Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Hollywood Babble On & On #1091: Discretion And Context Matter

The recent fight over the movie Philomena starring Judi Dench and Steve Coogan to get it's R-Rating changed to a PG-13 caused me to have a revelation.

You see the film got the rating because the word "Fuck" appears more than once in the film. This means MPAA is assuming that 13 year olds, drawn by their adoration of Dench, will flood the theatres and thus have their minds warped by hearing "Fuck" fewer times than they hear at the dinner table with their parents.

It shows a fundamental flaw in the ratings system.

There's no discretion allowed for context.

That's dumb.

Really dumb.

In fact, only a positively excremental intellect could deny the importance of discretion and context, especially when an R-Rating can negatively impact a film's release, marketing, and ultimately its box office performance.

Fewer theatres will screen R-Rated movies, because they don't sell as many tickets as movies for kids and teens, and many media outlets have restrictions when it comes to advertising R-Rated movies. 

This situation screams for discretion and context when it comes to assigning ratings.

However, the MPAA thinks they're being scientific when they assign set numbers for things like language, sex, and violence.

What they are being is stupid.

They should have looked at the film and thought: "Okay, there are two naughty f-bombs, but I don't think teens and kids will be flocking to see a movie about the aftermath of forced adoption in 1950s Ireland, and giving it an 'R-Rating' could hurt the movie, so let's just give it a PG-13."

You see that's being smart.

It also denies Harvey Weinstein a source of cheap publicity.

And denying Harvey a chance to yell about something is not only smart, but beautiful.


  1. Reminds me of how Blues Brothers got an R because it used "F**" in there one time.

    And think about it.

    Maybe the ratings board should be like jury duty. People are randomly selected to sit on it and they vote on the ratings.

  2. There's been ratings creep in the direction of permissiveness for decades. The forces behind this should be obvious: changes in the wider society, studios' desire for greater ticket sales, filmmakers' desire to be relevant and transgressive, plus a general f-u attitude toward purported censorship. Jack Valenti came up with this system in 1969 or thenabouts, to head off the perceived threat of a Hays-board-like official kind of censorship- it's amazing that it's survived as long as it has, especially given the de facto gutting of the standards behind them.