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My receipt from Sainsbury's has the following: BOOK THIEF THE THINK… - Sally's Journal
January 6th, 2008
06:19 pm

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My receipt from Sainsbury's has the following:

BOOK THIEF THE
THINK 21 Cashier Confirmed Correct Age
BRIDGE TO TERAB DVD


Now, apart from my questionable taste in books and DVDs, what is going on there? The last time I checked, there wasn't any official age restriction on buying books. So I guess it must have been triggered by the DVD. But Bridge to Terabithia is a PG.

Oddly, a quick bit of googling suggests that you can see a 12 film on your own once you are 12, but cannot go and see a PG film without parental consent until you are 15. That's a curious discrepancy in my mind.

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From:angoel
Date:January 6th, 2008 06:38 pm (UTC)
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It raises an interesting question, though, about whether books should have age ratings. If young children shouldn't be exposed to certain concepts in graphic form, why should the form of writing be any different. After all, your imagination has all the best pictures [1].

[1] This is wrong, for me at least. I have conceptual spaces in which the characters move, and occasionally still scenes, probably cribbed of other memories. But visualised stories just don't seem to happen.
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From:atreic
Date:January 6th, 2008 06:52 pm (UTC)
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I don't see why books are different from other things. Except perhaps that they are strangely self-rating - to read a book you need to be able to understand the words and follow the story, so maybe the argument is that you can't read and be interested in grown-up books until you're grown-up enough to understand them. I don't think it quite works (for example, I'm sure there is lots of badly written porn out there in words of one syllable) but it definitely meant that I didn't read much above my comprehension age and when I did stumble across disturbing things I was probably slightly sheltered by not getting the finer points.
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From:pm215
Date:January 6th, 2008 07:11 pm (UTC)
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You could run one of those 'what reading age is this text?' tools over a representative collection of porn...
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From:king_of_wrong
Date:January 6th, 2008 09:55 pm (UTC)
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Damnit... As a computational linguist, that sounds like a damn good idea :P

(Well, that, and machine-readable pr0n + text-to-speech + 0898 number = £££...)
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From:pm215
Date:January 7th, 2008 12:31 pm (UTC)
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The 0898 number would be a neat way to test your text-to-speech for ability to put the right emotion into the voice -- have several versions of the text-to-speech program, forward calls to one randomly, and then rate them based on how long the callers stayed connected. Add a genetic algorithm thingy and you're laughing all the way to the bank.
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From:angoel
Date:January 6th, 2008 07:17 pm (UTC)
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Thinking about it, they are somewhat rated. You have 'adult' books and you have the rest of them. It's just that the adult books are in the broad minority, whereas with film, the a sizable proportion are not. I wonder if this says anything about film compared to books as a medium, in terms of what people get out of them. A film not being a film without a love story, and probably a sex scene somewhere within it, while books are more disparate - because only one person is reading a book, you don't have to ensure that there's something for all tastes in the book somewhere, you can cater to more specific niches.

Moving outwards, I suppose the art films are attempts to cater to those sorts of niches - but the book industry can support a lot more 'art' books due to the relative cheapness of production, while you still have the blockbuster film section, pushed through focus groups ad infinitum with what I'll term 'airport books'.

Interesting.
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From:cartesiandaemon
Date:January 6th, 2008 07:51 pm (UTC)
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Interesting point. FWIW, it seems natural to me, though I can't completely explain why. I think the "sheltered by not getting it" must be the main point. Come to think of it, I don't remember any/many incidents of people complaining about children actually being troubled by books (as opposed to in theory). Obviously it could be a problem, but it never actually seems to have been. Also, perhaps, that reading a book properly probably takes a while, so parents stand some chance of knowing, whereas children could just slip into a film?
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From:woodpijn
Date:January 6th, 2008 09:49 pm (UTC)
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Also, perhaps, that reading a book properly probably takes a while, so parents stand some chance of knowing, whereas children could just slip into a film?
Other way round, surely? To get into a film, you've actually got to get out of your parents' house under your own steam and go to the cinema, and be seen in there by members of the public. To read a book that's too old for you, you just sneak it from your parents' shelves and read it in your own room. I expect when I was a kid my parents knew nearly every film I'd seen, but certainly not every book I'd read.
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From:cartesiandaemon
Date:January 7th, 2008 12:40 pm (UTC)
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Oh yeah. I guess I'm thinking of TV, and of children old enough to be out in town by themselves, in a world where there wasn't age ratings on films.
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From:yrieithydd
Date:January 6th, 2008 07:42 pm (UTC)
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I remember reading Macbeth the King by Nigel Tranter in year 8 at my mother's suggestion (as we were doing Macbeth in English that year) and being amused about a scene in it in a sauna followed by running in the snow which was possibly more explicit than I expected. Never really thought about the idea of ratings -- though to be fair at the local library one couldn't take books from the adult section (and that's in the `not children' sense rather than the `explicit content' sense) on a child's ticket, but one could get an adult ticket at 13.
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From:cartesiandaemon
Date:January 6th, 2008 07:43 pm (UTC)
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I'd be more worried about being called a book thief?
From:emarkienna
Date:January 6th, 2008 10:18 pm (UTC)
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Oddly, a quick bit of googling suggests that you can see a 12 film on your own once you are 12, but cannot go and see a PG film without parental consent until you are 15. That's a curious discrepancy in my mind.

The BBFC page says that children of any age can see PG unaccompanied ( http://www.bbfc.co.uk/classification/c_pg.php ).

So it's consistent, but then this raises the question of why an age check was necessary. I can't see any information about PG on the Think 21 site.
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From:woodpijn
Date:January 6th, 2008 10:28 pm (UTC)
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Maybe the "Confirmed Correct Age" message is triggered for every film, just in case it's an age-restricted one, and the cashier has to check whether it is. It would save them having to input and store the age certificate for every film.
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From:atreic
Date:January 7th, 2008 09:49 am (UTC)
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Oh, that would make sense. I now want to buy a "U" film to check.
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From:atreic
Date:January 7th, 2008 09:49 am (UTC)
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There are lots of sites like this one from the police that say you can't see a PG film without consent until you're 15. Of course, without consent isn't the same as unaccompanied, so maybe that's the difference.
From:emarkienna
Date:January 7th, 2008 10:38 am (UTC)
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That's interesting. You'd think the police should know what the law is, but it seems odd for the BBFC not to know (or fully explain, if "without consent" is different) their own ratings.

The police website also says that you need to be at least 5 to see a U or PG film at all, but there's nothing about that on the BBFC site.

One possibility is that I think local authorities can impose restrictions on cinemas above what the BBFC sets. Age 5 specifically says "cinema" not video so that could be the case here - but then again, age 15 just says "see a film".
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From:pavanne
Date:January 6th, 2008 11:49 pm (UTC)

Not the point at all...

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... but is The Book Thief good? I keep nearly buying it.
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From:atreic
Date:January 7th, 2008 09:50 am (UTC)
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I'm not sure yet. The first chapter irratated me slightly by its odd writing style, but I tend to find that I like that sort of thing more as the book goes on. I'll let you know when I finish it.
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From:countess_rezia
Date:January 7th, 2008 01:19 am (UTC)
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I think there's a strong case for reading taking more understanding. There are a number of fims I watched in the 10-12 age bracket which upset me, and which afterwards I found out were 15s or 18s. (What can I say, I didn't get my taste for horror until I was about 16). But ultimately they didn't affect me in one way, longterm.

However, no books I read at that time disturbed me. The 16-17 age bracket was when I read books which made me question - well, everything. I may have read one or two of the books listed before I was the recommended age.
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From:angoel
Date:January 7th, 2008 05:57 am (UTC)
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I had a book - a choose-your-own-adventure book set in ancient Rome, which considerably traumatised me. No matter what I did, I kept dying. In the space of one night, I was crushed under the wheels of chariots, garroted, eaten by wolves, lions, poisoned ... the works. I had nightmares about the wheels of the chariots for about a week afterwards. It took me ages before I tried another choose-your-own-adventure book.

That said, the fire safety talk traumatised me, too. A fire taking hold of my second story room, escaping from the window and climbing down the drainpipe, and the drainpipe coming loose from the wall and falling infinitely. And those are generally considered good things(tm). So it's possibly just something which people have to go through.
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From:ilanin
Date:January 7th, 2008 12:28 pm (UTC)
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I had this problem with choose-your-own-adventure books, too. Clearly there was (is?) an untapped market for choose-your-own-LucasArts-adventure books in which you can't die.
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From:naath
Date:January 7th, 2008 11:29 am (UTC)
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IIRC the till asks you to age check for *any* age-rated product and the cashier is responsible for checking what the age-rating is and what the age of the purchaser is; you are encouraged to "think 21" for 18-rated products, so presumably they use that message for all age-checks.

Of course you don't need to be 21 to buy a 12-rated film. One wonders what ID they would accept to show that you are 13.
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