Work / Film

Opinion: Is the BBFC right to enforce age restrictions on music videos?

This week editor Liv Siddall looks at the BBFC’s announcement that they are cracking down on explicit music videos and wonders if that’s really a good idea after all. As always, all comments welcome below.

This week the British Board of Film Classification have announced their plans to introduce age ratings for music videos across the internet as soon as possible. For a while now they have been reviewing music videos from all manner of artists and taking feedback from parents who have felt the need to actually call up and complain. This isn’t just a pipe dream to keep the parents happy, the BBFC are actually teaming up with Google to sort this problem out fast and for good.

So how will the BBFC begin to start putting age restrictions on videos? We all know how easy it is to click “I confirm I am over 18” to watch the dogging documentary on 4OD, and more importantly we all went to school. Would we have bothered smoking behind the staff car park or eating Haribo in assembly if we knew it was allowed? No way. Kids aren’t going to stop watching online videos unless you take the computer away entirely, and the more you make them “adult only” content, the more a controversial video is going to be perceived by teens as some kind of holy grail – something that must be found and shared with peers immediately.

Controversial music videos come up in conversation and the media a lot. But do you ever find yourself thinking of which music videos actually made an impact on you as you watched them at a tender age? Was it in 1984 when Serge Gainsbourg was writhing on a bed with his daughter Charlotte in the video for Lemon Incest? In 1989 when Madonna had an affair with a black Jesus surrounded by burning crosses, or in 1992 when a Pearl Jam video showed a teenage boy blowing his brains out in a classroom? For me it was in 2003 when I first witnessed Christina Milian’s Dip it Low. I was particularly fascinated by the bit when she is lifted onto a marble table, covered in melted dark chocolate and dragged around in it whilst men in suits watched. I assumed that was just what some women did, and I remember having a distinct feeling of “Eurgh. I hope I don’t have to do that.”

The more controversial music videos tend to act as signposts on the voyage of growing up. When teens are exposed to more adult material it allows them to judge in their minds whether they think it’s right or wrong. Deciding that for yourself, without more experienced adults interfering is what’s going to make these teenagers into a strong, free-thinking next generation, and surely there’s nothing more important than that.