MCN Blogs
David Poland

By David Poland

Whose Ratings Are They Anyway

I know that most of you haven’t seen Kirby Dick Doc, This Movie Has Not Yet Been Rated, but where do you think the ratings system is today?
Does the NC-17 bother you?
Can you distinguish an R from a PG-13?
Do you care?

Be Sociable, Share!

73 Responses to “Whose Ratings Are They Anyway”

  1. Lynn says:

    The ratings system… sucks.
    And sure I can tell between a PG-13 and an R. A PG-13 can be very violent and disturbing as long as it isn’t overly graphic, but will have little or no sexual content. An R has nudity and/or sex. (I also hate those descriptors they’ve added, which can spoil plot points.)
    Young teenagers get into R’s anyway, and annoying people bring small children with them to both PG-13 and R movies that are likely to either bore them so much they can’t sit quietly still, or scare the bejeezus out of them. (I strongly suspect these are the same people who complain about what’s on TV, but can’t be bothered to learn how to use a v-chip or their cable box.)

  2. PandaBear says:

    I can’t tell between any of them. PG 13 to R to NC-17. I got no idea. I see some unrated dvds and I think how is this unrated? For a few nude scenes?

  3. Nicol D says:

    Most ‘unrated’ DVD’s do not add anything more graphic in terms of sex or violence. They will just add an extra scene or two that was not in the theatrical version, not submit to the MPAA and then release it as ‘unrated’. The DVD buying public then thinks they are getting something more raunchy or violent when they are not.
    In short, the concept of the ‘unrated’ DVD is a bit of a scam.
    Modern Hollywood ratings are more lenient now than they have ever been in film history. I do think it is silly when certain theatre chains or video stores refuse to distribute NC17 films but then carry hard R fare like Basic Instinct etc.
    But I also think it is silly when people call for the abolition of the ratings board. It serves a purpose to parents and it is valid whether we agree with it or not.
    Should little kids be allowed to see anything at all?

  4. Mark Ziegler says:

    Ratings don’t bother me but parents need it. Because most parents don’t know what movies are playing and the ratings play a role in what they’ll let their kids see or not see. You can go on and on about “kids will see it anyway” but that doesn’t matter. It gives parents and some adults a path and a headstart as to what they can expect from a movie.

  5. MattM says:

    Typically, the magic tripwire for “R” ratings is “fuck.” Isn’t there a magic rule of “you may use ‘fuck’ once in a non-sexual context and get a PG13. Use in a sexual context or more than once warrants an R.”?

  6. palmtree says:

    I agree with the idea that parents need it. They need to know what they’re getting into before they put the commitment into taking the family there. Also this is necessary as a business decision. You’re not going to sink $200 million into a film if a large part of the population has a barrier to go. Yes, kids will see things anyway, but that extra barrier will keep some out and on a mass scale that is still millions of dollars.
    But that in turn keeps writers from writing movies that will scare studios off with potential R or NC17 ratings. My main concern is the way the ratings suffocate art. Y Tu Mama Tambien was a great example of an artful film that was saddled with NC17 even though I couldn’t call it pornographic or amoral. According to director Cuaron, the ratings people told him that he could make cuts to get an R…but that it would cut out the heart of what the film was about. They released it theatrically unrated. (a lot of websites claim it is R, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t at the time).
    Maybe films like Schindler’s List could get a special rating to reflect that they have objectionable content but taken in context are done artfully and without malice (aka Hostel).

  7. Hopscotch says:

    One of my best friends in high school was grounded for a week because he used the word “bastard” in front of his parents, which they considered a curse word to the worse degree…
    different people have different standards. I’m not happy with the MPAA, but that’s an incredibly difficult thing to do.
    I think Almost Famous would have been a perfect movie for high school kids, why was that rated R? Like a couple of F-words and breif glimpse of nipple. Ridiculous.

  8. pstargalac says:

    Quote: “But I also think it is silly when people call for the abolition of the ratings board. It serves a purpose to parents and it is valid whether we agree with it or not.”
    It’s valid as long as the rules are consistent. The PG-13/R boundary has become completely meaningless. An F-bomb or two can elevate an otherwise-appropriate film to an R, and yet graphic sexual innuendo is becoming more and more OK for PG-13. To say nothing of violence, which is the dead horse of any MPAA-related conversation.
    If anything, I think the MPAA is too lenient. I have a problem with bending the rules for one category (violence, innuendo) and not for the others (sex, curse words) because there are easily-definable thresholds for how many groin thrusts or F-bombs or whatever. That kind of thinking is lazy and irresponsible. If they want to be hardasses about sex and F-bombs, they have a responsibility to do likewise with equally-inappropriate double-entendres and innuendo.

  9. joefitz84 says:

    I just wish they were consistent. Why is shooting 1,000 people not worse than a few F bombs? How many boobs means Pg 13 to R? The reason why people hate it now is that it is so inconsistent.

  10. Angelus21 says:

    These studios get double out of me when I have to buy the unrated versions. To see one more added scene. It is kinda ridiculous. The South Park movie really said it best about how weird they are and how they attack curse words.

  11. DannyBoy says:

    What kills me is how films are cut (or even “juced up”) to get certain ratings. They put a sex scene in the 4th Pink Panther movie for no other reason than that the 3rd one was G and they felt it had hurt the film. (They added swear words to Altman’s Popeye for the same reason.) Then there are all the censorship issues, as with Eyes Wide Shut. It is something that actually makes me crazy.

  12. Sanchez says:

    I’m not comfortable letting 8 yr olds see R or NC 17 type movies. We need some system in place so this doesn’t happen.

  13. Hopscotch says:

    We’re complaining about the current system, none of us want to just do away with it.

  14. Josh says:

    When is the last time anyone saw or seen at a theatre an NC-17 movie? I can’t even think of one. “Brown Bunny”? Did that even go out as NC 17?

  15. Jeffrey Boam's Doctor says:

    Anyone want to talk about the death of REVOLUTION STUDIOS?

  16. palmtree says:

    Most of the films that get NC-17 ratings end up released as unrated to avoid the stigma.

  17. Aladdin Sane says:

    Wasn’t Titanic rated PG 13? I think politcal climate would have something to do with how films are rated. I think overall there was more leniency in the late 90s…I haven’t watched it since 1998, but if I’m not mistaken there’s some nudity in that film that no other PG-13 film has gotten away with (feel free to correct me if I’m wrong). Needless to say I do think the MPAA’s rating system is flawed.
    In Canada, it seems a little more together. We’ve got G, PG, 14A, 18A and R.
    G & PG break down the same as in the USA. 14A means you have to be at least 14 to get in, or have an adult over 18 accompanying you. 18A same deal. And R means absolutely no one under the age of 18. Not many films are rated R in Canada though. As for what sort of things constitute 14A vs 18A, it’s hard to say. Nudity doesn’t always guarantee an 18A…I’d like to believe that sometimes they pay attention to the story and decide if it’s more adult or if it’s something that teenagers can handle…Anyhow, neither the American system or the Canadian system is perfect. I say that if precedent has been set, then it should not be altered, no matter if your last name is Smith or Spielberg…but what do I know? I work at a grocery store. I don’t make money off of movies…

  18. Fades To Black says:

    Ratings don’t really effect my movie going. If I’m going to see something, I see it. Irregardless.

  19. Hopscotch says:

    The theater in my hometown was really, really prickly about letting kids under 17 by rated R movies. I’m not sure what the percentage is around the rest of the country, but it was a major hassle in high school. I literraly had to bring one of my parents to a theater early, have them buy the ticket, take them home then go see the movie.
    I think Siskel and Ebert gave a great argument once in 1995 when Showgirls got the NC-17 (purely for promotional reasons) and Seven got the “R”. They argued that Showgirls should be R, and Seven “NC-17” because that movie COULD be pyschologically jarring for a kid in junior high.

  20. MattM says:

    I saw “Inside Deep Throat” last year, which IIRC, went out with an NC-17, and a couple of unrrateds that were enforced as NC-17’s–“The Aristocrats” and “Sarah Silverman: Jesus Is Magic.”

  21. Sanchez says:

    Going NC 17 was the only way that “Showgirls” could get any buzz and anyone in a theatre. It was a comedy that was unintentionally funny. A classic example of tits and asses causing a rating to skyrocket.

  22. jeffmcm says:

    I think Showgirls is _intentionally_ funny, just like Starship Troopers, but Showgirls plays it a little too close to the vest and all the nudity is distracting.
    When I was a teenager, back in the 90s, there was absolutely no problem in the world with being able to get into R-rated movies. Nobody cared. Of course, that was before Columbine and such.

  23. DannyBoy says:

    I saw both BAD EDUCATION and INSIDE DEEP THROAT in theaters, which were packed, by the way.
    Of course there’s a self-fulfilling prophesy, where only little art films or specialized films get that rating and when they only gross as much as a little art film or foreign film, people say: “see, it’s box office poison!” If Basic Instinct had gone out uncut with a big promotion, like SHOWGIRLS, it would have been a hit.

  24. PandaBear says:

    I was carded more after I turned 18.

  25. waterbucket says:

    Hmmm…now how am I going to relate this back to the awesomeness of Brokeback Mountain? This is a toughie.

  26. RDP says:

    Back in my day, we had boobies and (sometimes) full-frontal nudity in several of our PG-rated movies…
    And we liked it.

  27. Nicol D says:

    “I think Siskel and Ebert gave a great argument once in 1995 when Showgirls got the NC-17 (purely for promotional reasons) and Seven got the “R”. They argued that Showgirls should be R, and Seven “NC-17″ because that movie COULD be pyschologically jarring for a kid in junior high. ”
    Ebert has always made this argument and if he could see more clearly he would see than he is wrong.
    Yes, the ratings board can be silly sometimes counting the amount of times ‘f**k’ can be said or counting thrusts or bullet shots. BUT at least it is an empirical system. A system based on measurement and not ideology.
    If we use the Ebert argument…this is more of a values based system. Seven ‘could’ be damaging.
    So then we have to question who could a film damage and who gets to quantify things such as tone or mood. This is a much more problematic system proposal than what we have. It is values based. Whose values? Liberal? Conservative? Religious? Secular?
    One can already see the problems. Some extreme examples:
    Should The Passion (a hard R)be re-rated PG in accordance with religious values?
    Should The Dreamers (a hard R) also be re-rated PG to be in tune with secular values?
    I know these are extreme examples but they illustrate my point. A values based system leaves way too much interpretation to the viewer to do anyone any good.
    As for myself, I fail to see why over 18 adults care about movie ratings and demonize the boards as such. If they had the power to ban films, sure…but they don’t. As long as you can see it why do you care if a child can’t?
    I fail to see the logic or yes, the morality, in arguing that a child should be allowed to see the films of QT or Sin City.
    The MPAA is not perfect…but I get tired of everyone’s ‘inner Ebert’ always vilifying these people all of the time.
    Also, the argument that the MPAA is easy on violence and tough on sex is a 1968 style myth. No graphic bloodletting is allowed in PG13 films and neither is graphic sex.
    Gratutitous action is allowed in PG13 films without blood. And gratuitous sexual content is also allowed as long as there is no explicit nudity.
    All of those teen comedies that get PG13 (The New Guy, Dumb and Dumber, early Adam Sandler)ratings are not exactly models of restraint.

  28. Terence D says:

    Back in our day we also had better comedies. Not these toned down comedies that are out now. That need an unrated edition. Where they didn’t have to put a gratutious breast scene in. They actually were funny and told a story. As crude as it had to be but it was part of the story. I guess now all those movies would be R rated. But who cares? I would say the only ones who care are the executives because there business models show that comedies don’t do as well being rated R. Ask the people behind Wedding Crashers and 40 Year Old Virgin about that.

  29. jesse says:

    But Nicol, don’t you think that the idea that it’s OK to shoot hundreds of people in a PG-13 movie as long as you don’t show blood is pretty ridiculous?
    You may that’s good because it’s quantifiable and not ideological, but it’s not as if the MPAA releases actual specific guidelines (there are just lots of rumors). And any “empirical” guidelines could not help but look ridiculous anyway.
    And the “easy on violence, tough on sex” idea is not *remotely* a myth! I would say it’s easier for a movie to get an NC-17 for profanity/sexual language than one for violence.
    In fact, the very idea of an NC-17 is ridiculous to me — that there are theoretically movies that are SO adult that NO one under 17 (or is 18? I thought I read a few years ago that the terms were quietly changed from “under 17” to “17 and under”) can see it, even with parents in tow?? Maybe hardcore pornography or something like that… but since hardcore porn (a.) rarely plays in theaters (b.) is rarely, I’d wager, submitted to the MPAA even when it is… I see no reason for an NC-17.
    I admit — rather shamefully — the only real appeal of the ratings system for me is that it keeps out increasingly noisy cell-toting kids… but then, I don’t think they’d be lining up to see the majority of my most-anticipated R-rated movies even if they “could.”

  30. bicycle bob says:

    ratings don’t matter much to me. they shouldn’t matter to anyone over age unless ur a parent. its there for children and parents.

  31. BluStealer says:

    I still can’t believe people leave their cell phones on during a movie. I just don’t get it. It should be a crime. You’re told not to do it. Yet they don’t listen. The theatre should have secuity take their picture and name down and ban them from the theatre.
    My little rant on that.

  32. Nicol D says:

    “But Nicol, don’t you think that the idea that it’s OK to shoot hundreds of people in a PG-13 movie as long as you don’t show blood is pretty ridiculous?”
    Thanks for your comment Jesse. The problem with this statement though is that it is not true. It plays in the same field as the old Jack Nicholson comment that you can cut of a breast and get a PG but kiss it you get an R.
    It is a statement rooted more in hyperbole than logic. Sure Indiana Jones kills lots of Nazi’s but not hundreds (although I’d be fine with that). Also, I differentiate between adventure/action and flat out violence.
    Additionally, with the amount of sexual promiscuity in Hollywood movies in general, I always find it odd that people complain about sex being censored. Sure, characters kill lots, but they always make sure to have plenty of sex by the 60 minute mark.
    Also, as for graphicness, I think perhaps the point that people always miss is that when violence happens in films it is by its very nature fake. When sex happens in films, it is also by its very nature…real.
    When man shoots man in a film…he really is not.
    When man sucks woman’s breast in a film…he really is.
    This of course is an aesthetic distinction but it exists just the same.

  33. jeffmcm says:

    At the same time, ordinary people engage in sexual activity a lot more often than they get involved in murders and such. Depicting sex shows people behaving more-or-less normally. Depicting violence normalizes it and makes it potentially more acceptable to the audience.
    Anyway, I think context is important, which is where the MPAA system drops the ball. I’d rather have the over-the-top cartoon violence of Kill Bill than the over-the-top sleazy violence of Domino…which is probably a matter of taste.

  34. Nick1 says:

    I have no interest in NC-17 movies. I don’t rent or purchase “unrated” editions. If ever I do see such a film, that film would have to have exceptional critical acclaim (the two I’ve seen were Todd Solondz’ Happiness and Y Tu Mama Tambien).
    Yes, nudity bothers me. Even more than extreme violence. But I’m no prude. I wish to remain faithful to my wife, and I don’t need unnecessary sexual imagery to muddy the waters between us. With violence, there’s always a proper context in which you can disassociate yourself with the action; with nudity/sexuality, it invites the viewer to participate, with images that go inbetween the love I have for my wife. Also, I’m generally not interested in stories that encompass the NC-17; you never see the passionate love between a husband and wife in such pictures.
    To each his own; if you’re not inclined to view things thru my lens, so be it. Poland asked for my opinion, and that’s what it is. For the record, the ratings systems suck; there’s terrible inconsistency throughout the years, and the context of a story is what matters, not necessarily the number of bad words, violent scenes or erotic images. That said, I know for myself that NC-17 films are almost entirely crossing a line for me.

  35. Nicol D says:

    “Depicting violence normalizes it and makes it potentially more acceptable to the audience. ”
    I agree with you on this. I used to be in the camp that said film/tv influenced nobody…now I am not so sure.
    I think with regards to violence and sexuality the mediums of film/tv through prolonged exposure to culture have normalized and lowered the bar for behaviour that in general does not befit a sophisticated society.
    Can anyone really say the proliferation of gangsta culture in rap has no effect on aggression in males?
    That prolonged exposure to screen violence doen’t numb how many people react to violence in real life?
    That the constant depictions of promiscuous teenagers has not served to encourage as opposed to reflect teenager culture?
    I am pretty libertarian when it comes to free speech and I would never encourage any form of government censorship. BUT I am not so naive as many who think these forms of ‘entertainment’ do not have a negative effect on our culture as whole.
    It is a problem…and I do not know what the solution is.

  36. jeffmcm says:

    Nick1: if you want to avoid ‘muddying the waters’ steer clear of Brokeback Mountain. Your relationship with your wife may never be the same.

  37. Nick1 says:

    I know comedy, and your post totally fails in this regard. Comedy of this sort has to be based in real-world logic. You’re copying Larry David’s inimitable NY Times piece–or a derivative therein. Except that you’re projecting it on a complete stranger whom you do not know. There may be people in the world in Jack and Ennis’ position, but that’s not where I find drama compelling.

  38. Bruce says:

    Jeff’s funny like Carrot Top’s funny.

  39. LesterFreed says:

    I don’t know why they let violence go and try to snuff out all attempts at sex. Cartoon violence or not it’s still violence. It’s all cartoon violence from how they rate it. What’s real? It’s all on film and supposedly fake anyway. So is the sex. It’s fake on screen. The double standard is a problem. Why can’t they set some standards if they’re going to do this?

  40. jeffmcm says:

    Yeah, I knew it was kind of lame when I wrote it, but I had to do _something_ to bring a little attention to Nick1’s post.
    But seriously, man, don’t read magazines either, because there might be a lingerie ad. Best not to go outside at all, probably.

  41. Nick1 says:

    But seriously yourself: Mind your own business. Nobody asked you for your opinion.

  42. jeffmcm says:

    Sorry, but if you’re going to post your life story on a blog, you’re kind of opening it up to discussion. Sorry to hurt your feelings.

  43. Nick1 says:

    I didn’t open up my life story. I answered David Poland’s question. If folks are intimidated from giving an honest answer, then it’s not worth answering, isn’t it?

  44. palmtree says:

    I think it’s unfair to characterize today’s pop culture as a uniformly negative influence on people. I don’t think crimes have necessarily escalated based on playing video games, watching movies, etc. They are sublimated expressions of desires people have as with the art of any time period. I don’t think “relaxing standards” proves that we are any more amoral than before but just that social standards change and our ability to process things have changed (the internet has completed altered human interaction – better or worse who’s to say?). Isn’t that what being in a capitalistic society is all about?

  45. Bruce says:

    Jeff and honesty? Not a good match either. 0-2 today, Nick1.
    Jeff, what did you have against his post? You just like browbeating people? So, he doesn’t like seeing nudity and graphic NC-17. A lot of people don’t. Open your mind a little Jeff.

  46. Josh says:

    The people that blame video games or movies for crime and violence are out of their minds. How about the 99% who play and watch and don’t commit any crimes? The easy way out or easy answer isn’t always right. If you’re playing “Vice City” or watch “Kill Bill” and you go out and mug people, shoot, and rape lets just say you have more problems and issues than you’re letting on.

  47. EDouglas says:

    They used the word “Fuck” twice in Imagine Me and You (in the same sentence no less) and it still got a PG-13…I’d have preferred an R and some more gratuitous lesbian sex myself.

  48. Rufus Masters says:

    I know for a fact that gangsta rap leads to some being desensitized. I’ve seen it with my own two eyes. I’ve lived it. Throwing the word bitch out like it’s the word hey. It plays a part in life. It has an effect. But you got to get over it and have some strong values. You can let yourself be effected by it or you can tune it out and enjoy it for what it is.

  49. jesse says:

    Heh, I can’t believe that between what jeffmcm and Nick1 said, jeffmcm is getting the flak. How knee-jerk are y’all, anyway? Jeff’s joke was totally in bounds and even kind of on-topic. It was meant in a silly way, but honestly, he has a point.
    Nick1, do you really think that seeing, even appreciating, (say) Nicole Kidman’s ass, or Halle Berry’s breasts, “comes between” you and your wife?
    I mean, what if you find Kidman or Berry attractive *with* clothes on? What if there’s a scene with an attractive actress flirting or doing something sexy (but not naked or actual sex)? Does that come between you and your wife, too? Is there a degree to which some imaginary behavior is OK but some is not? Am I sexually harassing you just by asking?
    My point is, if being married and noticing that another human being is attractive is unfaithful, I think pretty much the entire country would have to own up to some pretty thoroughly failed relationships.
    (I’m not saying “everyone does it so it’s OK” so much as “everyone does it so it’s human nature, so I’m not sure what avoiding nudity in films will do to help”).
    Does enjoying a movie with cartoonish violence “come between” your personal desire to, you know, never murder someone? (I’m not being completely flip, here. I think it’s analogous; I think murder is wrong, but I’ve loved plenty of movies with plenty of murder. Does that make me one step closer to murdering someone?)
    It is interesting that you sought out Happiness. Did you like it? (Again, I’m not being flip.)
    As for the other Nic, Nicol D:
    “The problem with this statement though is that it is not true … It is a statement rooted more in hyperbole than logic. Sure Indiana Jones kills lots of Nazi’s but not hundreds (although I’d be fine with that). Also, I differentiate between adventure/action and flat out violence.”
    Maybe the term “hundreds” is hyperbole, but does it really matter if, oh, OK, only a dozen people die bloodlessly and remorselessly in a PG-13 film? Even in an action-adventure? I’m not saying Indy Jones movie should be rated R. But I am saying that the level of violence you can get away with in a PG-13 film is far greater than the level of sexuality. You might say that violence without blood = sex without nudity, so it’s basically equivalent, but that raises the question of: how in the world did nudity become as objectionable as gore?!
    “When sex happens in films, it is also by its very nature…real. When man shoots man in a film…he really is not.”
    That’s an interesting point, but that’s hyperbole, too. I mean, yes, nudity is in some ways more “real” than movie violence, since you can’t exactly fake nudity (though you can use a lot of makeup, or body doubles, or whatever… but point taken, it’s still a human body). But *sex* in film certainly is not typically real. Those actors aren’t *really* (necessarily) even getting aroused, let alone engaging in actual sexual activity.
    As for movies having “plenty” of sex:
    I would say the average action movie has about one sex scene (if that) as opposed to, you know, half a dozen scenes of violence (if not more). Which is fine; they’re action movies. But Hollywood sex is not as rampant as you say.

  50. bicycle bob says:

    this might be the worst opening box office weekend in a long time. big mommas house 2? annapolis? nanny mcphee? terrible.

  51. Nick1 says:

    Hi Jesse…
    Actually, you are being flip. And insensitive. So I will bypass all of your questions of a personal nature. Because I wrote about what I believe, does not entail that I am pushing anybody else to believe as I do. That some folks are curious as to what I wrote are just going to have to remain curious.
    As for _Happiness_, it made my personal top ten that year (#8). Context is what made the difference in that film, even as it explored unsavory issues. Hardly any other NC-17 film comes close to picquing my interest.

  52. Nicol D says:

    “You might say that violence without blood = sex without nudity, so it’s basically equivalent, but that raises the question of: how in the world did nudity become as objectionable as gore?!”
    Hey Jesse,
    The question here is one of context. The reaction seems to be that all violence in film should be perceived as negative where the sex/nudity is all positive.
    I disagree with this. If I had too, I would much rather allow an adolescent to watch the graphic violence in films like Munich, The Passion or Goodfellas which are all serious works of cinematic art. I could at least use it as a spring board to talking after about serious issues.
    On the other hand the sex and nudity in films like American Pie 3, Not Another Teen Movie and Scary Movie is hardly positive. It is as much an exploitation of human sexuality as Seagal films are of violence.
    Nudity can be a beautiful thing if done properly (I myself have marvelled at Nicole Kidman’s ass many of times), but when done for shock or cheap thrills it is no more elevating to the human spirit as the latest schlock horror flick. In some ways, because sex has the potential to be so beautiful it probably could be argued that it’s exploitation is worse.
    Because sexuality is such a beautiful thing I actually do not find every expression of it to be beautiful.
    Do Pam Anderson and Howard Stern represent a beautiful expression of human sexuality or a gross mockery of it?
    I’m just saying not all violence in films is negative and not all sexuality is positive…just as in life. There can be times when one needs to use violence (self defence, protecting of one’s family) that are good and times when sex can be used for exploitative purposes that are very venal and base.
    Films are the same way. Sadly, I actually think that most directors who choose to show sexuality on film do not really understand the complexity of the human body and actually do more disservice than good.

  53. PandaBear says:

    But, seriously, a lot of people out there in the world do not like seeing things of that nature on screen. To each his own. You can’t get all upset because someone doesn’t like watching it.
    I don’t think I’ve ever even seen an NC 17 movie. I haven’t even seen ‘Happiness’. Blockbuster doesn’t carry it. I don’t have Netflix. It’s not on cable much.

  54. PandaBear says:

    Nudity is usually more gratutious than violence and that is saying something. What movie is nudity done within the context of a movie? It usually there for a shock or a laugh. Violence in movies like ‘Munich’ is part of the story and part of the message.

  55. Nicol D says:

    Nick 1,
    If you feel that it helps you to be pure to your wife by not watching sexually explicit material than I respect that. I suspect your views are probably religious based and you should not feel ashamed of that.
    I may disagree with you but it takes courage to live that life in our culture.

  56. Angelus21 says:

    I don’t let movies effect my life or how I feel. If I see sex on screen, I take it for what it is. It doesn’t make me uncomfortable. Same with violence. I’m there for escapism. I won’t let it effect my moods and my relationships.

  57. Jeffrey Boam's Doctor says:

    I watched CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN 2 the other day and I immediately came home and inseminated my wife a dozen or so times. Movies can do that to the weak of mind.

  58. Angelus21 says:

    Lucky you. I just drank six bottles of wine and a case of cheap beer after seeing it.

  59. Nick1 says:

    Nicol D…
    Thanks for your comments. Rest assured, the moment I introduce whatever religious preferences I have to the board, it would be perceived as unsolicited proselytizing, (which it kinda is, even though I may say otherwise). I would hope that I was clear enough and complete enough in my initial response, that people shouldn’t have to know the underlying beliefs. To those who recognize whom I subtly referencing, don’t need to have it spelled out for them.
    Funny how there are some who are insistent on proselytizing to ME their views, dictates a double-standard on their part…

  60. palmtree says:

    I think the nudity of the concentration camps in Schindler’s List really helped to tell that story. But yes, it still is shocking much like the violence in Munich (I did not feel desensitized to its murders which is one of the film’s achievements). But as many people are pointing out, context matters more than just content.

  61. jesse says:

    Nick1, I believe my questions are perfectly valid. You did write about your beliefs — on a message board. I find it odd when people write something that is, on some level, interesting or controversial or not easily understood, and then when faced with questions, would say “those are my beliefs, you are being insensitive towards them.” I am honestly curious how you operate in the film world with those beliefs; I mean, you obviously like movies enough to check out this board (and to make top ten lists and to seek out a movie like Happiness… you know, I think it was #8 on my list that year, too!). My questions about where you draw the line (in terms of sexual desire for someone or something onscreen, and in terms of whether violence is the same thing) are sincere. If you don’t want to share, obviously that’s fine, but to act like the obvious questions (yes, perhaps somewhat skeptical ones) are disrespectful seems to me like a bit of an easy way out. You’ll notice that I did *not* couch my questions in any kind of religious context nor assume anything of that nature.
    Nicol D, I agree with some of what you’re saying. No, Howard Stern is not my idea of beautiful expression of sexuality, and a lot of nudity could be viewed as exploitive — though I don’t think *any* nudity that’s just for titillation is automatically exploitive. “Cheap thrills” are one of the things I love about the movies!
    But as you say in your post, it’s about context, yes? But you also praised the MPAA as a strong quasi-empirical system of rating films’ appropriateness: R for x amount of blood or swears or breasts. Basically — if I understood you correctly — you were saying that the MPAA is reasonably objective in these matters and to do anything more but measure volume of those things would be to make an ideological judgement in rating the films.
    My argument is that the MPAA is not at all skilled at making the contexual distinctions you mention when discussing sexuality and violence in films. And even if they were, that might present another problem — an ideological one, as you mentioned earlier.
    If context is unavoidable when discussing sex and violence as “objectionable” content, then how can a ratings system work empirically?
    And if a ratings sytem does have to consider context, how can it avoid ideological judgements?

  62. Mark Ziegler says:

    That is what happens when some don’t agree with your views. Part of the game. They just can’t accept that someone doesn’t think like they do. It happens. Two differing views usually leads to good debate but sometimes it fails when one side refuses to listen.

  63. waterbucket says:

    From personal experience, I’m fairly young (still in college) and I can say that all the violence that I’ve seen in movies have made me numb. I watched 9/11 on TV and I didn’t feel a thing. I see dead bodies and horrific stories on CNN from the war and I think: What’s the big deal? I think I’ve been conditioned to accept violence while be afraid of sex. Maybe that’s why whenever I see Eric Bana shirtless, I go “Teehee” and go hide in my room.
    So I say down with the current system and have separate ratings for violence, sex, theme, language, etc. Then let the parents decide which is the most important thing to avoid for their children.

  64. joefitz84 says:

    That is terrific in theory but it isn’t practical. You can’t have separate ratings for 5 dif’ categories. Parents need one rating system. They can’t be looking around at five dif’ ones. They’re lazy and some just aren’t into films that much to care. They hear R and they know what you’re talking about. They hear NC-17 and they know what you’re talking about. They just be more consistent in how you rate films.

  65. lawnorder says:

    I would much rather audiences see the real effect of what a high caliber bullet or shotgun blast does to the human body than this fake, bloodless PG-13 violence that happens on screen all the time. I feel it lets the audience off the hook. Violence, real violence is ugly and messy and wince inducing. It shouldn’t look cool to kill or hurt someone. At least in R-rated movies (the more responsible ones), we get to see the ugliness of violence. How often do victims scream out in pain after they’ve been shot in PG-13 films? Do you know that most gun shot victims don’t just keel over and die instantaneoulsy (unless shot in the head)?Maybe if we represented the authentic after effects of violence more often, audiences would be less inclined to act out in the name of “cool.” I don’t think too many people who saw HENRY PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER walked out thinking it would be fun to torture and maim some people.
    Regarding sex: why are people ashamed of seeing naked (live) bodies and representations of human intimacy? I will never understand this point. I’m all for nudity — even in a harmless, exploitative sense. Yes, we go see sexy movies for the very reason that Nicole Kidman (or Eric Bana) WILL give us a hard-on — and entertain us at the same time. Sex comedies and sexual thrillers (BASIC INSTINCT, SEA OF LOVE) have always attracted audiences at the box office. Let’s stop kidding ourselves – we want to see this stuff! We WANT to be titillated. In the same way we also want to feel our lives have been placed in jeopardy for two hours when we watch something like JAWS or HALLOWEEN or INDEPENDENCE DAY, etc.
    No one’s saying dismantle the ratings system. What we’re all saying is that it needs a good deal of improvement. We need some transparency and consistency in decision making. We also need to be able to quote precedent like in any other legal proceedings (especially when it comes to appealing a rating).
    Whether we’re over 18 or not, the ratings system effects us because it dictates what kinds of movies we’re able to see and just how intense or sexual the content will end up being. The major studios (and even the mini-majors ARE NOT IN THE NC-17 BUSINESS) They have made this clear to everyone. If you get rated NC-17, you will have to cut your movie. There is no room for negotiation unless your name is Steven Spielberg and he’s the one filmmaker likely to talk them out of their decision to rate his film NC-17 in the first place. Having a rating assigned to your film is the only real game in town and therefore the ratings board is a defacto censorship board and it would be way more honest if they just came out and acknowledged that. I would rather have a sophisticated and enlightened censorship body like the British Board of Film Classification rating films (they very rarely demand cuts on anything that is likely to end up with an 18 rating) than the group we have now. The truth is: we don’t have a real adult rating in America right now. Forget about the NC-17 rating. It’s bullshit. Even art films that can’t get the R, reject it and go out unrated. Studios just cut their films back to get an R. No film with commercial prospects will touch it. So our next strongest rating is R. Well, in my book, it’s not really R — it’s PG 17, is what it is. And if the ratings board is more concerned about material that might be offensive to tag-along teens, then the rating is not serving adult audiences. I agree with Jesse: how can you have an adult rating (R) and then an even harder adult rating (NC-17)? It’s ridiculous. Something is either appropriate for adults or it’s not. It’s like being on double, secret probabtion. Get rid of the PG-17 and I believe that will be a start.

  66. frankbooth says:

    A well-articulated, intelligent post, lawnorder. What blog did you actually intend to post this on?
    “…how can you have an adult rating (R) and then an even harder adult rating (NC-17)?”
    It makes no sense. You can take your kids to Basic Instinct or The Devil’s Rejects if you’re that kind of parent, but not to Y Tu Mama Tambien or The Dreamers? What’s the logic there? Basic Instinct not only had sex and nudity, it combined it with graphic violence, sometimes in the same scene. And how did Sin City, with its emphasis on the threat of the rape and murder of children, ever get an R? If you’d let your kids see that, you’d let them see anything.
    To the regulars at this site–it’s another day in podville. New names, still lame. How long did that take? Hate to say I told you so…

  67. Lota says:

    I love pre-code movies and wish we could return to that type of laid-back quality without gratuitous violence. Fat chance.
    Nudity seems to bother many on this blog. Skin is natural. The acrobatic and boring/tasteless sexual situations is much worse–and not natural. I hardly call the ridiculous amount of violence and violent behavoir very natural as well.

  68. jeffmcm says:

    (after many hours absence)
    Nick1, I can certainly respect your tastes, but I think that when you open up your personal life (which you did – quite a bit) in a public forum like this, you have to be prepared to take a little good-natured ribbing. In fact, if you had stated up front that your viewing habits were religiously based (i.e., that they had a basis at all besides sexual paranoia) I would have let it go.
    Bruce: aren’t you the one usually saying that people should have ‘thicker skins’ or am I somehow, for completely unknown reasons, mistaking you for Angelus or Joefitz?

  69. KamikazeCamelV2.0 says:

    Don’t have time to read everything, but wanted to mention.
    As an Australian with our own rating system, i occasionally have a big fat hearly laugh at your system. Seriously. As Roger Ebert constantly goes on about, you guys need an adult rating that doesn’t carry the stigma of being something akin to porn. It’s so silly watching films I know are PG13 in America (such as Ring 2 and Fun With Dick & Jane) are hearing that one “fuck” and knowing it’s just there for the sake of it.
    If you want to have a glance at a blog article I wrote a while back you can go:
    However, our system does indeed have massive flaws. But ‘tev. Least we don’t have PG-13. However, one of the biggest stupidities was Amelie being rated R. For a few seconds of a sexualised joke that most 13year olds would clearly understand? I dunno. Sometimes they make bonkers decisions.

  70. Fades To Black says:

    Parents are allowed to take their kids to any movie they want. It is their right. I don’t think we want someone telling parents they can’t take their kids to see a movie. Stay out of their business.

  71. palmtree says:

    Ratings are a marketing tool. The studios use it to tell audiences what kind of movie it is like a poster does but more vaguely. And just as an NC-17 movie will lose potential viewers, a G rating may lost people as well if they think that movie will skew too young for them or be completely bland.
    Maybe it’s a naming issue. In Hong Kong they have a system of I, II, III with III being the most graphic. And there are various degrees of II (a,b, etc.). While similar to the MPAA’s, the III name doesn’t really carry the same stigma as saying “No Children.” How about a better word like mature?

  72. jeffmcm says:

    Fadestoblack: NC-17 means No Children Under 17. Which means parents cannot take their children to those movies as per theater chain policy. FYI.
    The only way to get a workable Adults Only rating is to force a LOT of movies into it. If Schindler’s List had been forced into NC-17, it would have made that rating acceptable for many more films. One Showgirls a year can’t cut it.

  73. frankbooth says:

    Years ago, I unwittingly watched Wild Things with my girlfriend. Little did I know that the movie contained a two-second flash of Kevin’s Bacon.
    The next thing I knew, she had left me–and moved in with Kevin! I had foolishly assumed our relationship strong, but the sight of another man’s organ drove her wild.
    My current gal and I get all our movies pre-censored from Pureflix . We also stay out of art museums. The impressively proportioned statues might well go inbetween our love when we’re not looking. I mean, when we ARE looking.
    What I’ve learned: you can watch sexualized imagery on TV shows, see acres of skin in lingerie ads, prime-time soaps and beer commercials, or go to your local beach where everyone is nearly nude and be just fine. But beware the naughty bits! The n**ples, the p*n*s*s, the wild orchids and cracks of doom. A single glimpse can ruin your life, no matter how stable and loving your relationship appears to be.
    Beware! Beware of the big green dragon that sits on your doorstep. He eats little boys… Puppy dog tails, and BIG FAT SNAILS… Beware… Take care… Beware!

The Hot Blog

Quote Unquotesee all »

It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon