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Harvard Study Shows Ratings Creep

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We've discussed the fact that some Christian site count the bad words, so they might be helpful; one of the largest movie rental outlets in Canada, Roger's Video, does the same on their website. Their analysis of objectionable content might be useful to you, although the Canadian ratings system is different than the MPAA's.

They explain their policy here, and an example is Fahrenheit 9/11.

I don't see that specific words are high-lighted but thought this could help.

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SDG wrote:

: All you trivia watchers: What's the earliest example of a PG-13 film you can think

: of that uses the f-word?

Wish I could help here, but I wasn't paying THAT much attention when the rating came into effect. Red Dawn (1984) was the first movie to get a PG-13 rating, period, so my first inclination would be to check and see if the f-word comes up in that one.

: Are there any PG films that use it?

Before the PG-13 rating existed, definitely, as per my Sixteen Candles (1984) example above. And since the PG-13 rating came into existence, I seem to recall being somewhat surprised when the PG-rated Eight Men Out (1988) featured a scene in which a character says to Shoeless Joe, "You don't want to f--- up our plans now, do you?"

: Any PG-13 films other than Adventures in Babysitting and About a Boy that you

: can think of that use it more than once?

They both use it more than once? Really? Adventures doesn't surprise me so much, since it came out in the early days of the PG-13 (back in 1987), but I think I would have noticed if About a Boy (2002), which I have seen twice, had used the word that often.

This might or might not count, but the PG-13 film Austin Powers in Goldmember (2002) features two Japanese girls named Fook Mi and Fook Yu, and we hear their names several times, assuming of course that the girls are saying something ELSE, before we see their names stitched on their backs (or backpacks, I forget which).

: 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)?

Well, Red Dawn WAS a war film. But I can't remember how violent it was.

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For some reason I remembered Sixteen Candles as being one of the first R-rated movies I saw on my own... and sure enough, upon its initial release it was rated R, later to be re-rated PG upon appeal.

As for PG-13's with the f-word, add to the list X Files: Fight the Future, which included Mulder's 2 uses of the word. Not as old as "Adventures in Babysitting", but not as recent as "About a Boy". I read somewhere that Duchovny tried to ad-lib a third, but was told by the director that he had used his allotted 4 letter profanities... apparently a third use of the f-word would have pushed them into R-rated territory (or at least make their lives difficult in reguards to the MPAA).

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Baal_T'shuvah wrote:

: For some reason I remembered Sixteen Candles as being one of the first R-rated

: movies I saw on my own... and sure enough, upon its initial release it was rated

: R, later to be re-rated PG upon appeal.

Was it actually RELEASED with an R rating? My hunch is the appeals process would normally take place BEFORE a film comes out.

: As for PG-13's with the f-word, add to the list X Files: Fight the Future, which

: included Mulder's 2 uses of the word.

Huh, I've been following this ratings business for so long I'm surprised I didn't catch the second use of the f-word in that film, if indeed the word was used twice there.

At any rate, in the vein of that Austin Powers example, I just thought of another couple of PG-13 films that have played with our R-rated knowledge of that word: Meet the Parents, in which the Ben Stiller character's birth name is Gaylord Focker, and its upcoming sequel Meet the Fockers. (Okay, admittedly, the latter film hasn't been rated yet, but it probably WILL get a PG-13.) Boy, am I looking forward to seeing how the Christian media handles THAT movie!

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--content deleted--

My parents didn't specifically show me this one, but I happened to witness the graveyard nightmare sequence while they were watching it. It was the scariest thing I thought I had ever seen. I was totally freaked.

Just goes to show the ratings have evolved in complex ways. There was a while in the 80s, I think, where "G" meant "innocuous and not even potentially problematic"... but that's not what it originally meant, and I think the pendulum has been swinging the other way again.

Ratings Creep? What Ratings Creep?

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Incidentally, I was surprised this week to find that Beyond the Sea has two f-words and is still rated PG-13, not R. So I guess it's true -- you CAN use the word twice and get away with it, provided you do not use the word in a sexual way. (FWIW, the two uses are "F--- you!" and "That's just f---ing great!" -- and oddly enough, both phrases are uttered by characters other than the one Kevin Spacey is playing.)

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I had a chance to ask Jim Wall about this at Claremont. He is the National Council of Churches repersenttive as a consultant to the ratings panel. He is involved in the appeals proceedure. I asked him if he thought there was ratings creep. He thought the term was a bit pejorative. But he says that society has moved in what it thinks is appropriate for various ages through the years. His view of what the ratings do is to judge what the average parent would think appropriate for children to see. That was the sole criterion.

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Do documentaries get a special pass when it comes to the F-word... apparently Gunner Palace is receiving some sort of special treatment...

Film with 30 Uses of F-Word Gets PG-13 Rating

Apparently agreeing with producers that any young person old enough to be recruited by the military should be able to see what life in the military is all about, the MPAA has decided to allow the documentary Gunner Palace to open with a PG-13 rating, instead of an R. The film, about a group of U.S. soldiers living in a bombed-out palace that had once been owned by one of Saddam Hussein's sons, reportedly features more than 30 scenes in which the f-word is uttered. Although the MPAA has previously rejected demands to provide additional detailed information about its movie ratings, it did so for what may be the first time in the case of Gunner, noting specifically that the film uses "strong language not heard in previous PG-13-rated films." It added, "We want parents to take note of this important cautionary warning so they can better guide their children's movie viewing."

I'm not sure if I agree with the arguement in the first sentence. How many 13 year olds are being recruited by the military?

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^was just going to mention that . . .

one movie that always comes to mind in relation to ratings is the late Harryhausen flick Clash of the Titans, which has two different scenes of explicit non-sexual female nudity (not to mention some bloody violence) but still recieved a rating of PG. My family owns that movie, but the young ones (who are the only ones interested in watching it anyways) have to get special permission. tongue.gif

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I think Clash of the Titans might have even been rated G in British Columbia. Yeah, the nudity was pretty non-sexual, non-offensive, whatever. And of course, back when that film came out, there was no PG-13 -- it was either PG or R, and clearly the film did NOT deserve an R.

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I think Clash of the Titans might have even been rated G in British Columbia.  Yeah, the nudity was pretty non-sexual, non-offensive, whatever.  And of course, back when that film came out, there was no PG-13 -- it was either PG or R, and clearly the film did NOT deserve an R.

True, although it was also pretty gratuitous -- the rear shot of the princess or whoever coming up out of the bath and being draped in a cloth by servants was there, as far as I can remember, for no particular reason except maybe to give 13-year-old boys a thrill. (Hm, come to think of it, I was 13 years old at the time.)

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I have heard of films being released "unrated" because they got an NC-17 instead of an R, but until now, I had never heard of a film being released "unrated" because it got an R instead of a PG-13 ...

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Here's a new wrinkle in the "ratings creep" subject. A new study is suggesting that the violence content in many movies may not be as scrutinized as the language, leading to many films given a PG rating that may contain as much violent content as PG-13 or R-rated films.

The motion picture ratings system "is not working as well as it could" in warning parents about the amount of violence in movies, according to researchers at UCLA's Southern California Injury Prevention Research Center.  The researchers noted that many films that were flagged primarily for language contained a greater-than-average amount of violence than those flagged for violence

... one in five films rated PG, or "parental guidance suggested" -- with some material that may not be suitable for children -- actually have more violent actions than the average for those listed as PG-13, or inappropriate for children under 13.

It also found that one in 10 PG films had more violent acts than the average for those in the study that were rated R, or "Restricted" -- meaning any viewer under 17 should be accompanied by an adult.

Reuters story here.

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Figure this thread is as good as any for this.

Warning: maybe not explicit, but there will be sex discussed here.

Last night at the theater I picked up a copy of FLM, a slick, 4 color magazine style promo piece for indie films. Has brief articles by various directors. Atom Ergoyan writes about the challenge of the sex scenes in Where the Truth Lies because he felt he needed to show more thrusting than he thought MPAA would allow in an R-rated film.

The big problem I encountered wa the MPAA is very concerned about the depiction of thrusting.  A few thrusts would be allowed, but anything more might land the picture in the dreaded NC-17 category.

I read that just before going to see A History of Violence today. I wonder what Ergoyan would say about the stairway scene. To be sure, that scene and others are important to the story. Although I think there were a couple places it got a bit gratuitous (e.g., the 69 scene and the open front of Edie's robe coming out of the bath.) Maybe thery were included to give MPAA something to cut, but they didn't force it.

Example of NC-17 film that now qualifies as R? Is the story good enough that they didn't want to give it an NC-17? Is ti really just an R? If it were NC-17, would you still consider it a movie worth seeing?

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I wonder if it's the number of thrusts PER SHOT that makes the difference. The thing about Egoyan's film is that the key scenes generally involve uninterrupted master shots -- and the infamous menage a trois scene is not the only scene that pushes into NC-17 territory, I think -- whereas the stairway scene in Cronenberg's film may have had more cuts, more non-thrusting shots between the thrusting shots (but I wasn't looking for this sort of detail, so I couldn't say for sure...).

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having seen both films now, I can see a qualitative difference (and quantitative as well) between Where the Truth Lies and A History of Violence. The scenes are intrinsic to both films, and I can understand why Egoyan wouldn't want to do as much cutting as it would probably entail to get to an R. I think his complaint about number of thrusts may have some merit, but it's hard to tell with how many scenes and how explicit many of the scenes are.

Edited by Darrel Manson

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Parents think of animated feature-length films, even going back to 'Snow White,' as being a safe harbor they can put their kids in front of and not worry about," Haller said. "All the animated films involve violence or threats of violence. Snow White gets poisoned. The problem is when kids don't have anyone to help them process these things."

I'll agree with that. There is a common tendency to think that things are just getting progressively worse and more morally lax. I think kids films are just as--if not less violent than cartoons were 60 years ago. However, I think the sexual innuendos are something new. I don't remember seeing Bugs or Mickey making penis or boob jokes about Elmer Fudd or Minnie.

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Parents think of animated feature-length films, even going back to 'Snow White,' as being a safe harbor they can put their kids in front of and not worry about," Haller said. "All the animated films involve violence or threats of violence. Snow White gets poisoned. The problem is when kids don't have anyone to help them process these things."

I'll agree with that. There is a common tendency to think that things are just getting progressively worse and more morally lax. I think kids films are just as--if not less violent than cartoons were 60 years ago. However, I think the sexual innuendos are something new. I don't remember seeing Bugs or Mickey making penis or boob jokes about Elmer Fudd or Minnie.

Perhaps this will jog your memory.

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Alright. Perhaps it was actually more blatant then. All I'm saying is that it wasn't in the old WB cartoon compilations I watched when I was a kid--you know, those 6 hour VHS tapes with the original Woddy Woodpecker and the WWII era Daffy Duck.

Man, they totally ripped off "Lady named Lu" in "The Mask".

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I'm just guessing here, but I think the scene in Chicken Little where the title character's friends and/or father come up with as many euphemisms for "pee" as possible was something new for a Disney cartoon, hand-drawn or CGI.

And the G rating on this one IS a little odd, considering virtually all of Disney's other sci-fi beam-blasting movies had PG ratings.

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Kirby Dick and Eddie Schmidt of the film This Film Is Not Yet Rated about the MPAA rating process were on The Business on KCRW earlier this week.

The film, by the way, is rated -- NC17. No, wait, it isn't rated anymore.

Next week, the MPAA responds.

Edited by Darrel Manson

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The response from Joan Graves, chair of the ratings board, is up

I'm just seeing this thread now, but heard this "The Business" back when it aired. I actually thought her responses made a lot of sense and didn't come across as draconian or unfair at all. She sold me on the necessity of all the privacy at least.

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just came in my email:

NEWS FLASH FROM IFC: MPAA CHANGES FILM RATINGS RULES

THANKS TO YOU, THEY'RE CHANGING THE RULES!

Thanks to your support of the IFC documentary "This Film Is Not Yet Rated",

the MPAA is making improvements in the rating system. You can read about

them here [ http://mail.ifctv.com/cgi-bin23/DM/z/eYbz0FdgIZ0BPq0NDE0Gq ].

But there are still plenty of changes that need to be made. Keep up with the

MPAA developments and more at IFC.com/news.

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Looking to reform and demystify the ratings system, the MPAA and National Assn. of Theater Owners are planning a series of changes, including a new admonishment to parents that certain R-rated movies aren't suitable for younger kids, period.
Then why not give them a new adults-only rating, like Ebert is always pushing for?

Why say "It isn't suitable for kids, period, but you can still bring your five-year-old if you don't feel like getting a sitter"?

Okay, maybe if there's a respectable adults-only rating, it'll just get "X"ed, the same way NC-17 did. I'm not sure how you prevent that.

Well then, how about at least having a "No kids" rating that prevents parents from bringing kids under, say, 13? Then you can keep NC-17 as the new X while still preventing parents from bringing eight-year-olds to Cradle 2 The Grave. Granted, it might not be appropriate for 13-year-olds either, but it would be a start.

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