You are viewing brits_americans

Tired of ads? Upgrade to paid account and never see ads again!
Brits Americans
True Love 
22nd-Jun-2012 07:16 pm
So recently there was a series of...six? episodes called True Love on the BBC. In the third Episode, 'Holly', Billie Piper plays a teacher who falls in love with one of her students, Kaya Scodelario. Scodelario is about 20, but plays 16 and looks maybe even 14. I have a question about the episode in regards to american and british(UK) perspectives.



The main conflict in the episode is that they're both girls and the students harass the teacher in the class in regards to this. In the end the teacher leaves the classroom and Scodelario's character catches up with Piper's and they go off holding hands and smiling. The episode portrays them both as equal, willing, and no manipulation involved with either party. There are brief mentions of it being disgusting from one student to Scodelario's character and another with Scodelario's character pretending to find it disgusting. But these are made to seem almost out of ignorance/hate and fear of reprisal/hate respectively.

So i'm curious, in America this would readily be seen as sick/wrong. A lot of people in general in the US would have problems with a same sex romantic relationship, but you could get a much larger consensus on a teacher having a sexual relationship with a minor student as much worse. It is not something I can see being made in the US on a major network, at least not without a lot of uproar.

I realize american television is by far more sexually repressed and prohibitive of sexual/romantic relationships(for example the US version of Skins got a lot of trouble and threatened legal action because two teenage girls kiss in one scene), but I believe in both britain(and other UK members) and america a teacher having sex with a 16 yearold student is illegal/considered highly immoral?

Not interested in saying one society is something while the other is something else. Or that the episode is an abomination, or to be hailed as genius. I'm interested in people's pespectives, particularly those who've lived for extended periods of time in either place and especially if you've watched the episode. Its not a big deal, just something that made me very curious. Is there a difference? Are 16 yearolds more mature/able to deal with adult sexual relationships in the UK as opposed to the US? Or is this episode a fluke or am I just missing something else?
Comments 
22nd-Jun-2012 11:36 pm (UTC)
I haven't seen the series.

16 is old enough to marry (with parental consent), though not someone of the same sex at the moment. It isn't seen as a good idea, but it's legal. So this isn't having sex with a minor as such. It's the teacher/pupil relationship that makes it something that would be frowned on. That's supposed to be adult/protector to child, no matter what the respective ages. I'm not sure if it's technically illegal, but it's the sort of thing that's liable to make the teacher lose her job. The law on lesbian sex is weird anyway - Queen Victoria didn't believe it existed, so didn't have laws against it,. or something like that.

Disgust at lesbian sex being portrayed as something done out of ignorance/hate/fear/immaturity - yes, that's about right.

What you seem to be saying, or implying, is that because it's viewed as sick/wrong in the USA, it therefore wouldn't be shown on TV? Is that right? Your TV shows never show things that are bad? I'd got the impression they had a lot more in the way of bad things being shown than ours - people getting shot all over the place, for instance. Or is that just what gets exported to us?

22nd-Jun-2012 11:55 pm (UTC)
In England and Wales, it's illegal. Sexual Offences Act 2003, s.16-22. s.16 says it's an offence if person A is in a position of trust over person B, knows it (or could reasonably know it), touches them sexually, and B is under 18. Positions of trust are defined in s.21 and s.22, which includes education.

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2003/42/section/16 - right up top

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2003/42/section/21 -
21(1) For the purposes of sections 16 to 19, a person (A) is in a position of trust in relation to another person (B) if—
(a)any of the following subsections applies
...
(5) This subsection applies if A looks after persons under 18 who are receiving education at an educational institution and B is receiving, and A is not receiving, education at that institution.

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2003/42/section/22
(4) A person receives education at an educational institution if—
(a)he is registered or otherwise enrolled as a pupil or student at the institution, or
(b)he receives education at the institution under arrangements with another educational institution at which he is so registered or otherwise enrolled.




Scotland has similar laws, more briefly phrased, in the Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009. http://www.legislation.gov.uk/asp/2009/9/contents - sections 42 to 44.

Edited at 2012-06-23 12:11 am (UTC)
23rd-Jun-2012 12:41 am (UTC)
RIght. But laws for the real world don't always define what is portrayed on television. For example, it would be illegal to shoot someone in the chest except in self defense, but its ok to show it on television, at least at certain times of the evening or channels requiring a subscription like HBO. Yet I do not think in the US we would see a 16 yearold student and an adult teacher having a positive, healthy sexual relationship on television. Maybe a depcition resulting in rape or twisted manipulation causing physical and emotional damage often seen on Law and Order:SVU.
23rd-Jun-2012 07:02 am (UTC)
Didn't Glee have a sexy teacher/student relationship?
23rd-Jun-2012 11:34 am (UTC)
Dunno, never watched that show.
23rd-Jun-2012 12:34 am (UTC)
I mean that american television is more restrictive. I do not think same sex relationships are a problem, I think they should be on tv. Well as long as its not exploitative/derogatory/etc. So in the US a 16 yearold having sex with an adult is considered to be immoral. I assume the people who do not want it on the television think so because they see it as corrupting, but violence is not. I agree, if this is what you mean, that its hypocritical bullshit to find one acceptable while the other is not. Puritanical sentiment and so forth, yet adult women actors playing teen in a sexualized manner, and so on. I could go on in this vein, but I'm really right now just interested in other people's perspectives in regards to this particular episode.
23rd-Jun-2012 12:37 am (UTC)

"What you seem to be saying, or implying, is that because it's viewed as sick/wrong in the USA, it therefore wouldn't be shown on TV? Is that right? Your TV shows never show things that are bad? I'd got the impression they had a lot more in the way of bad things being shown than ours - people getting shot all over the place, for instance. Or is that just what gets exported to us?"


At least from my perspective, yeah, I can't really imagine something like that being shown on US television without controversy. I can see how it would offend a large number of people too much. I mean, certain groups are in an uproar over the department store JC Penney featuring same-sex parents/couples in their advertisements, and for having a lesbian spokesperson (Ellen). People are actually fighting against this. So my guess would be that a show featuring a same-sex relationship coupled with the teacher/student dynamic would be pretty controversial.

US TV does have a lot of violence, though, that's for sure.

(For whatever it's worth to the OP's question, I'm an American living in Scotland.)
23rd-Jun-2012 12:43 am (UTC)
Thanks for the response. Any thoughts as to why this episode made it onto the air in the UK?
23rd-Jun-2012 12:59 am (UTC)
I can't think of any reason why it wouldn't, to be honest.
23rd-Jun-2012 12:59 am (UTC)
Ugh, I'm getting some lag in replies or something!

Really though, it does seem that the UK is a bit more lenient on sexuality in its TV and such. US TV does portray sexuality, but only if it fits into a pretty particular mold, for the most part... and not quite so liberally. At least not on the regular channels when it's not really late at night.

I do agree with you that American television is more restrictive, and we seem to have the same opinion on that. I'm not sure why it's okay to murder someone on TV, but most other things are completely out of the question. It doesn't make much sense to me, but that is the mindset of a lot of people, especially in the Bible belt (for obvious reasons). And those types of people tend to be a lot more vocal about things that offend them.
23rd-Jun-2012 09:37 am (UTC)
When the original Queer as Folk was shown here it had a relationship between a man and a fifteen year old boy. Within the show it was pretty much frowned upon, but for the press it wasn't the thing they disapproved of most, that was the explicit sex!

When the show was remade for the US the boy was aged up to seventeen, and from what I remember it was considered pretty scandalous. Seventeen in the UK would hardly warrent a second look.

So in the Tough Love show, the age is not something we'd worry about (although I bet the girl's parents would), but the abuse of a position of authority would get the teacher the sack at the least.

Oh and Buffy? Yes the BBC did cut huge chunks out of it. They would insist on showing it at 6pm, totally unsuitable for the later series. One episode from season 6 was cut down to 23 minutes from it's normal 42. I had no idea what was happening; a girl trips on a step and the next thing she's dead and they are disposing of her body!
23rd-Jun-2012 05:40 am (UTC)
Because British TV (especially in its soaps) tends to explore relationships, and society's responses (both positive and negative) regardless of things like technical legalities.

Programmes do occasionally fall foul of external censorship for content - viewers might complain about the illegal nature of a teacher/student relationship being portrayed positively, but as a reflection of society it does have a place on our screens.

The last big row about 'inappropriate content' on British TV was about the lack of ethnic diversity in Midsomer Murders - which is generally a hotbed of infidelity, incest, deviancy inappropriate relationships and, oh yes, murder.
23rd-Jun-2012 07:48 pm (UTC)
That wasn't so much about the lack of ethnic diversity, though, as the director's (writer's?) statement that it couldn't possibly be more ethnically diverse because English villages are all lily white and it would spoil the countryside or something. Which was ridiculous.
23rd-Jun-2012 08:59 am (UTC)
I haven't seen the episode (though thanks for the reminder, because I saw it in the TV listings and thought about it, but was then out, so now I might catch up), but I can't think of any reason it wouldn't be televised in the UK. On the assumption that depicting illegal activity is not inherently saying "Go out and do it"*, then there's nothing about the episode as described that is unsuitable for broadcast. If viewers were shocked by this one, then I think the attitude would be "tough luck" - it was on at 10:35pm, which is after the 9 o'clock watershed (which marks when broadcasters can show certain things - there's famously an episode of Sharpe in which Liz Hurley's character shows her breasts straight after the 9 pm adverts), and in the 10:35pm slot, pretty much defined as "after the news", the audience should know that something 'challenging' might be shown. By this point, any parent complaining a child saw something unsuitable would get zero sympathy whatsoever.

You might be interested in the BBC Editorial Guidelines, which govern what can and can't be shown: http://www.bbc.co.uk/editorialguidelines/ The rules on sex are here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/editorialguidelines/page/guidelines-harm-sex/ You'll see that they don't allow for depicting explicit sex with a minor (which the girl in True Love isn't, of course), but otherwise there's nothing close to making the programme not suitable for broadcast. I think that the Guidelines are worth reading in general for giving a glimpse of British television culture, which UK viewers often understand because they're just used to it (as you understand what will/won't be shown in the US), but overseas viewers approach from a different perspective.

*Though there are rules re. imitative behaviour, generally for programmes aimed at children.
24th-Jun-2012 12:59 pm (UTC)
By this point, any parent complaining a child saw something unsuitable would get zero sympathy whatsoever.

This is, I think, as a US dweller, the major difference between the UK and the US. In the US, over the last twenty years there's been a shift in expectation to networks and content producers being responsible for what every viewer of any age sees at any time, and the expectation is that all content producers of any type will produce works that are "appropriate for all audiences" ONLY. For some reason, violence -- especially violence seen as "someone getting what they deserve" -- is considered vastly more appropriate, or encouraged, than anything sexual. And any kind of foul language is also seen as worse than violence... it kind of blows my mind that CSI and SVU and such can show decomposing human bodies, but can't say "shit" or "fuck" when they find them!
23rd-Jun-2012 01:04 am (UTC)
That's interesting. When I worked at a residential community for adults with disabilities, our handbook said that in England, a homosexual relationship of anyone with a man with a mental disability was illegal, whether the other person had a disability or not. I'm not sure how old the handbook was, but it said that there was no such law for women. I'm sure it was designed to protect men with disabilities from abuse, but in the community, we were always talking about how important it was for our residents to make their own choices about relationships and sex. There was one couple who decided to move into a flat together (with a supervising coworker because the man had medical issues) and one couple who decided to get married. But there was also a man who clearly had crushes on men, but he expressed it in a controlling way, and so it was discouraged. I wonder what would have happened if it had been more like the different-sex couples.
23rd-Jun-2012 06:04 am (UTC)
16 is old enough to marry (with parental consent)

There was an incident at one school in London where I taught, where this matter came up. The girl in question could not leave school until the end of the relevant term when she turned 16 but could marry immediately, and did, to a young man with a steady job of whom her parents greatly approved. The head of the school was fine with it - given the area it drew most pupils from this was an excellent outcome for her - but the local education authority went ballistic. They insisted that the head make the parents send her back to school; they said a) they no longer had any control over her and anyway b) she was in Cornwall with her husband. The head played a delaying action with the paperwork until the end of term.
24th-Jun-2012 08:42 am (UTC)
Why did she leave school when she got married?
23rd-Jun-2012 12:48 am (UTC)
I haven't seen it, but that is an interesting question. Definitely would be a different show in the US, I think! The conflict would probably be about the teacher getting fired and maybe with criminal charges. I also didn't know that about the US version of Skins.

A teacher/student relationship is definitely seen as super immoral where I'm from in the US. I'm pretty sure a lot of people here in the UK would see it similarly, but I only live here. I'm not from here. So I can't really comment on that.

From what I can tell, I don't really see many sixteen-year-olds in either country capable of dealing with adult sexual relationships. Although as it was stated, the age of consent may be sixteen or even younger. That doesn't necessarily say anything about the mental or emotional maturity of a person, though, and how they might feel about such a thing later on when they are more mature.
23rd-Jun-2012 12:51 am (UTC)
Yeah there was a US version of Skins on MTV. And as per MTV's M.O. they ruined it. Not worth watching. Any thoughts on why the episode was shown on the BBC, but in the US as we agree it would not be?
23rd-Jun-2012 07:42 am (UTC)
I think one of the answers to this is that, despite having an established church, in practice we are a much more secular country.

Censorship in the theatre was abolished in the 1960s. Films have a classification system, and may even, in very, very, very rare cases be refused a certificate, but most complaints are that, honestly, some language and some violent content are really not acceptable in a PG (parental guidance) or 12A (children under 12 to be there with an adult) film. Films just don't get banned.

For TV there is a system of self-regulation whereby 'questionable' content is not broadcast before 9pm (known as the watershed.) Some things are not allowed at on free-to-air broadcasting (hard-core porn, full front nudity in most circumstances) but British TV has always had a reputation for 'serious' drama that pushed the boundaries. And what gets banned from the screens by nervous executive is generally for language or violence. Three episodes of Star Trek (Miri, Plato's Stepchildren, The Empath) were banned by the BBC for many years (all three for sadistic violence) but that was because the Beeb was pretty damn sure that, if shown after the watershed, kids would still watch. The Beeb regarded TOS as a family show and programmed it accordingly.

Occasionally an episode of a US TV series normally shown before the watershed will be cut to ribbons on first showing (or pulled) but given a showing after the watershed. (This happened to the T.K.O. episode of Babylon 5) The BBC regularly cut large chunks out of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

In all these cases, it was for violence and because the show was normally shown at a time when young children were viewing.

(I always maintain that the episode of The Professionals, a series shown much later in the evening, which was pulled supposedly for violence (Klansman), was actually pulled because of the highly un-PC message of the plot in a country with lots of racial problems at the time.)

All these episodes have, of course, been shown since, though generally after the watershed. The availability of uncensored DVDs has changed things.

Edited at 2012-06-23 07:43 am (UTC)
23rd-Jun-2012 09:09 am (UTC)
On nudity, there doesn't seem to be an after-the-watershed restriction per se, albeit there isn't much shown. But recent BBC4 showing of Scando-police drama have had below-the-waist nudity for both male characters (The Killing 2 had an army shower room full of willies at one point and quite a tracking shot on one character), and female (The Bridge shows Sara dressed in only a short T-shirt, her pubic hair clearly visible below the hem). Though in both these cases the nudity was largley not sexualised - in The Killing in particular the setting of the scene made a significant character point for both the people involved.
23rd-Jun-2012 07:45 pm (UTC)
I wonder whether there's a difference between English language/dubbed drama and subtitled drama? Being partially deaf I use subtitles all the time, but notice that with foreign language post-watershed drama they are often much more robust than the English/US equivalent.
24th-Jun-2012 09:58 am (UTC)
It's been said since that Klansman was pulled due to the racism in it, and it's still regarded as unsuitable for broadcast.
24th-Jun-2012 11:36 am (UTC)
It was broadcast on one of the free-to-air digital channels a few years back.

At the time it was stated that it was pulled for violence.

I think what was mainly objectionable at that point was the idea that a black man might use white racists to rip off his own community.
24th-Jun-2012 11:42 am (UTC)
Ah, they still cut it from the ITV4 re-runs of the series. The bit about it being cut for more than just the violence (because really, not showing an episode of The Professionals because violence?) is in the DVD info, but there's no way they would have said that at the time of original broadcast, no.
24th-Jun-2012 11:47 am (UTC)
They might have meant to cut it, but I'm retired now, and I came in in the middle of it one day. I don't think they look very hard at those shows.
24th-Jun-2012 12:01 pm (UTC)
I was going to say something about it being a rubbish episode, but then I remembered that I was talking about The Professionals, and the whole thing is rubbish. Entertaining rubbish. :)
24th-Jun-2012 11:48 am (UTC)
Incidentally, in Japan they reckoned the show wasn't violent enough for them.
23rd-Jun-2012 02:02 am (UTC)
Brit who's lived in the US for 12 years here.

One thing I've noticed is that what's typically considered acceptable on US TV seems rather screwed. For instance, you can turn the TV on in the middle of the afternoon, and find an incredibly violent movie showing (e.g Reservoir Dogs as an example) completely uncut, but the swearing will be bleeped out. Meanwhile, the whole country is up in arms because Janet Jackson's nipple shows for all of 3 seconds.

My guess would be that such a relationship would only be shown on US TV if the episode concluded with the teacher being "caught" and punished in some way, even if the relationship itself was portrayed as completely mutual.
23rd-Jun-2012 05:43 am (UTC)
In reality, such a relationship would both be illegal, as would any relationship between a school teacher (in loco parentis) and a student. A majority of the population may well also consider it morally unacceptable in real life. At the very least, if reported to the police, it would result in the teacher being dismissed and put on the sex offenders register - and therefore unable to teach again. That does not mean it doesn't happen, and isn't kept quiet by all concerned.

However, the fact that it is illegal does not mean that a TV play cannot show it and specifically argue that it is morally acceptable in the circumstances, or that it should not be illegal. This is one of the things that drama is for.

Murder is illegal, and people are shown getting away with it. It is even shown, occasionally, as justified. There have been a good many dramas recently about mercy killings, all of which have pretty much argued that a person should have a "right to die." Assisted suicide is still illegal in this country, but popular feeling is moving towards making it legal. If that happens, TV dramas will have played their part.

Edited because I missed out an important 'not'.

Edited at 2012-06-23 05:46 am (UTC)
23rd-Jun-2012 06:12 am (UTC)
Oddly enough, my mother (at school in the 1920s) would have had fewer problems with the situation.

When I was at school she found it a bit baffling that girls no longer had "crushes" on other girls and (female) teachers; she, and many of her generation, saw homosexual attraction as a normal part of girls' development. The ban on married women teachers until WWII meant that most women attracted to teaching as a career were only interested in same-sex relationships, and this was still true of most of the teachers at my school in the late 1950s.

And the tightening up of legislation and attitudes relating to teacher/pupil relationships is comparatively recent.
23rd-Jun-2012 11:05 pm (UTC)
At my old high school, a 30 year old teacher married an 18 year old student directly after she graduated. This was probably the 1980s.
23rd-Jun-2012 07:44 am (UTC)
I didn't see the play, but the Telegraph review makes it clear that this was a linked series of experimental (largely improvised) 'human relationship' plays. It seems to me that it's not the content so much as the format that US TV would have problems with.

Much more the sort of thing that in the US would be done as a cinema film than a TV drama - and appropriately rated.
This page was loaded Mar 29th 2015, 8:44 pm GMT.