A director has a choice as to how he or she will portray the violence and sex that a script demands. They can be as unnecessary in an adaptation of a classic play as of a blockbuster - look at Jarman's Edward II. The name of Shakespeare or Marlowe or Ian McKellen cannot somehow magic away the harmful effects (if any) of on-screen violence.
Polly Toynbee's article does help expose the absurdities of the current system. The fact that a 16-year-old can legally have real sex yet is deemed too young to watch other people pretending to has been pointed out many times. But if we are to have silly rules, there is no reason not to apply them across the board. Is her point not really that it's all right to have the young watching violence in highbrow drama because the only ones who will want to are our own, nice, middle-class children who can be trusted to resist its baleful influence?
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