Monday, July 26, 2004

Grading the Movies

A fellow I know runs a website called   He also writes a column that reviews movies as well as describes the content of the movies.  It helps people decide if they would like to see the movie or not, or whether they should let their kids see it or not.  The column runs in over 50 papers in North America.  He and his wife also appear on CFCN and discuss current movies.  (I'm not sure when, but it appears to be a regular part of an daytime news program.)

Anyway, the other day, I read a portion of a discussion on discussing ratings creep.  In other words, how movies on the high end of "PG-13" now would have probably been considered on the  low end of "R" 10 years ago.

They discussed violence and sex in movies and their amazement on how those two things affect the ratings system.

Generally, the people in this particular discussion felt that the grading system was biased against sex while being permissive of violence.  While I'm not really going to discuss that per se, there was one comment in particular that I would like to address.

Sex in general is considered by many people to be a private act between consenting adults.  When you do it, do it where you won't be interrupted or seen by non-participants. 

Violence, however, is something that is purposely made public.  If someone is stabbed downtown, it is a matter of public safety that it be made know to as many people as possible.  If someone is murdered in Forest Lawn, all the local TV channels publish as many details of the case as possible, pictures of both the victim and the assailant are shown.  

On a international level, intelligent people insist on being informed about the wars we are waging and the casualties that are inflicted upon all sides.  Hours and hours of documentaries are created about each important battle in major wars.  I have seen the same man falling on the beach at Normandy hundreds of times, as have most of you.  

*tangent* There is only one clip of the invasion of Normandy because the man carrying the film back to Britian during the battle dropped his satchel into the water and lost everything he was carrying.  The lesson is don't keep all your exposed film together.  /tangent

This was an argument that made a lot of sense, to me anyway.

Saturday, I was involved in a discussion about the rating system in Canada.  In Canada, theatrical releases are rated by various provincial government agencies.  The same movie can have different ratings in different provinces.  This is a link to a chart describing Canadian Movie Ratings in different provinces. 

Film ratings in Alberta are: 

General (G) General viewing. Suitable for viewing by all ages.

Parental Guidance (PG) Parental guidance is advised. Theme or content may not be suitable for all children. 

(14A) Suitable for viewing by persons 14 years of age and older. Persons under 14 must be accompanied by an adult. May contain: violence, coarse language and/or sexually suggestive scenes. 

(18A) Suitable for viewing by persons 18 years of age and older. Persons under 18 must be accompanied by an adult. May contain: explicit violence, frequent coarse language, sexual activity and/or horror. 

Restricted (R) Admittance restricted to persons 18 years of age and over. Content not suitable for minors. Contains frequent use of sexual activity, brutal/graphic violence, intense horror and/or other disturbing content. 

Adult (A) Admittance restricted to persons 18 years and older. Content not suitable for minors. Contains predominantly sexually explicit activity.

Here is the Alberta government website discussing movie ratings

Here is a generalized comparison between movie ratings in Canada and the USA.

-Gary Milner

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