Discussion of movies and ReelThoughts topics

It is currently Thu Oct 23, 2014 12:09 am




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 55 posts ]  Go to page Previous  1, 2, 3  Next
July 28, 2009: "A Proposal for the MPAA" 
Author Message
Critic
User avatar

Joined: Wed Jul 29, 2009 9:35 am
Posts: 7485
Location: Easton, MD
Post Re: July 28, 2009: "A Proposal for the MPAA"
I think Ken is the only person here who's really on to something. Arguing over which country has the best rating system is like arguing over which form of censorship is less terrible:as long as there is a rating system, there is censorship Why do films need rating systems? An 8 year old can go into a library and borrow Lady Chatterley's Lover or The City and The Pillar or The Anarchist's Cookbook without having an adult guardian. No one seems terribly concerned about that. Yet a 14 year old can't see Waiting for fucking Guffman (which commits the capital crime of having two "fucks" instead of only one and was thus R-rated despite being an unbelievably tame film) without a parent? The problem is not just the MPAA, the problem is the nature of ratings systems. Tear it down...tear it all down.

P.S. I would exhort all of you who are interested to watch This Film is Not Yet Rated. It has major flaws as a film but it's very illuminating when it comes to the MPAA

_________________
I'm lithe and fierce as a tiger


Wed Jul 29, 2009 9:44 am
Profile
Post Re: July 28, 2009: "A Proposal for the MPAA"
James' idea sounds a lot like what HBO, Showtime, and other premium cable movie channels do. Those channels use more vague terms (Strong Sexual Content, Violence, Nudity, etc.), but James' idea is essentially what they do, with more detail. In theory, I agree with the proposal.

James' second issue is the reason it will never work. People just aren't going to accept allowing kids to walk into whatever movie they want. I understand that there are already ways for kids to go around those rules, but people won't accept foregoing those rules altogether. It's similar to the giving out condoms in public schools debate. Kids are having sex, and will continue, so why not provide them with protection? The counterargument is providing condoms is basically encouraging kids to have sex. This is basically the same concept, with one large difference. Kids are already getting into R rated movies, and will continue, but there is nothing to protect them in this case. It's just saying, screw it, some already do it, so we might as well let them all do it. It would be like telling kids to go out and have unprotected sex because other kids are doing it. Now, you can say having unprotected sex is much more detrimental to kids than seeing R rated movies, and you'd be correct. But, quantifying the amount of damage done to the child isn't the goal of this exercise. The fact that a ratings system exists is generally seen as proof to most that some kind of damage is done to a child if they see, or consistently see, R rated movies. If you accept that most people think kids are being hurt by seeing an R rated movie, then it's going to be nearly impossible to sell to them that we should allow kids to see whatever movie they want.

Whether or not seeing R rated movies actually does damage is a separate debate - and ultimately irrelevant to this one because the prevailing mindset is that kids shouldn't see R rated movies. If you don't think R rated movies hurt children, then it would seem trying to change that mindset would be more beneficial than changing the ratings system.


Wed Jul 29, 2009 10:17 am
Site Admin

Joined: Thu Jan 22, 2009 10:55 pm
Posts: 3167
Location: Mount Laurel, NJ, USA
Post Re: July 28, 2009: "A Proposal for the MPAA"
jbucksnb wrote:
I'd personally have no problem if they allowed parents to buy the tickets up front and then let their children see the movie by themselves. Who is the MPAA or the theater to say that they are better parents than mine?

How would you be able to contact the MPAA to ask questions?


One problem with our current society is that parents are too willing to abdicate responsibility. (I'm a great believer in personal/parental responsibility.) There was a time when parents regarded a "PG" seriously. In other words, many of them would actually see the movie before deciding whether or not it was suitable for their children to see. Now, most parents look at the rating and decide: OK, it's PG/PG-13, must be okay for the kids to see.

Ultimately, though, it's a parental decision. I would have no problem with a 13-year old son or daughter seeing a movie with frontal nudity. But I realize there are many people who feel differently. Live and let live. However, I don't believe that my children should be prevented from seeing a movie because someone else believes it inappropriate.

About the MPAA - they're a rather secretive organization and while there is an e-mail address somewhere to contact them, they do not answer specific questions. All you get is a canned response thanking you for the question and providing a FAQ about who they are, what they do, and what each of the ratings represent.


Wed Jul 29, 2009 10:28 am
Profile WWW
Post Re: July 28, 2009: "A Proposal for the MPAA"
There is a web site called "Kids in Mind", http://www.kids-in-mind.com/, which give a numerical rating for all films between zero and 10 for each of these 3 categories:

SEX & NUDITY
VIOLENCE & GORE
PROFANITY

The higher the number, the more frequent and severe the occurrences are. In addition, there is a detailed accounting of each occurrence found.

Couldn't a numerical system similar to this one, perhaps using the average of the three numbers, serve as a scale to assign age suitability for films? For example, an average of 7 or more might be equivalent to an R rating. At least parents would know exactly what acts of SEX & NUDITY, VIOLENCE & GORE, and PROFANITY exist in each film.


Last edited by jmayer on Wed Jul 29, 2009 10:45 am, edited 1 time in total.



Wed Jul 29, 2009 10:41 am
Site Admin

Joined: Thu Jan 22, 2009 10:55 pm
Posts: 3167
Location: Mount Laurel, NJ, USA
Post Re: July 28, 2009: "A Proposal for the MPAA"
One thing that might be helpful for the discussion is to note that the MPAA is empowered by all of the major Hollywood studios (they fund and support it). The ratings are guidelines and are not legally enforceable. Movies can be (and in rare cases are) released without ratings. IFC, for example, is not a member of the MPAA. They can have films rated (many of their major releases are) but because they are not an MPAA member, they can release unrated films, so many of their smaller releases go unrated. Typically, multiplexes will not play unrated movies, but art houses will.

It is not illegal for a child to see an R-rated movie or for a multiplex to allow a child to see an R-rated movie. Children sneaking into R-rated movies are not breaking the law (unless you want to talk about "theft of services," but I'd rather not go there right now). Most multiplexes have agreed to abide by the MPAA's system, although few do anything more than pay lip service to that agreement. If someone clearly looks underage, they will not be able to buy a ticket to an R-rated movie, but (at least where I live), I have never seen or heard of someone being stopped when entering an auditorium showing an R-rated movie.

A tangential issue is "Unrated" DVD releases. When a movie is in any way altered from its theatrical release, even if it's just a matter of a minor change, it must go through the MPAA process again and be re-rated. It's entirely possible that the re-rating will be the same as the original rating, but no rating can be assigned unless the exact version being released has been examined by the MPAA. A number of years ago, when studios started re-inserting deleted scenes into DVD releases, they found it to be cheaper and cleaner to forego re-rating, so extended edition DVDs were often released "unrated." Soon, it was determined that this could be an effective marketing tool. Now, an unrated DVD is often deemed more desirable than the rated one because there is an assumption that the content is stronger or more salacious when, in fact, that may not be the case.


Wed Jul 29, 2009 10:42 am
Profile WWW
Post Re: July 28, 2009: "A Proposal for the MPAA"
Re: censorship - James' system is a non-rating. It is a descriptor system. I think it addresses the problems by answering a different question. Ultimately, the rating system is to provide information to parents. This focuses the question on that as opposed to a legalistic framework that asks the theatres to enforce.

Theatres could always advertise, "we don't allow children to buy tickets to films like X without a guardian." or use the descriptors to set their own age.

I'm all for more information. The most useful site to me has been Kids-in-mind, which has detailed information. I do find their number rankings helpful also, and think it could be a good complement to what James is proposing. Right now, with kids at 9 and 10, a five in violence is cause for rethinking (though we saw Half-Blood Prince which was 6, but they had read the book); a four for sex, and a three for profanity. http://www.kids-in-mind.com. I use the ratings as much for us now as for them. R tells me nothing. "Persistent graphic violence; torture" tells me I won't enjoy it.


Wed Jul 29, 2009 3:46 pm
Post Re: July 28, 2009: "A Proposal for the MPAA"
James Berardinelli wrote:

A tangential issue is "Unrated" DVD releases. When a movie is in any way altered from its theatrical release, even if it's just a matter of a minor change, it must go through the MPAA process again and be re-rated. It's entirely possible that the re-rating will be the same as the original rating, but no rating can be assigned unless the exact version being released has been examined by the MPAA. A number of years ago, when studios started re-inserting deleted scenes into DVD releases, they found it to be cheaper and cleaner to forego re-rating, so extended edition DVDs were often released "unrated." Soon, it was determined that this could be an effective marketing tool. Now, an unrated DVD is often deemed more desirable than the rated one because there is an assumption that the content is stronger or more salacious when, in fact, that may not be the case.


Usually the whole "Unrated" DVD thing is just some marketing gimmick to milk more money out of a movie. The studio just takes deleted footage and puts it back in for no apparent reason. At least "Director's Cuts" (for the most part) have artistic purposes to them and not just financial ones.


Wed Jul 29, 2009 3:47 pm
Post Re: July 28, 2009: "A Proposal for the MPAA"
Whenever complaining about the MPAA, people always note the R-rating for "Slumdog Millionaire" or "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind." Everyone forgets that "Frost/Nixon" was given an R-rating without reason. The poster and DVD box says "For Some Language" but they only dropped the f-bomb twice. I think that when criticizing the MPAA for it's crappy ratings system, instead of pointing out "Slumdog Millionaire" where an R-rating can some what be justified, they should focus on "Frost/Nixon."


Wed Jul 29, 2009 8:04 pm
Site Admin

Joined: Thu Jan 22, 2009 10:55 pm
Posts: 3167
Location: Mount Laurel, NJ, USA
Post Re: July 28, 2009: "A Proposal for the MPAA"
ronspopcornreviews wrote:
Whenever complaining about the MPAA, people always note the R-rating for "Slumdog Millionaire" or "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind." Everyone forgets that "Frost/Nixon" was given an R-rating without reason. The poster and DVD box says "For Some Language" but they only dropped the f-bomb twice. I think that when criticizing the MPAA for it's crappy ratings system, instead of pointing out "Slumdog Millionaire" where an R-rating can some what be justified, they should focus on "Frost/Nixon."


There was also nudity in FROST/NIXON. I'm pretty sure that weighed more heavily with the MPAA than the profanity.

Although there is a PG movie out there (and a fairly well-known one) with both a breast shot and a "fuck" in it.


Wed Jul 29, 2009 8:37 pm
Profile WWW
Post Re: July 28, 2009: "A Proposal for the MPAA"
Yeah, every once in awhile the MPAA mess up when rating a film and don't follow their guidelines, one example was the Chuck Norris film Lone Wolf McQuade, which to my surprise was rated PG! Not only was it a pretty violent film, it also had the f-word not once but twice! But nobody ever complained about that, which shows that the ratings are bullshit. Another odd thing is the whole business of wanting movies that feature smoking to get an automatic R-rating? Yet they aren't concerned about PG-13 films that feature characters high on marijuana like TF2 or Eye Of The Dolphin? especially since smoking marijuana is illegal( which it shouldn't be since it hasn't been proven to cause a single death, but that's for another topic) and smoking cigarretes isn't? I tell you I don't think even Stephen Hawking could come up with an explanation for how and why the MPAA rates movies the way they do :roll:


Wed Jul 29, 2009 8:54 pm
Post Re: July 28, 2009: "A Proposal for the MPAA"
Vexer wrote:
Yeah, every once in awhile the MPAA mess up when rating a film and don't follow their guidelines, one example was the Chuck Norris film Lone Wolf McQuade, which to my surprise was rated PG! Not only was it a pretty violent film, it also had the f-word not once but twice! But nobody ever complained about that, which shows that the ratings are bullshit.


If I remember right Wolf came out in '77, before the ultra-draconian guidelines or the PG-13 rating.


Wed Jul 29, 2009 9:47 pm
Post Re: July 28, 2009: "A Proposal for the MPAA"
Quote:
Although there is a PG movie out there (and a fairly well-known one) with both a breast shot and a "fuck" in it.


Okay, don't keep us in suspense, JB. Which movie is it?


Wed Jul 29, 2009 9:51 pm
Post Re: July 28, 2009: "A Proposal for the MPAA"
KRoss wrote:
Quote:
Although there is a PG movie out there (and a fairly well-known one) with both a breast shot and a "fuck" in it.


Okay, don't keep us in suspense, JB. Which movie is it?


Is it Airplane!? I remember the boobs but not any fucks.

And I know Big had a fuck but no boobs.

Is there a movie called Big Airplane?


Wed Jul 29, 2009 9:53 pm
Post Re: July 28, 2009: "A Proposal for the MPAA"
Sixteen Candles?


Wed Jul 29, 2009 10:47 pm
Post Re: July 28, 2009: "A Proposal for the MPAA"
Patrick wrote:
Vexer wrote:
Yeah, every once in awhile the MPAA mess up when rating a film and don't follow their guidelines, one example was the Chuck Norris film Lone Wolf McQuade, which to my surprise was rated PG! Not only was it a pretty violent film, it also had the f-word not once but twice! But nobody ever complained about that, which shows that the ratings are bullshit.


If I remember right Wolf came out in '77, before the ultra-draconian guidelines or the PG-13 rating.

Um, actually the movie came out in 1983. Still before the PG-13 rating, but you'd think the DVD release would've gotten an R with having the F-word said twice, cause that's definitely not the type of film you want kids watching.


Wed Jul 29, 2009 11:30 pm
Post Re: July 28, 2009: "A Proposal for the MPAA"
Vexer wrote:
Patrick wrote:
Vexer wrote:
Yeah, every once in awhile the MPAA mess up when rating a film and don't follow their guidelines, one example was the Chuck Norris film Lone Wolf McQuade, which to my surprise was rated PG! Not only was it a pretty violent film, it also had the f-word not once but twice! But nobody ever complained about that, which shows that the ratings are bullshit.


If I remember right Wolf came out in '77, before the ultra-draconian guidelines or the PG-13 rating.

Um, actually the movie came out in 1983. Still before the PG-13 rating, but you'd think the DVD release would've gotten an R with having the F-word said twice, cause that's definitely not the type of film you want kids watching.


You would think that.....but no one wants to re-submit a movie to be re-rated, especially Chuck Norris movies. With the creating a new rating of Awesome and making sure the descriptions accurately display all the Chuck Norris facts being used and no one wants to do that.


Wed Jul 29, 2009 11:39 pm
Post Re: July 28, 2009: "A Proposal for the MPAA"
I don't get all this

It's not like ratings actually matter

Kids buy tickets for one movie and jump into an R rated movie on the next screen

the theaters don't care as they are selling refreshments

the studios don't care as they are selling tickets

the unrated cut arrives a few weeks later on DVD anyway

Rob


Thu Jul 30, 2009 12:09 am
Post Re: July 28, 2009: "A Proposal for the MPAA"
First of all, the issue is simply not censorship. No one forces anyone to cut their film to get to an R rating.

Much as I agree that parental and personal responsibility should be the most important factor, that's an unreliable method. There has to be a system of some sort.

To me, something along these lines makes the most sense:

E - Everyone. All G rated films, kids movies, etc, and the most inoffensive PG films. I feel like this is a valuable rating for parents. SHREK, SPY KIDS, THE ROOKIE, FATHER OF THE BRIDE.

PG - Parental Guidance. The "hard" PGs (haha), PG-13s, the Slumdog-esque Rs, films rated R only for language and non-graphic violence, or with a small amount of non-graphic nudity. THE DARK KNIGHT, GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS, THE STATION AGENT, AVP.

R - Restriced to those 16 and older. Extensive graphic violence, graphic nudity/extensive sexuality. SAVING PRIVATE RYAN, THE DREAMERS, THE READER, THE DEPARTED.

Now please understand that I'm not saying graphic violence and graphic sex are equally offensive. But the fact is that some parents wish to keep their kids away from some of that, at least without supervision, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. I don't think it harms the kid if he or she sees sex and nudity, but it's not like it's helpful either, so why not give parents a chance? Plus, as a viewer, it'd be nice to not have the youngest ones in the theatre for certain movies.

I do think theaters should allow parents to purchase tickets for their kids and not accompany them (maybe set a 12-and-over rule for this, and make it be the parent/adult, not their 20 year old friend).

I think the need for some sort of system is clear. I think regardless of the system, the extended Rating Reasons that James mentions are a valuable addition.


Thu Jul 30, 2009 1:32 pm
Post Re: July 28, 2009: "A Proposal for the MPAA"
Patrick wrote:
KRoss wrote:
Quote:
Although there is a PG movie out there (and a fairly well-known one) with both a breast shot and a "fuck" in it.


Okay, don't keep us in suspense, JB. Which movie is it?


Is it Airplane!? I remember the boobs but not any fucks.

And I know Big had a fuck but no boobs.

Is there a movie called Big Airplane?



I was thinking 'Manon Of The Springs', which has one nude scene and is still rated PG, but then he said 'well-known', which the film and it's predecessor are tragically on the wrong side of :(


Thu Jul 30, 2009 2:49 pm
Post Re: July 28, 2009: "A Proposal for the MPAA"
What to replace it with?

I've got a suggestion: nothing.

No one needs a bunch of rich friends-of-the-system dilettantes telling them whether they are allowed to watch a movie or not. What is this, Soviet Russia? Even parents, whose intellectual faculties seem to be take a strong dip after having children, should be able to figure out whether a movie is suitable for their children or not (there are plenty of rating systems out there, including on the Internet). In fact, the whole function of the ratings could be, we assume, fulfilled even if the ratings had no executive effect: but of course that's how we know the real goal of the ratings is censorship and the repression of children, not protecting children.

This is, of course, how those things always work. And for Berardinelli to defend it, even though he's obviously pretty smart and already understands the purpose of the ratings, well, I'm not that surprised, just a bit disappointed.


Thu Jul 30, 2009 3:47 pm
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 55 posts ]  Go to page Previous  1, 2, 3  Next


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
Powered by phpBB © 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007 phpBB Group.
Designed by Vjacheslav Trushkin for Free Forum/DivisionCore.
Translated by Xaphos © 2007, 2008, 2009 phpBB.fr