Australian Council on Children and the Media

Hidden Figures

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Not recommended under 10 due to themes, coarse language and lack of interest. Parental guidance recommended 10 -12.

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Hidden Figures
  • a review of Hidden Figures completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 21 February 2017.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 10 Not recommended due to themes, coarse language and lack of interest
Children 10 to 12 Parental guidance recommended due to themes
Children 12 and over OK for this age group

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Hidden Figures
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild themes and coarse language
Length 127 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Hidden Figures is a biographical drama based on the book by Margot Lee Shetterly. Set in the 1950s and 60s, it follows the true story of three African-American women who worked for NASA as ‘human computers’ for the Langley Research Centre. As a result of their skills in mathematics and engineering, Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monae) participate in the early days of the program to send American astronauts into space.

In the racist climate of the times, the three women are forced to work in the segregated West Area Computers Division. They face continued discrimination, as women as well as for their skin colour. They are rejected for supervisory roles as well as receiving dismissive and disparaging responses from colleagues despite producing high quality work.

When the Space Task Group requires someone who can out-perform Russian mathematicians, Katherine is assigned to the job as a result of her skills. During the flight of John Glenn into space, she makes crucial calculations that determine the mission’s ultimate success.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Racism and the American Civil Rights Movement; discrimination against women in employment; the space race between the USA and the Soviet Union

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

None of concern

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

Nothing of concern

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Nothing of concern

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Nothing of concern

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Nothing of concern

Product placement

None of concern

Sexual references

There are mild sexual references, including:

  • An African-American woman expresses being sexually attracted to Caucasian male astronauts, referring to them as ‘fine’

Nudity and sexual activity

There is mild sexual activity, including:

  • There are several brief instances of romantic kissing between adult characters.

Use of substances

  • Three women drink alcohol together at home and dance around together afterwards. They make jokes about becoming slightly ‘tipsy’.

Coarse language

There is some use of coarse language, including:

  • bastard; damn; Jesus Christ
  • racist terms, including ‘negro’ and ‘coloured’

In a nutshell

Hidden Figures is an inspiring film based on the true story of three African-American women working for NASA. It illustrates the determination and perseverance it can take to overcome attitudes such as racism and misogyny. The movie highlights the extensive struggles that Katherine, Dorothy and Mary face in a world where inequality is the norm. Through their continued achievements and refusal to give up, the three women prove that integrity and teamwork can triumph. The film also shows how friendship and supportive relationships can assist individuals in achieving their full potential.

The film’s themes make it more suited to older children and it is likely to lack interest for children under 10.  It is not recommended for children under 10 and parental guidance is recommended for 10 to 12 year olds.

Parents are likely to find plenty to discuss with older children and teens, including:

  • Racism, segregation and the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s-60s, and today’s situation in both the US and Australia
  • The nature of gender roles, and exploration of the presumption that women may be less competent than men in some jobs.

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