Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

When Ratings used to be as simple as ABC and PG-13

Online Dating

Mingle2 - Online Dating

In a recent Entertainment Weekly essay by Mark Harris(he's one of the guys who contributes the end piece for the back page,along with Dalton Ross and Stephen King),the movie ratings system was under fire for not being effective enough to bar underage viewers from the likes of Hostel II. Here's a couple of qoutes:

"Last weekend, Eli Roth's Hostel: Part II opened. According to the raters, it contains ''sadistic scenes of torture and bloody violence, terror, nudity, sexual content, language, and some drug content.''..... Hostel: Part II is rated R, which means it's perfectly okay to take a 5-year-old to see it if you can't get a sitter."

"Having seen Hostel: Part II, I'll spare you my feelings about why can you top this? horror comedies about torture are not my idea of a fun night out (although contrary to rumor, Roth is neither untalented nor the Antichrist). I'd rather expend my indignation on the people who gave the movie a rating that, in practical terms, is no different from a G. All that an R rating mandates is that a child doesn't walk into Hostel: Part II alone, as if the presence of a grown-up ''guardian'' magically renders a movie more appropriate for grade-schoolers. Of course, the raters could have given it an NC-17, which would have kept all children out. But they looked at that nude, tortured woman and genital mutilation, and decided it didn't cross the line. For that — and in the spirit of Roth's movie — I say off with their heads."

Now,I'm no fan of Hostel II but to me,the amazing part is that someone would look at that detailed outline of content that makes the movie an R rated film and be surprised at what they're seeing onscreen. It's about as shocking as Renault finding gambling going on at Rick's. I do agree that the rating system is flawed and overly favors big budget Hollywood features over the indie flick,but these laundry lists of objectionable items to alledgedly help folks decide if little Timmy or Tina should see this film are sometimes more funny than most of the comedy movies out there.

For example,what is the difference between "sci-fi violence","action violence" and"substained strong stylized violence"? What is a "sexual situation"-some might find a couple getting hot and heavy in the backseat of a car a sexual situation but another person could consider holding hands just as steamy.

Check out this sidebar for the upcoming R rated film,Superbad-" Rated R for pervasive crude and sexual content, strong language, drinking, some drug use and a fantasy/comic violent image - all involving teens." Well,thank goodness,they told us that it was involving teens! I couldn't tell that just from looking at the poster or watching the ads for it! Why,I might have thought that it was just perfect for me and that whole group of 7 year old orphans who couldn't get tickets for Ratatouille! Thanks,movie ratings people!

My point is,there used to be a time when a person would just look at the film rating and know what kind of movie they were going to get. Even when the PG-13 rating was born,folks quickly caught to the fact that it was more of an R rated Lite. Nowadays,we're being given pretty much a total breakdown of what to look out for and still that's not good enough for some people.

Look,if we have to have a ratings system here,it's the responsibility of the movie going public to actually pay attention to it and not insist on being spoonfed information just to be able to say"it's not my fault" if something goes awry. One of the main probelms here is that many people refuse to fully comprehend what's in front of them. The kind of person that would go into a store with a "Open 24-7" sign on the front door and ask the clerk,"Are you open on Sundays?"

We can not pad all of the harsh edges of the world,real or fantasy,just to keep those who are mentally lazy safe and secure. I'm not accusing Mark Harris of being one of those folk but his solution of just dropping the NC-17(which is hardly ever used,anyway) and putting out "maximum information about movie content" via a website isn't going to cut it. You can lead a horse to water,even a huge wading pool of it,but you can't make him or her drink. I would just settle for ticket buyers to be more proactive in their viewing choices,for themselves and their kids.


Pop Culture Diva said...

I hear you. I contribute problems to children being desensitized to violence and sex, which isn't appropriate for children under 17 regardless of what they've seen in video games. The NC-17 needs to be used more and parents need to step up and take responibility for what their kids watch. Also, get a damn babysitter!

Julia Stewart said...

I have thought for a long time that movie theaters (like Gyms) should have on-site child care. Nothing fancy. Just a room for big kids a section for little ones... some toys and a G movie playing. A couple bucks an hour per kid and Voila! Problem solved...kind of :-)

lady t said...

There are some movie theaters in my area that have a special kid's section but you have to rent it out for parties:( It should be offered for a reasonable fee as a standing feature,IMO.

I agree,PCD,that taking personal responsibility would solve this probelm and many others in our society.