Australian Council on Children and the Media

Blinded by the Light

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Not suitable under 13; parental guidance to 15 (Adult themes and violence).

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Blinded by the Light
  • a review of Blinded by the Light completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 17 October 2019.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 13 Not suitable due to violence, adult themes and language
Children aged 13–15 Parental guidance recommended due to violence and adult themes

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: Blinded by the Light
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild themes, violence and coarse language
Length 117 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Set in the 1980’s, against a backdrop of racial tension, Blinded by the Light is based on Sarfraz Manzoor's memoir Greetings from Bury Park: Race, Religion and Rock N' Roll. From a young age, Javed Khan (Viveik Kalra), had dreamed of being a poet and a writer but his Dad, Malik (Kulvinder Ghir), has other ideas. As a Pakistani immigrant, Malik was a pragmatic man who wanted his son to study economics, but Javed enrolled in an English course without his father’s knowledge. There Javed meets his future girlfriend, Eliza (Nell Williams), also a bit of a rebel. He also befriends Roops (Aaron Phagura), who introduces him to the music of Bruce Springsteen. Javed is heavily influenced by Springsteen who motivates him to write inspiring poetry and prose. An article he writes is chosen as the winner in a national prestigious competition, which entitles Javed to study in the United States.

Throughout this, Javed is struggling to balance adapting to a British culture while clashing with his parents’ Pakistani beliefs and cultural system. At the same time, there is great unrest in the UK caused by the National Front who march in the streets and behave terribly towards the Pakistanis. Javed gets caught up in one of the marches and is beaten up. Malik comes to help Javed but also gets beaten up. Javed works through his problems by listening to his music and his writing.

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; Cultural differences

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.

There is some violence in this movie including:

  • Protest marches are seen on the television with the National Front clashing with the police.
  • A boy on the street spits on Javed.
  • Young boys pee through Javed’s letter box while he’s inside the house and run off laughing.
  • Javed gets angry and starts to kick the furniture and punch at objects.
  • Javed’s parents argue verbally.
  • Three thugs enter a café where Javed and Roops are eating. They order them out of their seats and tell them not to sit too close because they don’t want to smell them.
  • A report of a pig’s head being placed on a minaret at a local mosque is talked about.
  • During one of the National Front marches, Eliza hits one of the marchers with a placard. Things get violent and both Javed and Malik are injured. Police are seen hitting the marchers with batons.
  • Javed and his father have a terrible row. Malik says if he walks out of the door, he will never speak to him again. Javed does go and becomes estranged from his father.

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:

  • Nothing of additional concern for this age group.

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:

  • The protest marches and the racial violence is likely to upset children in this age group.

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:

  • There is a lot of graffiti shown with ‘Pakis out’.
  • Eliza takes Javed home to her very middle-class parents who are quite rude to Javed. Her father says that Eliza is always bringing boys home that are most ‘shocking and provocative’. He pours Javed a glass of wine even though Eliza tells him that he doesn’t drink because he’s a Muslim and it’s against his religion.

Product placement

The following products are displayed or used in this movie:

  • None noted

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • Javed has a friend called Matt who plays in a rock band. Matt gives Javed ‘a gift’ to help him ‘pick up the girls’.

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • Matt and his girlfriend are seen kissing.
  • Javed and Eliza kiss on several occasions. They also kiss and make out on the sofa.

Use of substances

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

  • There is mention of a place being the ‘United Nations of drug taking’.
  • Wine is drunk at dinner.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • Bloody
  • Shit/shitty/shite
  • Crap
  • Pissed off
  • Jesus
  • Oh my God
  • Racist slogans such as ‘dirty Paki’.

In a nutshell

Blinded by the Light is a feel-good movie about a young man overcoming cultural differences at home and at large while trying to break free from the parental restrictions that most teenagers face. Despite all his difficulties, Javed succeeds in his ambitions and overcomes all obstacles. Due to the violence in the movie, it isn’t suitable for under 13’s.

The main messages from this movie are to follow your dreams but also to remember those who have made sacrifices for you and to maintain important relationships in the process.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • The importance of family.
  • Hard work and self-sacrifice.
  • Standing up for what you believe in.
  • Respecting cultural differences.

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as.

  • Why do some people behave so badly towards others from a different race? What gives them the right to feel superior?
  • How do racial tensions start and how to prevent them?

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