One of the sweetest bonds that us Americans have is our mutual love of movies and entertainment as a whole. Because what is the state of our own beings, in all truth, if we don’t take at least a small portion of our day and allow our minds to take in something that appeases at least one of our senses? That’s a pretty fucking bad day, wouldn’t you agree?
So being entertained is crucial to the health and well-being of our mental states, and collective zeitgeist. While each of our attention spans continues to wane and some of us actually can now measure the ability to pay attention in nanoseconds (BASEketball, 1998), most of us can still somehow fully enjoy a feature-length film with at least a modicum of comprehension. The last few years has seen a healthy and record-setting amount of movie tickets sold at theatre chains throughout this country and even the world as a whole.
Back here in America, there is one thing about movies I’d sure like to change. Now, I know I’m not alone in this, but I only speak for myself and for this online publication, so I want to make my argument here. It’s the rating system that the Motion Picture Association of America uses. It’s antiquated, ridiculous, and vague at best.
A rating system for entertainment content must be reflective of the community that it serves. Very much along the lines of how the local police do their jobs, and how a company provides good and services to its customers. There has to be some give and take, as not every person is going to agree with the end result. But it does have to appeal to at least the majority of the population. Enter today’s system.
And I won’t even make a concession about how I like part of the current MPAA rating system, because we deserve better than just an arbitrary “G” or “PG”, even though the biggest part of us know what each of the individual ratings means. The time has come for the whole system to be burned to a crisp, and for a better, more efficient one to rise from its ashes.
I submit that the MPAA institute an age-based system for rating movies. They don’t need to blow up the whole establishment, but the existing paradigm could use a few sticks of lit dynamite. The great thing about using an age-based rating system, is that they wouldn’t have to limit a rating adhering to a certain segment of people. Should a movie be appropriate for all ages, they could use a rating like “2+”, and that would be it. And should something be for adults only, slap a “18+” on it, and be done with the son of a bitch. No committees, hearings with parental groups, priests, or anything. That’s it.
Okay, a small concession can be made here. A community will almost always disagree with the next one about what age a child can see a particular movie. Collectively, we probably spend as much time in disagreement about the content of movies as we do what the best toppings on pizza are. Which is probably too much disagreement altogether. But hey, we’re humans, and doggonit, we like to quarrel with one another for the sake of our own fragile egos. The move to transform the idea to be the new normal for movie ratings would quell this endless squabble.
The day that a system akin to the one suggested here is the day that clarity can be had by parents who are actually playing an active role in the raising of their own children-slash-neighborhood children-slash-random disadvantaged youth.
And no more will be the disparity of trying to figure out if a PG-13-rated flick has too much violence for a budding teenager to endure. Just the same, it’ll be more specific to the case if a child under 17 can legally go see a well-made movie like The King’s Speech, which was rated “R” in its original form because of a smattering of adult language in a scene that was important to the storyline, and not gratuitous in the least.
Now, is a change from the status quo likely? I’m not so idealistic that recognition of an immovable stalwart such as the MPAA can’t be budged or at least moved a little from its existing position. But none of us should be so complacent that nothing ever happens. The art of revolution isn’t confined to just government reform, it can be for art itself.