British Board of Film Classification

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Pitch Perfect

 

Film information

  • Pitch Perfect

  • Director: Jason Moore

  • Status: 12A uncut

  • Year: 2012

Genre: Comedy, Musical

Pitch Perfect is a 2012 American comedy drama about bitter rivalries in the world of American college competitive a cappella singing. It has the tagline 'get pitch slapped'.

At Barden University there are two successful teams of a cappella singers competing to win a national competition: the all-female Barden Belles, and their male rivals, the Treble Makers. Newcomer Beca, still raw from her parents’ divorce, reluctantly joins the Barden Belles at the urging of her professor father, but gradually becomes more involved as she develops her natural talent for music.

The film Pitch Perfect initially came to the BBFC in May 2012 for an Advice Viewing. This is a service that the BBFC offers to film distributors who are keen to achieve a certain category, and want to know what changes they may need to make before the formal submission of the film for classification. Often films are not completely finished when they arrive for an Advice Viewing – for example special effects may not be finished.

The distributors of Pitch Perfect requested a 12A rating which means the film can only be seen by 12 year olds and over in the cinema (under 12s can view the film if accompanied by an adult).

The BBFC advised that the film was likely get a 12A rating when it was finalised. However, when the finished film came in for classification in August 2012, several changes had been made. This may have been for the purposes of obtaining a PG-13 rating in America, though there are many reasons filmmakers may change a film between an advice viewing and their final submission.

The key classification issues for the BBFC were moderate language and frequent moderate sex references.

The film contains moderate language that mostly consists of several uses of the term ‘bitch’, both in exchanges between female characters, and in the lyrics of songs that are being performed by the singing groups. The usage is too frequent and emphatic – sometimes the word is used aggressively - to be permitted at under BBFC Guidelines at PG, but moderate language is allowed at 12A. Some song lyrics also contain examples of implied strong language such as ‘eff you’, with other language including uses of  'jerk', 'screw', 'dick', 'slut', 'shit', 'ass', 'crap' and ‘douche-face’. All of these terms are also allowed at 12A. Certain crude or sexually explicit hand gestures and signs can also be defined as ‘language’ in some cases and classified accordingly: in this film a middle finger gesture, aimed at no one in particular, is acceptable at 12A.

The moderate sex references in Pitch Perfect are mostly verbal, and occur in the context of young people thrown together in a college setting, where comments about sex are used to impress, insult or emphasise the rivalry between the male and female singing groups.

There are remarks about having ‘sexual relations’, ‘working out your sexuality’, a ‘no penetration’ rule for members of the Barden Belles, and references to erections, sexually transmitted infections and lesbianism.

Although such comments are fairly frequent, and occasionally slightly crude, they are usually comic in tone, and generally either throwaway or quite undetailed. Some song lyrics also include references to sex. All of these moderate references are typical of the kind of good-natured sexual humour aimed at, and understood by, the young teenage audience for whom the film is intended, and are within Guidelines limitations at 12A.

The film also contains fleeting comic drug references (such as a group of stoners called The High Notes and derogatory remarks as to the effects of marijuana on music) but these don’t glamorise or promote drug misuse. The 12A also covers some moments of bad taste humour, such as projectile vomiting.

The BBFCinsight states that Pitch Perfect contains moderate language and frequent moderate sex references. The film was selected for the National Youth Film Festival 2013.