Tag Archives: censorship

On Parental Guidance

A group of head teachers has said that parents who allow their children to play computer games that are deemed inappropriate for their age will be reported to police for neglect and child abuse.

This means that theoretically, I could be separated from my 16 year old son because I choose to treat him like the near-adult he so plainly is. He is old enough to marry, to join the Army and vote in a referendum that decided the fate of his country, had we been living in Scotland.

A turn of Call of Duty, though, and he becomes a potential juvenile delinquent, while we are failed parents.

How on earth did we get here? One of the themes of this blog has always been the number of unelected, often uniformed busybodies who can increasingly determine what we do, what we choose to consume and in which parts of our common space we may congregate.

I have no idea how genuine the latest threat is – it does seem like one of those stories designed purely to provoke a reaction from the Daily Mail. Nor do I expect the Boy to be marched into protective custody at any time soon.

We have always taken a liberal approach to the sort of TV, films, books and games our children are allowed to access. This is partly because we are aware of our relative inability to exercise much control over this. Also, we believe that exposure to more grown-up material is more likely to act as a maturing influence. There are, plainly, no-go areas, but these are ones into which neither of our children seem to want to go.

We have taken a bit of criticism for this, from educators and other parents who take a different view. That is our decision as parents, and ours alone to take. They seem to have turned out well enough. I blench at the sort of carnage the Boy wreaks on demons, zombies and enemy infantrymen on the computer screen, but he has shown no sign so far of repeating it on passers-by.

What we have here, if this absurd restriction on our ability to decide what is best for our own offspring ever takes hold, is another case where the freedoms of the responsible majority must be curtailed because of the behaviour of a feckless minority. Cf sugar and fatty foods, drink, etc, etc.

The only saving grace is that nothing will ever come of it. I assume.


Game of Thrones

Like 700,000 others, I and the family sat down to watch the latest series of Game of Thrones. I confess I have difficulty following the plot, which makes the twists and turns of the War of the Roses, on which it is apparently loosely modelled, look about as straightforward as Rorke’s Drift.

I have to ask my son, 15, to explain who the characters are, and why they all seem to hate each other so much. Well, his brother killed that one’s uncle at the Battle of Westering Fields. Her mother was murdered by his brother. And that one’s from Dorn. They just hate everyone.

My son has now read all the novels – Seven? Or is it eight? – twice through. That might seem worrying, but frankly, anything that gets a 12-year-old, as he must have been when he started, to consume quite so much published matter, of whatever kind, must be a good thing. It establishes the habit. Cf Harry Potter.

The series is very, very violent, and there is a lot of gratuitous sex. It is also lavishly staged, wonderfully produced and imagined – the title sequence is arguably the best ever – and it has provided a decent income in their later years for talented British actors such as Charles Dance, Diana Rigg and any number of others. And probably a lot of fun.

They spend an awful lot of money on it and it shows. The classiest of its kind since that Battlestar Galactica reimagined. Sheer eye candy.

So it is no surprise that the wowsers among the press have started a campaign against it. They have dug up the usual professional killjoys, it-didn’t-ought-to-be-allowed types, whose careers and salaries are dependent on there being a sufficient supply of violence and filth on TV for them to complain about. Plus the odd sad soul on Twitter who simply doesn’t like GoT.

They say that, though it is screened after the watershed, there is worse out there and there are parental controls to stop children re-viewing it, that it is too violent and smutty.

Your problem is?