I was fourteen years old when Talisha told me we were going to see Step Brothers at the cinema. My palms got clammy and I didn’t really know what to say… I was only fourteen.
“I… I’m not allowed,” I said to her.
She didn’t understand.
“It’s MA15+” I explained.
Talisha laughed… she was fifteen and thought my look of fear was ridiculous, ‘So what?”
Not an hour later we were standing in line at Greater Union Shellharbour with our friends Jacob and Joel, who were also fifteen, they laughed and talked as we made our way closer and closer to the counter and I was becoming more and more nervous. What if they asked for ID? I didn’t have ID… but then again neither did Talisha… but what if they could tell, I looked about twelve, not fifteen.
We were suddenly standing in front of the cashier and Talisha had requested four tickets to the adulterated film.
“Are you all over 15?” The cashier asked.
“Yes,” Talisha responded without hesitation.
“Okay, we’re just going to need you to sign these slips to make sure,” the cashier explained and she handed us each a small piece of paper.
The paper requested we write down our full name, our date of birth and then sign. My three friends each wrote down their correct details and handed the woman their papers. I was handed a pen and my whole body felt weak. I was about to be caught out.
I wrote down my name… followed by my birthday, I was going to have to lie, but what should I say my birthday is? I had a foolproof idea, I’ll just write my own birthday but change my birthday year to 1993, rather than 1994! Genius!
I handed the lady my little piece of paper hoping to god she wouldn’t realise I was lying. She took it and handed us all our tickets. We were in!
I’m not sure if Greater Union has increased its security/monitoring of underages watching restricted films, but they certainly weren’t doing a very good job eight years ago when I slipped through.
The reason that they did though, request we verify our ages by signing the form was due to the Australian Classification Board, which acts under legislation.
The classifications range from advisory:
- G – General Audiences
- PG – Parental Guidance Recommended
- M – Recommended for Mature Audiences
- MA15+ – Restricted to Mature Audiences
- R18+ Restricted to Adults
These classifications apply to film and video games, as well as particular magazines.
I think that these regulations are important, especially in terms of preventing young children from being exposed to overly violent or sexual images without consent. A cinematic viewing of a MA15+ film is not a space in which a ten-year-old child would feel comfortable, nor is it a place in which they should be allowed to be, as minors should be protected from material that is likely to harm or disturb them (National Classification Code).
Should I have been protected, as a fourteen-year-old from Step Brothers and other movies I was privy to in various spaces that I was not deemed age appropriate to watch? Possibly… nor my parents, or my friends had any concern, they thought we were ‘mature enough’ to watch those types of movies without them causing any harm. And they were right, they definitely haven’t affected me in any way, but I do wonder if that was the same for all young thirteen/fourteen year olds sneaking into MA15+ films.
Did you ever experience a lack of enforcement with these guidelines as a minor? Did you ever try and bend the truth to ensure you could get into a film? I can already image a lot of people probably have more interesting stories than my small change of birth year.