There has been a fair amount of controversy over the recent ratings bestowed upon two upcoming films Blue Valentine and The King’s Speech. Blue Valentine received an NC-17, and The King’s Speech an R.
But there is another film mired in the same type of controversy that has been virtually ignored in this conversation — Made in Dagenham.
This film — which tells the true story of women who went on strike for equal pay in England in 1968 — also received an R rating. This is a movie that deals with an important issue in a light hearted way and its fun to watch. It’s good, is important, has some great performances and not too many movies can say that.
Patrick Goldstein asserted earlier this week in the LA Times about how hypocritical it is that The King’s Speech and Saw 3-D are both rated R. Amen, so true. The ratings system is a farce that completely benefits the studio movies and condones violence — especially against women — yet has major issues with the word fuck.
Made in Dagenham was given the R rating “for language and brief sexuality,” yet the action film Red is rated PG-13 for “intense sequences of action violence and brief strong language.” I’ve seen Red and saying those action sequences are intense is an understatement. Also let’s throw in The Social Network which is also rated PG-13 due to its “sexual content, drug and alcohol use and language.”
The film’s producer, Elizabeth Karlsen is also perplexed and she sent this quote upon returning to the UK after participating in screenings here earlier this week:
As a mother of three teenage girls, the youngest of whom is 13, I am both deeply saddened and bewildered that the censors dictate that it is inappropriate for my 13 year to see a film about a decisive moment in women’s history, the fight for equal pay, full of positive role models.
There are so few films about women, so few films where women are not simply minor players, ‘eye candy’ or objects of violence in a story about men. Made In Dagenham is one of the few and it has been embraced for this very reason. I can not believe that any parent, grandparent or teacher would prefer their 13 year old daughter to see a film like ‘Saw’ rather than ‘Made In Dagenham’. There is a handful of swear words in the film, but none of it is used in an abusive manor. It is there as an element of authenticity reflecting the period and people.
Bad language in films must surely be considered by the censors in the context of the story and the images used to tell that story. It is absurd that stories like Made In Dagenham and The King’s Speech are barred to children under 13 in favour of violent films and when I say violent I mean extremely not moderately violent. I take the censors’ view as an indictment of my parenting skills. I know that Saw is absolutely not the sort of film I want my young daughter to see, but I know that Made In Dagenham and The Kings Speech are two films that she absolutely should be seeing. They are both positive, empowering, educational, enlightening and entertaining films, beautifully executed, about people finding a voice and making the world a better place. How can that be a bad thing for a society which deems itself civilised?
There is no way you can ever convince me that Made in Dagenham deserves the same rating as Saw 3-D and an higher rating than Red and The Social Network. No way. Mutilating, shooting, stabbing, and drug use and underage drinking is ok for kids, but using the f word makes your film not acceptable for those under 17. This is so wrong.
Side note: The rating for The King’s Speech in the UK was lowered to a 12A (basically PG-13) after an appeal, and Made in Dagenham is still a 15 (basically an R).