Sex & Violence in Films: Part 2

6 Jun

By Open Book

It would appear in recent years the number of R rated films has been reduced in the U.S. In Sex & Violence in Film: Part 1 we reviewed the film rating system in the UK to see if there were any similarities in how the two countries classify explicit content.  Based on the review on the UK (BBFC) rating system they do appear to be more liberal in regards to their classification on sexual content yet, stricter on violence.  In this article we will examine some of the challenges Directors face in Hollywood over the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) rating system.

First, let me give you a quick run-down of the MPAA rating system, which is determined by the Classification & Ratings Administration (CARA). There are five ratings a film can be classified under due to its content. They include;

  • G: THE MOTION PICTURE CONTAINS NOTHING THAT WOULD OFFEND PARENTS FOR VIEWING BY THEIR CHILDREN.
  • PG: PARENTS ARE URGED TO USE “PARENTAL GUIDANCE”, AS THE MOTION PICTURE MAY CONTAIN SOME MATERIAL PARENTS MIGHT NOT LIKE FOR THEIR YOUNGER CHILDREN TO VIEW.
  • PG-13: PARENTS ARE URGED TO BE CAUTIOUS.  SOME MATERIAL MAY BE INAPPROPRIATE FOR PRE-TEENAGERS.
  • R: CONTAINS SOME ADULT MATERIAL.  PARENTS ARE URGED TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE MOTION PICTURE BEFORE TAKING THEIR YOUNGER CHILDREN WITH THEM. GENERALLY, IT IS NOT APPROPRIATE FOR PARENTS TO BRING THEIR YOUNG CHILDREN WITH THEM TO R-RATED MOTION PICTURES.
  • NC-17: PATENTLY ADULT.  CHILDREN ARE NOT ADMITTED.

When you go to the theater you can’t help but notice PG-13 films are more abundant in theaters today. Why? Back in 1968 the MPAA established a rating system to make sure films were age appropriate.  In 1983 the introduction of the PG-13 rating system forced the film industry to make films that would appeal to audiences of multiple ages. The R rating system is supposed to restrict younger audiences (17 and under) from viewing explicit content.  Although, this sounds good the truth is, film producers have managed to find a way around these restrictions.

In 2000 the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) report revealed the US media corporations were ignoring their own rating systems by continuing to market R rated films and “explicit content” video games to kids. In an article called The Business of Media Violence it states;

The report revealed a number of standard (though illicit) practices for marketing adult media products to kids. These included advertising in publications for adolescents, such as YM, Teen and Marvel comics; screening trailers for restricted movies on TV at times when kids are likely to be watching; and recruiting teens and children (sometimes as young as nine) to evaluate story concepts, commercials, trailers and rough cuts—even for R-rated movies.[1]

Many film Directors believe the MPAA rating system is bias, distorted and inconsistent.  In 2010 the MPAA came under fire over the NC-17 rating given to Blue Valentine due to its oral sex scene, yet, gave an R rating to Black Swan which also had an oral sex scene.[2] The MPAA Ratings Chief issued a statement to defend their rating decisions.  It states;

“When we assign ratings to films, we do not make qualitative judgments; we are not film critics or censors. We are parents who ask ourselves the same important question during every screening: What would I want to know before I allow my child to see it? The board makes ratings decisions based on the film in it’s entirely, not by comparison to other films.” [3]

The documentary This Film Is Not Yet Rated by Kirby Dick depicts some of the controversial challenges filmmakers face with the MPAA and worth checking out on Netflix.  Here’s a trailer below.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UTL3XMDwY0c


  Please join us for a discussion: Tuesday  6/7/2011@7pE/12UTC
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16 Responses to “Sex & Violence in Films: Part 2”

  1. Littlebells June 6, 2011 at 11:17 AM #

    Sorry, but I feel like the US has such a hypocritical, double standard way of rating movies. I hate it. I loved Black Swan but was completely blown away that we saw Mila on Natalie’s crotch! If I had taken my teen daughter or son, I would have yanked them out of the theater so fast they’d have had whiplash for weeks!!!

    • Parisienne June 7, 2011 at 4:08 PM #

      I feel the U.S. has a double standard too. But then again who doesn’t have double standards nowadays? IMO, if parents don’t want their kids to watch something the parents should view it first and then if they deem it approriate…take their kids.

      LittleBells, remember me telling you about the lady with the young girl in my WFE showing? That’s true parenting.

      I remember when my mom took me to see The Piano. I spent 3/4 of the movie with my head down.

      I don’t like how parents nowadays expect someone else to raise their kids.

      • Littlebells June 7, 2011 at 4:52 PM #

        You are right, Paris. 🙂 I just wish we had a more specific rating system. And yes, I do remember that mom! My mom was just like that and so will I!

        I think I was just trying to figure out why BS was R with that scene, but not BV. Why? because it was two women? I’m just asking rhetorically.

        OB, is the rating system available to find online? Maybe I will go search it out, just so I can see who says what and why. 🙂

        • Open Book June 8, 2011 at 12:57 PM #

          Hi LB!

          Yes u can find the rating system online. I provided a link in the article to (CARA) and (MPAA). However, if u are looking for how they determine what’s o.k. and what’s not they do have a description on their web site. But everyone complains the high tolerance on violence over sex is a bit warped. The director of Black Swan Darren Aronofsky last year explained the difference between the UK and the US view on violence & sex really well. He said, the US will allow gun fire being shown all the preparation or cause for violence but won’t allow u to show what results from it. He said the UK is the opposite. They show the results of violence and don’t like to highlight the cause. After seeing so many British Gangster films I would tend to agree with him.

  2. Littlebells June 7, 2011 at 5:00 PM #

    Ok, so the US rating system really likes the words, “some”, “may”, “generally”. Those are pretty broad terms.

    Ok so i stand corrected that BV was rated R, eventually. I have so much to say about oral sex and sex in movies, but I’m just going to keep my mouth shut. I realize it’s up to the discretion of the parent, but ….nevermind….mouth closing.

    • Open Book June 8, 2011 at 1:08 PM #

      Yeah! BV had to modify some scenes to get the R rating. However, did it take away or hurt the filmmakers intent? The issue between BV v BS was realism versus dream sequence. Because the oral sex scene was imagined in BS versus realized like in BV. This is what allowed BS to get an R rating. Does that make sense?

  3. Littlebells June 7, 2011 at 7:00 PM #

    Helloooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!! 🙂

    • Littlebells June 7, 2011 at 7:03 PM #

      *waves to Lurker–MISS YOU!*

      *waves to Ozzie–hope you are getting some good sun!*

  4. Littlebells June 7, 2011 at 7:18 PM #

    ………hmmm….did I get the wrong day?……well here’s something funny and true AND should be played at all theaters.
    http://beta.news.yahoo.com/blogs/lookout/texas-movie-theater-makes-example-psa-texting-audience-170925090.html

  5. Parisienne June 7, 2011 at 9:46 PM #

    No. you didn’t get the wrong day i just think everyone has work stuff.

    • Open Book June 8, 2011 at 12:38 PM #

      Hi Everyone-

      I’m so sorry I missed the discussion yesterday. If u have any Q about the article I will be around today to answer any Q u might have.

      • Parisienne June 8, 2011 at 3:42 PM #

        Hi Open Book!

        What do you feel could be done to stop the marketing of R rated games and films toward children today? Do you think that they are targeted as a potential market because of society today?

        • Littlebells June 8, 2011 at 4:01 PM #

          I blame the mom’s, dad’s, aunt’s and uncle’s and every other grown up who takes their kids to see them.

          • Parisienne June 8, 2011 at 8:25 PM #

            well yeah i do too but its a two way street. IMO, people that market things to a younger crowd do it on purpose because its higher revenue and they know it makes kids feel “cool”.

            • Littlebells June 9, 2011 at 1:35 PM #

              Oh, I totally agree. I hate when the industry says that their violent movies, games, etc… have no influence on how children, teens, and even some adults later behave.

        • Open Book June 9, 2011 at 6:59 PM #

          Hi Paris-

          Great Q’s- I don’t know how to stop explicit content from being marketed to minors. Perhaps short of slapping a company with a fine is all I can imagine. But I’m sure, something like this already exist. I think kids are seen as consumers nothing more, so I think a companies mantra is the sooner u get them the better then let the parents deal with it.

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