When the Motion Picture Association of America gives the same R rating to both The King’s Speech and films like Straw Dogs and torture porn films like The Saw series, we know that it’s time for a major change. (Are you listening, former Senator Christopher Dodd, new Chairman and CEO of the MPAA?)
As I previously noted here, until 1984 there were only 4 film ratings: G, PG, R, and X. Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom, Stephen Spielberg’s Raiders of The Lost Ark sequel, changed all that. Parents were beyond irate at the graphic violence in the supposedly PG-rated film, most particularly a scene in which a still-beating human heart was literally ripped out of a man’s chest. There was such an outcry that the MPAA created a new PG-13 rating to act as a buffer between PG and R. X was also subsequently changed to NC-17 but is rarely used.
Besides the fact that the PG-13 rating is now given to films that seemingly should be rated R (please see my 8/11 blog “PG-13. Really?”) all films that have language, violence, and sexual situations that are deemed to be beyond the PG-13 rating are lumped under the same R rating as The King’s Speech..
And that’s absurd.
The King’s Speech which quite deservedly won the Oscar earlier this year for Best Picture, was rated R because of one–that’s correct: one–profanity-laden tirade by a future King of England who was so frustrated with his own stuttering that he exploded into a brief episode of swearing at his own predicament, not even at another human being.
So, a brilliant, moving, classy and classic film gets lumped in the same category with a let’s-see-how much-human-viciousness-pain-and-terror-we-can-actually-show film.
It’s time for another change:
Let’s keep the rarely used NC-17 for films that are not to be attended by anyone under 18 for any reason.
For those 14-17, let’s retire the R altogether and replace it with:
V : The film is so violent that no one under 57 (well, OK, 17) is admitted without parent or adult guardian. And let’s make sure theaters enforce the restriction.
S : The film has sexual situations that parents should consider before allowing kids 14-17 to attend.
L : The film has language issues that parents should consider for those 14-17.
These ratings will make the V rating stand out because it’s the only one of the new ratings that actually restricts attendance. I believe that violence is much more of a threat to teen psyches than language and consensual sex.
I for one would much prefer a movie world where teenagers swear from time to time (which they do anyway) and make love (not just have sex–make love..which they also do anyway) than be subjected to the desensitizing, mind-numbing inhumanity of violence that has already been deemed to be too graphic for a film to be PG-13.
As a 100% believer in the First Amendment, I completely support any filmmaker in making any film he or she wants to make if someone wants to finance and distribute it. That includes blood-drenched films like Natural Born Killers, etc. It is, however, beyond madness to equate savage beatings, graphic rapes, and explicit torture with language and consensual sex.
If you agree, please send this blog on to your friends, the MPAA, and anyone else in any capacity you see fit and, whether you agree or disagree, please join our conversation here!