The current film rating system

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  • Actriz
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    #112673

    I finally got around to watching Silver Linings Playbook and after watching it I was stunned to discover that this film received an R rating. Upon further research, I found that it received this rating because of “language and some sex/nudity.” Off the bat, I can’t remember seeing a single shot of nudity in this film. And while there were some sexual references, I don’t remember any physical sexual activity. There was certainly some language, but frankly it was all words that I (and I’m sure many others) have been hearing since middle school.

    IMDb rates the film 14+, which I would assume constitutes a PG-13 rating (discretion for viewers 13 and under).

    It just makes zero sense to me that a film as un-threatening as Silver Linings Playbook can receive the same rating as such dark, violence-fests like Goodfellas and Pulp Fiction. 

    Thoughts? 

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    Beau S.
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    #112675

    The MPAA is worse than the academy when it comes to having morales far behind the times.

    I would agree that SLP did not warrant an R rating. The editors of Common Sense Media (a far better measure of child friendliness of film/tv/etc than the MPAA and IMDb) gave the film a 16+, and the users of the site gave it a 14+. This of course does not warrant a 17+ rating from the MPAA. I believe SLP got the “sex” red flag because of how close Cooper and Lawrence were to each other during the dancing scenes. Quite pathetic imo.

    Perhaps what we need is exactly what Common Sense Media has: an exact age restriction/recommendation rather than mass age grouping that unfairly cuts off teenagers from seeing films that are usually very teen-friendly. I do believe other countries work successfully with a system like that. Or perhaps a system where the MPAA rating is only a recommendation and not an enforced guideline. 

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    BrokenFan
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    #112676

    But SLP probably exceeded the amount of F bombs allowed before turning into an R rating, which is 1. 

     

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    Stardust
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    #112677

    I don’t think it was the dancing sequence, or that alone; while Cooper is having that wedding video episode there’s a shot of his wife getting oral in the shower from that old man. I believe they weren’t facing the camera but that’s probably what did it (along with Cooper’s description of it + the many F-bombs)

    I agree there ought to be an MPAA ratings system overhaul. Particularly because language & sex/nudity gets a far more hostile treatment than violence.

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    delerian
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    #112678

    I don’t think it was the dancing sequence, or that alone; while Cooper is having that wedding video episode there’s a shot of his wife getting oral in the shower from that old man. I believe they weren’t facing the camera but that’s probably what did it (along with Cooper’s description of it + the many F-bombs)

    I agree there ought to be an MPAA ratings system overhaul. Particularly because language & sex/nudity gets a far more hostile treatment than violence.

    Indeed. If SLP got an R rating for multiple F-bombs, I do have to wonder how many decapitations, headshots, or plain old-fashioned murders it would take to meet the 2 F-bombs and you are out rule. Is a decapitation equal to an F-bomb? And how many gunshot wounds does it take to equal an F-bomb? 10? 20? What about swordfights? Or crushing violence? Khan crushed a man’s head in Star Trek Into Darkness and all that got was a PG-13.

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    Scottferguson
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    #112679

    The rating system is flawed.

    But the reality is if we didn’t have it, the yahoos in the red states would be setting up their own ratings system, which would be tougher than what is there now, and the studios then would cater to them, forcing more censorship and restrictions.

    Be careful what you wish for. The system is imperfect, but it does more good than bad, and without it, we’d have much greater problems.

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    delerian
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    #112680

    Bleg. I don’t buy that argument. The current system doesn’t have to be some idiotic system with zero tolerance for F-bombs and attempts to say a documentary on middle school and high school bullying is too adult to be seen by middle or high schoolers.

    Really, this system is a type of censorship. People modify their movies to follow the MPAA’s rules so that their movies will get the right rating. For a mega-blockbuster, an R rating is a killing blow.

    I get it that the film industry is going to bow to the pressure of people crying “but won’t somebody think of the children”. And I get it that in certain parts of the US, sex and swearing is terrifying while graphic violence is not. But the current system reinforces that stupidity. It is like the Comics Code that never died. As far as I’m concerned, let the conservative yahoos make their own system that punishes swearing, sex, and talk of socialism. But the rest of the world shouldn’t have their films censored because of those idiots. If books in a library were censored by this rating, everybody would be outraged. Why are films different?

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    Placeholder
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    #112681

    I find it hilarious that a PG-13 film can have nudity and swearing, yet a tv show rated TV-14 can have neither. I know they are different organizations, but the MPAA is a joke, the G and NC-17 rating are completly useless today. Look at The Artist, you’re telling me that deserved to be rated PG-13? That is a G-PG film.

    And I cannot wait when Fifty Shades of Grey gets a R rating when it will have similar if not more adult content than Shame. Total hypocrisy. 

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    Scottferguson
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    #112682

    The reason for the difference is that network TV is government regulated and thus more restrictive. The MPAA was meant, and has succeeded, in keeping government out of movie theater ratings.

    I’m old enough to as a child and then early in my career (when there were still a few local ratings boards) to have experienced how damaging government ratings and actual censorship was. No one under 50, or even much under 60, understands what that was like, or what it would be again if the very imperfect current system didn’t exist. And one need only look at TV – under the direct thumb of government – to realize how much better the movie system is.

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    delerian
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    #112683

    The First Amendment is more highly regarded today than it was during McCarthyism. The government has had almost no success at all in regulating obscenity. Why would the courts say that they suddenly have the right to regulate content? I think you are basing your judgement out of fear of the past and not the current legal environment.

    What would happen if the MPAA abandoned its rating system? The theaters would create their own. And it wouldn’t be out of fear of the government (which couldn’t do anything under the law). It would be out of fear of parents boycotting them.

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    Scottferguson
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    #112684

    The government can’t restrict content for film.. But it can restrict age limits for movies. They do this for TV content (the FCC will fine, can take away licenses). It would be completely legal, in the absence of the MPAA, for cities and states to set up their own systems, The MPAA as the default system, bad as it can be, is far better than the alternative.
    Without the MPAA system, we would immediately have state censor boards across all states. The studios would then react to restrictions by self-censoring to satisfy Utah and Oklahoma.
    I am not reacting of of fear. I am acting out of historical experience and knowledge of current social pressures.
    The only thing worse than something close to the current MPAA system would be no system. You would hate the result. It would fundamentally immediately reduce the content of studio film to the strictest local rules.

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    delerian
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    #112685

    The TV comparison is not the same. The basis for setting limits on TV is based on the government ownership of the radio frequency spectrum which it licenses out. There is no government limit on cable or Netflix, for example. The same applies to movies.

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    Scottferguson
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    #112686

    But again, no MPAA, then we would have state rating boards for movies. The moment that happened, the studios would start editing movies for Utah and Mississippi and Oklahoma state standards.

    This is 100% certain. There’d be no way to avoid it.

    Do you know how the school textbook industry operates? Texas is the largest state that has a board that has to give approval for all text books used in public schools. The textbook industry follows the content the right-wing board of Texas wants, and those textbooks end up being produced for the whole country,

    Abolish the MPAA (or make their standards more liberal) movies will end up being produced for a similar lowest common denominator.

    I am sickened by a lot of the MPAA choices, but the reality is, after the, the deluge. It would be much, much worse.

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    delerian
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    #112687

    And the State ratings boards would be declared unconstitutional per the 1st and 14th amendments.

    And your education counterexample fails. Texas regulates the requirements of what is required to be taught. It doesn’t set regulations on what books are banned from its libraries.

    If the MPAA ratings went away the theaters would step in. The government does not have the power, whether federal or State. Heck, the government can’t even ban people from going to porn websites in a library. The most the government can do is stop public funding of a school library (not public ones, and if an adult requests the filter be disabled, they MUST do so). Since this doesn’t apply to movies or theaters (which are privately funded), there is nothing the government can do. The best you could argue would be that if a film is to be shown in a school, the government could regulate or censor it under the authority granted for regulating education. Anything outside of a school can’t be regulated.

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    Scottferguson
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    #112688

    They would be completely constitutional in regards to limiting content to minors. There is no consitututional issue there. If there were, the MPAA would have been challenged long ago. There have been many rulings forbidden restrictions to adults, but not children.

    There has never been a court ruling forbidding states and cities from setting ratings for minors. Never. It doesn’t exist.

    By your argument, the networks would be able to show whatever they want.

    The MPAA would be powerless to step in if they abandoned the system. Zero power, none at all. The whole reason for the ratings system is to get governments to voluntary back away from the power they constitutionally have in regards to minors. It has been a complete success in this.

    And the moment standards for R or NC17 became lower (that is, PG13 and R rated movies would become R and NC17) the multiple red states that would leap in and demand tougher standards for their jurisdictions. It would happen in a millisecond. And the studios would just as quickly adapt, forcing directors to cut content.

    The studios edit their movies all the time for overseas audiences. They do it radically for China. If the MPAA ratings didn’t exist,  the Family Research Council and their wingnut allies would be the driving force in controlling content in studio films. They would want one version to be released in the US, and it would be the version that would be PG13 in Utah, not PG13 now.

    I respect your attempts to make your points, and I understand your frustrations over the MPAA. But  what I am saying is based on the law and the reality of the way studios would immediately kowtow to the vigorous attempts by conservative groups to legally control local boards restricting content to minors.

    If things changed, a film like Brokeback Mountain would immediately become the equivalent of NC17 in half the states in this country. There is zero question in my mind this would happen, and based on established law little doubt that this would legally stand. And thus, no more Brokeback Mountains.

    States can disallow many activities for minors – drinking, driving, marriage age. There are curfew laws that are legal. Going to establishing draconian standards for movie viewing is exactly the same thing under current law. The current MPAA system is the only thing stopping that from happening.

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