HOME

TheInfoList




The 18 certificate is issued by the
British Board of Film Classification The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC, previously the British Board of Film Censors) is a non-governmental organisation upright=1.3, alt=A roomful of people, Europe-Georgia Institute head George Melashvili addresses the audience ...
(BBFC), to state that in its opinion, a film, video recording, or game is suitable only for persons aged 18 years and over. It recommends that no one below that age should be admitted to view a film with an 18 certificate in a cinema, and that 18-rated video recordings should not be sold or rented to anyone below that age. As with other British film certificates, the 18 certificate theoretically only has advisory power for films shown in public cinemas, with the ultimate say being held by local authorities. In practice, the local authorities tend to follow BBFC rulings in all but a few exceptional cases. For video and game sales, the BBFC rulings have statutory power, as under the terms of the 1984 Video Recordings Act all videos sold or distributed within the UK must be given a certificate by the BBFC, unless they fall into one of a number of exempt categories. Uncertificated recordings which are not exempt cannot legally be sold, regardless of content. The 18 certificate was created in 1982 as the successor of the previous
X certificate An X rating is a rating used to classify movies that are meant for adults only. Australia The Australian Classification Board (ACB, formerly known as the OFLC), a government institution, issues ratings for all movies and television shows exhi ...

X certificate
, which in turn was the successor of the
H certificate This article chronicles the history of British film certificates. Overview The UK's film ratings are decided by the British Board of Film Classification and have been since 1912. Previously, there were no agreed rating standards, and local counci ...
(with H standing for "
horror Horror may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Genres *Horror fiction, a genre of fiction **Japanese horror, Japanese horror fiction **Korean horror, Korean horror fiction *Horror film, a film genre *Horror comics, comic books focusing on h ...
"). See
History of British Film Certificates This article chronicles the history of British film certificates. Overview The UK's film ratings are decided by the British Board of Film Classification and have been since 1912. Previously, there were no agreed rating standards, and local counci ...
for more details. Typical reasons for restricting films to the 18 certificate category have included hard drug use, supernatural horror, sexually explicit scenes, graphic violence, sadistic violence and sexual violence — the latter two of which have in the past led to a certificate not being issued at all, in effect banning the film in the UK. It was only around the start of the 21st century that the censors passed films with explicit ('hardcore') sexual acts despite the 18 certificate existing for many years. It is also issued by the
Irish Film Classification Office The Irish Film Classification Office (IFCO) ( ga, Oifig Aicmithe Scannán na hÉireann, OASÉ) is the organisation responsible for films, television programmes, and some video game classification and censorship within Ireland Ireland (; g ...
.


Sex and the 18 certificate

Until recently, 18 certificate films could not contain the depiction of actual sex acts, which more recently could only appear in films with an R18 certificate (when created in 1982 only simulated acts could be shown under an R18, but this was relaxed after legal challenges in 2000). Although the BBFC allowed the depiction of simulated sex scenes in 18 certificate films, actual sexual acts were still not allowed to be depicted in 18 certificate films until around 1999. This precedent appears to have been set when the BBFC granted 18 certificates for films containing short scenes of unsimulated sex, such as
Catherine Breillat Catherine Breillat (; born 13 July 1948) is a French filmmaker, novelist and professor of auteur cinema at the European Graduate School The European Graduate School (EGS) is a private graduate school File:CCMDonation49.JPG, Student receives d ...
's ''
Romance Romance (from Vulgar Latin , "in the Roman language", i.e., "Latin") may refer to: Common meanings * Romance (love) Romance or romantic love is a feeling Feeling was originally used to describe the physical sensation of touch through e ...
'' (1999) and
Patrice Chéreau Patrice Chéreau (; 2 November 1944 – 7 October 2013) was a French opera and theatre director, filmmaker, actor and producer. In France he is best known for his work for the theatre, internationally for his films '' La Reine Margot'' and ...
's ''
Intimacy An intimate relationship is an interpersonal relationship The concept of interpersonal relationship involves social associations, connections, or affiliations between two or more people. Interpersonal relationships vary in their degree ...
'' (2001). In October 2004, a new precedent appeared to be set when the BBFC granted an 18 certificate for
Michael Winterbottom Michael Winterbottom (born 29 March 1961) is a British film director. He began his career working in British television before moving into features. Three of his films—''Welcome to Sarajevo'', ''Wonderland (1999 film), Wonderland'' and ''24 ...

Michael Winterbottom
's film ''
9 Songs ''9 Songs'' is a 2004 British Art film, art Romance film, romantic drama film written and directed by Michael Winterbottom. The film stars Kieran O'Brien and Margo Stilley. The title refers to the nine songs played by eight different rock bands ...
'', which featured a number of lengthy explicit scenes of unsimulated sex. This was followed by certificates for ''
Shortbus ''Shortbus'' is a 2006 American Sex in film, erotic comedy-drama film written and directed by John Cameron Mitchell. The plot revolves around a sexually diverse ensemble of colorful characters trying desperately to connect in New York City. The c ...
'' and ''
Destricted ''Destricted'' is a British-American anthology film An anthology film (also known as an omnibus film, package film, or portmanteau film) is a subgenre of films consisting of several different short films, often tied together by only a single th ...
''. In the statement justifying the latter decision, it was stated that there is no limit to the number of images that can be considered to be justified. In 2004, the board was also challenged by some pornographic video distributors to award 18 certificates to material otherwise falling under the R18 guidelines. This could have greatly diminished the role of the R18 certificate but failed. This means there continues to be a form of artistic merit test requiring the work to be judged non-pornographic and the scenes in question "exceptionally justified by context" for a mainstream release. In its 2009 report (available on its website), the BBFC updated its standards stating that:
"When it comes to sex in films for adults, the Board's policy is that explicit images of real sex should be confined to the ‘R18’ category, unless such images can be justified by their context. However, contextual justification is irrelevant if the primary purpose of the work is sexual arousal or stimulation (i.e. a sex work). Under the new Guidelines, the contextual justification for explicit images of real sex at ‘18’ no longer needs to be ‘exceptional’." The main difference between this new policy and previous years' policies is that contextual justification for images of real sex no longer needs to be "exceptional" in an 18 rated work. In its 2010 report (available on its website), the BBFC updated its standards again stating that:
"As in previous years, the Board's policy remains that explicit images of real sex should be confined to the ‘R18’ category unless such images can be justified by their context. Contextual justification, however, has less weight if the primary purpose of the work is sexual arousal or stimulation (i.e. a sex work)." The main difference between this new policy and previous years' policies is that contextual justification for images of real sex is no longer irrelevant if the primary purpose of the work is sexual arousal or stimulation; instead, it merely reduces the amount of justification that context can provide. In a sex work, any explicit and non-obscured sight of vaginal or anal penetration by any object whatsoever; any contact between the lips or tongue and genital/anal area; and ejaculation usually requires an R18. Any sight of a liquid resembling semen is also usually restricted to R18, even if the ejaculation is not visible: images of liquid splashing onto faces, breasts or being swallowed have been censored from 18 certificate films. The R18 versions contained these images unaltered. Further reasons for R18, as opposed to 18, include vigorous and/or extensive genital touching (brief genital touching may be passed "18"), implied triple penetration, extreme close-ups of spread female genitals or anuses (erections are now permissible at 18 however), and certain fetish material, especially urination and potentially dangerous sadomasochistic activities. However, under the new 2010 guidelines, explicit images of real sex can be passed 18 in a sex work provided there is exceptional justifying context.


Violence, horror, and the 18 certificate

In the past, violence was one of the more problematic aspects when passing a film with an 18 certificate, whether it was sexualised or fantasised violence. Horror films were often the culprits for depicting graphic violence and this often resulted in criticism of the examiners. Particularly violent scenes must be removed before a certificate is awarded. With the advent of home video, films that were cut in the cinemas could be released uncut on video. This led to a moral panic concerning "
video nasties Video nasty is a Colloquialism, colloquial term popularised by the Mediawatch-uk, National Viewers' and Listeners' Association (NVALA) in the United Kingdom to refer to a number of films, typically low-budget horror and exploitation films, di ...
" as coined by tabloid newspapers. The government passed the
Video Recordings Act 1984 The Video Recordings Act 1984 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the supreme legislative body A legislature is an assembly Assembly may refer to: Organisations and meetings * De ...
which meant all videos offered for sale must be assigned a classification agreed upon by an authority designated by the Home Office, which was the BBFC. As a result of this, many films previously cut for cinema (such as ''
The Evil Dead ''The Evil Dead'' is a 1981 American independent Independent or Independents may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Artist groups * Independents (artist group), a group of modernist painters based in the New Hope, Pennsylvania, area o ...
'' and '' Dawn of the Dead'') had to be cut further in order to get a legal release on video. In recent times, the BBFC has been more lenient towards fantasised violence, and so former 'video nasties' have since passed uncut. Current concerns include content such as "any detailed portrayal of violent or dangerous acts which is likely to promote the activity", and sexualised violence. The BBFC also takes into account whether the scenes are considered to glamorise sexual assault. In 2002, the board passed
Gaspar Noé Gaspar Noé (; ; born 27 December 1963) is an Argentine filmmaker based in Paris Paris () is the Capital city, capital and List of communes in France with over 20,000 inhabitants, most populous city of France, with an estimated populati ...
's '' Irréversible'' without any cuts. It said that the rape depicted in the film does not contain any explicit sexual images and is not designed to titillate. Less than a month later,
Takashi Miike is a Japanese filmmaking, filmmaker. He has directed over one hundred theatrical, video, and television productions since his debut in 1991. His films run through a variety of different genres, and range from violent and surrealism, bizarre to ...

Takashi Miike
's ''
Ichi the Killer Ichi the Killer may refer to: * Ichi the Killer (film), ''Ichi the Killer'' (film), a 2001 Japanese film based on the manga series of the same name * Ichi the Killer (manga), ''Ichi the Killer'' (manga), a manga series written and illustrated by Hi ...
'' had to be cut by three minutes and twenty-five seconds due to sexual violence. In this case, the scenes were felt to be potentially glamourising assault. Another example of cuts for sexual violence, as well as child protection issues, is ''
A Serbian Film ''A Serbian Film'' ( sr, Српски филм / ''Srpski film'') is a 2010 Serbian horror film A horror film is one that seeks to elicit fear Fear is an intensely unpleasant emotion Emotions are mental state, psychological stat ...
'', a horror film about a retired porn star lured back into performing. Over four minutes of cuts were required, primarily to remove material involving children in sexual and sexually violent scenarios. The initially banned 1980 Italian film ''
Cannibal Holocaust ''Cannibal Holocaust'' is a 1980 Italian cannibal filmCannibal films, alternatively known as the cannibal genre or the cannibal boom, are a subgenre of exploitation films made predominantly by cinema of Italy, Italian filmmakers during the 1970s ...
'' had five minutes and forty-four seconds of cuts to scenes of sexual violence and actual animal cruelty on its first submission in 2001, reduced to only a single cut of three seconds in 2011. References or scenes of suicide or dangerous stunts, which can be easily imitated by youth, can lead to a DVD being given an 18 certificate. Volume 3 of the anime ''
Paranoia Agent is a Japanese anime television series created by director Satoshi Kon and produced by Madhouse (company), Madhouse about a social phenomenon in Musashino, Tokyo, Musashino, Tokyo caused by a juvenile serial assailant named Lil' Slugger (the En ...
'' (which is normally rated 12 or 15) is rated 18 because of suicide references and violence, mostly in the episode "Happy Family Planning", which made light of suicide and featured a scene of someone pretending to hang himself, a scene which was edited by the BBFC. An episode of ''
House A house is a single-unit residential building A building, or edifice, is a structure with a roof and walls standing more or less permanently in one place, such as a house A house is a single-unit residential building, which may range ...
'' titled " Under My Skin" became the first and only one to be passed with an 18 certificate due to scenes depicting a suicide technique that can easily be imitated in real life. Most of the ''
Jackass A jackass is a male donkey The donkey or ass is a domestic animal This page gives a list of domestic animals, also including a list of domestication of animals, animals which are or may be currently undergoing the process of domestication a ...
'' films are also given an 18 certificate because of dangerous and imitable stunts.


See also

*
Motion picture rating system A motion picture content rating system is an organization designated to classify films based on their suitability for audiences due to their treatment of issues such as sex, violence, or substance abuse; their use of profanity; or other matters ty ...
*
Obscene Publications Act Since 1857, a series of obscenity laws known as the Obscene Publications Acts have governed what can be published in England and Wales. The classic definition of criminal obscenity is if it "tends to deprave and corrupt," stated in 1868 by Sir Ale ...
* R18 certificate *
X certificate An X rating is a rating used to classify movies that are meant for adults only. Australia The Australian Classification Board (ACB, formerly known as the OFLC), a government institution, issues ratings for all movies and television shows exhi ...


References

{{Reflist, 2


External links


Screen Online: 18 certificate
British Board of Film Classification