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A Horrible New Idea: The "R Card"


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#1 of 35 OFFLINE   Craig S

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Posted May 04 2004 - 10:14 AM

I was reading Roger Ebert's latest installment of the Movie Answer Man, and saw this item:
Posted Image

I can't believe these words are coming from my fingers, but I agree 100% with Mr. Valenti. This is a HORRIBLE idea. IMO, it's just another way for lazy parents to avoid one more of their parental responsibilities.

What really raises my hackles is that this comes two days after I watched a very brutally violent R-rated film, The Punisher, with several children in the audience. No, I'm not talking about teenagers who snuck in. I'm talking children. One father brought in 3 boys who were in the 8-10 range. Another couple brought in a boy about that age and a girl who looked to be about 6. She watched the carnage sitting on her Daddy's knee. Posted Image

This film featured an entire extended family (wife, young son, grandparents, and assorted aunts, uncles & cousins) being murdered on screen, in addition to various other extremely vicious fights, beatings, maimings & killings. Although it is a "comic book" movie, all of this mayhem was presented in a fairly realistic manner. There were none of the usual cues (costumed heroes & villains, etc.) to tell viewers it's a fantasy universe. There's no way children this young should be exposed to this material.

And now, we have the brilliant plan to sell these cards, which means these youngsters will be able to see this and any other R-Rated film on their own.

Am I the only one who thinks all of this is lunacy?
Three truths about movies, as noted by Roger Ebert:

* It's not what a movie is about, it's how it is about it.
* No good movie is too long, and no bad movie is short enough.
* No good movie is depressing, all bad movies are depressing.

#2 of 35 OFFLINE   David Galindo

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Posted May 04 2004 - 10:45 AM

I read about that in Ebert's article as well...somehow, I'm not surprised. Imagine some kid in junior high, waving his R-Card around, impressing all his friends- and having all of them clamoring to their parents to get them an R-Card as well.

I don't want to watch Kill Bill with a bunch of kids misbehavin'. I guess I have to go late at night to the movies now...

#3 of 35 OFFLINE   Ted Lee

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Posted May 04 2004 - 11:27 AM

while i can't think of any examples off the top of my head, i'm pretty sure there are some great movies that could have passed for pg-13 except for some minor offenses regarding language, drug reference, etc. i guess, if there was a movie like that, and my child wanted to go, i probably wouldn't mind. then, this card would come in handy. but, letting my teenager go see "texas chainsaw massacre" is just bad parenting ... period.
 

#4 of 35 OFFLINE   Kevin Grey

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Posted May 04 2004 - 11:36 AM

I personally don't really have a problem with it. Growing up, my local videostore would allow the parent to authorize their kid to rent R-rated movies. My dad didn't mind me watching most R-rated movies and it worked out great. There were several R-rated movies in the theater that my parents had no problems with me seeing but weren't willing to sit through because the subject didn't interest them. It doesn't absolve total parental responsibility. The parents have to approve it in the first place. I certainly wouldn't support giving one to 8 year olds but, depending on maturity, I would consider giving it to a child of 13 or so.

#5 of 35 OFFLINE   Matthew Chmiel

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Posted May 04 2004 - 11:56 AM

In all honesty the "R" card is not a bad idea. Of course it has it's positive and it's negatives, just like anything else in the world. What the person in Ebert's column didn't mention is that the card is designed for those thirteen to sixteen in age. It's not like the theater is going to hand some eight year old a card to see R rated films without their parent.

That would also be really fucked up if a theater let an eight year old see an R rated film alone. Posted Image

A positive thing about the card is that parents who believe their teenagers are mature enough to see an R rated film can go see it without the parents having to tag along. I was a mature ten year old when my mom subjected me to see Dawn of the Dead, Day of the Dead, and The Evil Dead trilogy in one night. Hell, my mom took me to R rated films all the time when I was a pre-teenager/teenager and did I misbehave or talk in the movie theater? No. Should I have been allowed to even see an R rated movie? Well, that was my mom's call and she was cool with it. And if it wasn't for American Pie, I wouldn't know about sex when I was 13. Posted Image

[Note from Matthew Chmiel: And we all know that the MPAA is bullshit. I have seen numerous R rated films which should've have been PG-13 and vice versa. Now if we only had Canada's rating system. Posted Image]

But back to the topic at hand... in the past few years, I have been able to buy tickets to R-rated films because the theaters here in Vegas simply don't care. Since I've turned 17, I have only been carded when I saw Dreamcatcher, the Matrix sequels, and The Girl Next Door. Theaters don't care as long as they're making money. They'll sell a ticket to who wants one, and I'm fine with that because screw the MPAA. The MPAA isn't mandatory, remember that. Most theaters will let anybody in. ANYBODY.

And to all of you HTF members who have problems with teenagers and/or children misbehaving or talking during the movies, you really need to go to the movies on a more regular basis. Like some of those losers in the HTF 2004 Film List. Posted Image Out of the hundreds of times I've been to the theaters in the past three years, the problems don't usually lie with kids (the exception to this rule is when I see family fare like Finding Nemo and The Prince and Me), it usually lies with adults.

Whenever I have seen a person answer a cell phone in the theater, it's someone in their twenties or thirties, never a teenager. Whenever I have heard a person talk during a film, it's usually an older person. Especially when I go see an indepedent film or an R rated film (AHA!). Some old couple will be sitting in the middle of the theater providing commentary on what is going on and who is saying what in the film. That or they'll be fighting with their bag of popcorn or their bag of candy (like when I saw Envy the other day... friggin' old people Posted Image).

If people want to ban the teenagers from seeing R-rated movies then I want to ban those senior citizens from going to the theater. The problem with people misbehaving at the movies doesn't lie with teenagers, it lies with everybody. Mostly people who are completely lacking and are devoid of common sense.

[Note from Matthew Chmiel: Yes, I know most people in this country lack common sense and parental skills, but we won't bring that up in this thread. Posted Image]

Or go during the week because nobody ever goes to the movies during the week. Posted Image

#6 of 35 OFFLINE   WillG

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Posted May 04 2004 - 12:32 PM

Yeah, I don't see much of a problem with it either. If the parents are ok with their kids seeing R rated movies, then who am I to complain. When I was young, my local video store would not let me rent R rated films. I had to convince my mother to authorize the store to let me rent R rated movies. My mother still monitored what I rented though. She did not care about stupid slasher movies or foul mouth comedies so much. Movies with stories that revolved around sex was a bit different though. Anyway, I turned out fine. I have a brother who is 12 right now and he plays all the violent video games and watches R rated films. Over the weekend I took him with me to see "Kill Bill Vol 2" and it's no problem, he's fine as well. Now the only flaw with the R card is that parents would not necessairly know for sure what films their kids were really seeing. But perhaps certain films could be flagged for certain content and parents could specify what is authorized and what is not. Of course, how many kids buy tickets to one film and sneak into another anyway?
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#7 of 35 OFFLINE   Quentin

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Posted May 04 2004 - 12:36 PM

First of all, I always considered ratings as advisory, not as a rule. I get annoyed when it is "enforced". I remember when I was just a pup of 11 going to see "Alien". My mom took me, but she didn't want to see it. The guy at the box office wouldn't sell her my ticket! Technically, you are SUPPOSED to be accompanied by the adult - not just allowed (this is how Valenti wants it enforced). Luckily, 2 ladies in line agreed to "accompany" me. They were great, and I dug the film. So, I could care less about the "R" card. But, one thing does occur to me...how does the theater know who signed it?? Hell, I'd sign it myself and they wouldn't be any wiser.

#8 of 35 OFFLINE   Kevin Grey

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Posted May 04 2004 - 12:50 PM

I know I did that several times but it backfired on me once. A bunch of friends and I were going to see "Return of the Living Dead 2" and were planning on just buying a ticket to a PG or PG-13 movie playing at the theater. It turns out that the only non R-rated movie playing at the theater was a re-release of Cinderella that had started 30 minutes previously! Not believing that a group of 13 year old boys could possibly be interested in seeing an almost halfway over Cinderella, we were watched like a hawk going to the auditorium. We had no choice but to go ahead into Cinderella. We lasted all of five minutes in the theater before giving up and heading out the emergency exit.

#9 of 35 OFFLINE   Morgan Jolley

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Posted May 04 2004 - 12:55 PM

This won't work for many reasons. "R" ratings can involve a LOT, whether its the violence of Kill Bill, the cursing of Scarface, or the nude lesbian sex scene of Mulholland Dr. I think the best idea is to leave the system as it is. Besides, I work at a theater, and the best thing in the world is kicking out minors and then not giving them refunds.

#10 of 35 OFFLINE   Matthew Chmiel

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Posted May 04 2004 - 01:13 PM

If I ever have a son and if you ever have a son, and your son does that to my son, Im going to kick your ass. Posted Image

#11 of 35 OFFLINE   Craig S

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Posted May 04 2004 - 03:01 PM

Good discussion.
Thanks, Matthew. That is important info which was left out of the Ebert article. That makes the idea much less problematic. However, it's still a blanket pass, and if I were a parent I wouldn't give this to my kid at 13 (although I would take a kid that age to see certain R-rated films such as Almost Famous or Saving Private Ryan). Maybe 15 or 16.

As far as the teenager thing, remember guys, in my initial post I wasn't talking about teens, I was concerned about children of 6-10 being exposed to inappropriate material. And I don't care what anybody says, letting children this young see The Punisher is just plain bad parenting.

As far as bad behavior in the theater - well, in my experience no group has an exclusive claim on that. I have been witness to some pretty rotten behavior by teens. OTOH, when I saw Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, a group of obviously underage teens (I'm sure they had to have done the "tickets for a PG-13 movie" trick) sat about three rows in front of me. I was a bit concerned (was this a group of rowdy Jim Carrey junkies??), but they watched the film intently and afterwards as they filed out I caught snippets of a very intelligent conversation on the film's ideas. So kudos to them.

My main avoidance technique for bad behavior is - NEVER go to the movies on weekend nights. It's date night and a large portion of the crowd is not really there for the film. I like the early weekend (or late weekday) matinees. I almost never encounter problems then.
Three truths about movies, as noted by Roger Ebert:

* It's not what a movie is about, it's how it is about it.
* No good movie is too long, and no bad movie is short enough.
* No good movie is depressing, all bad movies are depressing.

#12 of 35 OFFLINE   WillG

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Posted May 04 2004 - 03:27 PM

Not to go off topic, or risk getting flamed. But I always see people here making this statement. I do understand the rationale for "Almost Famous" Getting a "R" rating 1. Numerous references to drugs. Including a main character almost killing himself by jumping off a roof while tripping on acid. A main character almost killing herself by overdosing on quaaludes. 2. Groupies talking about "Deflowering" a young teen. 3. A direct reference about "Blow Jobs" 4. A topless Penny Lane frolicking around a hotel room (breif nudity, but hardly "artistic") 5. Promiscuous sexual situations. 6. Whatever other laguange concers there were, which probably included some "Fucks" but I cannot clearly recall. So it's a "R"
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#13 of 35 OFFLINE   Jason Harbaugh

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Posted May 04 2004 - 07:34 PM


They may be the way it is in Vegas but I've been to theatres in NYC, DC, Denver, and LA and I've been carded at all of them and I'm 24. I find that most theatres enforce the under 17 rule for R rated movies. I know I did when I worked at a theatre in NYC, as if we didn't we would get written up. But like Morgan said, it is kinda fun kicking those youngsters out that think they beat the system.

I have no problem with the R card though. I was mature enough for R movies at a young age. I do see the downside though with having more and more youngsters in the theatre. Especially in this day and age with everyone and their dog having a cell phone, add in the disrespect and the 'school hallway' shinangins that always go down before and even during the flick. Posted Image

#14 of 35 OFFLINE   Matthew Chmiel

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Posted May 05 2004 - 01:22 AM

And of course, that was the only reason it was Rated R. I have seen numerous PG-13 films with 1-5, but if you utter the "f" word more than once, you get an R. Yet walk outside the door, you'll hear everyone and their mother using it. The problem with the R rating (as Ebert has said before) is that it's very vague. There are a lot of light R rated films and a lot of hard R rated films.

#15 of 35 OFFLINE   Jason Hughes

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Posted May 05 2004 - 06:21 AM

Good idea. I've been allowed to go to R movies with friends since I was a little kid and to date, I have never gone on a shooting rampage. C'mon people, this is nothing new. Blockbuster has always had a similar policy (they ask the parents if kids are allowed to rent R movies and put yes or no in their system). If parents think their kids can handle R movies, so be it. If they think they can't, then so be it. It doesn't take a village...
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#16 of 35 OFFLINE   Chad R

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Posted May 05 2004 - 06:47 AM

Well, as has been pointed out (which you acknowledge) the card is for teenagers who are old enough to attend movies by themsleves. The younger crowd really shouldn't be allowed to view any movie alone simply for safety reasons.

#17 of 35 OFFLINE   JohnVB

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Posted May 05 2004 - 06:49 AM

I agree with Craig. This is a bad idea. With this card, parents won't know what their kids are watching. I can see kids getting more than one card to share with their friends who are not approved to see R rated films by parents. "Hey, Mom, I lost my R-Card. Can we get another one?"; "Here, you look sorta like me. Use this." The current system certainly isn't fool proof, but this just makes a tough situation worse. As an alternative, I would think it would be better, if a parent were allowed to purchase a ticket for their kid. This would allow parents to decide on each film if it's ok or not. - bones
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#18 of 35 OFFLINE   Chad R

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Posted May 05 2004 - 07:04 AM

They're picture IDs, so trading isn't exactly as easy as you suppose. And, if parents have an open relationship with their children, the parents will know what movies they want to see, who they're going with, etc. As a parent, it's far more damaging to have a restrictive relationship with children than it is to have an open one. Personally, I find it far better to allow a mature child (again, we're talking about teens, not 6-12 year olds) to see these things and discuss the issues with them intelligently rather than have them see it, keep it a secret from me because I didn't want them to see it, and get the wrong ideas based on the movie.

#19 of 35 OFFLINE   Glen C

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Posted May 05 2004 - 07:05 AM

relatively speaking, it's a good idea.

without the card, most kids will just circumvent the rating by just buying a PG movie ticket at the multiplex and walking straight into the "R" movie anyways.

at least this can get parents & kids discussing their viewing habits, given the fact most young teens will be unsupervised anyways.

there is no solution except "good parenting" and that is the exception not the rule these days. Posted Image

#20 of 35 OFFLINE   BrianAe

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Posted May 05 2004 - 07:17 AM

They could put a minumum age on it still. How about 13 or 14? Or maybe they should just lower the age for rated R.




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