‘Vile material’: Film watchdog reveals public complaints

Issues include ‘Satanistic’ symbolism in superhero film and cannibalism ‘sub-context’

Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass reunite for the latest movie in the Jason Bourne series. Video: Universal Pictures

 

Animated comedies Trolls and The Secret Life of Pets were among nine movies that were the subject of complaints from the public to the Irish Film Classification Office (IFCO) last year.

A total of 14 complaints were received, which varied in nature from objections to “”Satanistic”” symbolism in a superhero film to concerns about a “sub-context” of substance addiction and cannibalism in a children’s animation.

The movie that attracted the highest number of complaints during 2016 was Jason Bourne - the fifth instalment in an action-thriller series starring Matt Damon, which was certified 12A.

Daddy’s Home, a comedy starring Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg, was the subject of two complaints - one of which was received from a father who brought three children under the age of 12 to see the movie.

In a copy of the complaint released under the Freedom of Information Act, he outlined his objections to the fact that the film had “a whole sequence of scenes relating to infertility and the treatment thereof”.

‘Not full frontal’

“During this scene, two of the main actors had their penises and testicles checked; though not full frontal, it was clear what was happening,” he recalled. “In another scene, the main actor got really drunk and then proclaimed he had made love to his wife using his pee-pee,” added the complainant.

“I was making excuses to talk over the dialogue, pretending to be looking for lost drinks, going to the toilet, anything in a vain attempt to divert my children and their friends from this vile material.”

A separate complaint was received from a cinemagoer in Castlebar, Co Mayo in relation to Batman v Superman, a crossover-superhero movie starring Ben Affleck and Henry Cavill.

Both the complainant and their son were “very upset” by the film and had walked out of the cinema as a result. They asked IFCO if it would arrange for them to get their money back.

They complained that the content of Batman v Superman was “very Satanistic” and that there was “Illuminati symbology” used throughout.

The “V” in the title of the film was a reference to the “sign of Typhon” - a serpentine demon in Greek mythology, they claimed, while the “X” in LexCorp - a fictional company in the movie - referred to “the mark of the beast”.

Trolls, an animated comedy based on pencil-top stationery, attracted one complaint from a correspondent who described the children’s film as a “degenerate piece” with “toilet humour” and “genocidal cannibalism with [a] sub-context of substance addiction”.

No other complaints

In response to this complaint, director of film classification Ger Connolly noted the movie had been on release for six weeks and was seen by over 200,000 consumers without any other complaints.

The Secret Life of Pets, an animated comedy that features talking animals, was also the subject of a single complaint from a father who had brought his six-year-old twin daughters to the film.

He disagreed with the classification of the movie as General, but was not in a position to outline his reasons in detail at the time of correspondence. “Apologies if this email appears terse,” he wrote in a short correspondence, “but they’re in the back of the car here and I may have to go suddenly.”

Other complaints received by IFCO last year related to The Girl on the Train, Suicide Squad, Deadpool, and Spotlight.