Australian Council on Children and the Media

Jasper Jones

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Not suitable under 13, not recommended under 15, due to disturbing themes and scenes, and coarse language.

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Jasper Jones
  • a review of Jasper Jones completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 27 February 2017.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 13 Not suitable due to disturbing scenes and themes and coarse language
Children 13 to 15 Not recommended due to disturbing scenes and themes and coarse language
Viewers 15 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: Jasper Jones
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Mature themes and coarse language
Length 105 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

The film takes places during the summer of 1969 in the fictional Western Australian town of Corrigan. In the dead of night, 14 year-old Charlie Bucktin (Levi Miller), an awkward book loving nerd, is woken by a knock on his bedroom window. Jasper Jones (Aaron L, McGrath), an older teenager considered by the locals to be “dangerous” asks Charlie for his trust and then tells Charlie to follow him into the night. Jasper leads Charlie deep into the bush where Jasper shows Charlies the dead body of a teenage girl, Laura Wishart, who is hanging by the neck from a tree.

The rope tied around Laura’s neck belongs to Jasper and, with Laura being a local white girl and Jasper indigenous, Jasper fears he will immediately be blamed for Laura’s death. Jasper begs Charlie to help him find Laura’s killer and prove his innocence. So Charlie and Jasper hide Laura’s body, and Charlie returns to his bedroom as though nothing has happened while Jasper lays low.

The next day Charlie unexpectedly runs into Laura’s younger sister Eliza (Angourie Rice) and they quickly become friends as a result of the turmoil created by Laura’s disappearance. Charlie and Jasper’s investigation leads them into unexpected situations. Charlie has to confront racists and finds out that his mother is having an affair, while Jasper discovers a grandfather he never knew he had.

Charlie, Jasper and Eliza’s friendship, trust and courage are tested to the full when the truth behind Laura’s death reveals dark, ugly and forbidden secrets resulting in unexpected outcomes.

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; infidelity and marriage breakdown; suicide; incest and rape resulting in pregnancy

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.

The film contains a number of references to violence and violent scenes, some of them emotionally intense. Examples include:

  • A boy tells a story about a local man who became addicted to killing, shot a woman and hung up her body to bleed out.
  • A mother shouts in rage at her 14 year-old son and then slaps him across the face.
  • In one emotionally intense scene, we see a distraught woman shout at a Vietnamese woman telling her “Your son eats like a pig while mine was killed” (the woman’s son was recently killed in Vietnam). The Caucasian woman then throws a cup of boiling hot tea over the Vietnamese woman who cries out in pain.
  • A boy talks about how he heard his girlfriend screaming and then a short time later found her dead.
  • Two policemen wrestle with Jasper Jones in a bid to restrain him.  Later we see Jasper limping badly.  He has blood smeared across his nose and a bloody cut to the eye, and says that he can’t hear because he was hit on the ear.     
  • An angry mother tells her 14 year-old son “Tomorrow you’re going to wish you weren’t alive”.
  • In an act of racial and mob violence, several Caucasian men invade the front yard of a Vietnamese man and violently attack him calling him a “Red Rat” punching him in the face and body and knocking him to the ground. A single Caucasian man approaches leader of the attackers and punches him in the stomach knocking the man to the ground and stopping the fight.
  • In one scene a young man points a rifle at an old man for several minutes before he is reasoned with and lowers the rifle.
  • A suicide letter details how the person that committed suicide had been repeatedly sexually assaulted by her father over a prolonged period and had as a result become pregnant.  
  • We hear a report of a teenage girl’s suicide as witnessed by her younger sister

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.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • The body of a young woman hangs by the neck from a large tree limb; we see a clear image of the dead woman’s face. The rope around the dead woman’s neck is cut and her body falls to the ground.  A young man carries the dead woman to a dam, submerges the body in the water and places a large rock on top to make it sink.   

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.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes and scary visual images, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged five to eight, including the following:

  • On several occasions we see a group of older local boys (Caucasian) victimising and demeaning a teenage Vietnamese boy.

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.

In addition to the above mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged eight to thirteen, including the following:

  • We hear an emotionally intense tale of a man panicked when driving a sick woman to hospital and lost control of his car, which crashed killing the woman.  

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.

Younger viewers in this age group may also be disturbed by the above-mentioned scenes

Product placement

Nothing of concern

Sexual references

There are sexual references in this movie, including:

  • A suicide note tells of sexual assault of a teenage girl by her father, resulting in pregnancy
  • Two teen boys discuss why mermaids are sexy, suggesting it was because of their “boobies”  
  • A teen boy asks another boy whether he would rather have, spiders or penises for fingers. In a later scene one of the boys asks a girl the same question.
  • We hear a younger man state that he was planning to run away with his girlfriend.

 

Nudity and sexual activity

The film contains some sexual activity. Examples include:

  • A teenage girl flirts with a teenage boy, asking him to walk her home. Later in the film we see them holding hands and hugging each other.  
  • A teenage boy watches his mother dance in a sensual manner before she abruptly stops when she realises she is being watched.
  • A boy sees his mother passionately kissing a strange man in the back of a parked car.  

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • Smoking by adults and an adolescent
  • Several scenes depict characters drinking alcohol, socially and in other situation. Two adults are seen drunk.  Jasper and Charlie drink from a hip flask.

Coarse language

The film contains coarse language and name-calling scattered throughout. Examples include:

  • ‘little bugger’; ‘Asian commie’; ‘fuck’ is used more than once and in various forms; ‘shit’; ‘Jesus Christ’ ;’ little bastards’; ‘bullshit’     

In a nutshell

Jasper Jones (M) is most suitable for an older adolescent and adult audience. The film, based upon the novel of the same name by Craig Silvey, is a coming of age story featuring small town racism and victimisation, and a hunt for the truth.

The film’s young lead actors and publicity for the film may attract younger viewers, but parents should note that the film contains some very emotionally intense scenes and themes such as suicide and incest that younger teens may find disturbing and confusing.  For this reason, the film is not suitable for children under 13, and not recommended for children under 15.

The main messages from this movie are:

  • Charlie’s message that “courage is the mastery of fear not its absence”
  • Family secrets of all kinds can cause great harm and distress.

Parents of older teens may wish to discuss the effects of incest on all family members and the racist attitudes towards both Indigenous and Vietnamese people seen in the town of Corrigan.

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