A reader says that he will no longer buy the Guardian. On the face of it, the reason is the use in The Guide, the paper’s weekly entertainment supplement, of a band’s name that includes an obscenity. It is not a new issue for the Guardian and the policy on swearwords has been written about in this and other columns before.
While sitting on my sofa this morning, my seven-year-old daughter turned to me and said, ‘Daddy, what does ‘fucked up’ mean’, wrote the reader, referring to a music review of a punk band called Fucked Up, on page 22 of The Guide on 30 April 2011.
The reader was unhappy with my reply. Should I really be prepared ‘to intervene’, as you put it, when my daughter picks up The Guide next time? he asked. What age do you recommend for Guardian readership if you are content to write ‘Fucked Up’ in bold text at the top of a review? 16 years old? 18 maybe?
This is what I wrote to the reader: In the past I have written that it is hard to write a paper for adults that is suitable for children. I think inevitably some parents will take the view that all sorts of material is unsuitable … If the Guardian was a film I don’t think it would carry a U certificate — I think it would be a PG. Legitimate coverage of adult issues in a clear and comprehensible way is fine but we should keep out cheap, quick, gratuitously offensive pieces and pictures that are just there to shock in a puerile fashion. I don’t think the Guardian always gets it right but we try harder than you might think.
…Read the full article
Comment: 12 rather than PG
On the topic of strong language in the Guardian, the certificate 12/12A seems closest:
From the BBFC guidelines:
Strong language at PG: Mild bad language only
Strong language at 12/12A: Moderate language is allowed. The use of strong language (for example, ‘fuck’) must be infrequent.