Domain Names

Even if you do not have a website, if you have any online business or professional presence, you should have a domain name.

You can have a website through services like WordPress.com with or without your own domain name, but having a domain name is inexpensive branding. A domain name allows you to move a site from one service to another, without changing the site name. Owning a domain name also lets you use that name to have a branded or personal email address, instead of a generic Gmail address, or an address that includes the name of your internet service provider – and that needs to be changed if you switch to another provider.

Domain names are not expensive. Prices vary, but are generally $10 to $20 a year. As with other things, you get what you pay for. For example, domain names ending with .com make public the name, address, and phone number of the person who registered them. If you don’t want your contact information displayed to the world, you can request that the company you buy the name from, the registrar, substitute their information. Some registrars offer this for free, while others, especially low cost registrars, charge extra. Similarly, sometimes the name registration includes a small amount of web space or some email services, while other times it does not.

You can buy your domain name from the same company that you purchase your website hosting space from, and if you have a WordPress.com site, you can buy your domain name from WordPress. Some hosting companies include domain name as part of a package. Buying a domain name and hosting services together is easier, but buying them separately gives you more flexibility if you later want to purchase hosting from one company and domain registration from another. Not all name types are available from all companies. For example, WordPress.com does not sell some country specific extensions, such as .ca.

That brings us to the question of what extension you should have. There are many to choose from. The most common and widely known is .com, and that should probably be your first choice. People may assume your name is .com, and choosing another extension such as .net when .com is not available can lead to confusion. Using your country extension helps identify your location, which might be beneficial, and there may be a greater choice of names available. Country extensions are usually well known within that country. Different countries have different rules on who can use their extensions. For example, .ca is only available to people with some connection to Canada.

As for the name itself, be flexible. You want something that is available, descriptive, memorable, not too long, easy to type, and unlikely to lead to lawsuits from other people or companies with a claim to that name. Particularly if the domain name is for a business or other organization, getting legal advice on the name should be considered.

Your personal name is a good choice for a professional, especially if you use your full name, or some combination of your name and initials, or name and profession. You could also use your business name, but be aware that it might not be unique online, and need to be modified, perhaps by adding your city. Generic terms such as Florist or FastFlowers are rarely available, and do not offer brand recognition. Name registration companies can tell you if a name is available, and may suggest alternatives if a name is not available. You should test minor variations of your proposed domain name, especially if the spelling is unusual, to see where you end up if your name is typed incorrectly.

Domain names are not case sensitive, so a name composed of more than one word can use capitals for clarity. BobsPlumbingVancouver is easier to read than bobsplumbingvancouver. However, try different combinations of capitalization: ChildrensWearHalifax might be mocked as ChildrenSwearHalifax.

You can have more than one name. Your registration company can arrange for one name to forward to another (for free or for a charge), and your email can also be forwarded to another email account. A domain name change can be phased in over a year or two by forwarding from one to another while printed items and contacts are updated. Multiple domain names also allow a site to have domain names in more than one language.

Finally, don’t sweat the name too much. While a business or a job seeker should have a respectable domain name, remember that many people are not going to get to your web site by typing in the name. Instead, they will click on links in search results, other sites, emails, or social media posts.

If all this seems like too much work, it can be tempting to let someone else buy the domain name for you. If you have hired someone to build a site for you, they could also take care of the name registration. However, you must ensure that they register the name on your behalf, and not under their own name. Even the most attentive and careful web person can get sick, or busy, and if they are the only contact, you may find yourself not only unable to renew the name or update the site, but unable to get anyone else to do it. If a name expires, the site disappears. Retrieving a domain name can be a long and difficult process. If someone is registering a domain name for you, make sure you are registrant.

If you would like assistance obtaining a domain name, feel free to contact me.

The Invisible Gorilla

I recently completed editing an academic textbook. This was a heavy copy edit, as well as reference checking and formatting. I made suggestions for the structure, requested some clarifications, proposed a few transition sentences, and even fixed spelling here and there.  I was happy with the work, and so was the client.

Having a little time on my hands, I drafted an academic article in my field, and asked my former client to take a look at it for me. They made suggestions for the structure, requested some clarifications, proposed a few transition sentences, and even fixed spelling here and there. My initial reaction was to think, how could I have missed these things?

I blame the invisible gorilla (read about it here). Because of how our eyes and our brains work, we often don’t see what we are not looking for. This can have fatal consequences for activities such as driving. You might hear someone say, after a collision, “he came out of nowhere” or “I never saw him.” Good driving means watching for the unexpected. The stakes are lower when you are writing, but the same problem exists.

As an author, you may overlook errors because you are not looking for them. You are concentrating on putting your thoughts on paper, or perhaps imagining the fame and fortune that await, once your masterpiece is published. (That’s how I overcome procrastination, and it’s helped get me published a few times, though fame and fortune still elude me.) It’s hard for an author to switch roles and be the editor of their own work. It can help to take a few days, and work on other things, but nothing beats a second set of eyes.

They say that a person who is their own lawyer has a fool for a client (and they’ve been saying it since at least 1809). That’s not a comment on the skill of the lawyer, but a reminder that one person should not take on two roles. No matter how good a writer you are, the editor should be someone else who can see the gorillas you miss.

Selling on your WordPress.com site

If you use WordPress for your self-hosted site, there are many plugins available to support marketing and selling your products. The free, or nearly free, WordPress.com service can also be used to promote a business, sell products, or request donations, but there are a few conditions. These are discussed below, and are largely summarized from this WordPress page.

You should be familiar with the user guidelines for WordPress.com. Basically, site content should be original, and not offensive. You should read the terms and conditions too.

Forget running ads to make money, no matter how many posts you read about making fortunes running ads. WordPress.com runs ads on your site, unless you pay to remove them. That’s part of how they can offer the service for free. You cannot place Google AdSense Ads or anything similar. If you are getting thousands of page views per month, there is an advertising service from WordPress you may be able to join, but for most of us that’s not an option.

However, you can place affiliate links, such as links using the Amazon Associates program. Links have to be for reputable sites, and WordPress decides what is reputable, but if you have to wonder, it’s probably not. Also, you cannot build a site just to place affiliate links. If you write book reviews, and post an affiliate link for each book reviewed, that’s okay, but you cannot make a site that looks like an online bookstore.

A site that promotes your business (like this site) is allowed, though I recommend purchasing a package that removes ads. There’s no point in promoting potential competitors. You can also sell products and request donations. You won’t be able to set up a shopping cart system or payment system, but you can provide links to your products on sites like etsy, or sell items directly and collect payment through PayPal. You can post PayPal links or buttons following these directions.  WordPress also has a complete tutorial on setting up a business site.

You can request donations, using the PayPal donate button, but you must meet the PayPal requirements for donations – in other words, be a registered charity. Charities may also quality for a discount on their PayPal processing fees. If you are not a charity, you can still request contributions, but those contributions are purchases, not donations.

If you are selling or promoting products that might be considered mature, such as nude photographs or drawings, make sure you mark your site as Mature, and understand the limitations of mature content.

Although there are some restrictions and conditions, in many cases you can use a free WordPress.com site to quickly and easily promote your business, or sell products you have made. If you would like assistance setting up or modifying a WordPress.com site, please contact me.

WordPress Bookmarks

WordPress makes creating web sites easy, but there is one handy web page feature that requires a tiny bit of coding: Bookmarks. Fortunately, it’s simple coding that anyone can do. You add the code when you are editing your page or post. These instructions apply to WordPress.com and WordPress.org sites.

Introduction
Create a Bookmark
Link to a Bookmark from the Same Page
Link to a Bookmark from Another Page


Introduction

Bookmarks allow you to jump to anywhere on a page (or post), from the same page, from another page on the same site, or from another site. You can use bookmarks to create links for a specific point on a page, and send these via email, or use them for social media posts.

If there are sections on a page, like this one, you can create a table of contents at the top of the page, like the one at the top here, and allow users to click and go directly to that section.This is useful on longer pages, and remember that a one screen page on a large desktop monitor might already require a lot of scrolling on a mobile device. There are two steps for each bookmark: Create the bookmark, and create the link to it.


Create a Bookmark

  1. Switch to Text (HTML) mode. The mode is selected by tabs in the upper right, above the toolbar for the typing area. The default mode is Visual, and you can switch back at any time.
  2. Find the location for your bookmark. For example, to set the bookmark for the heading at the top of this section, I scrolled down to the heading. The line looked like this:
    <strong>Create a Bookmark</strong>
    Just ignore the characters around the text, but be careful not to erase or move any of them. If you accidentally delete something, go back to Visual editing and fix the appearance there.
  3. The bookmark should always go on the line above the heading (or paragraph, or image) that will be the destination for the link. If there is no blank line, add one with the Enter key.
  4. Type the bookmark code, including a name. For this section, the bookmark code is
    <a name=”Create”></a>
  5. The name of the bookmark is between the quotes. It can be anything you want, but it should be short, simple, and descriptive, with no spaces or odd characters. You can put as many bookmarks as you want on a page, but each one must be unique. This bookmark could also have been
    <a name=”second_section”></a>
    or
    <a name=”part2″></a>
  6. You can also create a bookmark at the very top of the page, just in case you want to offer users a Return to Top link. That bookmark might be
    <a name=”top”></a>
  7. Go go back to Visual mode, and you’ll see a little anchor symbol where your bookmark is. If you make any errors typing the bookmark, WordPress may delete it completely, or your page may look odd. If so, just switch back to the Text/HTML editor, and double check that the bookmark is typed correctly. Now you just need to create a link to your bookmark.


Link to a Bookmark from the Same Page

  1. First you need to type the word or phrase that will be the thing to click. For example, if you are making a table of contents, you need to type the headings at the top of the page. If you want to offer a Return to Top link, type that wherever you want to offer it.
  2. Highlight the text, and click the Insert/Edit Link button in the WordPress toolbar.
  3. In the box for the link, type a hashtag, and the name of the bookmark. For the example bookmark above, you’d enter
    #Create
    For a link that goes to the top of the page, you’d enter
    #top
  4. Click Apply. The link is created.


Link to a Bookmark from Another Page

  1. Bookmarks can be added to a page address, so that when someone clicks a link to a page, they go directly to a specific place on the page.
  2. For example, the address of this page is
    http://covell.ca/wordpress-bookmarks/
  3. To go directly to the Create a Bookmark section of this page, from any other page on the internet, the address is
    http://covell.ca/wordpress-bookmarks/#Create
  4. That link can also be sent via email, or used on social media posts.

Bookmarks are a simple but powerful tool that make it easier for your readers to find things on larger pages, and for you to offer links to sections of your pages.

Making web sites better for you and your readers is one of the services I offer. If you’d like assistance with your site, please contact me.

How to Fix a Facebook Share

You’ve finished a great blog entry. You share it to Facebook – and then realize there’s a typo in the headline, or you forgot to add an image. You cancel the Facebook share, fix the blog, update it, and share it to Facebook again. The headline still has a typo, or the image is still missing. The page has updated, the link goes to the updated page, but the preview on Facebook did not update. What happened?

Facebook does not automatically refresh link summaries and images, so if something changes on a page that has been shared to Facebook, the link preview might not update to show the change. It does not matter whether you shared it or someone else did. For example, you might share a link to a newspaper story, and see a description and image on your Facebook feed that is from an earlier version of the story.

Fortunately, there is an easy way to force Facebook to refresh the link summary and image.

  1. Make sure you are logged into Facebook.
  2. In a new tab, go to this page: https://developers.facebook.com/tools/debug/og/object/
  3. Enter the URL for the item you want to share.
  4. Click the button that says “Fetch New Scrape Information.”
  5. Facebook refreshes and displays all the data it has about the shared item, including an updated summary and image. You can close this tab.

Now you can share the post, and this time the link preview will be current.

Please Get a Second Reader

I recently saw an interesting tweet from an author promoting her ebook. The pitch was good, so I clicked the link through to an Amazon page selling her book. The additional information there was promising, but the reviews were alarming. Just two, and both were one-star ratings. The reviewers complained of poor spelling and grammar. No sale. I returned to Twitter, saw another book by a different author, and discovered similar poor reviews. This time the complaints were about a character that apparently had two names, and a sudden ending. A look through Amazon’s listings reveals many more books with one-star ratings, often due to poor grammar or plot errors.

I feel sorry for these authors. They took the time and effort to write stories. This is not easy. Then they did the work of preparing ebooks, posting them to Amazon, and promoting them. All of this takes hard work and courage. The result is public shaming over easily avoided mistakes, and probably poor sales.

Before publishing your ebook, please ask at least one other person to read it. A second set of eyes can spot mistakes that you might overlook. Ideally, the other person reading your book will have a strong grasp of English and is familiar with the genre. They should be able to give you honest and objective feedback about your work.

Other readers can be anyone from friends and family to critique groups and beta readers. Services such as mine offer manuscript evaluation or editing. A manuscript evaluation is a broad review of the strengths and weaknesses in areas including grammar, plot, characterization, and style, with tips for improvements. Editing is a more thorough analysis and correction of one or more specific areas, and is more costly than a manuscript evaluation.

Asking a friend to read and comment on your work is easy. For any other service, make sure you understand exactly what is provided, the terms (such as how long it will take to get the response), and the cost. If you are interested in a manuscript evaluation from me, please contact me for more information. Regardless of how you do it, please get a second reader. Don’t go to all the work of publishing your book, only to end up with discouraging one-star reviews and poor sales.

Baby Doll (1956)

Baby Doll is a 1956 American film based on a pair of one-act Tennessee Williams plays. It’s a steamy love triangle between a young virginal wife, her husband, and his rival. Although passed by the Production Code, it was condemned as immoral by the US Roman Catholic Legion of Decency, and banned in several areas. Time magazine described it as “possibly the dirtiest American-made motion picture that has ever been legally exhibited” (December 24, 1956).

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, presumably a more moderate organization than the League of Decency, rated it L, for “problematic content many adults would find troubling.” It’s not clear when this rating was assigned. (The Catholic News Service still reviews movies for their artistic merit and moral suitability.)

With the exceptions of British Columbia and Alberta, there’s little information available about how Canadian film censors responded to the film. Most list a rating on their websites, but in some cases this appears to be the original rating, while in other cases it appears to be updated. Classification standards have changed over the past 60 years, and older films sometimes get new ratings. None of the online ratings show if the approved version was cut, though it likely was. Even today, most agencies do not indicate if a film has been cut for approval or for a specific age rating (the British Board of Film Classification is a happy exception). Dates of classification are often incorrect for older films.

The current ratings are:

  • Maritimes – Restricted (under 18 requires adult accompaniment) and 14A (under 14 requires adult accompaniment)
  • Quebec – G (all ages)
  • Ontario – Restricted (under 18 requires adult accompaniment)
  • Manitoba – PG
  • Alberta – A (under 16 requires adult accompaniment, a classification no longer used)

Alberta has records showing the cuts that were made. The cuts related to sexual imagery and dialogue, such as the line “Your husband sweats more than any man I know. Now I can understand why.” The print approved, in July of 1957, was publicly identified as cut. Advertising included “This motion picture was reconstructed and edited to meet the requirement of the Alberta Censor Board.” This open approach was very different from the practice in Ontario at the time, where the Chief Censor once wrote: “At all times the Department attempts to avoid censorship which is apparent to the patron, since it would defeat the purpose of censorship.”

British Columbia does not list ratings for older films on its website, but there is some correspondence from the period, which shows that the film was initially approved, then rejected, rejected again, and finally approved.

In January of 1957, the Chief Censor wrote to the distributor, and referred to earlier correspondence:

You will recall that when I granted approval for this picture I insisted upon very conservative advertising that would avoid any reference to the current controversy about it. In this you have most certainly cooperated.
At the same time, I pointed out that should I get a larger number of complaints…I would have to withdraw the approval. Unhappily the situation has developed where I feel I must take that action.

In October of 1957, a revised version of Baby Doll was submitted for approval. From looking at the dates, this may have been the version that had been approved in Alberta in July. (Keep in mind that at this time, there were usually only one or two prints of a film circulating in western Canada, landing in British Columbia after doing a circuit of theaters in Alberta.) The censor noted that the “eliminations that have been made have greatly changed the picture.” However:

If it were not for the enormous publicity which accompanied our decision when we first viewed it; especially here in Vancouver, and the publicity that is bound to recur in mounting intensity should it be shown, I would have been tempted to approve it. People who would now go to see Baby Doll would be seeing a picture which has a tradition of cheap sensationalism behind it. I feel very strongly that it is not in the public interest to show such a picture.

As always, the censor reminded the distributor of their right to appeal, and the film was passed by the Appeal Board in January of 1958.

The reviews were good, and the film was nominated for several American Academy Awards, American Golden Globe Awards, and British Academy Film Awards. Director Elia Kazan won a Golden Globe for best director, and actor Eli Wallach, playing against Karl Malden, won a British Academy Award for “Most Promising Newcomer to Film.” Box office receipts were modest, but the film popularized the existing name ‘baby doll’ for the short nightgown which was worn by Carroll Baker’s character.

In our less innocent age, these once shocking films are no longer disturbing. Wallach noted “People see it today and say, ‘What the hell was all the fuss about?’” The director made a similar comment in his autobiography: “If you were to look at the film now, you’d see a rather amusing comedy and wonder what all the fuss was about.”

Defending the Courts against Self-Defense

Self-Defense is a 1932 western/melodrama from Monogram. Katy owns and runs a gambling bar in a small town in northern British Columbia, but has sent her teenage daughter, Nona, to a boarding school in California. Nona believes her mother runs a high-end hotel, and Katy doesn’t want Nona to learn the truth. A local trouble maker makes trouble for Katy, including arranging for Nona to come to town. This leads to a confrontation between the bad guy and Tim, a friend of Katy’s, where Tim shoots and kills him. At the trial, Tim pleads self-defense, but cannot give all the details, as that would reveal the truth about Katy’s establishment, and Nona is present. The trial concludes in an unorthodox manner. A full synopsis is available at Turner Classic Movies.

When the film arrived in British Columbia, provincial censors were concerned about the portrayal of the court system, and ordered the removal of all references to the province. This consisted mostly of mentions of going to Prince Rupert, as well as visible BC license plates on cars. It’s entirely possible that the story was set in BC in the first place, rather than a western state, in order to avoid problems with American censors. They were concerned with negative portrayals of the USA. For example, in the mid-1920’s the Pennsylvania Board of Censors ordered that a location title be changed from “Deep in the fastnesses of the great California forest” to “Deep in the fastnesses of the great Canadian forest,” suggesting that the lawlessness of that film’s characters was more appropriate to exotic Canada.

In addition to the cuts, a title disclaimer was added at the start of Self-Defense, for its showings in BC.

This picture is purely fiction and deals with a romantic story of the far North in the early days. It must be understood that no Courts in Canada under jurisdiction of British Law were ever conducted as depicted in this film.

This picture is purely fiction and deals with a romantic story of the far North in the early days. It must be understood that no Courts in Canada under jurisdiction of British Law were ever conducted as depicted in this film.

Negative portrayals of any institution, including colleges, the police, the church, and hospitals, were frowned upon, and could result in a film being banned. It’s not clear if this disclaimer was requested by the censor, or volunteered by the distributor, however the record of the addition was added to the file later. Disclaimers like this were not unusual at the time. As the film showed cars (with BC license plates), stating this was “the early days” may not have been effective, but anachronisms were common in period films, especially westerns. Now it’s anachronistic to be concerned about protecting the reputations of our institutions, and perhaps that’s a good thing.

Film Sound and Censorship

Censoring of silent films required removing scenes with offensive imagery, and removing or replacing title cards. This was easy to do, by physically cutting out the offending strip of film, and splicing the sections before and after the cut. When done well, a viewer would never even know a cut had been made. In some cases the censor office would make the cut, and advise the distributor, but in other cases the censor would request the cut, the distributor would make it, and sometimes send the censor office the offending section of film as proof that it had been removed. While cutting did require some work, keep in mind that there was often only one copy of a film circulating in a province. As late as the 1950s, censors would note if cuts had been made to a second or, rarely, third print. Although silent films often showed people talking, censors did not lip read films, and occasionally a film with mouthed  profanities did slip through, such as What Price Glory (1926).

The arrival of sound in the 1920s meant everything spoken was recorded, including double entendres and other objectionable dialogue. Cutting audible dialogue posed problems. The first commercially viable movie sound system was sound-on-disc, basically a large (16″) record that was played along with the film, one record per reel. A reel of film was about eleven minutes, and the technology of the time required the large record to store eleven minutes of sound. Not all censor offices could play the record, and even if they could, and did hear something objectionable, it could not be cut.

Vitagraph, the developer of sound-on-disc, tried to prevent the need to censor sound by claiming sound was not really part of a film, and therefore not subject to the film censorship requirements. The issue came to court in Pennsylvania, location of one of the more aggressive state censors, and the state supreme court ruled against Vitagraph. (Vitagraph was bought by Warner Brothers in 1925, which christened the sound-on-disc process VitaPhone. The term was later used for any sound film, and into the 1960s was used for shorts.)

Fox (which merged with Twentieth Century in 1935) also opposed censorship of sound, and also lost in court. In their case, Fox refused to submit written copies of the dialogue, an aid to censors. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that printed dialogue submission was required.

The film companies accepted that sound in films was subject to censorship, and supplied printed scripts to censors. Dialogue cuts were handled by instructing the projectionist to turn down the volume when necessary. For example, the 1931 comedy short Hello Russia includes the 1917 song “You’re in the Army Now” (one of many film appearances of this song). A line in the song starts “You’ll never get rich” and ends with either “you son of a bitch” or “digging a ditch.” It’s not clear which version was in the film, but according to archival records in British Columbia, the line had to go in order for the film to play in that province.* The local office of Canadian Universal replied to the censor’s request, confirming the arrangement:

Please be advised that owing to censor cut of dialogue in the two reel talking comedy, entitled HELLO RUSSIA, as follows,

“You’ll Never Get Rich – ”

whenever this subject plays a disc account a letter will accompany same, instructing the operator to pull the fader and thereby eliminate this dialogue.

Projectionists could lose their license for failure to observe censorship instructions.

Image of film showing soundtrack. By U. S. Navy. Photographed by Cmacd123 at en.wikipedia - 1959 U.S. Navy training film. Transferred from en.wikipedia; transferred to Commons by User:Stef48 using CommonsHelper., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4313272
An old US Navy film, with the analog optical soundtrack visible on the right edge. Public domain image.

In the early 1930s there was format war over film sound, and the less cumbersome sound-on-film system won. Sound-on-film is an optical process. A light shines through a small section at the edge of the film (the soundtrack), where there is a line that varies in thickness and shape. A sensor registers the light variations and they are converted to sound. With sound on film, cutting the film to remove an image would also remove the sound. However, sometimes only the dialogue needed to be removed. This could be done by obscuring the soundtrack. Censor records sometimes mention that dialogue was “zaponed.” It’s unclear exactly what this meant, but it probably refers to applying a coating to obscure the optical soundtrack. Zapon used to be a brand name for a cellulose nitrate varnish, a coating similar to nitrate film stock.

Analog optical soundtracks are still used for films, but usually supplemented by one or more digital optical soundtracks, resembling tiny barcodes. Sound on disc also made a comeback of sorts, in the form of a proprietary system that used CDs for film audio, synchronized with the film by (digital optical) codes on the film.

Actual film has become rare. Halifax has 45 commercial theatre screens, and only one can show films. Most movies are distributed to theatres as digital files, which are much larger than the files used for home viewing. Digital files make censoring easier, and have the potential to make it as invisible as it was in silent films. At home, ClearPlay allows viewers to stream or view their own discs, with dialogue and scene censoring on the fly, according to their own personal preferences. However, this has not happened (so far) with theatrical releases. Classification agencies no longer review scripts or demand dialogue cuts, and anything potentially objectionable is simply taken into account when assigning the rating.

A legacy of sound-on-disc is the frame rate of films. Silent films were projected at various speeds, usually between 20 and 26 frames per second. The projector operator might run the film faster or slower to enhance the comedy or drama of scenes. However, the need to synchronize the film and the record, and the greater sensitivity of the ear to variation in sound frequency than variation in image frequency, meant that sound films had to run at a constant fixed rate. Vitaphone set this at 24 frames per second. This is still the standard for film projection, and most digital projection, though higher frame rates are becoming more common.


*British Columbia was not necessarily stricter than other provinces, but they appear to be the only province that kept records of censorship requests.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

This review contains spoilers.

Rogue One is another disappointment in the Star Wars franchise.  It doesn’t have the excruciating moments of the prequels, it’s well made, and there is an assortment of cameos and references to other films, and not just Star Wars film. However, the referenced films include Saving Private Ryan and Apocalypse Now, which are appropriate for this film’s dark tone. It’s not a fun film, and that makes the more humorous references and occasional jokes hard to enjoy.

The story emphasizes a series of battle scenes, and is not so much a glorification of war as a celebration of sacrifice. None of main characters survive: all of them have no regrets about their actions. This is a great propaganda film, showing beings of different species, races, ages, and genders all uniting to fight a common enemy.  It might be moving if the sacrifices had any value, but they don’t. The mission of our heroes is to advance a plot to destroy the Death Star. We know the plot works, from Part IV A New Hope. We also know it didn’t work that well, because the Death Star is back again in Part VI, Return of the Jedi. An even bigger Death Star is central to Part VII, The Force Awakens. Perhaps the message is you cannot stop evil?

We also know that our heroes are not necessarily good guys, and they admit as much in this film. Meanwhile, the anonymous and purely evil bad guys of the original film have, by now, been well established as individuals, who are not all bad. We’ve seen Darth Vader as a whiny child, moody adolescent, and redeemed father. We’ve seen a Storm Trooper reject his path in The Force Awakens, and a former Empire pilot and his robot join the rebels in this film. This film also shows us that the architect of the Death Star was coerced into designing the weapon.

Finally, after seeing eight films, I’m starting to wonder just how bad the Empire is. Sure, at the top, they are evil and power hungry, but power is usually a means to an end, and it’s not clear what that end is. The Empire is dedicated to wiping out the rebellion, and the rebellion is dedicated to bringing down the Empire, but apart from that I’m not sure what either side wants. Why do we fight? Given that both sides have vague goals, the individuals on both sides have moral complexity, and we know this is just one meaningless effort in a war lasting generations, it’s hard to find the long battle sequences anything but dreary.

To add to the unease, one sequence takes place in a vaguely middle eastern setting (some of the filming was in Jordan), and another sequence takes place on beaches and among palm trees, referencing both WWII and Vietnam. Thanks to the magic of CGI, the characters played decades ago by Peter Cushing and Carrie Fisher appear to be performed by the same actors, as they appeared back then. This is a disturbing use of effects, and not necessary. It’s easier to accept different actors playing the same character  (such as James Bond), than it is to accept that an actor has not aged, or, in the case of Cushing, can appear in a film twenty-two years after death. Spaceships and monsters are products of the creative imagination, but re-animated actors are a denial of time and humanity.

Film classification agencies do not care about tone, or possible propaganda aspects of films. During and after World Wars I and II, these were important considerations. During the wars, films that humanized the enemy might be banned, but in the 1950s, war films that dwelt on past hatreds could also be banned. Until the 1960s, censors, for better or worse, tried to ensure films were good for society. That’s no longer part of the job. As per regulations, classification is based on objective measures such as how much violence or sex is shown.

Rogue One has no sex, though Ontario spotted a little cuddling. I was grateful the characters had that moment. What it does have is plenty of violence, of the more or less bloodless variety. Several agencies note “science fiction violence” because people being killed by lasers is somehow different than people being shot or blown up (which also happens a lot ).

The ratings are consistent across Canada and in most other jurisdictions. The consensus is that this is a film for the 12 and up set, though younger kids can go. In a couple of cases they can only go with their parents. Much of what is in the trailer is not in the film, which lets one wonder how much of that was deliberate misleading and how much was last minute editing. However, it’s a fair portrayal of the action scenes and other imagery.

Area Classification Advisory Additional Information
Maritimes pg Parental guidance is advised. Theme or content may not be suitable for all children. Violence
Quebec generalq The film is appropriate for viewing, rental or purchase by persons of all ages. Déconseillé aux jeunes enfants Dans l’espoir de sauver sa famille, le scientifique Galen Erso consent à se rendre aux soldats de l’Empire et à travailler à l’élaboration d’une arme capable d’anéantir des planètes. Malheureusement, seule sa fille Jyn parvient à échapper à l’ennemi et est élevée par un rebelle, Saw Gerrera. Des années plus tard, le pilote Bodhi Rook réussit à porter un message de Galen destiné à sa fille, qui lui donne la clé pour détruire sa création. Jyn, repérée par les forces de l’Alliance, accepte de joindre l’équipe du capitaine Cassian Andor, formée, entre autres, de Bohdi et du robot K-2SO. Ensemble, ils devront affronter les sbires d’Orson Krennic qui, au service de Darth Vader, se révélera impitoyable envers les opposants à l’Empire.
Ontario pg Parental Guidance is advised. Theme or content may not be suitable for all children. Violence,
Not Recommended for Young Children
– Scenes containing some grotesque images in a fantasy, comedic or historic context
– Scenes that may cause a child brief anxiety, or fear
– Limited embracing and kissing
– Restrained portrayals of non-graphic violence
Manitoba pg
Theme and content may not be suitable for all children.
Violence,
Not Recommended For Young Children
Frequent non explicit violence
Alberta pg Parental guidance is advised. Theme or content may not be suitable for all children. Violence,
Not Recommended For Young Children
Science Fiction/Action. Based on characters created by George Lucas. A disparate group of individuals (Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Riz Ahmed, Donnie Yen, Wen Jiang, voice of Alan Tudyk) are drawn together to steal the plans to a powerful weapon.

Content Elements:
Frequent portrayals of gun, weapons, and hand-to-hand violence in a science fiction context – little blood or detail

Thematic Elements:
Good versus evil
Dedication and persistence
Parent/child relationships

Classification Rationale:
Rated PG for frequent portrayals of violence in a science fiction context.

British Columbia pg Parental guidance advised. Theme or content may not be suitable for all children although there is no age restriction. Violence The following were determinative to the classification decision:

Several scenes of violence depicting physical assault, weapons and/or injury.

MPAA (U.S.A.)  PG-13 Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13. Rated PG-13 for extended sequences of sci-fi violence and action.
BBFC Cinema release suitable for 12 years and over icon No one younger than 12 may see a 12A film in a cinema unless accompanied by an adult. Moderate violence
Some versions of this film are displayed in the 3D or IMAX format and some younger children may find them a more intense experience.
ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY is a sci-fi action adventure in which a team of rebels embark upon a dangerous mission to steal the plans to a powerful weapon.

Violence: There are frequent gunfights, use of hand-held weapons, explosions and aerial dogfights between spaceships. Blood and injury detail is limited and brief.

Occasional scenes of mild threat include an interrogation and gun threat.

Australia m-au Children under 15 may legally access this material because it is an advisory category. However, M classified films and computer games may include classifiable elements such as violence and nudity of moderate impact that are not recommended for children under 15 years. Science fiction violence Australia Ratings Grid
Ireland 12Afilm.jpg Films classified 12A have been deemed appropriate for viewers of twelve and over. However, they can also be seen by younger children – provided they are accompanied by an adult who has deemed the film appropriate viewing for that child. Ireland Ratings Grid
New Zealand M label

Films and games with an M label can be sold, hired, or shown to anyone. Films with an M label are more suitable for mature audiences.

 M-V  Violence
Hong Kong IIA Not Suitable for Children Contains some extended sequences of mild violence and mild shocking scenes.
Korea  Viewing for 12 years and over Theme, Violence, Horror
Dove Foundation (USA) Dove “Family-Approved”
For Ages 12 and Over
Sex: None.

Language: None.

Violence: Several explosions, dog fights between space ships; Imperial Walkers destroy buildings, ships and people; people are killed with laser blasts with very little blood seen; people are choked; a light saber is used to repel weapons firing and the repelling kills some people.

Drugs: A cantina scene where it is possible some of the drinks are alcoholic beverages.

Nudity: A character is seen in a fluid tank and just his upper chest and face is seen.

Other: Betrayal by some characters; death and grief; tension between characters.

Click the name of the jurisdiction for more details about the classification (if available).