12A - Cinema release suitable for 12 years and over.
12 - Video release suitable for 12 years and over.
15 - Suitable only for 15 years and over.
18 - Suitable only for adults.
R18 - Adult works for licence premises only.
In England Cineworld have Fifty Shades listed as an 18, whilst Odeon currently have it as TBC.
The BBFC website also describes an 18 movie as:
"There can be strong and detailed portrayals of sex at 18, including full nudity. There are no constraints on nudity in a non-sexual or educational context.
Very strong, crude and explicit sex references are permitted at 18.
An 18 film or video might also contain depictions of real sex, as long as the film or video is not a sex work."
"Sex works are works whose primary purpose is sexual arousal or stimulation. Sex works containing only material which may be simulated are generally passed 18. Those containing clear images of real sex, strong fetish material, sexually explicit animated images, or other very strong sexual images will be confined to the R18 category. Material which is unacceptable in a sex work at R18 is also unacceptable in a sex work at 18."
I got to thinking how on earth can the production team turn a book like Fifty Shades into a R film and not have to cut a lot out? Then I realised:
1. The more people who are able to watch = the potential for more money, thus deeming the movie a commercial hit.
2. It's being released for Valentine's Day and the producers are trying to sell the romantic aspects for 'date night' with a naughty twist.
3. Does it REALLY matter if a book which sold millions of copies based around sex and the taboo doesn't include all the sex scenes (quite frankly I'm glad the tampon scene isn't in the film!)?
This is also an issue with books!
I cannot tell you the amount of times I receive a book described as Young Adult which is really for much younger teens, or an adult book featuring characters who seem more like teens. I suppose the difference with books is that it's far easier to vet it. You can read the book before you give to your kids, or at least have a quick look at it. With movies you either have to trust the classification board, trust reviews and friends opinions, or watch the entire film before taking your children etc.
The other aspect with books is being mislead by writers, publishers, PR companies and even reviewers/bloggers etc. I have several blogger friends who only read adult romances and expect adult content. And others who are only interested in clean YA books who have been left horrified by certain smutty scenes appearing in YA stories. This can be a huge problem, but when it comes down to it, I suppose interpretation of the rules and guidelines is individual and we all have different ideas regarding content and labelling.
So on that note: Does it really matter what Fifty Shades of Grey has be classified as? Surely what matters is whether it's well made and keeps the book alive.
What do you think about movie and book classification? Does it matter? Would you ever let a rating discourage you from watching the movie or buying the book?