Should Some Pantomimes Come With A 15 Certificate?
A friend of mine told me that she had taken her young children to see a pantomime but had been made to feel extremely uneasy with the blatant sexual references and crude jokes that had been part of it. She said that she was nervous about taking her children to see a panto' again.
For someone passionate about traditional British Panto' this was a 'shock horror' moment. No, I wanted to cry out- don't give up on Pantomime- it doesn't have to be like that!
It made me wonder who decides what is appropriate for a mixed age audience.(Which surely is a prerequisite for producing a traditional 'family' pantomime.) 'Oh yes, it is!'
If the material was unsuitable for younger children then who allowed it to go ahead? Surely taking the family to see a pantomime should be an experience where one can feel secure in its suitability as a medium in which children can participate both on and off stage!
Is it the fault of directors or producers in allowing the script writers or perhaps the comic lead too much freedom and forgetting who the target audiences are?
There are already stage shows in the pantomime tradition which are promoted as shows for adults only and the audience know what to expect! If a show contains explicit sexual references and adult humour then it should not surely be advertised as a family show when clearly it is not.
Traditional British Pantomime is a rare genre that allows all ages to enjoy the experience of live theatre and enjoy fun and laughter together. I think we should cherish that.
Maybe pantomimes need to come with a classification certificate as is appropriate in the Cinema… now there is food for thought while eating your interval choc-ice!
I recently saw a well-known comedian who uses his body and facial expressions so brilliantly in hysterically funny visual comedy routines. Sometime later I noticed he was on TV and remembering how he had caused me to have tears of uncontrollable laughter, I tuned in to watch. I was very surprised as this time his act was so different because he was telling crude jokes with liberal use of expletives and little visual comedy. (It was after the watershed so I was probably being naïve.)The audience were hooting with laughter and as the TV cameras scanned the auditorium it was clear that they were a group of reasonably young adults who thoroughly enjoyed this somewhat lewd and rude performance. He clearly had two distinct acts, one for a mixed family audience and one for adults only and ‘never the twain shall meet!’ This clever and talented comedian knew the requirements to satisfy his target audience.
So I find myself agreeing with the concerns of my friend and maybe all shows aimed at families and mixed age group audiences should carry a U Certificate! It’s something to think about when you next take the family to see a pantomime. Hope you have fun!