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Death in The Jungle Book and genitalia in Baywatch: Why people complained about films last year

In all, the IFCO received complaints about 16 films in 2017.

The Rock stars in Baywatch, which was one of the films complained about.
The Rock stars in Baywatch, which was one of the films complained about.
Image: Paramount/Youtube

CHILDREN’S ANIMATION THE Jungle Book and Oscar-winning musical comedy La La Land were among 16 movies that prompted complaints to the Irish Film Classification Office (IFCO) last year.

Some 25 complaints were received during 2017, which included objections to “subliminal advertising” of a beer brand in Kong: Skull Island, and a request to ban superhero spin-off Logan “to protect the flagging morals that are left in our country”.

US comedy Why Him? attracted three complaints, one of which concerned the use of sexual language. “There is one scene in particular, which describes a sexual practice which I myself had not heard of until a few years ago (I am 43),” the complainant wrote.

The complainant insisted that they were “no prude” but provided the film classifier with this advice: “If you’re unfamiliar with the term, I suggest if you are looking it up to maybe not Google image search if it’s early in the morning.”

Action comedy Baywatch was the subject of a complaint from a man who had seen the film with his wife and 15-year-old daughter. “In all my years of going to the movies, I have NEVER seen male genitalia shown up close on more than one occasion,” he wrote.

“She [his daughter] was not impressed and neither were we,” he added.

In his response, Assistant Film Classifier David Power noted that the nudity referred to was that of a naked male corpse, and had been “non-sexual” in nature.

Another complainant had concerns about alcoholic product placement in Kong: Skull Island. “I suspect it is a form of subliminal advertising,” they wrote. “How can I protect my son from these sophisticated ‘association marketing’ techniques?”

Power explained in his reply that the scenes mentioned were not sufficiently explicit in terms of instruction or encouragement to constitute subliminal marketing. “James Bond has been ordering vodka martinis in each of his many adventures for over 50 years,” he noted.

‘I can handle it’

IFCO also received correspondence from a 10-year-old boy, asking the film classifier to consider changing the rating for sci-fi prequel Alien: Covenant, so that he would be allowed to see it.

He insisted that he “can handle” violence, gore, nudity and mature themes; and promised that if the classifier agreed to change the rating to 15A, he would “send you amazing sketches saying ‘thank you for being the best’”.

Power declined the offer and regretted that IFCO was not in a position to change the film’s rating, but said: “You sound like a big movie fan, so I know you’ll find some other good movies you can attend instead.”

Another individual wrote to IFCO to complain about a film that they had not seen, but they felt strongly that the rating for Insidious: The Last Key was likely to be inappropriate.

Sci-fi horror Life, starring Ryan Reynolds and Jake Gyllenhaal, was the subject of two complaints. One of these was from a self-described ethical vegan who was so distressed by a scene involving animal experimentation that they experienced a panic attack and was unable to drive home for 30 minutes.

“Seeing a rodent strapped down with an up-close scene of how tight the leather strap is around its neck for gratuitous effect had the same effect on me as though that being was a person or a baby,” they wrote.

One parent complained that they had walked out of kid’s animation The Jungle Book with their three children (aged between seven and nine) due to the “amount of death and threat” throughout the movie.

This included “illegal fight-club scenes… human rights abuses, taking animals as slaves… all in an exceptionally poor movie”, according to the complainant.

Another complainant questioned whether use of the phrase “fuck ‘em” in La La Land had been overlooked by IFCO when it decided on a rating of PG.

Other films that were the subject of complaints last year included Thor: Ragnarok, The House, Goodbye Christopher Robin, Girls Trip, Jason Bourne, Sleepless, and Transformers: The Last Knight.

About the author:

Darragh McDonagh

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