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‘Flash Gordon,’ ‘Rocky’ U.K. Ratings Change Due to ‘Discriminatory Stereotypes’ and ‘Abuse’

Films in the "Star Wars" and "Lord of the Rings" franchises have also been given increased ratings.

ROCKY, Sylvester Stallone, 1976.


Courtesy Everett Collection

The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) has updated the ratings of several popular films, from “Flash Gordon” to “Rocky,” “Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back,” “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings,” and more. As reported by the BBC, each of these films got bumped up to a 12A rating from their original PG rating “as a result of changing standards in society.” The 12A rating recommends children under 12 shouldn’t watch without being accompanied by an adult.

“We talk to over 10,000 people every four-five years to ensure our policies remain in step with parental expectations and societal standards on an ongoing basis,” BBFC chief executive David Austin said in a statement about the new ratings. “As a result of changing standards in society, it’s not infrequent that a distributor will submit something to us that we have classified in the past, but which we need to take a fresh look at under our current guidelines.”

When it comes to “Flash Gordon,” the new 12A rating is partly due to the film’s inclusion of “discriminatory stereotypes.” While the BBFC did not specify the stereotypes, many believe the rating descriptor refers to the East Asian villain character Ming the Merciless, played by Swedish-French actor Max von Sydow. The “Rocky” ratings as been bumped up to a 12A because of “moderate violence, mouthed strong language and domestic abuse.” Peter Jackson’s first “Lord of the Rings” entry is now 12A for “moderate fantasy violence and threat,” joining the already-12A rated sequels.

Additional ratings changes were made to “Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back,” which went from a U (suitable for all ages) to a PG because of “moderate violence and mild threat.” David Lynch’s “The Elephant Man” is also now at a 12A because of “moderate threat, upsetting scenes, and injury detail.”

Not all movies were bumped up, as some films like the original “The Fast and the Furious” saw their ratings decreased. The 2001 movie was originally labeled a 15 but is now down to a 12A because of “infrequent strong language, moderate violence, and sex references.”

Head over to the BBC’s website to read more about the new BBFC ratings changes.

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