Slapped with an "R"

Reel Blog   

A little imagination, that’s all I’m asking for…

I look forward to “elbowed with a PG-13,” “noogied with a PG,” “tickled with a G,” and “defenestrated with an NC-17”.

Quite, seriously, if you’re not a parent, why do you care what the rating is at all? The ratings really aren’t talking to you. If you’re under 18 – or 17 – I get it. Every rating that doesn’t let you into the movie of your chocie is unjust. And who wants to go see a movie with your parents that you’d rather see with your similarly under-aged friends? I’m nearly 50 and I still don’t want to see movies with my mother.

But this is the bargain movie theaters and distributors made with America’s parents. The Ratings Board rates a film as honestly as it can (and being composed of humans, it will make decisions that other humans, being humans, will disagree with), the distributors and movie theaters post those ratings clearly and the movie theater does its best to enforce them.

This system, of necessity, is not perfect. It requires an imaginative empathy with the concerns of a diverse population of parents with concerns that vary by region, income, education and religiosity. It also requires a certain degree of movie literacy from parents. They need to understand the broad range of films that may come under a PG-13 rating, or an R, and use that knowledge to compare the rating reasons that accompanies each rating. An R for “some sexual humor” will not be directly comparable to a film rated R for “sequences of grisly bloody violence and torture throughout, and for language.

The question I asked earlier, though, still stands. If you’re not a parent – and not under 18 – why do you care what a movie’s rating is?