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Old film ratings should not be changed to reflect modern attitudes, say Yahoo readers

After the age rating of Mary Poppins was upgraded from a U to a PG, we asked for your thoughts on the matter.

Yahoo UK's poll of the week lets you vote and indicate your strength of feeling on one of the week's hot topics. After 72 hours the poll closes and, each Friday, we'll publish and analyse the results, giving readers the chance to see how polarising a topic has become and if their view chimes with other Yahoo UK readers.

Karen Dotrice, Julie Andrews and Matthew Garber and Jane Banks, Mary Poppins and Michael Banks in the 1964 Disney film. (Alamy)
Karen Dotrice, Julie Andrews and Matthew Garber and Jane Banks, Mary Poppins and Michael Banks in the 1964 Disney film. (Alamy)

Yahoo readers think age ratings for older films like Mary Poppins should not be changed to reflect modern sensibilities.

The British film censors recently raised the age rating for the 1964 Julie Andrews musical from a U (universal) to a PG (parental guidance) because it features 'discriminatory language'. One character in the film uses the term 'Hottentot' — a derogatory term originally used by white Europeans about nomadic people in South Africa — when referring to soot-faced children.

The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) reclassified the Oscar-winning Disney film after it was resubmitted for a 60th anniversary re-release in UK cinemas.

A spokesperson for the BBFC said the usage of the term now "exceeds our guidelines" for U films.

"While Mary Poppins has a historical context, the use of discriminatory language is not condemned, and ultimately exceeds our guidelines for acceptable language at U. We therefore classified the film PG for discriminatory language."

The BBFC also explained that its research into racism and discrimination showed that a key concern for people, particularly parents, was the potential for films to "expose children to discriminatory language or behaviour which they may find distressing or repeat without realising the potential offence".

Yahoo News UK asked our readers "Should the age ratings of older movies be updated to reflect modern sensibilities?" Here are the results:

Age ratings - Poll of the week results (Yahoo News UK)
Age ratings - Poll of the week results (Yahoo News UK)
Age ratings - Poll of the week results (Yahoo News UK)
Age ratings - Poll of the week results (Yahoo News UK)

Our poll from Monday at midday until midday Thursday asked: 'Should the age ratings of older movies be updated to reflect modern sensibilities?'

It received 4,012 votes and showed the majority of Yahoo readers felt the age ratings of older movies should not be changed to reflect modern sensibilities.

Some 90% of voters said they were against the idea, with just 6% saying they were in agreement and 4% did not lean either way.

90% of voters said they were against the updating of age ratings

Yahoo News UK readers were also asked: How strongly do you feel about updates to film certificates?

This poll received 1,884 votes with the most common vote being 10, indicating many readers felt very strongly about updates to age ratings.

The average strength-of-feeling score on all the votes was 6.92.

The most common vote was 10, indicating many readers feel strongly about updating age ratings on older movies

Our original poll article can be found here.

The results of the poll chimed with a 2016 YouGov poll which asked "Would you support or oppose a new rule which requires that all films which include tobacco use are automatically given at least an 'R' rating?"

51% of people polled opposed the rule which would affect the age ratings of many older films when smoking was accepted on screen. Only 22% of the 2,207 adults polled agreed with the proposed rule.

Read more of Yahoo UK's Poll of the Week articles