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Harvard Study Shows Ratings Creep

59 posts in this topic

Arrrggggg... And I checked for other posts on the topic when logged in to write my piece... OK, I'll hand it over... laugh.gif but I was only off by 18 minutes in my posting! Great minds and Benevolent Rulers think alike, I guess.

If you don't mind, I'll just move my earlier point to here. smile.gif

I don't know if there is really anything new to this study. It seems to me that the MPAA has followed a type of roller coaster pattern ever since their inception, based on the current public mores. For example, many films from the 70's that were originally rated PG, may in fact be rated R if released today under current MPAA guidelines. Titles such as The Missouri Breaks, The Outlaw Josey Wales, Airplane, or A Man Called Horse, all included either graphic violence or nudity or sexual content (sometimes all 3), and yet at the time of their release were only given a PG rating.

Curiously, some films from the 70's that were originally rated PG, have in recent years been re-rated to R for their release on DVD. A Man Called Horse and Vanishing Point are two that come to mind. But there doesn't seem to be any set standard for re-rating films.

And yet, as the study points out, there have been films released in the past few years that seem to "get a pass", and achieve a rating lower than their content would apparently deem. Sometimes it seems that directors and stars of high esteem receive these "passes" for their films, whereas comparable films by other directors get slapped with higher ratings. I think the combination of Steven Spielberg and Tom Cruise's name at the top of Minority Report is a prime example of this favoritism, and the reason this film got a PG-13 rating. I truly believe that if same film had been submitted by another director, with a different lead, it would have been given the R rating.

I'd be curious to know what other movies y'all think may have slipped past their true rating, and received a more favorable lower rating.

Edited by Baal_T'shuvah

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Well I'm a bit hazy on the US system, but here they claim that the system reflects what society finds acceptable, so as society has found more of this stuff acceptable so the ratings have "slackened" to reflect that.

That said, as I've said before I think your system is pretty terrible.

Matt

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You know, the system is so irrelevant that I don't even notice a film's rating anymore. Reading reviews is about the only reliable way I can gauge a film's content before seeing it.

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Reading reviews is about the only reliable way I can gauge a film's content before seeing it.

Well, there's always Screenit...in case you want an in-depth warning for every instance of skin, profanity, violence, etc. I get a kick out of experiencing the Screenit version of old favourites.

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My wife and I have always felt strongly that the Lord of the Rings trilogy should've been rated R. The graphic violence and shocking imagery goes well beyond the pale of most PG-13 movies. Many parents familiar with Tolkein, who heard the rave reviews, took their preteens to see it- big mistake in IMO.

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{content removed}

That is how stupid the American rating system is. Use the f-word twice -- or once, in a sexual manner -- and the film is rated R. Quite a few films have been released in British Columbia with PG ratings that had R ratings in the States for just this reason (e.g., Stand By Me, The Castle).

I am intrigued, BTW, by the fact that Hitchcock's Psycho was re-rated R in the 1980s, despite being produced in 1960 and thus having no explicit nudity or even violence per se -- it's all SUGGESTED, more than anything else.

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My wife and I have always felt strongly that the Lord of the Rings trilogy should've been rated R. The graphic violence and shocking imagery goes well beyond the pale of most PG-13 movies. Many parents familiar with Tolkein, who heard the rave reviews, took their preteens to see it- big mistake in IMO.

Funny, I thought the same thing about Towers and ROTK, but Fellowship didn't ever seem to delve into "R"-rated territory.

spoilers1.gif

Yeah, Boromir's death was quite gruesome, but I've seen worse in similar rated films.

That is how stupid the American rating system is.

I've told some friends that we should adopt the age rating systems of Canada or the UK. (Except that whole headbutting rule in the UK - come on, one headbutt and it's 15+??)

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Though, those worrying about teens seeing inappropriate material should note that in Canada films with pretty heavy sexual or violent content get 14A ratings, ie: Mulholland Dr. and Saving Private Ryan. Crazy.

While Fargo gets slapped with an R. Which in Canada is even higher than an 18A. Crazy.

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I've think they've gotten stricter on family oriented films. It seems almost every animated film is rated PG. The G rating is rarely used. Many of the PG-13 movies today would probably only receive a PG rating if they were released in the 80s. Big had the f-word and some sexual content and it got away with a PG rating in 1988. That would never happen today. The Goonies had a drug reference, that would be an automatic PG-13 today.

Edited by J.R.

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Clint M wrote:

: . . . Fellowship didn't ever seem to delve into "R"-rated territory.

I remember there was some discussion on an earlier version of this board, some time ago, to the effect that the extended version would probably be rated R, kinda like how the extended four-disc version of Pearl Harbor was rated R -- more violence, etc. I do believe there are orc decapitations in the extended version that were not part of the theatrical version, but as it turned out, the extended version of the film remained PG-13.

Anders wrote:

: Though, those worrying about teens seeing inappropriate material should note

: that in Canada films with pretty heavy sexual or violent content get 14A ratings,

: ie: Mulholland Dr. and Saving Private Ryan. Crazy.

It varies from province to province, though -- those two films may have gotten away with 14A ratings in Ontario (and thus on video), but both films were rated 18A in British Columbia (and thus probably in Saskatchewan, too, since we've been rating your movies for a while). At any rate, I believe the 14A rating is enforced, whereas the PG-13 rating is not -- it's purely advisory, if I'm not mistaken. So getting a 14A rating in Canada is not as lax as getting a PG-13 in the United States.

http://www.bcfilmclass.com/ratings/1998.pdf

http://www.bcfilmclass.com/ratings/2001.pdf

: While Fargo gets slapped with an R.

Not in B.C., it ain't. Though I see it got that rating in Ontario (and thus on video). That film came out before B.C. began rating films on Saskatchewan's behalf (in fact, Fargo almost takes us back to the day when Saskatchewan banned Exit to Eden -- remember that?), so I haven't a clue what it was rated there.

J.R. wrote:

: I've think they've gotten stricter on family oriented films. It seems almost every

: animated film is rated PG. The G rating is rarely used.

Yeah, I remember The Secret of NIMH (1982) got away with a G rating even though one of its characters said "damn"; the first Disney cartoon to be rated PG was The Black Cauldron (1985), which was fairly dark in places, and the second one didn't come along until Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001); however, since then, every Disney cartoon has been PG (including 2002's Lilo & Stitch and Treasure Planet and 2004's Home on the Range), with the exception of Brother Bear (2003), which was G. (The Pixar movies were all G too, though.)

Meanwhile, non-Disney cartoons like Antz (1998), The Prince of Egypt (1998), The Road to El Dorado (2000), Titan A.E. (2000), Ice Age (2001), the Shrek movies (2001, 2004), The Wild Thornberrys Movie (2002), Rugrats Go Wild (2003) and Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas (2003) have all been rated PG. However, the first two Rugrats movies (1998, 2000) were rated G, as were Anastasia (1997), Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius (2001) and Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron (2002). Just to cite the highest-profile cartoons of the past decade that come to mind.

: Big had the f-word and some sexual content and it got away with a PG rating in

: 1988. That would never happen today.

Agreed. I remember John Sayles's Eight Men Out also had a single, very tame use of the f-word too ("You don't want to f--- up our plans, do you?") -- and that film got away with a PG in 1988, too. They must have had different rules that year or something.

: The Goonies had a drug reference, that would be an automatic PG-13 today.

Huh. That was 1985, right? That was the same year the Billy Graham movie Caught! got slapped with a PG-13, precisely because of its drug references. (Oh, wait, filmratings.com tells me the Billy Graham movie came out in 1987. Hmmm.)

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It varies from province to province, though -- those two films may have gotten away with 14A ratings in Ontario (and thus on video), but both films were rated 18A in British Columbia (and thus probably in Saskatchewan, too, since we've been rating your movies for a while).

Ah, seeing as I've worked in a video store for so long, I'm mostly familiar with the ratings that Ontario gives, and thus the video releases.

I was not aware of the BC/SK connection there. Very interesting. Peter, you are always full of good information.

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Anders wrote:

: Ah, seeing as I've worked in a video store for so long, I'm mostly familiar with

: the ratings that Ontario gives, and thus the video releases.

Yes, as a westerner, this is one of those things that fuels my resentment towards this country's Torontocentrism.

Then again, some of my Saskatchewan friends used to gripe about what they referred to as "the B.C. attitude", so I won't press that point too strongly.

smile.gif

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Clint M wrote:

: . . . Fellowship didn't ever seem to delve into "R"-rated territory.

I remember there was some discussion on an earlier version of this board, some time ago, to the effect that the extended version would probably be rated R, kinda like how the extended four-disc version of Pearl Harbor was rated R -- more violence, etc. I do believe there are orc decapitations in the extended version that were not part of the theatrical version, but as it turned out, the extended version of the film remained PG-13.

My comments were based on the theatrical cuts - but I do remember that around the time of the extended Fellowship, there were talks that the re-cut would get an "R" rating.

I'm still surprised Towers:EE retained a PG-13.

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I just posted some comments on the ratings system at the virginity redux thread -- apparently Fast Times at Ridgmont High (1982) was almost slapped with an X in the States, and DID receive the equivalent of an X in Ontario (and thus on Canadian home video); while Sixteen Candles (1983) scored a PG despite having a bit of voyeuristic nudity and at least two f-words, either of which would be enough to secure an R nowadays.

This was all in the days before the PG-13 rating (though I know B.C., at least, had the 14-A rating by 1983), and what I find interesting is that it was the VIOLENCE of a couple of Spielberg films (1984's Gremlins and Temple of Doom) that finally provoked the creation of PG-13, and NOT, apparently, the nudity and sexuality on display in the John Hughes high-school flick. Whereas TODAY, people complain about the ratings are too lenient with regard to violence and too strict with regard to sex, etc.

(FWIW, I also found myself pondering these issues while watching Attack of the Clones a couple days ago -- all those battle scenes and beheadings and amputations and dismemberings and whatnot, and it all merits merely a PG!)

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

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(FWIW, I also found myself pondering these issues while watching Attack of the Clones a couple days ago -- all those battle scenes and beheadings and amputations and dismemberings and whatnot, and it all merits merely a PG!)

And, you know, my kids, ages 9, 6, and 3, happily watch AOTC with no problem.

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Re: AOTC, my then three year-old was bothered by Boba seeing his father decapitated. And I can see that-- it's rather abrupt, and the camera lingers on the son's gape-mouthed despair for a moment that stands out against the quick-cutting of that scene. It's Boba's Moment of Revenge Motivation (as if Jabba's reward money isn't enough), and the fairy tales we read certainly contain myriads of orphanings, but to see it played out so starkly really stood out to her. Her reaction to that scene was our first hint that she's more sensitive to scary or disturbing images than her older sister. I think we haven't pushed things too much-- our kids have seen "more" than my sister's kids and "less" than my stepbrother's kids, and I'd guess we're probably about at the mean in that regard among Christian families. Her older sister has never been troubled by anything we've shown her, including when she and I sat through ROTK at the theater last December and she didn't budge a bit through the four hours it took with previews, etc.

But I'm inclined to think that another film exactly like AOTC, with a different title, director and production company is almost definitely rated PG-13.

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Russell Lucas wrote:

: It's Boba's Moment of Revenge Motivation . . .

But revenge against WHO? The Jedi are all gonna be dead by the time we see Boba Fett in Episode V anyway (except for Anakin, who PAYS him to do a job for him, and Yoda, who he never meets).

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Peter, if you're looking for psychological motivations that make sense on any sort of meaningful level, the prequels aren't the place to be. I don't remember if it made the final cut of The Phantom Menace or whether it was just a deleted scene, but Anakin's comment to baby Greedo that he'd end up bad is meant to tell us that that moment is inextricably linked to him later falling into the employ of the Hutts and ending up spread all over a booth in Mos Eisley. Similarly, I read Boba's moment of anguish as meant to show the instant his world took the fateful turn that would lead him to becoming hors d'orve for the Sarlacc. See, before that, his was an idyllic life consisting of looking suspiciously at grown-ups and laughing approvingly when his dad shot at other space ships.

Wait-- if Boba's witnessing his dad's death doesn't even serve any larger narrative purpose or thematic end-- isn't that a fairly low blow, representing a depth that even Tarantino doesn't sink to Nikki and O-Ren Ishii? wink.gif

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Oh, joy, I had forgotten that Greedo moment in Episode I ... until now.

It's sad when a series turns into a series of nudge-nudge-wink-wink self-references (like Obi-Wan's "Why do I get the feeling you're going to be the death of me?" in Episode II). I'm not sure what's worse, that or all the stupid puns Threepio says in Episode II.

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Has anyone seen anything more on this Harvard study? Any criticism of it? Any corroborating discussion? Any film specifics one way or the other?

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Anybody? Anybody?

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Okay, lemme try a few specific questions.

All you trivia watchers: What's the earliest example of a PG-13 film you can think of that uses the f-word?

Are there any PG films that use it?

Any PG-13 films other than Adventures in Babysitting and About a Boy that you can think of that use it more than once? Any at all that use it more than twice?

What are the most outrageous (especially violent) PG-13 films you can think of in the first decade or so of PG-13 (1984 to 1994)?

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Any PG-13 films other than Adventures in Babysitting and About a Boy that you can think of that use it more than once? Any at all that use it more than twice?

Ocean's 11 has it at least twice. Elliot Gould and Shaobo Qin's gymnast character (the latter being in broken English. Which, of course, makes it hilarious, not offensive... wink.gif )

Phil.

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--content deleted--

since I'm essentially debunking the ratings creep claim, at least to a degree, I really want older films that are outrageous for their rating. Especially with violence, since I've gleaned that that's the bugaboo for the study's auth ors.

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