While convalescing from minor surgery I had a day-long Netflix session (without the chill) watching the first series of ‘Narcos’. Based on true events, it chronicles – with a fair amount of dramatic licence – the story of Columbian drug lord Pablo Escobar, and the continuous attempts of the Drug Enforcement Agency to bring him to justice.
It’s very good; gritty and violent, but well narrated and not without humour or irony.
What struck me though, was the 15 rated certificate. The series contained a fair amount of bloody violence, drug abuse, torture, and scenes of a sexual nature. The BBFC guidelines read as follows:
Drug taking may be shown but the work as a whole
must not promote or encourage drug misuse
(for example, through instructional detail). The
misuse of easily accessible and highly dangerous
substances (for example, aerosols or solvents) is unlikely to be acceptable.
Sexual activity may be portrayed, but usually without
strong detail. There may be strong verbal references
to sexual behaviour, but the strongest references are
unlikely to be acceptable unless justified by context.
Works whose primary purpose is sexual arousal or
stimulation are unlikely to be acceptable.
There may be strong threat and horror. A sustained
focus on sadistic or sexual threat is unlikely to
Violence may be strong but should not dwell on the
infliction of pain or injury. The strongest gory images
are unlikely to be acceptable. Strong sadistic violence
is also unlikely to be acceptable.
I’m not suggesting that our precious 15-year-olds shouldn’t be exposed to these scenes – they are in general very familiar with the big bad world at that age, and are big enough and ugly enough to deal with it – but the ‘Narcos’ series clearly contains sex, drug use and violence portrayed in a manner contravening the above.
My real question is, what’s the point of the 18 certificate?
If the only difference between the 15 and 18 certificates is to protect our youth from viewing risible ‘porn torture’ such as ‘The Human Centipede’, or cartoon video war games, I would suggest that maybe the BBFC’s priorities are wrong, and their certification process outdated and completely out of touch with 2017 society,