I took my baby out to buy some groceries today. Having had a crappy morning I decided that the time was right to surprise my eldest, when he got back from nursery, with a ‘Frozen’ DVD. That’s Disney’s ‘Frozen’, rated PG. I’m 25. I was told that I could not purchase this film because I had no ID. What the fuck? I’m informed that “even a U is an age restriction” for which I would have to prove my age. Naturally I’m damn irritated at my own inconvenience and additionally incensed by the moronic notion that “a U is an age restriction”, it’s explicitly the exact bloody opposite. But my lasting outrage is at the absurd limitations this heavy handed approach is placing on the young film lover.
It’s unfortunate that I failed to ascertain exactly how old I should be to purchase a PG film. My crime was appearing potentially under 25- but as a particularly rude till fairy pointed out to me “you can have a baby a 14”- so is this the age at which it becomes appropriate to purchase a PG? Or do you have to be over 16 because that’s the age of consent? Irrelevant anyway because I don’t think many kid’s under 17 earliest will have access to any form of ID. And… A U certificate? Surely the fact that you are a living organism is all the proof you need to prove you are old enough to buy a film that is suitable universally? I can’t understand why not. Is this a passive aggressive drive to have everyone carrying ID? That is all the sense I can make of it but regardless of my low opinion of this objective these means are certainly immoral.
Art is one of the most important aspects of any culture, governing our perceptions of ourselves, of others, the world around us and it’s potentialities… It saves lives regularly, giving the previously uninspired reason to exist, making the isolated or ostracised feel less alone… I don’t believe there’s anyone out there who can’t relate to that serendipitous moment you pick up a book or a film or a CD on a complete whim that blows your mind and becomes part of the fabric of your life. The teen years are formative and intense so as a society we should be making it as easy as possible for young people to access all forms of art. But we’re closing down libraries, denying their right to buy age appropriate DVD’s (I wonder if this relates to CD’s too, I guess so…) and the BBC’s future hardly looks as assured as it did ten years ago (which, is a bastion of quality programming, natch). The internet’s great, of course, but the active searching potential on there should be complimentary to the gifts chance and fate bestow upon an active mind.
While we’re on the subject of age restriction I think our attitude to underage drinking is counter-productive as well. The 18 age limit seems fair to me but again the heavy handed approach to enforcement is not doing anyone any favours. We’ve moved away from the tradition of inter-generational introduction to drinking, we’ve pushed kids that are just a little too young out of safe establishments and while we’re at it we’re criminalising hard working people on minimum wage first with fines and, if they’re caught out twice, the closure of the entire business. These punishments would be befitting of establishments irresponsibly flouting the law, creating after school clubs for miscreants who are then terrorising their communities but that’s not what the punishments are for. I had a friend when I was working in the pub trade who was issued the fine for serving a 17 year old 7 foot boy with a full beard in the middle of a weekday. She appealed against it and the judge found that she had no reasonable liability for serving this boy who to the best trained eye looked like a fully grown man, it was entrapment pure and simple. I guess that cases like this are the reason that it’s gone from “challenge 21” (anyone who looks less than that age) to “challenge 25” and I’m really happy for the police if they’re getting their prosecutions and hitting their targets now… But I don’t see any benefit to society.
We’re treating under 18’s as sub-humans. They’re being systematically stripped of autonomy- and even delivered increasingly from their parents care to the state’s. It’s not right. It’s not the way creative, vital, progressive members of society are made. It’s part of the Capitalist drive to crush spirits until what’s left are wage slaves slaverringly joyous over the smallest of freedoms.