Hello Luvs. Quite a bizarre story has cropped up in the past few days. A movie of Paddington, the much-loved children’s animation about a little bear coming to London from Peru, has received a PG (Parental Guidance) certificate by the British Board of Film Censors (BBFC). The reasons for this are, quote, “dangerous behaviour, mild threat, mild sex references (and) mild bad language”.
Really dears? Nestling among the countless horror movies (Children of the Corn, They Wait, Wolf Creek, Live from the House of Lords, etc) which make up the bulk of my DVD collection, there are a few children’s movies with a U (Universal) certificate, and which would fall under the above categories for the BBFC classifying Paddington as PG. The delightful romp about a boy trying to rescue little people, The Borrowers certainly contains what could be considered dangerous behaviour, mild (and not so mild) threat, mild sex references and mild bad language. Yet it received a U certificate and this is just one movie I shall reference in this article.
Comparing the two, the BBFC states that the dangerous behaviour is Paddington hiding in a fridge. Fair enough. But in The Borrowers we have the little people living underground and full-sized people trying to catch them, including going down drains. In Paddington the mild threat is a taxidermist threatening to “kill and stuff” the bear. In The Borrowers the daughter and her boyfriend are threatened by the father on several occasions. There are also scenes of actual violence in The Borrowers, and there is also plenty of bad language.
It is the mild sex references in Paddington however that the PG Certificate seems to pivot upon, and the reasons for referring to this are completely hypocritical of the BBFC. You see dears, their problem is one man dressing in female clothes and flirting with another man.
Going back to The Borrowers there is the scene where the daughter finds a very sexy costume to wear and to which her mother says no, but she gets it anyway, There are also flirting scenes between Stephen Fry and Victoria Wood and a boy/girl near kiss scene. I am sure any one of you could find many movies with U certificates and aimed at children where the content could be considered mildly sexual and flirtatious.
So it seems to the BBFC that so long as the couple in any scene are cisgender / heterosexual then these scenes are perfectly valid. Yet the moment any character veers from that, then it obviously warrants a PG certificate. Well done BBFC in your efforts in bringing up another generation of little bigots.
What I do find bizarre is that younger kids, like the toddlers Paddington is aimed at, would probably take the scene in question more in their stride and laugh at it, which was obviously the intention. It may have escaped the censors notice but pre-schoolers are much more interested in scanning the horizon for sweet shops than they are in gender and/or sexual diversity. It is actually the older kids, 5 and up, we need to worry about; the ones who have already had gender and sexual stereotypes ingrained in them by uninformed and bigoted parents. Frankly by giving Paddington a PG certificate, they are playing right into the bigoted mindset of those who lambasted Tinky-Winky in the Teletubbies as gay because “he” is purple, is topped by a triangle and carries a handbag (I say “he” but to the best of my knowledge the Teletubbies are gender-neutral).
On the other hand, if the media does not portray non-cis people to children, then however do we expect them to accept trans and gender-fluid people as normal? There is still a long way to go but it is widely accepted that the portrayal of openly gay and lesbian people in the media has created much wider acceptance. Indeed, the wider we portray all genders and sexualities, can only be helpful to non-cis and non-hetero children to come to terms with and accept that the urges within them are perfectly normal and nothing to be ashamed of.
The creator of Paddington Bear, Michael Bond, is absolutely appalled at the allegations. He told the Daily Mail, “I’d be very upset. I might not sleep well tonight. I can’t imagine what the sex references are. It doesn’t enter into it with the books, certainly,” Michael Bond is one of the greatest creators of children’s stories and animation ever, and one of the heroes of my childhood, as well as millions of others around the world. One can only therefore share his surprise at this ridiculous ruling by a board of bigoted cisgender censors who see offence where none was intended, and for that matter exists.
Poor old Paddington Bear; once a loveable kids character, now reduced to a life of vice and sleaze.
Mind you, even as a child, I did reckon Paddington was a bit gender-fluid. After all, that hat is FABULOUS! But Paddington, Lovey, please lose the duffle coat. It is doing absolutely nothing for you Dearie.