Random Factoid #506

16 12 2010

I’ve written plenty on the baffling MPAA ratings system on this site (and offsite as well: it was the topic of my 8th grade social issues research paper).  For example, in Random Factoid #310, I wrote about the ridiculous descriptors they use in their ratings like “bullying” or “a brief instance of smoking.”  In Random Factoid #389, I criticized their campaign to get cigarettes out of movies while they let the promotion of violence run wild.  In Random Factoid #441, I attacked their need to point out male nudity to audiences but turn a blind eye to female nudity.

And back when “Blue Valentine” was still rated NC-17, I advocated the abolition of the rating altogether in Random Factoid #437.  Here was my modest proposal for the alternative:

“The R rating carries with it the assumption that moviegoers under 17 can’t buy their own ticket; someone has to buy it for them.  By barring people from certain movies, the MPAA either takes over the role of the parent and claims they know best OR they acknowledge that the R rating is too weak.  Why not strengthen the protection around R-rated movies as an alternative?  Crack down on lazy theaters that don’t enforce R ratings tough enough, and that should keep the people who don’t have permission to see R-rated movies out of them.”

But there’s only so much an 18-year-old amateur blogger from Houston can do.  However, there is a whole lot a certain legendary critic from Chicago can.  Roger Ebert can’t speak anymore, but darned if he isn’t one of the most vocal critics of the current system of movie ratings set in place by the MPAA.  He argues that “there are only two meaningful ratings: R and not-R.”

To a certain extent I agree – at least from where I’m sitting at my age.  I’m very glad to be able to see any movie I want at the theater with my ID, and now I want every movie to cater to me.  I don’t want movies to be watered down so kids five years younger than me can go see them without having to drag mommy or daddy with them to the theater.  For example, my enthusiasm was somewhat dampened for “The Social Network” when I found out that it was rated PG-13 and not R (but all the reviews convinced me not to despair).

Ebert says that the ratings have to change because we have changed as a society, and that the ratings system need to reflect the reality that tolerance levels have changed drastically.  Here’s his proposed system:

“Perhaps only three categories are needed: ‘G,’ for young audiences,’T’ for teenagers, and ‘A’ for adults. These categories would be not be keyed to specific content but would reflect the board’s considered advice about a film’s gestalt and intended audience. At a time when literally any content can find its way into most American homes, what’s the point of singling out theatrical films? It’s time to admit we’ve lost our innocence.”

While I like his suggestion, I think the audience and content ratings would need to be separated for business’ sake.  A movie with adult content can still be a hit with teenagers (for the quintessential example, look no further than “Black Swan“), but if it isn’t rated “T” in Ebert’s system, why would this age group want to see it?



One response

17 12 2010

Frankly I’m okay with a over/under 15 system. By 15 you can either handle sex and violence or you can’t. And if you are under 15 your parents can accompany you.

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