This is one of the parental guidance content warnings used by the BBFC and now the GRA (for games) printed next to the classification roundel on the back of the box. It has a bit of a ring to it. Contains strong, BLOODY, violence. Ohhhh yes.
And yes, I've seen a number of films and played several games which include this content descriptor and believe you me, they mean it. Containing strong bloody violence gets you immediately bumped up to a 15 or 18 certificate at the drop of a hat. The Passion of the Christ is one such film. Don't watch it by the way, it's like mortifying the flesh. Jesus falls for the first time. Mel Gibson whips him some more. Claret flies everywhere. Jesus falls for the second time while being scourged by legionaries screaming nasty Latin obscenities at him. Simon of Cyrene helps Him carry the cross. For three hours. Just nail him up already and get to singing "Always Look On The Bright Side of Life" already. In gaming terms, BloodRayne (aka "Vampires Versus Nazis - WITH TITS!") is one title among many to contain strong bloody violence, with dismemberment, decapitation, and bits that prompt cries of "ooohhh, throw a coin in that fountain!"
Then there's Kill Bill, which is almost cartoonish in its slow-motion spraying of claret in all directions, and suchlike, not to mention the bit where Lucy Liu's scalp comes off. Scanners as well, with the exploding head scene. On a more realistic note, there's the film adaptations of various World War I novels. Regeneration is one such, where the protagonist picks up an eyeball from the duckboards as all that's left of one of his fellow soldiers. I think they also had the bit where a sniper gets someone in the skull and brain matter comes splurting out. (Or was that Birdsong.) Either way. It's good wholesome gorno for all the family.
Now I don't have a problem with strong bloody violence being restricted to adults. In fact I applaud it. If I had children, I definitely wouldn't want them playing The Witcher 2 - Assassins of Kings, which features, among other things, dismemberments, decapitations, bad guys burning to death and sizzling, and an incident towards the end of the game involving a spoon and Philippa Eilhart's eyes. (The fact that every line of dialogue in that game, pretty much, contains the words "fuck" or "cunt" - don't worry, it's in character - most of the game takes place amongst frontiersmen, soldiers, dwarves, and politicians respectively - and several incidents of gratuitous nudity notwithstanding.) I also wouldn't want them seeing a film in which the entire premise is the stapling of someone's mouth to someone else's anus. But I can't help but feel that strong bloody violence gets a bit of a pass compared to other content that might justify age-restricting a film. In fact, Kick-Ass, which was hardly shy of the old ultra-violence, was but a 15, as were all the Rambo films.
Okay. So. The Passion of the Christ was rated 18. As were hordes of 80s action films in which the well-built hero beats to death, shoots, and generally murders his way through hordes of mooks. However. According to official BBFC guidelines, strong language alone can get you rated 18. At 12 or 12A ratings, you can have one (1) fuck, so long as it's not an aggressive fuck. Cunts, though, are right out. At 15 rating, you can have up to a dozen fucks, including a handful of aggressive fucks, and you can have up to one (1) cunt. At 18 rating, you can fuck and cunt till you're blue in the face. But hold on. Have these people ever actually been teenagers? I can remember my adolescence as it wasn't that long ago, comparatively speaking. I, and everyone else I knew at school, had a mouth like a sewer. School trips resounded to the strains of "Four and Twenty Virgins," "At the Sight of Penis," "The Horse Song," and similar. Of course, we didn't curse in front of teachers because that got us into detention but all the same... you get the idea. So the Cluster F Bomb is hardly something that most teenagers haven't heard before, yet in their wisdom, the BBFC insists on sheltering them from it.
Same with sex - more so, even. Any vaguely realistic or real sex gets you bunged straight into an 18 rating. Boys Don't Cry? 18. 9 Songs? 18. Last Tango In Paris? 18 (though that may be more to do with the incident with the butter which is slightly, well, rape, to be fair.) Nudity also. Especially male nudity. Apparently a man with a cockstand is so dangerous to the moral fibre of our youth that only adults are allowed to see one on film. This is despite 91% of teenage boys being in the habit of playing with themselves, which involves looking down at what's between their legs, on a daily basis. (The other 9% are all liars.) Similarly, you can't show a woman's bush other than at 18 rating, even though the same applies to teenage girls and playing with themselves. (Hormones are a right bastard, kthxbye.) More to the point, chances are that a lot of these teenagers have seen, in the flesh, the other gender's naughty bits up close and person and, in what I'll guess is a significant minority of cases, have done other things to those naughty bits. This is because, like I've said already, hormones are a bastard and teenagers are all, without exception, right randy little buggers. I know I was. At 15 I would have happily shagged anything in a skirt. However, under current BBFC guidelines, teenagers cannot look at people doing things that they might already have done themselves. And have done all throughout history, just that previous generations were more loath to talk about it afterwards. Gretna Green was there for a reason, as were shotgun marriages. So don't try to convince me that previous generations all saved themselves for marriage until the permissiveness of the 1960s.
(Before someone sends me a sniffy message to that effect, no, I'm not advocating selling porn to children. It is, however, your responsibility as a parent to know what your kids are looking at. Remember - TV, video games, and the Internet are not babysitters.)
Yet the same body that's willing to put the kibosh on anything involving genitals - which it is absolutely legal for teenagers to engage in over 16, and sexual activity between teenagers under 16 is generally not prosecuted despite technically being an offence - is happy to wave through bad guys getting cut in two vertically, having their eyes pulled out with a rusty spoon, having their heads pink-misted, being waterboarded, scourged, and having electrodes applied to their testicles, as well as having brain matter come looping out their skull from a sniper's bullet, not to mention fountains of red pixels all over your computer screen from where you, the player, have hamstrung them then slashed their throat from side to side. Despite the legality of all this conduct ranging from "life imprisonment" to "you'd better hope that there isn't a counter-coup afterwards, bucko." And not only that, they're willing to let teenagers view it, despite this sort of thing being more likely to deprave or corrupt the juvenile mind than seeing a vagina.
It's the double standard, more than anything, that gets me. Sex and nudity are both awesome. Even without any sort of sexual content, the human body is a wonderful thing and it's not surprise that artists throughout the years have seen fit to try and encapsulate its beauty and awesomeness throughout their work. Even a hairy fat lump like myself surely has some aesthetic appeal (though I don't know what it is). Moreover, there are certain anthropologists who have a theory that the entire reason anyone does anything to advance science, arts, society, politics, is to improve their chances of getting their ashes hauled. However... causing ultra-violence and gorno in real life generally gets people a bad reputation (although Rule 34 applies and in this case is known as hybristophilia.) Serial killers are not cool. Narcoterrorists in Mexico slicing off rivals' heads with chainsaws are generally considered people to avoid. So why, then are we more willing to let our children see this unpleasantness than see things that are natural, beautiful, and if it wasn't for them they wouldn't exist.
Sense is not made by this.