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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » A compilation on the broken film rating system.

   
Author Topic: A compilation on the broken film rating system.
Puffy Treat
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Seriously.

The excellent film The Orphanage got an R rating, but it had far less explicit gore and bloody violence than Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End did. There's something very wrong about that.

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Eaquae Legit
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I've sometimes wondered about the ratings system. I've never paid much attention, being of an age to go see whatever I want, but I imagine once I have kids it's going to be a lot more important.

Good thing I tend to rely on Hatrack more than the MPAA.

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mr_porteiro_head
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The article complains several times about how the f-word shouldn't make things rated R. I'm not convinced that that line needs to be moved.
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JonHecht
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My parents never cared about ratings. I saw my first R-rated film when I was five, and I turned out just fine. Well, I didn't turn out badly.
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pooka
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A single instance of the f-word doesn't make a film R rated. Should the line, in your view, be moved back?

I know it's largely a commercial question, and I think movies that want to be a blockbuster there first week are market-oriented, and no one is harmed artistically, at that point, by pruning the film to fit a PG-13 mold. If people want to chase the dollar, they have to deal with the consequences.

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pooka
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As for whether a lot of those films should have been rated R, I'd probably agree for most of them, and they should have pressed for a couple of things to be cut from Pirates III. The X Men sequels were also overly violent, in my opinion.
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MightyCow
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I said the F-word the first time in 2nd grade. Clearly, not hearing it in R-rated movies didn't stop any of the kids I knew from hearing it.
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Joldo
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I'm amazed that far higher levels of violence can make it into a PG-13 film, but any hints of nudity or sexuality are instantly siezed on as dangerous elements.
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Puffy Treat
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The rise in sexually charged books, fashions, and TV shows aimed at the lower teen set may change that. Is it just me or is the YA market getting particularly racy, these days?
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Puffy Treat
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quote:
Originally posted by mr_porteiro_head:
The article complains several times about how the f-word shouldn't make things rated R. I'm not convinced that that line needs to be moved.

What's your thoughts on the lower standards violence and nudity seem to be held to, especially if the film is from a big studio?

(I agree with you on not lowering the standards for language, by the way.)

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pooka
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Beowulf was kind of an exception. I read that there was a scene in Eyes Wide Shut that would have made it rated NC-17 or even X except they used some kind of special effects to have it not be what it seemed. Likewise how they used someone who was not a minor in Lolita...
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Puffy Treat
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I think using mo cap is what made it an exception. "Oh! It's only a cartoon. Those are for kids, right?" [Big Grin]
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pooka
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Something else I think should be considered is how the consequences of an action are shown. Violence generally has an immediate consequence, at least for the victim, while sexuality results is more subtle in its life-changing effects.

I actually think the bloodless violence that took over cartoons back in the 80's is worse for kids than back when they guys in the tanks really were dying. That teaches that you can have explosions and no one gets hurt.

But I've argued over violence in videogames particularly for a long time on this forum and have gotten shouted down a lot. People just don't want to accept that viewing violence is in any way bad for you.

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MattP
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quote:
But I've argued over violence in videogames particularly for a long time on this forum and have gotten shouted down a lot. People just don't want to accept that viewing violence is in any way bad for you.
Where did you get "shouted down?" I know I've participated in a few of those types of discussions and I'd like to verify that I wasn't behaving poorly.
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Puffy Treat
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Another inconsistency (though this may be explained by things shifting over 20+ years) many of the PG and PG-13 comedies my parents took me to in the 80s included the occasional "F Bomb".

Heck, Michael Keaton said it more than once in Beetlejuice, if I remember correctly. And that was rated PG -and- the basis for a kiddie cartoon series.

Then again, it was also the release of a big, powerful, major studio.

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MattP
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I find myself repeatedly surprised at the content of movies that I first saw as a child and am now re-viewing as an adult with children. There is a lot of eyebrow raising stuff which I never really noticed as a child. Of course, that makes me wonder about how much influence that sort of stuff has in the first place.
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advice for robots
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I’ve noticed that PG and PG-13 movies from the 70s and 80s often have things in them that would make them R today. You’d think it would be the reverse, with things considered R back then being maybe PG-13 today.
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Pegasus
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There is some racist name calling in The Bad News Bears (1976) that would never ever be in todays movies. It certainly didn't make it into the modern re-make of that film.
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Reshpeckobiggle
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I don't recall that many f-bombs in Beetlejuice. But as far as I know, if it was rated pg-13, it wasn't said more than once.

I think context is everything as far as that goes. For instance, My Best Friends Wedding is rated PG-13, but there is one scen where Julia Roberts explains why her gay friend who was posing as her fiance flew out to see her for a few hours and she says: "To f--- me." This is on of the most offensive things I can imagine being in a PG-13 movie, and it serves no real purpose. I don't think it belongs. I've seen rated R movies with multiple uses of the word that were less offensive.

Like with any set of regulations designed with a general purpose in mind, if there is a specific limit, that limit will be pushed, thereby reducing the effectiveness of the regulations toward achieving their purpose. Nearly every PG-13 movie I've seen has the f-word in it, and it seems as though it's there just because it can be. In fact, it often detracts from an otherwise good movie, because you know when you hear it, it's usage was very carefully chosen to have the most impact, and this takes you out of the movie. If the film isn't supposed to be vulgar, then why have it at all? And if it is supposed to be vulgar, why limit yourself with a lower rating? Because you want a broader audience? Then don't make the movie vulgar.

Honestly, I just hate when things like this are done for their own sake, and no other purpose.

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MattP
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quote:
Honestly, I just hate when things like this are done for their own sake, and no other purpose.
Or maybe that's just what the writer(s) imagined that character would say at that time. I've known plenty of people who have used the f-word, but only sparingly. No rule says that a person either uses zero profanity or swears with every other word.
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Eisenoxyde
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I generally don't care for foul language either. Although in the movie Be Cool, John Travolta has one of the funniest lines I've heard in a while.

Chili Palmer: Do you know that you are willing to say the R rating, you have to say the "f" word once?
Tommy Athens: You're kidding me.
Chili Palmer: Yeah. You know what I say? F*** that. I'm done.

I definitely agree about the problems in the rating system. I never use the rating system anymore when looking at movies to watch. OSC does me a huge favor with his movie reviews though.

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sylvrdragon
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This thread reminds of a video I saw on Youtube called "Scarface short version". Be warned though, if you look it up, it is NSFW.
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Elmer's Glue
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Corvette Summer came out in 1978. If showed a woman topless. It was rated PG.
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Snail
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Actually, I'd pay good money for Finland to have a similiar rating system to the American one, faults and all, as opposed to the one we have now. Because actually the American ratings are recommendations, you're not required to follow them by law.

Because in Finland if I show any of the Harry Potter films to an 8-year old or any of the Lord of the Rings extended cuts to a 12-year old I could technically be charged with child neglect. (Not that people don't show films to children deemed underage by the law all the time, and not that there's really any possible way for the law to supervise what people watch in their homes.)

Though in Finland the whole sex/violence thing goes the opposite from the American way, if a film features only non-sexual nudity it can still be allowed for all ages to watch, but even a little violence will very swiftly up the ratings. (Artsy films made by angry French feminists that feature downright porn scenes with erect penises shown in close ups are only forbidden from children under the age of 15, which means that 13-year olds will be able to legally watch them with a guardian. Same as with Lord of the Rings.)

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ketchupqueen
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Likewise, I've watched a few movies rated "R" when they came out that would be PG-13 or even PG now.
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Reshpeckobiggle
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The very first x-rated movie was Midnight Cowboy starring Dustin Hoffman and John Voight. I think it won Best Picture. So there you go.
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The Rabbit
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They didn't have PG-13 as a rating in the 70s.

The rest of this is nothing new. At least not new in the past decades. Film producers know how to manipulate their editing so that they get the rating they want.

Since the mid-80s, it has been clear that a PG rating means the movie is targeted to children. A PG-13 rating means the movie is targeted to teens and early tweens. An R movie, means the movie is targeted to a more mature audience. So if film makers think their film is more likely to appeal to adults than teens, they throw in a couple of F bombs somewhere and voille', it's R-rated. If you have any doubt about that, take an airline flight and see how little most R movies need to be edited for a general audience. My experiences is that PG-13 movies are frequently worse in terms of being crude and/or violent than most R movies. Of course, there are exceptions but the rating system does nothing to help identify these.

And if a movie with a few F-bombs in it is inappropriate for teens, then so is high school. My 70+ year old mother is more likely to be offended by that kind of language than are my teenage nieces and nephews.

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Lyrhawn
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Normally I wouldn't care about this, because I don't have a ton of sympathy for big production studios that miss out on a few extra million because they couldn't milk the teen demographic. The people seeing the movies aren't being robbed, even the kids can rent them eventually.

The people being screwed here are the indie flicks. Perfectly good movies that sometimes get a little racy for artistic purposes that don't have the muscle to push through better ratings, but then, how many of those indie flicks were really going to be seen by 14 year olds anyway? Hard to say. I'd be okay with moving some of the ages and bars around. NC-16 and PG-14.

If for indie movies only, I'm okay with making adjustments to the ratings system. Other than that, I have a hard time believing parents wouldn't have known that Pirates or Die Hard would be too violent for their kids. Die Hard specifically took out the f-word references to hit the lower rating, they filmed them in, which is why there's an unrated version with all the f words added in (I bought it for my brother for Christmas, and he loves it). But they left in the way, way over the top violence. I'd say that's a pretty corrupt system, but I'd expect parents to know, obviously, that regardless of what the MPAA says, Die Hard is too violent for their kids.

Though in fairness, against what I was just saying, the ratings are supposed to be there to guide parents in films that they have no idea as to the content of.

Meh. I guess I don't have a firm position on this one, but my concern lies with indie films and parents who aren't sure what films are really okay for their kids to see.

But I'll say, that our society is in the middle of a culture shift. Violence is everywhere, it's on CNN, it's happening in Iraq, it's happening in the movies, on video games, on tv, everywhere. There's a push against it, but I don't seem to hear it very loudly these days. It's all in the things we choose to care about, that you can blow someone away with a shotgun and still get a PG13 rating, but one f word, or one bare breast gets you the R or worse. You can see nudity at an art museum, there's no R rating before I walk into the DIA.

Sorry, I know this post was a little rambly, but I'm sick, I can't sleep, and it's 6:30 am.

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The Rabbit
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quote:
The people being screwed here are the indie flicks. Perfectly good movies that sometimes get a little racy for artistic purposes that don't have the muscle to push through better ratings, but then, how many of those indie flicks were really going to be seen by 14 year olds anyway?
I'm sorry but I'm quite confident that indie film makers are sufficiently familiar with the rating system to know what will get them an R rating and they choose to violate those standards because they don't care.

The only real victims here are the people who believe that the rating system means anything beyond identifying the target audience. The only victims I see are those make their movie choices based on the rating thinking that they reflect something related to their values.

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BlackBlade
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Little tidbit, it was Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark that created the PG-13 rating as it was considered too scary to be a PG movie but an R rating would have sliced it's audience too much. The new rating was created as a compromise.
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Joldo
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I was surprised to see that The Graduate was PG . . .
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Shawshank
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I;m pretty sure Red Dawn was the first PG-13 movie.
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Strider
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Shawshank is right. Raiders was PG.

Thanks Wikipedia!

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Jon Boy
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According to Wikipedia, Red Dawn was indeed the first PG-13 movie released. But Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (not Raiders of the Lost Ark) was rated PG, and along with Gremlins, it prompted the creation of the PG-13 rating.
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BlackBlade
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quote:
Originally posted by Shawshank:
I;m pretty sure Red Dawn was the first PG-13 movie.

I'm positive its Indiana Jones as Steven Spielberg, in the DVD collectors set, discusses lobbying the MPAA about creating the rating before the movie came out in theatres.

Raiders of the Lost Ark precedes Red Dawn by 3 years. So if we can establish that Raiders was indeed rated PG-13 upon release then we know for sure Red Dawn at least is not the first.

edit: It seems some other hatrackers solved the mystery.

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Lyrhawn
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quote:
Originally posted by The Rabbit:
quote:
The people being screwed here are the indie flicks. Perfectly good movies that sometimes get a little racy for artistic purposes that don't have the muscle to push through better ratings, but then, how many of those indie flicks were really going to be seen by 14 year olds anyway?
I'm sorry but I'm quite confident that indie film makers are sufficiently familiar with the rating system to know what will get them an R rating and they choose to violate those standards because they don't care.

The only real victims here are the people who believe that the rating system means anything beyond identifying the target audience. The only victims I see are those make their movie choices based on the rating thinking that they reflect something related to their values.

Yeah, that's sort of why I added the bit on the end there. Meh, like I said, my thoughts on this are muddled, and I don't much care, as I don't really think the ratings mean much of anything at all other than extremely vague guidelines for what is heinously unwatchable to young kids, sometimes.

And from what I can tell then, there aren't really any people harmed by this, except unwitting parents. But I think parents paying attention know what to see and what to be pretty scrutinizing of. There are enough review sites, especially ones geared towards parents, to make up for the lack of truth in the ratings system.

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mr_porteiro_head
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quote:
I'm sorry but I'm quite confident that indie film makers are sufficiently familiar with the rating system to know what will get them an R rating and they choose to violate those standards because they don't care.
I agree.

I also think that just like the indie film makers, the big studios should change the content of their films to match the rating they wish to receive, instead of using their lobbying power to change the rating that they're given.

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msquared
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Ferris Bueller's Day Off has the F-bomb a few times and was only PG. I was surprised at that when my wife and I got it from the library so that we could watch it with our 14 yo.

The Temple of Doom scene where the bad guy pulls the still beating heart out of a victim is what prompted the PG-13 rating to be created.

msquared

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The Rabbit
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quote:
The Temple of Doom scene where the bad guy pulls the still beating heart out of a victim is what prompted the PG-13 rating to be created.
I thought it was the movie "Gremlins".
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mr_porteiro_head
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quote:
Originally posted by Jon Boy:
But Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (not Raiders of the Lost Ark) was rated PG, and along with Gremlins, it prompted the creation of the PG-13 rating.


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Jon Boy
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As I said earlier, it was both movies. They came out about the same time, and there were so many complaints about the violent and graphic content that it prompted the creation of the rating.

link

Edit: Porteiro beat me to it.

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Reshpeckobiggle
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I mostly agree with you Lyrhawn., So much so that I don't even feel the need to point out where my opinion differs. The whole rating system is ridiculous.

Rabbit, for the most part PG-13 movies are not targeted to teens, though in many case that is true. Most PG-13 movies are targeted at as broad an audience as possible. I think R movies are probably the least likely to be targeted at any group whatsoever; the filmmakers just want to make their movie and they don't care who likes it and who doesn't. Producers, on the other hand, feel differently.

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BlackBlade
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Look it seems pointless to me to point out that the ratings system does not follow our own individual system.

Some people find violence less difficult to stomach then nudity, and vice versa.

Societies are in a constant state of flux, what passes for erotic in a 15th century Chinese painting (a bound foot in a slipper protruding from the bed curtain) pales in comparison to the graphic sexual depictions of Indian, Cambodian, and Japanese art.

In American society it seems that as a general rule F*** and S*** when used in a certain way are more offensive and therefore glean a mature rating at the box office. I doubt this will be the case forever, but all movie censors can do is try to get a general feel for how our culture perceives various adult themes and act accordingly.

It's ridiculous to me to complain about the rating system when it's doubtful any one person's system for rating media would be much better.

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