Our rating system is more disturbing than the films it chooses to censor. I think it’s time for parents to be parents and stop using a deceitful system that does little to enlighten the public on the content of motion pictures.
Last night we watched “This Film is Not Yet Rated,” a documentary on the MPAA’s rating system and who gets to chose which films get ratings. You wouldn’t believe how many R-rated films (“American Psycho” and “The Cooler” being two of them) that have made a mark on history were once rated NC-17, therefore non-releasable by major production companies. The documentary gives us a look into why films are rated the way they are and exposes the MPAA’s reluctance to disclose who rates films.
The American rating system is weird compared to other countries in many ways. 1) We are more afraid of sex than we are of violence, 2) the MPAA refuses to disclose who is on the ratings board. European countries are more sensitive to violence than sexuality, and those rating pictures aren’t afraid to show their faces.
Meanwhile, when American movies show violence without blood and gore, they are rated PG-13. If there’s more blood and violence in a film, especially when coupled with drug use, it is rated R. This means esentially this: we have no problem with 13-year-olds watching people get shot with no disgusting consequences, but you have to be 17 to see the realistic blood and violence of war. How does this make sense? We’re teaching children first that violence has no consequences, then showing them the reality behind it all when it might be too late to reverse any distorted views already planted.
LGBTQ sexuality is also judged more harshly in the rating system than heterosexual activity. In one of the films described, “But I’m A Cheerleader,” a girl at a reorientation camp is seen masterbating over her clothes, fully dressed. Because of this, the film was given an NC-17 rating. Meanwhile, “American Pie” shows a teenager doing the nasty into an apple pie IN THE TRAILER. This film was given simply an R rating.
The MPAA says that only parents with children between 5 and 17 can rate films: of the entire board, only one member has kids this age–the rest either don’t have children, or have kids over the age of 20. When directors appeal to have the rating changed from an NC-17 to an R, they aren’t allowed to use any precedent. They can’t point to other films. Obviously, the rating system is far from the democratic ideals we hold dear.
I always knew the rating system was bollocks, especially when I couldn’t take my 14-year-old sister to see “The King’s Speech” because he says the F-bomb more than once. This just solidified the theory that censorship is alive and well in America; if not by the burning of books, then by the rating system Americans have used to shirk their parenting duties.