my parents had an easy job keeping me away from questionable movies, because 1) questionable movies were either banned, or had all that lovely questionable content exorcised by our censors, and 2) because all the ticket sellers were Nazis. Well, not literally, but pretty damn close.

So my parents felt relatively safe in our police/nanny state with the thought that when I went out to the movies, even if I did manage to sneak into something age restricted, I wasn’t going to see much anyway.

I know this for sure because I did, in fact, manage to pull a few tricks and saw a few things that some would say I shouldn’t have seen. My older cousin Cathy had a knack for sneaking my then-fresh face passed the Schutzstaffel, so I saw a few movies meant for younger teens before I was one myself. The only one I remember was Arthur. The rest were so downright boring I had probably forgotten about them by the next day.

Then there was the time as a teenager my friend and I thought we were so cool to sneak-hire a 2-21 movie (That was the restriction system then: A toddler could legally sit through a movie a 20-year-old couldn’t). Judging from the poster, we expected tons of sex and nudity. Guess what we got? One nipple. For two seconds. On Betamax. 

And the cherry on the top: when I was about 12 I saw a porno. Now THAT was interesting. But I don’t think that really counts because at that time, my DAD wouldn’t have been allowed to watch it.

None of the above scarred, traumatised me – nothing nearly like the Catholic boarding school I attended. But what DID affect me was uncensored, and shown to me freely. Like the Hammer House of Horror stories my parents rented for family video nights. 

Or a movie SABC broadcast one Saturday evening in the early ‘80s called Satan’s Triangle, a made for TV production that gave me nightmares for years (and if you read the reviews on IMDB you’ll see I’m not alone).  

The problem was that my parents didn’t really make the choices on what I could watch. If the powers that be said it was okay, that’s what they believed. But thankfully we live in a more cynical world now, where we know that the powers that be can’t always be trusted. 

Which is a good thing, because movies and TV are more hectic than they’ve ever been. I mean, have you seen The Walking Dead? Holy crap, that would have been banned when I was a kid.

The fact is, not all kids are the same – nor are all movies. A 13 rated movie, for example, might be fine for one 10 year old child to watch, but not another 13 year old. Perhaps we should be treating the ratings system more as a rough guide than as an authority. After all, the people who rated the movie have never even met your kids.

The choice is yours, not theirs.

Do you treat the age restrictions as more of a guideline?

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