Some of the wonderful things rattling around in this full brain 'o mine. UPDATED EVERY TUESDAY AND THURSDAY (or at least twice a week)

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

MPAA Wants New Rating For 'Hard R' - otherwise known as "Parents too lazy to give a crap"

"MPAA chairman Dan Glickman is trying to find a new rating that will group together the movies that currently tip the dirtier scale of the R-rating -- the 'hard R' films that contain copious amounts of nudity, the f-word every three seconds, or gruesome torture-horror imagery, for instance."
read more digg story

So…the debate rages on. Apparently, parents now want something to dictate when they’re letting their children see a “soft R” versus a “hard R” film. I’m sorry, doesn’t this already exist? It’s called NC-17, but unfortunately, most rental chains, and movie theaters won’t carry these films anymore. Mostly, it’s because if it’s NC-17 rated, people often assume it as a smut fest. The last movie I can think of that created any sort of buzz being NC-17 was Showgirls. Mostly because it was so horrible. I remember watching it years later (not my idea) and thinking, “This was NC-17?” It really wasn’t any worse that most other movies I saw as R growing up.

This gets me thinking though…instead of adding another rating, why not just start enforcing the ratings that are already in place. From the MPAA Website:

“This rating declares that the Rating Board believes this is a film that most parents will consider patently too adult for their youngsters under 17. No children will be admitted. NC-17 does not necessarily mean obscene or pornographic; in the oft-accepted or legal meaning of those words. The Board does not and cannot mark films with those words. These are legal terms for courts to decide. The reasons for the application of an NC-17 rating can be excessive violence, sex, aberrational behavior, drug abuse or any other elements which, when present, most parents would consider too strong and therefore off-limits for viewing by their children.”

Interesting, in that sense, then most of the following films probably should have been NC-17:
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
Sin City
Saving Private Ryan
And other films of their ilk.

Just for fun, here are the definitions of PG-13 and R:

“PG-13 is thus a sterner warning to parents, particularly when deciding which movies are not suitable for younger children. Parents, by the rating, are alerted to be very careful about the attendance of their under-teenage children. A PG-13 film is one which, in the view of the Rating Board, leaps beyond the boundaries of the PG rating in theme, violence, nudity, sensuality, language, or other contents, but does not quite fit within the restricted R category. Any drug use content will initially require at least a PG-13 rating. In effect, the PG-13 cautions parents with more stringency than usual to give special attention to this film before they allow their 12-year-olds and younger to attend. If nudity is sexually oriented, the film will generally not be found in the PG-13 category. If violence is too rough or persistent, the film goes into the R (restricted) rating. A film's single use of one of the harsher sexually derived words, though only as an expletive, shall initially require the Rating Board to issue that film at least a PG-13 rating. More than one such expletive must lead the Rating Board to issue a film an R rating, as must even one of these words used in a sexual context. These films can be rated less severely, however, if by a special vote, the Rating Board feels that a lesser rating would more responsibly reflect the opinion of American parents.

I love the following part:
“PG-13 places larger responsibilities on parents for their children and movie going. The voluntary rating system is not a surrogate parent, nor should it be. It cannot, and should not, insert itself in family decisions that only parents can make. Its purpose is to give pre-screened informational warnings, so that parents can form their own judgments. PG-13 is designed to make parental decisions easier for films between PG and R.”

“In the opinion of the Rating Board, this film definitely contains some adult material. Parents are strongly urged to find out more about this film before they allow their children to accompany them. An R-rated film may include strong language, violence, nudity, drug abuse, other elements, or a combination of the above, so parents are counseled in advance to take this advisory rating very seriously. “

Hmm. Compared to the other ratings, R leaves the most open interpretation. Probably by design. I remember working at the movie theater and having to have parents by their kids tickets to R rated films. I also remember a time when we couldn’t let any child in under the age of 18 to an R film, unless their parent was specifically going with them to it.

Basically, the R-rating is there to let parents know that they should take an extremely close look before allowing their kids to go see these movies. To that fact, the MPAA does a decent job. They don’t often hand out NC-17 ratings to movies undeserving, and they’ll work with the studios to get a certain rating. Example, I remember reading an article interview Mark Steven Johnson where he mentioned they could only have one great transformation scene in Ghost Rider to keep the PG-13 rating they were going for. Turns out the MPAA frowns upon people being on fire and having their skin melted off. Understandable.

Bottom line, those ratings are their for a reason folks. I again put this on the parents. If you’re going to let your kids go to R movies, then find out why they’re rated R in the first place. Start with any movie website (like They show the rating, and there’s usually a short blurb from the MPAA telling why this movie is rated as such.

R for brutal scenes of torture and violence, strong sexual content, language and drug use.

Star Wars: Episode III
PG-13 for sci-fi violence and some intense images.

Batman Begins:
PG-13 for intense action violence, disturbing images and some thematic elements.

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas:
R for pervasive extreme drug use and related bizarre behavior, strong language, and brief nudity.

I know those are gross generalizations, but if you’re a parent, and you still don’t get it, then go ask the people at the movie theater. Odds are, out of any 4 people working at the theater at any given time, together they’ve seen every movie in their theater. That’s the reason they work there in the first place, free movies. Ask them, they’ll tell you if there’s anything particularly disturbing, or bloody, or nude in the movie. All you have to do is ask.

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