Picking on the MPAA is easy. They’re a secretive group with questionable motives that affect our day to day lives. A small cadre of obscure and unknown people get together over a warm bucket of popcorn and decide what you, me, and your grandfather can stand in a movie without a warning. I’ve talked about them before, but now it’s time to narrow my focus to a disturbing and somewhat recent tread. The absolute absurdity that can get your movie tagged an R-rating.
You probably heard or remember that smoking is enough to get your movie an R-rating unless the character subsequently coughs up a lung or dies from smoking. That is obviously bullshit. How many classic movie heroes smoked? John McClane. Rick Blaine. James Bond. Ray Stantz. The list goes on and on. How many Westerns featured a smoking hero? Tons and tons and tons of movies of the last 60 years have featured smoking and yet smoking has declined in America decade by decade to where we’re at our lowest percentage of daily smokers since probably the invention of the filtered cigarette. But the MPAA is on board with telling you to fuck off when it comes to smoking. You can’t teach your kids not to smoke. You can’t overpower the Hollywood message. You yourself are too weak to make any decision. DRINK PEPSI. SMOKE CIGARETTES. You will obey and must be controlled. Or at least be 17 years or older.
But that’s old news. Enraging news, yes, but still old. My rant is coming from a place far more sinister. Wait, no. Cigarettes are pretty bad. That has been drilled into us for 20 years. Anyway. The MPAA has decided there is a new social blight, ready to spoil your children and corrupt your family. Stay away, dear reader, because the following film has been Rated-R for … partying. BEGONE FOUL DEMON OF THE BEVERAGE INDUCED GOOD TIME BEGONE. Exorcise that party demon! Your children will burn in hell!
I mean seriously. Partying is now listed in the explanation of why a film was given an R-rating. Now, partying alone might not get you an R, I suppose it depends on just how hard you party. But while cruising around the sinning capital of California, the depraved pit of debauchery that is Los Angeles (and the home of the MPAA) I heard a radio advertisement for Sorority Row, a film which was probably Rated-R for the handful of boobies we saw or some of the pretty cool kills. In addition to all that, however, we’re also warned that the film includes partying. Hm. You know, that does it. I’m not going to let anyone see that movie because you know, I don’t want them getting any ideas on how to hook up a keg or drink alcohol. I mean after all, the average age of a Senior in College is probably only 23, so the odds of them being able to legally drink are 100%. Wait a second…
I hate the MPAA. I do. Ratings have always been fairly arbitrary. It’s all in how a select group of old, disconnected people feel about a film. Fine, whatever. It’s a tool for parents. As a young man obsessed with film and willing to stomach almost anything, ratings mean almost nothing to me. I’m sure many parents feel differently and appreciate having a guide. But are we going too far? Is it to the point that we have to be warned that someone is going to be smoking? Or that a movie about a killer slicing his way through half-nude college girls contains partying? Are we a nation of such whiny pussies so willing to complain and cry at every turn that we must be coddled and steered clear of anything anyone might ever think is maybe objectionable? I don’t think so, but maybe I’m wrong. I see these ratings as a lack of respect for the audience. They’re not our parents. They don’t have to give us a complete run down of every scene with every marker of any indecency. Fuck wait a minute, partying isn’t even indecent. God damn. There’s no turning back from this one, any time I see a bullshit MPAA warning there is no chance I don’t go past my boiling point.