Why we need child-free cinemas

After having Iron Man ruined by eight-year olds, Mark starts his personal crusade to make the cinema-going experience great again. And first up, it's the kids that need to go...

I’ve just got back from finally watching Iron Man at my local Vue. Excellent film aside, despite losing its way a little in the rush to get to that final bout of fisticuffs, I was amazed by how many young children were in screen seven with me.

Iron Man is a 12A certificate, the official definition of which as being suitable for people 12 years and older and that no children under 12 will be allowed in, unless accompanied by an adult. The problem the BBFC has long had is that since the introduction of the 12 certificate for Batman, the pressure to give films a sub-15 rating is huge and Iron Man is a perfect example of falling between two stools. Not gritty enough to be a 15, yet tougher in general themes and violence than a PG. By giving itself that ‘unless accompanied by an adult’ get out clause, the BBFC has effectively absolved some of its responsibility to the general public. The problem with that is that much of the general public, bless ‘em, are incapable of making that decision for themselves.

During Iron Man, I witnessed the following. A young girl in front of me, no older than 8, nuzzling her head into her mum’s shoulder throughout the entire film as she clearly didn’t like the explosions, suggested sex and threat of violence throughout.

Behind me, a group of 6-12 year olds, accompanied by their mother, talking throughout the bulk of the film because they just couldn’t keep up with the plot. Two rows down, a young girl could be heard to say throughout the entire mid-section of the movie ‘it’s scary’, ‘oh it’s scary’, or ‘I’m scared mummy’. A mother two rows behind commented on the suggested sex within the first fifteen minutes, ‘This is for kids, I can’t believe they’re showing this.’ The fact that the film clearly isn’t for kids was lost on her, and therein lies the problem.

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If the public are so incapable of being able to ascertain for themselves that Iron Man is going to contain violence, that Tony Stark is a womaniser, hence the possibility of sexual dalliances, and that the entire story of how Stark becomes Iron Man is not an entirely kid-friendly one and therefore perhaps inappropriate for anyone under 12, then they have lost the right to choose what their children deserve to watch. I think that even if you didn’t know much about Iron Man beforehand, the trailer gave a lot of that away. And anyway, if you’re taking your under 12 to see it, isn’t it your responsibility to make sure you know more about the damn film before doing so?

The upshot of all this of course is that my own cinema-going experience is nigh on ruined by distractions. My suggestion of how to stop this is simple: adult-only screenings. Let’s face it, for the real movie fans among us, there’s nothing worse than paying over six pounds for a ticket, only to be annoyed by a bunch of disinterested and impatient young children. Why not have, for just a couple of screenings a day, adult-only admittance to 12A and 15 films. That way, the joys of Indy, Iron Man, and The Dark Knight won’t be ruined.

I think the BBFC should never have created the 12A in the first place. Doing so placed too much power with those incapable of making a mature, considered decision. Adult-only screenings would give serious movie lovers the attention they deserve, and send a message to parents that perhaps this film might not be the one for little Judy after all.

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