Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Fun With the MPPA

The Motion Picture Association of America, MPAA, is the group that rates all of the films that go into theaters, giving them the G, PG, PG13, R or NC17 tags. Within the last 10 years or so, they have also started to add little narratives to the ratings, presumably to assist potential viewers in deciding if a particular movie is appropriate for themselves or their children. Generally, the tag is something along the lines of: Rated R, for Sexual Content, Nudity and Violence or Rated PG-13 for violent sequences and some sensuality.

Pretty self-explanatory, and possibly even helpful. But sometimes the MPAA ratings get a little silly. For example, the movie Deep Blue Sea, about a group of scientists that get attacked by SMART sharks has the following ratings tag: Rated R for graphic shark attacks, and for language. Graphic shark attacks, you say? What sort of graphics? 3-D? Line-art? Geometric?

And language. Oh dear, there's language in the movie. I do so prefer movies with no language at all-- just images and possibly some symbols. Don't you?

Of course, I realize they mean really bloody, visually intense shark attacks and bad language, containing lots of profanity. But that's not really what the tagline says, with the result being rather humorous.

Here are a few others that I got a kick out of, found puzzling, or thought were really stupid:
  • Rated PG for suggestive content, language and some rude behavior. Suggestive content. Suggestive of what? Some rude behavior. Rude by who's standards? And, the nearly ubiquitous language. I get the feeling that there would be way more G and PG movies if it weren't for our troublesome fixation on language. Stop using language people!
  • Rated R for pervasive language including sexual references, violent content and drug material. Oh no! Now we have pervasive language. It's everywhere! Good grief, can't these writers craft scripts without using so much language. And drug material. What does that mean-- the material drugs are made from? I suppose it means that portions of the movie contain material referring to drugs, but its not really clear, is it?
  • Rated PG-13 for action/adventure violence. Action/adventure violence? As opposed to all the non-action violence we all experience?
  • Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of action/adventure violence and some frightening images. So, what to make of this? Now there are intense sequences of action/adventure violence-- presumably worse than just the regular old action/adventure violence in the previous rating. Yet they are both PG-13. In fact, they are both Pirates of the Caribbean movies. The first rating is for Curse of the Black Pearl (Pirates 1) and the second for At World's End (Pirates 3). And then there's some frightening images. Frightening how and to whom? My son likes snakes and gets a kick out of watching them on television or in movies. My daughter hates snakes and covers her eyes whenever one shows up onscreen. Are shots of snakes "frightening images"?
  • Rated PG-13 for adventure violence and scary images. Come on, now. So, this time we have adventure violence but no action? This is for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls. Yeah, no action violence in that movie. And what's the difference between Indiana Jones' scary images and the Pirates' frightening images? Is the MPAA just trying to use their thesaurus whenever possible?
  • Rated PG-13 for irreverent humor throughout. Irreverent humor? That's one of my favorite kinds, but why exactly should kids under the age of 13 not be exposed to it? Honestly, this is one of the dumbest labels I've come across. Bill Cosby's humor is just as irreverent as Richard Prior's or Chris Rock's, but I sure wouldn't let a ten-year-old watch most Prior or Rock routines. Yet, I don't think there'd be a problem with him or her watching Cosby's irreverent humor. Oh, and for the record, this rating was given to The Simpsons' Movie.
Well, enough for now. Found any really goofy, odd or completely incomprehensible MPAA ratings? Share them in the comments section!

No comments: