Posted by: ckckred | March 25, 2012

A Look at the MPAA

The Motion Picture Association of America (or MPAA for most) has generated some controversy.  Bully, a documentary distributed by Harvey Weinstein about teen bullying, was given an R-rating, causing outrage to Weinstein and director Lee Hirsch, who said that the rating will prevent younger audience members from viewing it.  Similarly, some parent groups have criticized the MPAA’s decision to give The Hunger Games, a movie about teens fighting and killing each other, a PG-13 rating.

Let’s look at Bully first.  I do think that teens and younger children should be aware about bullying and its effects.  The R-rating does seem a little overkill for just some bad language.  I haven’t seen the film, but usually I consider films rated R for profanity to be slightly more inappropriate than a regular PG-13 movie.  By the time you turn 15, you usually know most swear words, so what’s the big deal?

Let’s take Frost/Nixon for example.  Frost/Nixon received an R-rating for some bad language too.  When I saw it, I didn’t know why.  There aren’t that many curse words in the film, and it could have received a PG-13 rating.  Similarly, 2010’s The King’s Speech got an R-rating for one scene of bad language.  That seemed preposterous to me, because the rest of the movie was pretty tame.  Weinstein later made a different cut of the film that edited out that scene so that version could get a PG-13 rating, which in my opinion was a bad mistake.  The scene wasn’t really necessary in the film, but it was by far my favorite in the film (it featured Collin Firth’s character swearing to practice speech) as I thought it was good comic relief.  Fortunately, that cut didn’t replace the original.

Hirsch was asked if he could censor some of the language in the film to secure a PG-13 language, something which he immediately said no to, and a good decision in my opinion.  If he censored the film, it would lessen the impact onto the audience, which was not the intention of Bully.

Now let’s look at the MPAA’s decision for The Hunger Games.  I read the book recently, and thought if followed directly the movie could be rated R.  The book doesn’t feature profanity or nudity, it just has a group of teens killing each other.  I doubted that Lionsgate, the studio behind The Hunger Games, would want to make it very violent (the book is directed towards teens).

So should the movie be rated R?  I don’t know, I didn’t see the movie (I plan to watch it later today).  But what from I heard, it doesn’t feature a lot of gore or violence.  This isn’t a Natural Born Killers or Pulp Fiction the MPAA has on its hands.

But even with a PG-13 rating, most parents don’t want to take younger children to see The Hunger Games.  I can see their view and guess they may be concerned for them watching kids kill other kids.  From a Time Magazine article I read, kids who watch violent television or play violent video games don’t become more aggressive than others.

Still, it’s my opinion, not yours.  You don’t have to take your kids to see Bully or The Hunger Games because you don’t want them exposed to bad language or teen violence.  That’s understandable.

However, I wish the MPAA would listen to its critics.  The poster for Bully says it is still not rated, which means the war on the MPAA is still not over.

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