MPs Keith Vaz and Iain Duncan Smith have weighed in on the hoohah over the violent content of The Dark Knight and its controversial 12A classification.
The Telegraph finds the Labour and Tory bods united in their condemnation of the film's violence and disagreement with its certificate, which allows children under 12 to see it if accompanied by parents. Smith, the former Conservative Party leader who saw the film with his (no doubt rather embarrassed) 15-year-old daughter, said he was "astonished" the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) found the somewhat stab-tastic flick suitable viewing for anyone under 15.
Christopher Nolan's realistic treatment didn't sit well with the quiet man, who went on: "Unlike past Batman films, where the villains were somewhat surreal and comical figures, Heath Ledger's Joker is a brilliantly acted but very credible psychopathic killer, who extols the use of knives to kill and disfigure his victims during a reign of urban terrorism laced with torture."
Likewise, Home Affairs Select Committee chairman and 42-day detention
beneficiary devotee Vaz said: "The BBFC should realise there are scenes of gratuitous violence in The Dark Knight to which I would certainly not take my 11-year-old daughter. It should be a 15 classification."
Vaz, who has previously railed against video game violence, wants to get the BBFC before his committee's hearings on knife crime later in the year. Presumably its representatives will be required to explain what they think they're doing fostering violent knifey rages in children who would otherwise never see a knife nor be able to spell the word*.
Bother has been rising since the film's release as to its suitability or otherwise for innocent tots. The BBFC is clocking up a record number of complaints about the film - 82 so far. The 12A-rated Casino Royale pulled in more than 100 complaints for the likes of its nasty bollock-smushing scenes over several months, but the Knight gripes have flooded in much faster.
The BBFC has defended its rating, admitting that while it was a "borderline" decision, the violence is in over-the-top comic-book fashion and does adhere to the guidelines for a 12A certificate. With a 15 certificate, said spokeswoman Sue Clark, "Younger teenagers would not have been able to see it, and they are the very people who are going to love it. We would have ended up with far more complaints from people who wanted to see the film and couldn't."
Some 4.7 million people have seen The Dark Knight in the UK, and it's set to bump Star Wars from its position as the second biggest film of all time in the US.
In related news**, a campaign is mobilising in Canada to ban Zorro, which apparently inspired Greyhound bus murderer Vince Weiguang Li, since it was showing at the time. ®
* Although that might be more to do with Labour's education policies, etc. etc.
** Note: May not actually be true.