It’s nothing new that movies and especially games are given an age-restriction rating. I have nothing against the concept of protecting the youth against pornographic or extremely violent and disturbing images. What I do have something against at is the way the media are treated.
I haven’t been at a meeting where the committee of different political or social parties discuss the movies, games or other media. But what I find highly problematic is the often ambiguous end results. Take the game “Bioshock” for example. In Germany it’s rated 18+, and it’s still cut in many places, going even so far to alter some story elements. It’s as much a piece of art as any painting, but it’s not treated like that. What is even more confusing is the fact that the sequel received the same 18+ rating and wasn’t cut.
Two other examples of no cuts but a very curious age-restriction: The German-only comic adventure “Edna bricht aus” (=Edna Escapes) features a protagonist who lost her memories and finds herself in an asylum. Not the best environment, especially considering the fact that later in the game she finds out how her father was killed. There is even a scene in which she imagines him being stabbed to death and cooked. Together with another scene in which someone of the asylum staff hangs himself, this would be very mature material to deal with. But what did it get? An Age 0+-rating. Don’t ask me why. It’s beyond me.
Is it only because it’s an adventure game where non-violent solutions are posed to the player and that it has comic graphics? If these are the only requirements to get an Age 0+ game, then why not have a 3D-shooter, but without weapons, a 3D-“walker”, but with very disturbing childhood memories and people committing suicide. Sure that’s no material for a 6-year-old?
(copyright: Daedelic Entertainment)
Are scenes including suicide and mental illness or madness from “Edna bricht aus” (=Edna Escapes) suitable for a 6-year old? Age restriction failed… again.
More examples from movies: “Gamer” vs. “Kick-Ass”. The former one got an Age-18+-rating, the latter one an Age-16+-rating. And “Gamer” is even cut, i.e. you see how someone’s neck is broken, but you don’t hear the sound when it snaps. Of course you see the end result (lifeless body falling to the ground), so what’s the point? Also the whole movie is more fun than any serious action movie. It has some splatter elements, but none which would justify an 18+-rating.
Now for “Kick-Ass”. In this movie you see a little girl killing a whole group of mafia members. And she’s not just screaming at them so they jump out of windows. She shoots their heads off, coming from above and below. Blood splatters everywhere. There’s also one scene which shows her killing spree from a first-person-perspective, EXACTLY like an ego-shooter. And you can’t even do anything about it, you just watch how she pulls off one headshot after the other. And it’s a little girl we’re talking about!
Of course the whole action sequences are shown in a punk-rock-style, but does it really make them less violent? Quentin Tarantino himself faced the problem that the ending of Kill Bill Vol. I showed too much red blood. So what did he do? He turned it grey. And in one scene Uma Thurman’s eyes actually blink for a short moment, a joke Tarantino did for the censorship.
Yes, Hit Girl kicks more ass than Kick-Ass himself, and she sets the blood & gore standard, but rated 16+? You’ve gotta be kidding me!
Now what exactly does the whole censorship and rating-system do? Does it really protect the youth from bad influences? Of course not. All it does it to annoy people who are way over 18 and who (at least in Germany) actually have to pay the extra delivery costs to get their 18+-games or movies via Amazon. And what’s even more, you don’t always get the uncut version.
It’s a cruel cruel world in which the depiction of violence is condemned, altered and the authorship of the artist in whatever medium is questioned. It’s not even questioned, it’s avoided altogether or twisted in an unrecognizable fashion.