Australian Council on Children and the Media

Whip It

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Short takes

Not recommended under 15 (language, sexual references, risky behaviours)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Whip It
  • a review of Whip It completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 8 October 2009.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 15 Not recommended due to sexual references, coarse language and risky behaviours that might be imitated
Children 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: Whip It
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Coarse language and sexual references
Length 111 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Bliss (Ellen Page) and her best friend Pash (Alia Shawakat) live in the tiny Texas town of Bodeen and dream of growing up and getting out. Pressured by her mother (Marcia Gay Harden) to participate in beauty pageants and feeling like a misfit at school, Bliss takes a chance and tries out for a roller derby team in Austin. She pushes herself, makes the team and finds that, despite its violent and aggressive nature, she really loves the game. She is also very good.

With the help of a dedicated coach (Andrew Wilson) the Scouts go from last place to playing in the grand finals. Things look pretty sweet, until Bliss’ relationship with a rocker (Landon Pigg) goes downhill, her friendship with Pash takes a turn for the worse and her family discovers that she has been lying to them in order to play in the roller derby.

Bliss runs away and turns to her team mates for help. Although their advice is not what she wants to hear, she heads back home to make amends and tries to put the pieces of her life back together again.

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.

Adolescent struggles for independence; dysfunctional mother-daughter relationships

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:

  • A girl elbows another in the nose and blood gushes out.
  • The roller derby girls frequently knock into each other, punch, push, kick, knock and sabotage each other.
  • One player smashes another in the face.
  • The same girl later on tackles a guy, knocks him to the ground and punches him in the face and crotch.
  • Bliss knocks a girl off the stair railing at school.
  • The team members punch each other on the arm.
  • There is a food fight with two opposing team members who flick and smash food at each other and then tackle each other to the ground, wrestling and hitting one another.

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:

  • Many of the girls who take part in the roller derby are dressed up to intimidate their opponents. They have crazy hair and tattoos and wear menacing expressions. Their physical appearance may be very intimidating to some younger viewers.
  • Some of the scenes where the roller derby girls get injured, including blood gushing from the nose, may disturb young children.

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.

Children in this age group may also be disturbed by some of the above mentioned scenes

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.

Children in this age group are unlikely to be disturbed by anything in this film.

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.

Children in this age group are unlikely to be disturbed by anything in this film.

Product placement

The following products are displayed or used in this movie:

  • Barbie roller skates

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • “I knocked your mom up.”
  • Pash says, regarding a guy that was groping her in the shower, “I like a good fondling. It’s so much simpler.”
  • In reference to Oliver and loosing her virginity Bliss tearfully tells her mom that “I gave him everything.”

Nudity and sexual activity

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

  • Bliss’ father slaps his wife’s bottom and she shakes her beasts and hips at him.
  • One member of the opposing team fondles another woman’s breast
  • The roller derby women wear tight shirts, short skirts with fish net stockings and expose thighs, cleavage and midriffs.
  • One of the roller derby players is named Jabba the slut.
  • Two girls compare bruises on their buttocks, lifting their shorts higher and higher while two boys look on.
  • Pash and a random stranger make out in the shower.
  • In order to help Pash throw up, Bliss tells her to visualize her father’s naked, sweaty balls.
  • A guy at school grabs his crotch and thrusts himself in Bliss’ direction.
  • A girl wears a low-cut, see through top.
  • A naked man holds two dogs over his private parts (front and back) as he scurries across his lawn.
  • Bliss and Oliver kiss in a deserted pool. They take off their clothes under water, leaving only their underwear on. We later learn that they have sex.
  • The compere of the roller derby holds up a sign telling people to call him because he is STD free.

Use of substances

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

  • Two shop assistants laugh at Bliss’ mom who bends down to admire some pretty ‘vases’ not realizing that they are used for smoking drugs.
  • Two girls in a hot tub drink something out of a flask.
  • Jugs of beer are being passed around at a party.
  • Bliss’ mom and dad smoke in their kitchen. Her mom lights up again later.
  • Pash quickly tosses a beer out of her hands as a cop approaches her. She is arrested for drinking.
  • Bliss drinks beer with her dad. He says she can have a sip of his and she finishes his can.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • “Shit happens.” “Bitches!” “God damn it!” “Douche Bag.” “Shit and ape shit.” “Bull shit!” “Friggin.” “I want to beat that cocky bitch!” “I’ll kick her in the ass.” Bliss also gives a team member the finger in front of her young child.

In a nutshell

Whip It is an unusual drama that takes a look at a less common sport and brings it to life. This movie may appeal to a range of ages but, due to its content, the movie is really only suitable for mature audiences. 

The main messages from this movie are to be true to yourself and to have the courage to make your own path no matter how impossible it may seem.

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

  • hard work and determination
  • making sacrifices for others
  • forgiveness

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

  • sleeping with people that you hardly know.
  • deceiving those who love you the most.
  • putting your own desires before your friends’ needs.
  • attempting to run away instead of facing your problems.

The film also provides parents with an opportunity to discuss a number of behaviours that might be imitated by their children. There were a number of unfortunate examples involving sex and drinking but there were more subtle ones as well, such as the fact that not once did Bliss or any of her friends ever wear a seatbelt when driving in a car.

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