Interracial relationships and the sometimes extreme reactions to them are the subject of this British film - and this theme proved to be one of the important classification issues.
The film was submitted for age rating in November 2005, though it was not due for release until 2006. Examiners who viewed it noted the key classification issues as:
- racist language
- other strong language
- strong violence
- moderate sex/sex references
As with many mature films, a 15 was required from early on, for the frequent use of strong language (including 'F**k' and derivative terms). As a 'category defining issue' this language was mentioned in the film's BBFCinsight which noted that it contained strong language. The phrase 'strong language' also encompassed some of the racist terms used in the work such as 'paki'.
The racist language and themes, including a likeable hero who is initially presented as an aggressive racist with a racist family, required some careful consideration.
The BBFC bases its decisions on the BBFC Guidelines, which are themselves based upon extensive public consultation. Such research into public views has shown that racist terms such as 'paki' rank among the most offensive words.
Legislation, such as the Race Relations Act 1976, must also be considered as the BBFC can not pass works which break the law. Works which actively encourage and endorse racist attitudes and behaviour have been placed at the adult category, cut or rejected in the past.
The extent of the racist opinions expressed in the work was considered, within the wider context of the work itself, the intentions of the filmmaker and the likely audience. It was judged that the clear presentation of the racist language and behaviour as anti-social and wrong, and the film's careful exploration of a realistic contemporary setting provided a strong mitigation for the offensive language and ideas.
For example, the fact that the hero Adam and some of his other friends take issue with the racist attitudes of their families and peer groups, and that this is played out against their relationships with non-white characters, showed that the film was not encouraging audiences to agree with the racist sentiments expressed. On the countrary, the film's detailed and realistic portrayal of race relations were viewed as more likely to encourage debate and inclusive attitudes amongst those who viewed it.
Other classification issues included moderate violence - in particular an unprovoked beating of an Asian taxi driver and a later street fight between Asian and white youths - and sex references. Though the violence did not contain particularly strong detail or gore, it carried a considerable impact as it was both gritty and realistic and it was noted in the film's BBFCinsight.
The sex scenes were masked, brief and without the sort of strong detail which would suggest intervention at 15. Similarly the sex references, such as racist thug Sean's obsessive assertions that he would not 'shag' someone non-white, were easily contained at 15.
The film was also passed 15 on video and was selected as a film for National Schools Film Week in 2006.