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MPAA Film Rating - Puzzle (1 Viewer)

Eric Huffstutler

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Watching Can't Stop The Music which was given a PG rating, I can't help to wonder how?
There is a topless woman, naked men frolicking in the shower, lots and lots of crotch shots, many sexual innuendos, not to say the film's content of who it involves... a controversial gay group of the disco era.
Now, I can say I have been there, done that, and got the t-shirt! I was a big part of the disco era and know about the sexual freedom it brought about within its culture.
The MPAA revised its rating system in 1984 to include PG-13 which is what this one should now fall under but prior to that it might have gotten an R rating so wonder how this 1980 film got a PG? Back then PG meant NO nudity.
Any comments?
 

David Lambert

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This probably belongs in movies. Before it gets moved, I'll answer the question as best as I can.
I picked up the DVD, and was "justifying" it to my wife, who's never seen it. Since she (like most people of her generation...she's 11 years younger than me) knows the song "Y.M.C.A.", I picked that scene and jumped to it.
IIRC, that is the only scene which has the stuff you're describing. However, I can't say that for sure, as this scene is all we've watched of the DVD so far, and it's been 15-ish years since I last viewed the film.
But:
1) The topless woman was shown frolicking just at the waterline, and her nipples are hard to make out if they are even visible. And they appear for a second...or less.
2) The naked men in the shower have their crotches covered with soap lather and bubbles. It is hard to make out these things as well (my missus tried! :) Well, she always goes on about "gender fairness for film nudity" or somesuch...), and they also last for just a second or two.
3) Conclusion is that these things would have to have been really noticed by the MPAA board members doing the screening to assign the rating. If they turned to chat with each other for a moment, perhaps to joke about the song, they may have missed the shots entirely! If they DID catch the shots, they may have decided they were too brief and unrevealing to warrant the harsher rating.
 

Mark Bendiksen

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Back then PG meant NO nudity
Actually, that's not true. Before PG-13 came along there were quite a few PG-rated films that contained nudity. One example that immediately comes to mind is the topless woman in Airplane!. Now, of course, such a film would automatically get slapped with a PG-13.
 

Greg_M

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Before PG-13 a film would be rated PG if it contained nudity & violence. I believe the R rating was given if the sexual situtations were stronger. Certain words determined a films rating, I believe the word Fuck was the deciding factor for a film to receive an R rating.

Why won't "Jesus Christ Superstar" have been given a G rating, there's no sex, nudity, or four letter words?
 

David Lambert

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Before PG-13 a film would be rated PG if it contained nudity & violence. I believe the R rating was given if the sexual situtations were stronger. Certain words determined a films rating, I believe the word Fuck was the deciding factor for a film to receive an R rating.
Another determining factor for an R rating was "bush". If it was shown, it was an automatic R as well. T & A were usually okay for a PG rating, as long as the simulated sex wasn't too hot 'n' heavy.
I agree...why WOULDN'T JCS get a G rating? :confused:
 

Jeff Adkins

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Before PG-13 a film would be rated PG if it contained nudity & violence. I believe the R rating was given if the sexual situtations were stronger. Certain words determined a films rating, I believe the word Fuck was the deciding factor for a film to receive an R rating.
The MPAA must've had their earplugs in during All The President's Men which was PG and the word "fuck" is used at least 3 or 4 times. Also, I believe Terms Of Endearment and Sixteen Candles had that word, and both were PG.
As for nudity, I believe Sheena was PG and contains the most nudity of any PG film that I am aware of.
Jeff
 

Eric Huffstutler

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Here are some direct quotes from the MPAA web site:
The theme of a PG-rated film may itself call for parental guidance. There may be some profanity in these films. There may be some violence or brief nudity. But these elements are not deemed so intense as to require that parents be strongly cautioned beyond the suggestion of parental guidance. There is no drug use content in a PG-rated film.
So it is saying that prior to PG-13, this movie "may" fall into the PG catagory. Just that to me this is definately an "adult" oriented film without the hard core sex... much like John Water's Pecker which got an R rating for other reasons but same genere.
David... True, these nude scenes are brief but you can see the family jewels on a couple of the men if you go frame by frame, not to mention seeing them through their jeans which I would think is a bit much for a PG. You can see nipples but again, only in a flash but the "scene" was there which is suggestive as with many scenes in the movie. Yes, all a part of the times and I was just as guilty but shocked about the rating, that's all.
 

David Lambert

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David... True, these nude scenes are brief but you can see the family jewels on a couple of the men if you go frame by frame,
Back then, home video consisted of quite expensive 2-head VCRS that would NEVER allow frame-by-frame viewing of each scene without distortion and static.
I doubt the film board at the time allowed for this eventuality of DVD freeze-and-zoom clarity! :laugh:
 

Bryant Frazer

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A PG rating used to be a strong caution to parents, who were expected to take the rating seriously when they decided what their children should be watching. As others have pointed out, it was not uncommon to see nudity in a PG film during the 1970s. (Remember, movies like Planet of the Apes and 2001: A Space Odyssey got G ratings!) Trouble was, the result was that films like Can't Stop the Music and, say, Star Wars had exactly the same rating. Eventually, the MPAA instituted the PG-13 to sit in between the PG and the audience-restrictive R rating. Funny thing is, the PG has now been commercially marginalized (and nobody pays attention to that rating as a caution against anything) because the PG-13 is the new sweet spot for movie ratings. And while there is probably less nudity in your average Hollywood release than there was back in the 1970s, the PG-13 has allowed movies aimed at general audiences to get way more violent.

On the subject of the word fuck, any time you hear that word in a PG film, it's as a result of an appeal before the MPAA. All the President's Men is a notable example, as is the Woody Allen-starring blacklist drama The Front. Allen's Everyone Says I Love You got an R rating as a result of a single use of motherfucker. Either the ratings board wouldn't allow that 12-letter word to pass with a PG-13 rating or Woody didn't care enough to appeal the restriction on his otherwise innocuous film.

-bf-
 

Paul Richardson

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What's even more bizzare is that Planet of the Apes (the original) was rated G despite having bare butts, lots of violence, a man who is stuffed and mounted, and another who is lobotomized! Compare and contrast to Midnight Cowboy which was released just a few years later...to an X.
 

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