I think this is kind of symptomatic of the issue you’re experiencing. Batman (1989) isn’t, by any stretch of the imagination, a kid’s movie for like, little kids. It was the first 12. I remember very clearly, because in 1989, I was 11. And I wanted to see Batman. Oh boy did I want to see Batman. A whole group of us, some who were as old as 13 (haha) went to try and see it, and then one the dipshits blew our cover as the tickets were being sold (I forget exactly what he said but it was all over once he did), and we all got turned away.
Because it was a 12. It’s not for little kids. They won’t get much out of it anyway. It’s tonally very dark, and about a lot of weird stuff.
The Temple of Doom, astonishingly, was a PG. I have no idea who on the BBFC got their dick sucked or an envelope full of cash shoved in their jacket, but that is fucked up, no question. It’s also tonally dark and kind of a poor fit for kids under about 11-12.
I kind of think some of these “edits” may exist in your mind, not in the actual BBC versions. I could be completely wrong, I admit, but I never saw movies on the BBC, which were rated less than 15, which had been cut in the ways you’re describing. The BBC version of Lost Ark for example, very definitely had the propeller and face-melting scenes, I remember - particularly because whilst I just thought the face-melting was weird, the propeller scene, which was much more realistic and visceral, made me uncomfortable for years afterwards (but not actually scared or scarred - it was probably a good thing because I was extra-careful around any kind of rotating blade after that - whether a fan, a remote-control plane, or a tool). I know the version of Ghostbusters I saw as a kid had the “sexy bits” in it too, and I strongly suspect I saw that on the beeb.
Now 15s and 18s on the BBC, the edits were definitely real, and were not remotely subtle or clever like you’re saying. Robocop was a particular victim in the BBC version. Not only were the famous “melon-farmer” bit, but they changed stuff like “Bitches, leave!” too, and made some really crude edits to the gory bits.
That reflects my experience. I was a well-off kid and we often saw both the video version, and then later the BBC version. I don’t remember ever thinking “Oh, they edited the shit out of this!” about the genuine kids movies, but I really do about the 15s and 18s. “Melon-farmer” was an in-joke for quite a while among my friends (loooooooong before it came back in the '00s).
As for ET, I dunno, the swearing in that was far milder than what we used on the playground, and I was a posh kid raised not to swear, so I think you may be completely fooling yourself to think anything in that will come as a surprise to or influence your kids (if anything it might perplex them with it’s antique language), who are presumably equally well-raised but yet still live in the world, where many people are not. It was actually naturalism in dialogue that lead to the kids saying stuff like that in movies - because it reflected how children actually spoke, particularly when adults weren’t around. The whole point of movies like ET, which were quite disturbing and naturalistic despite the fantasy, was to present a reality that kids could actually relate to - with single-parent families, real-world money problems, and so on, not the fake-ass stuff from kids’ movies of the earlier eras (Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Mary Poppins come to mind). I guess I could see editing the homophobic language because it’s so out-of-time - if anything changing “faggot” to “fucker” would more accurately reflect the usage and be less nasty.
They obviously do. You know perfectly well that they do. That’s just kind of weird thing to say. What the underlying question you’re asking is, I guess, is “Why do these directors not want to see their movies changed to fit my tastes and what I perceive as suitable for my kids?”, and whilst I think that question answers itself, to a large extent, there is a bigger issue.
That is that, if you start selling a movie perceived as a “kid’s movie” with a “kid’s version” and “adult version”, the kid’s version is going to sell much better, because many people will be genuinely scared to buy the adult version, because why are there two versions, if not for the fact that one is “inappropriate” for kids? Except that neither version is actually “inappropriate”. But the director knows that, 20 years from now, a whole generation of kids who saw his movie, will have seen the bowdlerized version, and his original vision will have been lost for millions, or tens of millions of people.
It’s not that directors “don’t have kids”, it’s that they want their movie, which they feel is “appropriate for kids”, to be seen, and not to be bowdlerized for the sake of a few people, many of whom are overprotective or extremely religious or the like (I’m not saying you are, it sounds like you just want a simple option so you can relax - but the majority of people who want this clearly are either a bit mad or super-religious). Because by making that cut version, you’re signalling that the uncut version is inappropriate. Does that make sense?
I mean, another issue is, in the UK, “PG” - the whole idea behind PG was that parents were responsible, and they decided what movies kids could watch which were PG, and in some cases, which bits. Parental Guidance was called that for a reason. But PG has been treated, by our generation, as “U”, essentially, because we all watched those movies and few of us were disturbed by them. That’s not what it ever meant, though. 12 and 12a further muddied the waters. 12a being essentially the US PG-13, which just basically begs people to take kids to inappropriate movies. It’s how you get terrified six-year-olds (OR YOUNGER!) watching The Fellowship of the Ring, which fucking put the wind up me in my 20s! (Disturbing thought, that shrieking six-year-old who messed with my first view of Fellowship must now be in his 20s…).
I guess the lesson, from my perspective, is that PG means PG. I do sympathize quite strongly if part of the issue is that services like Netflix don’t let you selectively authorize movies/shows/etc. (I assume they don’t), but just have blanket age restrictions. It would be much better if you could say “PG - approved” or “PG - nope” to specific movies (which nope being the default) to customize things for you, because I don’t agree with people who think parents should monitor kids viewing 24/7 (though block YouTube tbh - that’s how the devil gets in your house!).
(Complete aside - it’s interesting how different movies impact people differently, and disturb them to different degrees. I watched The Untouchables (18) at 12, from behind the sofa, and was pretty messed up by it, particularly the elevator brains-blown-out scene. I watched an uncut version of Robocop (18) at the same age, and was grossed out a bit, but not really disturbed by it and mostly just enjoyed the hell out of it. I saw Return to Oz (U) at maybe 13-14, and that disturbed me a bit. I guess I’m just musing on how I think we overly focus on the content of a movie - swearing, violence, sex - and often miss which movies are actually going to disturb or upset kids, who are very sensitive to tone. There were plenty of tonally-scary B&W movies, or even Doctor Who episodes that were scarier for me, as a kid, than some flashy 15s or even 18s. I had nightmares about Quatermass and the Pit, not Aliens, for example.)