Friday, March 16, 2007

Movie Ratings

The MPAA ticked a bunch more people off this past week when they reviewed the movie Transformers. It seems that they did not like the heavy amount of violence in the movie, so they gave it an R rating. The director did not want an R nor did he want to re-cut the movie in order to get his desired PG-13, so he did the next best thing. He called executive producer Steven Spielberg to have him talk to the ratings board. Spielberg talked to the ratings board who then reconsidered their decision and gave the movie a PG-13 rating. So without doing anything but getting a famous guy to ask nicely, a movie that is rated to be R is now rated PG13.

I mentioned this to someone and they started throwing a fit. He’s threatening to write to Congress to have them step in and intervene. Should they? Absolutely not! The MPAA is a private organization that follows its own created standards. Movie ratings (G, PG, PG-13, R, NC-17) are registered trademarks of the MPAA and cannot be used without permission. In order to use one of their ratings you have to pay a huge fee, submit a copy of your movie to them; then they will give you whatever rating they your movie deserves. Unless you are really rich, powerful, and famous you are stuck with whatever rating they give you unless you alter the movie and resubmit it and pay another fee in hopes that the new cut will get your desired rating.

Realistically movie ratings are little more than marketing tools. Movies are one of the few forms of media left that do not require ratings by the Federal Government. TV shows must be rated, CDs must carry Parental Advisory stickers if they contain foul lyrics, and radio has to conform to decency standards set forth by the FCC. As movies are generally shown in privately owned theaters, or watched in private homes they do not fit under any government control. The large movie chains have signed monopolistic contracts with the MPAA stating that they will not show a movie on their screens that does not have an MPAA rating. This is one of the few reasons that movie makers get their movies rated at all, to get them into the large theater chains. If you go to a store that sells DVDs you can generally find tons of movies that aren’t rated. Most videos that were never shown in the theater are not rated because it’s expensive to get a rating. Many DVDs that were shown in the theater aren’t rated in the stores because they re-cut the movie to get the desired rating for the theaters, but are selling the original cut on disc, of which they did not accept the MPAA rating.

The MPAA can give any movie any rating for any reason if they so desire. They have guidelines for what would constitute a particular rating but it isn’t strictly followed. For the most part they are consistent in their decisions but there are exceptions to every rule. You can find swearing in a G movie, full frontal nudity in a PG movie, graphic acts of violence and/or sex in a PG-13 movie, and just about anything in an R movie. I’ve seen PG movies that I wouldn’t want my baby sisters to see; I’ve seen R movies that I would have no problem letting them see. I’ve seen too few NC-17 movies to see much of a trend there but I wouldn’t buy most of the ones I’ve seen.

Rant over. I’ve filled my quick break from homework. Now time to get back to my union essay due on Monday.

1 comment:

Polka Dotted Pickles said...

Hmm, interesting. I haven't seen any new movies for about this whole semester so far. I'm too broke. :)