This Film Is Not Yet Rated (2006) and Other Thoughts on the MPAA

The MPAA and its ratings are helpful if at a glance you’re trying to decide what to see. In other words, you don’t follow movie releases very closely and you’re just looking for a good show to watch. Shows that are for kids will be G or PG, with an occasional good adult movie being PG. Your typical action, or comedy, or romantic-comedy without too much graphic content will be PG-13, and shows with more mature or raunchier content will be R or above, with an occasional gem there too. The MPAA is good for those who don’t take movie watching all that seriously.

For those who do care about movies, it borders on a waste of existence. I get more information on the content of a movie from websites I frequent (rottentomatoes.com, commonsensemedia.org, imdb.com, kids-in-mind.com) than the vague and usually unimportant rating the MPAA slaps on a movie. While cinephiles and directors usually gripe about all the wrongs committed by the MPAA in giving too hard of a rating (R or NC-17), Hollywood still churns out more R-rated movies than any other. If more people are willing to pay for your lower rated films, which generally are less graphic in content, why not give the people what they want instead of forcing what they (Hollywood) think we want on us?

In the documentary “This Film Is Not Yet Rated” directors claim that the graphic content they put in the movies is nothing foreign to teenagers and that surely every teenager is familiar with all kinds of perverse sexual content. Excuse me? I sure hope they aren’t. I wasn’t ever as familiar as they claim most teenagers are and hope my kids won’t be either. That viewpoint is very sad and cynical of today’s society.

I did agree with the confusion on the point that sex is far more taboo than a lot of graphic violence. I even somewhat agree with the musing that violence that is graphic is more truthful; violence hurts people, and hiding the blood and guts from young kids just glorifies and fantasizes violence so that they don’t understand it’s true consequences. The fantastical, bloodless violence often portrayed in James Bond flicks, Transformers, etc. should be more severely rated.

In past General Conferences of the LDS Church, members of the church have been specifically counseled “not to pollute your minds with ... degrading matter, for the mind through which this filth passes is never the same afterwards. Don't see R-rated movies or vulgar videos or participate in any entertainment that is immoral, suggestive, or pornographic” (Ensign, May 1986, p 43). Those last three words are the key to movies we should avoid. So maybe the MPAA is right to be more restrictive when it comes to sexual content.

From this counsel it is apparent that the Godly power of creation and the actions involved are not to be profaned (i.e., displayed for entertainment). Another factor of restrictively rated movies, language, needs the same serious treatment. The “F-word” can be a profanity to the same degree that publicly depicting sex is, but taking the Lord’s name in vain should be ranked up there with it severity-wise. Profaning God’s name/title should hurt our ears as much or more than other profanity.

While the MPAA definitely has its shortcomings, I believe it serves its purpose. People will still see what they want to see. The restrictive ratings might keep some people (especially youth) out, but is that a bad thing? Is there really all that much missed in life if more people are restricted from viewing the majority of trash Hollywood creates? If anything, too much slips by in the PG-13 movies.

While the documentary “This Film is Not Yet Rated” gave some good insight into the MPAA and how secret and convoluted it is, how it is a violation of the Constitution, and is a bane to the cinema in general; it was an awful show. I understand it was meant to be tasteless, and more of an “in-your-face-MPAA” than anything, but it was still trash. It’s best watched (if watched at all) within a browser so that you can have another tab open and listen to most of it rather than watch some of the reasons (movie scenes) why Directors/Critics complain about why certain scenes in movies shouldn’t be offensive or deserving of a severe rating.

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