MPAA ratings discussion

Discussion in 'Movies' started by Kristian, Jul 10, 2004.

  1. Kristian

    Kristian Supporting Actor

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    Every so often, the MPAA gives a movie a certain rating and a huge uproar follows. Well, here's a thread where we can discuss such blunders by the MPAA, as well as instances where they may have gotten it right.

    Here are two blunders, in my mind:

    The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Disney animated) - I think the G rating was a mistake, as the movie has very mature themes involving lust, religion and ethnic hatred. The song "Hellfire" alone should've made the film a PG. Thankfully, the MPAA hasn't been giving Disney a free pass as of late; almost every Disney animated film in the past few years has been rated PG, even the relatively innocent Lilo & Stitch.

    The Outlaw Josey Wales - Plenty of violence and an attempted rape complete with nudity.... and it gets a PG??? Sure, this was in the '70s, but still...


    And here are two movies that caused uproars when they were rated, but that I think deserved their ratings:

    Fahrenheit 9/11 - It deserved the R-rating, not because of the brief use of the F-word, but because of the graphic nature of the Iraq footage. I had to look away several times.

    Whale Rider - Everyone talks about the apparent pot-smoking by the girl's uncle, but I think the reason the movie got the PG-13 is because of two things: the "hold on to your dicks" line (that the grandpa says to the kids he is training) and the very disturbing smoking by the girl's best friend (who must've been no older than 14). These scenes were so out of place in an otherwise appropriate-for-kids film, that it almost seems as if the director was gunning for the PG-13 rating.


    Feel free to discuss these and other controversial MPAA decisions.
     
  2. L. Anton Dencklau

    L. Anton Dencklau Second Unit

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    ..
     
  3. Michael Ballack

    Michael Ballack Second Unit

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    Wasn't the first so called curse word used in cinema used by Clark Gable in Gone with the WInd with the word "damn"? I thought i heard something like that.
     
  4. Matthew Chmiel

    Matthew Chmiel Cinematographer

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    Well to point out the fairly obvious, I'll just say that the current MPAA ratings system is straight up bullshit. It's a complete double standard. If you have a specific pull in the industry, you can easily get the rating you want. Let it be G, PG, PG-13, or R. If you don't have any pull, then you're fucked. Simple as that. Not only that, but the ratings today are too "vague."

    Take for example: Whale Rider gets the same rating as this week's King Arthur, which I thought was pretty violent for a PG-13 film? Sure. Almost Famous and Billy Elliot get the same rating as Basic Instinct? Ooookay.

    Come on, if Hair was released today (a film that contains it's share of drug references and full frontal nudity), it would not get it's PG that it did back in 1979. It would secure an R, as simple as that. Same goes with most films from the '70s and early '80s.

    While the MPAA rating system is supposed to be a guide for parents, do most parents use it anymore? Nope. I suggest we adopt Canada's rating system, but that will (sadly) never happen. Hopefully with a new person filling in Mr. Valenti's spot in the MPAA, we can ditch the current rating system and create a new one. One that isn't as "vague" and actually means something, but who knows...

    The ratings mean shit now. Simple as that.
     
  5. Colin Jacobson

    Colin Jacobson Producer

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    Hair didn't have full-frontal - they were topless and wet, but not bottomless on camera. Logan's Run tosses in full-frontal - or comes very close - and gets a "PG", though...
     
  6. Ernest Rister

    Ernest Rister Producer

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    There were topless creatures in Fantasia -- and loads of violence -- still a G rating.
     
  7. MatthewLouwrens

    MatthewLouwrens Producer

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    That is insane. I simply do not understand how your system can work - especially when you factor in the unrated films.

    Take the system here in NZ. All films must be rated.
    We have G - General
    PG - Parental Guidance
    M - Mature. These are films with no age restriction, but more suitable for over 16 - currently films like Day After Tomorrow and Mean Girls.
    And R-rated films, with a variable age rating, usually 16 or 18, but there have been R13 and R15 films.

    Plus we have vague descriptors about the type of content that gave it that rating.

    Thus, Almost Famous and Billy Elliot were M films (from memory), while Basic Instinct was R18. To me, it's a logical system that provides a lot more information about the type of film that a particular film is and the level of contained within.
     
  8. DanielCo

    DanielCo Stunt Coordinator

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    Of course this all comes down to money. The bigger studios and best known producers/directors have much more leeway in getting their films out with the rating they want. The PG-13 rating, created for Spielberg and Indiana Jones 2 has blurred the line. Instead of helping parents, the system is now used for advertising and movie theater promotion.

    My two recent "favorites"
    Woody Allen's "Anything Else" gets an R rating for "scene of drug use". No, really. Woody himself took a cocaine hit in Annie Hall, causing a very comic sneeze.

    On the other side Quentin Tarantino's "Kill Bill, Vol. 1" gets one of the most undervalued R ratings ever. This is the kind of movie they invented NC-17 for. If this was a less successful director, that's the rating it would have gotten.

    Since PG-13 is already out there. I propose R-16 as well. This would say, "Look parents. We'll allow you to bring the kiddies, but, seriously, watch out for this one." As with PG-13, it would not impose strict bans, just provide information -- just as the ratings are supposed to do.

    Anything Else - PG-13, Kill Bill 1 - R-16
     
  9. Colin Dunn

    Colin Dunn Supporting Actor

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    I don't think there should be a rating in between R and NC-17. I thought the purpose of the R rating was to tell parents: "You can bring the kiddies, but watch out for this one." Anything stronger than that would be NC-17 (not appropriate for teens - let alone kids - to see).

    I think many "soft" R-rated films should be re-rated PG-13 because most parents today consider those films to be acceptable for teens. And then many of the "soft" PG-13 films really are PG movies with a single F-bomb thrown in just to get the harder rating ("The Avengers").

    Often this discussion seems to come up related to depictions of realistic war violence in films ("Saving Private Ryan," "Fahrenheit 9/11"). I agree with the R ratings for those films because they are very intense but not gratuitous/exploitative.

    It does seem PG-13 mainstream action movies have gotten more violent in the last few years. These are the ones that strings get pulled and sneak by with a PG-13. I think "Minority Report," "X-Men 2," and the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy would have gotten R ratings for violence 10 years ago. These films are the hardest PG-13 films I've seen. I agree with the PG-13 for "X-Men 2" and "Lord of the Rings," but "Minority Report" really felt like an R-rated film to me...

    So here's how I would re-rate some films:

    American Pie 1 & 2: PG-13 (instead of R).
    All the President's Men: PG-13 (instead of PG)
    Amadeus director's cut: PG-13 (instead of R)
    Almost Famous: PG-13 (instead of R)
    Red Dawn: R (instead of PG-13)
    Broadcast News: PG-13 (instead of R)
    Whale Rider: PG (instead of PG-13)
    Six Degrees of Separation: PG-13 (instead of R)
    Minority Report: R (instead of PG-13)
    Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory: PG (instead of G)

    I also saw something last week that said the director's cut of "THX-1138" is going out with an R rating. It was rated PG back in the '70s. What was added to take it past PG-13 and all the way to R? (I'm guessing some full-frontal nudity, which tends to get movies an unnecessary R rating.)
     
  10. Kristian

    Kristian Supporting Actor

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    It's been re-rated R for "some sexuality/nudity". Since I haven't seen the film or read much about the changes, I have no idea if the content in question is part of the new cut or if it was already in the original film.
     
  11. Robert Ringwald

    Robert Ringwald Cinematographer

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    I thought American Pie 1/2 had quite a lot of sexual stuff going on, and probably deserve their R ratings.
     
  12. Chris Farmer

    Chris Farmer Screenwriter

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    PG-13 for American Pie 1/2? I enjoyed the movies, but those absolutely earned their R ratings. There was a decent amount of nudity in each, as well as massive amounts of cursing. That cursing is also what got Almost Famous its R rating, which I also agree with, f-bombs were tossed around like popcorn in that movie. Yeah, there's a quick flash of Kate Hudson topless, but there's been far more nudity in even a few recent PG-13 movies (see Titanic for the best example).

    As for THX, since it's a new cut and is being rated today, it falls under modern, 2004 MPAA standards rather then the standards of the MPAA when it was released.

    As for Lord of the Rings, yeah, there was a lot of violence, but it was "clean" violence in that people died, but there wasn't a lot of limbs or blood flying all over the place. Those movies pushed PG-13 to its very limits, but I don't think they went over it.
     
  13. Glenn Overholt

    Glenn Overholt Producer

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    The whole system here needs to be redone.
    But first, didn't 'Lilo & Stitch' have violence in the first 20 minutes or so? That's what uped it from a G.

    The cuss words should only be used to determine a rating to bump it up from a 'Y'. How many kids in school haven't heard those words? Zero!

    It makes me wonder if the MPAA rates stuff based on what is cool for kids to do. Smoking is NOT, so they bump up 'Whale Rider' Nudity is NOT, so they bump up the 'Pie' movies. (I think they're trying to tell us that being nude is bad).

    But violence? Oh, that's ok. We see it on the news every day. They should rate every movies with a knife, (or anything worse) in it an R - at the least.

    Glenn
     
  14. Garrett Lundy

    Garrett Lundy Producer

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    I can fix it :0

    2005 MPAA rating system:

    *Not yet rated/Not Rated
    *MPAA Approved
    *PARENTAL ADVISORY; EXPLICIT CONTENT

    The 2-tiered rating system has performed flawlessly for 20 years on music.
     
  15. Will_B

    Will_B Producer

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    The MPAA is wholly perverted. Fortunately after 17 years they become irrelevant.*

    *with one exception, being that if you, as an adult, want to take your teenage child with you to an NC17 film that you feel is appropriate for them to see, the MPAA and the theaters will refuse you entry, as if this were not America. That's the one step that the MPAA has taken which goes too far.
     
  16. Matthew Chmiel

    Matthew Chmiel Cinematographer

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    I have never seen an NC-17 film that would be appropriate to take a "younger than 17" person to with the exception of Requiem for a Dream (which wasn't rated NC-17, but was slapped with an "Unrated"). I don't think my mom would've let me see Showgirls or Henry and June when they came out. [​IMG]
     
  17. ChrisWiggles

    ChrisWiggles Producer

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    "flawlessly?"

    What!? [​IMG]

    I have huge problems with the PA stickers on music, I find them offensive, insulting and racist. And they work wholly against the artistic merit of particular works. They also seem to take a very commercial view of music which also offends me. Not to mention, that IMO they have no bearing whatsoever on the particular nature of the "offensive" material contained on an album.

    That aside, I think the MPAA is better, but certainly not perfect.

    What bothers me most is that "big-budget" things will get slacker ratings, while small budget flicks, foreign films and other such 'serious' fare will usually garner higher ratings. Some films that I was shocked did not receiver R ratings were the LOTR trilogy, Spiderman 2, and even star wars was surprising for its rating. I have no problem with violence per se, however, I do mind when it's 'toned down' slightly so as to be able to appeal to younger audiences and garner lower ratings.

    Other smaller films, for instance LIE, (NC-17) will garner much harsher ratings because they are not mainstream. This bothers me. For instance, Kurosawa's 'RAN' (1985) netted an R rating, yet I found the LOTR movies to be equally as epic and violent if not moreso. This stupid thing about the presence or absence of blood and what color it is really bothers me. Decapitations in LOTR is fine, because there's no blood. But decapitations in RAN, which don't even show the action, but only the blood spurt (very artistically done, BTW) is inappropriate!?

    I don't think parents should adhere to MPAA ratings for guidance as to the quality of the film itself nor the offensive nature of the material contained within (if you find it offensive/inappropriate for whatever kids you're dealing with).

    I for one, would much rather show my future children films like Ran, for instance, rather than LOTR.

    It also bothers me quite a bit that this country is so perturbed by nudity and foul language, yet long, extremely violent "epic" war battle scenes, are less problematic. If it were me, graphic violence would garner higher ratings far before foul language or nudity.

    edit: dyslexic date.
     
  18. L. Anton Dencklau

    L. Anton Dencklau Second Unit

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  19. Darren Haycock

    Darren Haycock Second Unit

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    Spider-Man 2? Really? What scenes did you think pushed the limit?

    X2 I can understand a little more. Wolverine and Deathstrike's fight was brutal. And yet, if you watch the deleted scenes, it shows how originally when Wolverine impales a soldier for the first time, they had to cut to Bobby really fast cause the MPAA thought it was too intense to just see Wolverine yelling. Okay...[​IMG]
     
  20. ChrisWiggles

    ChrisWiggles Producer

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    There was quite a bit of smashing all over the place, but mainly the hospital scene where the arms go nuts. I thought the presentation of that was very disturbing for a PG-13 movie. I know it's sorta comic-book, but the chainsaw and everything, and those people got *messed UP*. Ouch. Anyway, I thought that was certainly the most egregious.
     

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