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July 28, 2009: "A Proposal for the MPAA" 
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Post Re: July 28, 2009: "A Proposal for the MPAA"
James:

I like your proposal.

It's amazing to think how movie content has been modified and shaped over the past thirty years in order to conform to an arbitrary rating system.


Thu Jul 30, 2009 6:28 pm
Post Re: July 28, 2009: "A Proposal for the MPAA"
Since any ratings system will probably have to be administered by a committee or board of some sort, I think it'd be imperative that any such board have several features...

1. TRANSPARENCY. All members of such board should be known, and their identities and qualifications available to the public. Any ties to the industry or outside organizations or groups should also be known.

Also, all deliberations, board minutes, and transcripts should also be acessible by the general public.

2. DIVERSITY. The board should be comprised of a broad spectrum of members from many walks of society, as well as qualified industry people and critics. I'd say that not less than 50 members would be a good start. All members should have at least a high-school diploma or trade-school certificate. Eligible ages should start at 18.

3. SUPERMAJORITY. Votes on ratings should pass only with a 2/3 majority. All votes will be recorded and published appropriately.

4. TERM LIMITS. No board member may serve for more than five years, with the exception of the Chairman, who may serve five years in that capacity plus another five as a regular member.

5. CHAIRMAN. This person will be responsible for keeping all debates civil and reasoned, not to mention timely. He/she will also ensure that all voting is fair and free of untoward outside influences, and his signature will go on all released documentation, certifying it as a true and accurate account.

The Chairman will be a position elected by a majority of the board membership (all above transparency rules apply). He/she will serve for a period of three years and will be eligible for only two terms as Chairman. no person will become eligible to run for Chairman until they have served as a board member for two years. The Chairman may serve for more than the normal five-year term, as specified above, but no person may serve on the board for more than ten combined years.


Thu Jul 30, 2009 7:40 pm
Post Re: July 28, 2009: "A Proposal for the MPAA"
Ivy Mike for International Film Ratings Board Chairman '09!


Thu Jul 30, 2009 9:08 pm
Post Re: July 28, 2009: "A Proposal for the MPAA"
Kyle wrote:
Ivy Mike for International Film Ratings Board Chairman '09!



Man, that's the LAST thing you want!

Blood, guts, gore, guns, and plenty of sex for all my men!


Thu Jul 30, 2009 9:25 pm
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Post Re: July 28, 2009: "A Proposal for the MPAA"
rblount27 wrote:
Sixteen Candles?


Bingo!


Thu Jul 30, 2009 9:53 pm
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Post Re: July 28, 2009: "A Proposal for the MPAA"
There was an old video game rating system (forgot its name) that rated individual categories like violence, language, etc. It kind of looked like a series of thermometers filled to various stages based on the rating of the particular category.

I think something like that would work best for movies. They would rate each film based on 4 categories: Violence / Sex / Language / Subject Matter. Each of those categories would have a scale of 1-4, similar to the breakdowns of G, PG, PG-13, and R.

That would be a lot much less restrictive than general age-caps, and more informative.


Fri Jul 31, 2009 1:34 am
Post Re: July 28, 2009: "A Proposal for the MPAA"
Zedferret wrote:
Ken wrote:

My new proposal is this: we are in the information age. If you are a parent in need of information about a movie you might take your kid to see, there is no excuse for not being able to find it yourself, without the assistance of a committee of cranks and housewives. In other words, there is no longer any need for a rating system whatsoever. It brings no benefit that can't be achieved by alternative means, and we've already been over the drawbacks. Let's ditch the letters and at least pretend that the parental segment of our population is capable of making its own decisions.

And before anybody says anything, it shouldn't be an issue that theaters will no longer be able to turn certain patrons away from certain movies based on the MPAA's recommendations. Influencing which movies theaters do and do not show is, at least ostensibly, outside of the purpose of the lettering system.


There are segments of the population that simply cannot be trusted with this. They would take their 7 year old to see Antichrist because they haven't got a babysitter. There are some films kids should not be able to see under any circumstances, and the ratings system should exist to prevent this, without economic considerations. The biggest flaw in the US is that there is no area between a film a kid can see (R) and and the 'adult' rating (NC17) which of course is death to box office. So no films are made for an adult audience anymore, because either kids can see them or they won't make any money. The UK system simply states the age the viewer has to be to watch the film, parental guidance is irrelevant, be it U, PG, 12, 15 or 18. Works here.

I've been to at least four 'R' rated films where some parent brought their little kids to the theater with them.

The worst instance was "Constantine" to which a couple brought their <10 year old kid. He was screaming and crying throughout the whole film until somebody else in the audience demanded that they take him out of the theater. The worst part was that the couple talked back to the people asking them to leave as if it wasn't anybody else's business whether their kid was screaming and crying throughout the film. They did leave...eventually.


Fri Jul 31, 2009 1:46 am
Post Re: July 28, 2009: "A Proposal for the MPAA"
James Berardinelli wrote:
rblount27 wrote:
Sixteen Candles?


Bingo!


Many years ago I saw it in a hotel room with my older sister on a premium channel. I had only seen it on network before so when that scene popped up I shockingly said 'whoa' and, of course, my sister never let me live it down. This is why I immediately had knew what movie you were talking about.


Fri Jul 31, 2009 9:36 am
Post Re: July 28, 2009: "A Proposal for the MPAA"
agcohn wrote:
The worst instance was "Constantine" to which a couple brought their <10 year old kid. He was screaming and crying throughout the whole film until somebody else in the audience demanded that they take him out of the theater. The worst part was that the couple talked back to the people asking them to leave as if it wasn't anybody else's business whether their kid was screaming and crying throughout the film. They did leave...eventually.

This seems to be an example of parents who shouldn't be @#$%%@@ parents. Parents do have the right (unfortunately, as in the case above) to raise their kids however they want, but without the ideas of responsibility and accountability, that right is just a burden on the rest of humanity.


Sat Aug 01, 2009 2:18 am
Post Re: July 28, 2009: "A Proposal for the MPAA"
The system in use in Québec would be considered very liberal by most commentators in the United States:

There are 4 classifications issued by the Régie du Cinéma (yes it is government):
  • G Anyone admitted
  • 13+ Must be 13 or older to be admitted
  • 16+ Must be 16 or older to be admitted
  • 18+ Must be 18 or older to be admitted
Theatre or video store can be fined for admitting people younger than the age allowed.
Children younger than 13 can see a film rated 13+ if accompanied by an adult.

Additionally there are descriptive texts that are sometimes appended such as:
  • For children
  • Not suitable for young children
  • Coarse language
  • Eroticism
  • Violence
  • Horror
  • Explicit Sexuality

Examples:
  • GI Joe: 13+ Violence
  • Bruno: 16+ Coarse Language, Eroticism
  • Slumdog Millionaire: 13+
  • Snatch: 16+ Coarse Language, Violence
  • Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince: 13+ Not suitable for young children
  • Fight Club: 18+ Violence

Not counting pornographic films, about 90% of the films exhibited in Québec receive a G rating, 9% a 13+, and the balance 16+ or 18+.


Wed Aug 12, 2009 1:16 pm
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Post Re: July 28, 2009: "A Proposal for the MPAA"
IAMovieFan wrote:
Film ratings are so worthless. I'm sick of seeing movies sliced and diced for the sake of getting softer ratings. I'm a single 29 year old male so I usually don't even know what the rating for movies I go to see. I go to a friends house every week and he has a young son. We've watched all kinds of movies with him around from G to R. I just think it's a way for control freak busy bodies with nothing else to do other than tell everyone else what to watch.


THANK YOU!!! Maybe it's because I'm not a parent yet, but when you raise a kid, you have to decide for yourself what you want your kids to watch, not someone else. To put that responsibility into someone else's hands is ridiculous. One may say that "I don't have enough time," or something like that. Bull. Make time! As a parent, you're first priority has to be your kids.
I agree with everyone on this. The MPAA is completely broken beyond repair. What started as a guide for parents to decide what they thought their kids should be able to see has now been distorted by studio clout and reactionary values to something that is so worthless that it can't even be used as a marketing tool anymore. Now "family movies" are coming out with a PG-13 rating!

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Sat Aug 15, 2009 11:06 pm
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Post Re: July 28, 2009: "A Proposal for the MPAA"
I think JB hid the nail on the head when he identified the two biggest problems with the MPPA: slack on violence and restriction on sex, and inconsistency.
The violence versus sex arguement has more to do with American values than anything, I think. Americans are so terrified of sex that it has long since crossed the line into phobia (it's made worse by the loud calls of the Christian Right groups and the apathy of everyone else). I mean sure, we don't want teenagers having sex in real life, but the thing is, it is so easy to get access to it in other ways (the internet, porn from parents or friends) that to think that the MPAA not allowing any natural sex or female nudity on screen actually makes a difference in what kids see is completely delusional. Sexuality is hormnal, and teenagers are going to have it whether the MPAA likes it of not. JB made the point that if girls have their own parts of the body that the MPAA frowns upon showing, then why are they even bothering to censor them from it? But the bottom line of this arguemnt doesn't work because there are no definitive studies that say that kids are scarred or their values are disrupted by what they see in the movies. There is no evidnece that a teenager will be more likly to have sex if they it in a movie than if they don't. This is especially clear in the film "Team America: World Police." When I heard that the film almost got an NC-17 rating because of the puppet sex, I started laughing. Were they serious? First of all, the scene was purely for comic reasons. Second of all, no matter who a scene like this is filmed, there is no possibl way to make it explict enough to warrant an R rating. Finally, little kids do it all the time when they play with dolls, regardless of whether they know what it means! My God, that was a completley stupid thing they did.
In my opinion, the lax attitude on violence is even more disturbing. I just saw "Taken" recently, and I was shocked that that got a PG-13 rating, especially if there was a similar, but less explicit, scene in "Slumdog Millionaire," which earned that film an R rating (on that note, I think that I have an idea of why Slumdog got an R rating. Maybe since the MPAA is more or less controlled by the major studios, the studios didn't want "Slumdog" damaging their chances for a good Oscar season). One could make the argument that people like action in their movies and studios have to have a selling point. I say that's bull. People like a good story. This wouldn't be an issue if Hollywood didn't keep shelling out every story over and over again and actually tried a new story. While people like familiar stuff sometimes, they really like new stuff too. Look at "The Matrix." It was a completely new story with awesome special effects, and guess what? The studios didn' expect it to be a hit!

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Sat Aug 15, 2009 11:18 pm
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Post Re: July 28, 2009: "A Proposal for the MPAA"
The ratings inconsistency has become so exaggerated that family films are getting PG-13 ratings just so they can get the biggest market. That proves two things: one, the MPAA is being run by studio clout (duh!), and two, the inconsistency has caused people to stereotype movies based on their ratings. There are a few PG-13 movies that are perfectly acceptable for kids, but most likely the studios added some minimal content to widen the market. At this rate, in a few years we'll have the Blu-Ray release of "Beauty and the Beast" getting an NC-17 for "intense subject matter involving beastiality" and the inevitable sequels to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre get G ratings and being marketed as family entertainment!

I'm going to compare two movies just like JB did in his ReelThoughts "The Two Rs." I've been watching "True Lies" since about the time I could read (age 4). There is nothing really wrong about that movie, and in all liklihood would get a PG-13 rating today (then again, Jamie Lee Curtis has a stripping scene, so it would probably earn an R in today's world too). But a few years later, I saw "The Jackal," another violent R movie. This one scared the living hell out of me! How can two films of the same genre that are so wildly different get the same rating? Worse still is "Sin City." That movie is so violent that at age 17 I was disgusted and shocked.
[Reveal] Spoiler:
I mean, Bruce Willis rips a guys balls off with his bare hands!
How is that NOT NC-17 material. And "The Passion of the Christ?" After the complaints about giving Bent an NC-17 rating to a movie that had a less graphic homosexual act than movies with more graphic heterosexual sex, Jack Valenti said, "If there's sex -- whether same gender or opposite gender -- if it crosses a line in the sand, it gets an NC-17 rating. This film crosses the line." He should have said the same thing about "Passion of the Christ." That was almost non-stop excruciating torture/violence. If that doesn't get an NC-17, then what does? The only reason that didn't get the NC-17 it deserved was because of the Christian Right market. Personally, I would have LOVED to see them complain about that! Hell, the film would have probably made even more money with that controversy added to it!

I think the one thing that would solve a lot of these problems is if the studios would take a chance and make a marketable NC-17 movie again and release it widely. I haven't seen "Showgirls," but apparently it was awful. But having one film determine the profitability of a rating is a little premature. The studios are resting on billions. They need to grow up and try it again.


Sat Aug 15, 2009 11:33 pm
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Post Re: July 28, 2009: "A Proposal for the MPAA"
I'm going to go on record to say that I'm completely happy with the MPAA. The sensitivity level of America's audiences vary so greatly, it would be veritable impossibility to please everyone with any kind of categorical rating system. Sure, the MPAA are going to miss it from time to time, but for the most part they're in the ballpark of American tastes. There's no equivalency between "Spider-man" and "Kill Bill", or "The Notebook" and "Basic Instinct", and the MPAA normally recognizes that. For movies that come closer to the lines between the ratings, a judgement gets made. We may or may not agree, but who's ever going to agree on this stuff? The MPAA ratings are only a reflection of what the MPAA thinks. I can handle that, and factor it into my decision-making. I'm an adult.

And therein lies the rub. Even under the current system, EVERY adult is empowered to make a decision for themselves or their family, whether they agree with the MPAA or not. Any adult can take any child to see an R-rated movie if they so choose. If they want their children to see an NC-17 movie, they only have to wait for it to be released on home video. Aren't parents the real group we're always saying are ultimately responsible for setting standards for their households? The current system still allows for that responsibility to play out. And now with the ubiquity of the internet firmly in place, and as some have already pointed out on this forum, sites like "kids-in-mind.com" or "screenit.com" do give very detailed content listings. If parents are that concerned, and they can crack open their local laptop and get all the information they need. The MPAA gives a generally helpful starting point without ruining all of the fun (or inadvertently giving away plot points!) by reducing a movie down to a line by line distillation of its questionable content. In the end, the gateway has always been and will always be responsible adults. I can embrace that responsibility, with thanks to the MPAA for their subjective input and other helpful organizations for their specific input, and go my merry way.


Mon Aug 24, 2009 9:29 am
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Post Re: July 28, 2009: "A Proposal for the MPAA"
Dan wrote:
I'm going to go on record to say that I'm completely happy with the MPAA. The sensitivity level of America's audiences vary so greatly, it would be veritable impossibility to please everyone with any kind of categorical rating system. Sure, the MPAA are going to miss it from time to time, but for the most part they're in the ballpark of American tastes. There's no equivalency between "Spider-man" and "Kill Bill", or "The Notebook" and "Basic Instinct", and the MPAA normally recognizes that. For movies that come closer to the lines between the ratings, a judgement gets made. We may or may not agree, but who's ever going to agree on this stuff? The MPAA ratings are only a reflection of what the MPAA thinks. I can handle that, and factor it into my decision-making. I'm an adult.

And therein lies the rub. Even under the current system, EVERY adult is empowered to make a decision for themselves or their family, whether they agree with the MPAA or not. Any adult can take any child to see an R-rated movie if they so choose. If they want their children to see an NC-17 movie, they only have to wait for it to be released on home video. Aren't parents the real group we're always saying are ultimately responsible for setting standards for their households? The current system still allows for that responsibility to play out. And now with the ubiquity of the internet firmly in place, and as some have already pointed out on this forum, sites like "kids-in-mind.com" or "screenit.com" do give very detailed content listings. If parents are that concerned, and they can crack open their local laptop and get all the information they need. The MPAA gives a generally helpful starting point without ruining all of the fun (or inadvertently giving away plot points!) by reducing a movie down to a line by line distillation of its questionable content. In the end, the gateway has always been and will always be responsible adults. I can embrace that responsibility, with thanks to the MPAA for their subjective input and other helpful organizations for their specific input, and go my merry way.



Dan-

I understand what you are saying, and I agree with your stance. However, it's not that simple. Many people (in fact, probably most of them), don't realize the problems with the MPAA, and they take it as a more or less infallliable guidance. But even you admit that it's not infalliable.
You said that the MPAA allows personal responsibility, and that's true. You also mentioned that there are other websites that list explicitly what is in the film, and that's also true. But you forgot to mention that those websites can't measure the mood of the film or the impact it would have on a certain person. While one person could enjoy a movie like "Taken," which is rated PG-13,a young child, who is allowed into the film (with or without their parents), could be seriously disturbed. A lot of that has to do with the tone of the film, and that is something that cannot be described in words.

The biggest problem we have is that movie ratings are heavily weighed in to their box office performance. The difference in a films rating can mean millions, perhaps tens of millions. With the big studio movies, that's not so much of a problem because they more or less have their way (they pretty much fund the MPAA). But an independant film has a much tougher time with the MPAA than a big studio production. Consider "Slumdog Millionaire." That had a few scenes of violence including one brief scene or torture. That earned it an R rating. "Taken," on the other hand, was a big studio movie, and that had a more graphic scene of torture, and almost constant violence. "Taken was given a PG-13 rating. Yes I know that SM went on to win Best Picture and made a ton of money, but that's beside the point. The point is, parents can't really trust the MPAA, and even though there are resources available to to give them a better idea of what their kids should be able to see, many probably don't know about them and more importantly, they're not as useful as you say they are (believe me, I've read some of them).
What's also bad is that there are many films with non-explicit sexual acts or nudity that are given an automatic higher rating just because of that. Which is worse for a kid, seeing people brutally tortured and murdered in a graphic revenge thriller ("Taken," PG-13) or a true story about a woman who ran a successful theater business featuring unmoving, nude women in a non-sexual context) before and during World War II, fought against censorship and inspired a nation withe her perserverance (Mrs. Henderson Presents, rated R just for the nudity).

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Tue Aug 25, 2009 3:09 pm
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