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Mary Poppins movie has age rating lifted over ‘discriminatory language’ | Ents & Arts News

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Mary Poppins has had its UK age rating lifted from U to PG almost 60 years after its release because of “discriminatory language”.

The British Board Of Film Classification (BBFC) said the decision over the 1964 classic, starring Dame Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke, had been made over the use of the colonial term, Hottentots.

The derogatory word was historically used by white Europeans to refer to the Khoikhoi people in South Africa.

Actor Reginald Owen’s character, Admiral Boom, uses the term twice in the film, once when he asked one of the children, Michael, if he was going on an adventure to “defeat Hottentots”.

Later, when chimney-sweeps with soot-covered faces are spotted by the admiral, he shouts: “We’re being attacked by Hottentots”, before launching fireworks in their direction.

The BBFC said: “While Mary Poppins has a historical context, the use of discriminatory language is not condemned, and ultimately exceeds our guidelines for acceptable language at U.

“We therefore classified the film PG for discriminatory language.”

Unsuitable for young children

The Walt Disney production has been classified as containing “some scenes (that) may be unsuitable for young children”.

The BBFC added: “We understand from our racism and discrimination research… that a key concern for… parents is the potential to expose children to discriminatory language or behaviour which they may find distressing or repeat without realising the potential offence.

“Content with immediate and clear condemnation is more likely to receive a lower rating.”

Pixar’s Ratatouille has been reclassified by the BBFC from a U to a PG rating due to instances of “comic violence” and “mild bad language”.

Dick Van Dyke, Karen Dotrice, Matthew Garber, Julie Andrews
Image:
Pic: Rex Features

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Brad Pitt’s Fight Club was downgraded from an 18 rating to 15 despite its portrayal of “sequences of graphic and brutal violence”.

BBFC ensures its compliance officers always classify content in line with its classification guidelines, which means “older content may require a higher or lower age rating”.

The BBFC age ratings explained

The BBFC says its classification decisions are based on its “regularly updated guidelines” which comes from “extensive” public consultation, research and “accumulated” experience.

Age ratings and content advice are given “to help children and families choose what’s right for them and avoid what’s not”.

U – Universal, suitable for all

This rating is suitable for audiences aged four years and over, although it is impossible to predict what might upset any particular child.

The BBFC says U films should be set within a positive framework and should offer reassuring counterbalances to any violence, threat or horror.

PG – Parental Guidance

General viewing, but some scenes may be unsuitable for young children.

A PG film should not unsettle a child aged around eight or older.

Unaccompanied children of any age may watch, but parents are advised to consider whether the content may upset younger, or more sensitive, children.



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