This Film Is Not Yet Rated

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This Film Is Not Yet Rated

#1  Postby I'm With Stupid » Sep 15, 2014 6:07 am

Anyone seen this? It's about the shady workings of the MPAA rating board. It's fascinating and pretty worrying for Americans. It's from 2006, so I'm 8 years late. You can watch the whole thing on Youtube. Just click through and there are 7 parts.



Anyway, some of the interesting issues it brings up.

1) All members of the judging panel are anonymous. The justification for this is that it protects them from influence, and yet it later emerges that they are in regular contact with various studio executives.
2) Independent films are given little or no feedback on their films, whereas major studio productions are given detailed notes on exactly what to change to get a desired rating.
3) Homosexual sex is treated far more harshly than heterosexual sex.
4) Sex and nudity is treated far more harshly than extreme violence.
5) The appeals process is conducted by a separate anonymous panel. It includes two members of the clergy and the rest is made up of important people in various studio, distribution and theatre companies all linked to the big 6 studios.
6) During the whole process, the filmmaker is forbidden from knowing who is sitting in judgement on their films or the judging criteria. During the appeals process, they are forbidden from mentioning any other films as a precedent and comparing it to their own film.
7) Claims that the judging panel were all parents of kids between 5 and 17 turn out to be a massive lie.
8) The entire judging panel are white and heterosexual.
9) The entire appeals panel are white, male and heterosexual.
10) It is presented as a voluntary rating system, and yet because of the monopoly that the big distributors and theatre companies have on the industry, so many films will never get distributed unless they get an R-rating.

Personally, it seems a bit strange to me that NC-17 is such a toxic certification in the US, because it's only the equivalent of an 18 in the UK, and no film has ever been refused distribution on the grounds of an 18 certificate. Hell, in the horror genre, it basically a badge of honour. But this secretive, studio-controlled system prevents truly interesting films about serious subjects from being widely distributed (or distributed at all, in many cases), whereas films that trivialize violence clog up the cinemas.

And on that note, I really like the suggestion Darren Aranofsky made in the film. He said that violence that shows the true consequences, such as the extremely bloody sequences from Saving Private Ryan should be PG-13 and any violence that contains no blood and apparently no consequences should be rated R.

But yeah, it's been 8 years since this film. Any signs that things are getting better yet?
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Re: This Film Is Not Yet Rated

#2  Postby Thomas Eshuis » Sep 15, 2014 7:44 am

I'm With Stupid wrote:Anyone seen this? It's about the shady workings of the MPAA rating board. It's fascinating and pretty worrying for Americans. It's from 2006, so I'm 8 years late. You can watch the whole thing on Youtube. Just click through and there are 7 parts.



Anyway, some of the interesting issues it brings up.

1) All members of the judging panel are anonymous. The justification for this is that it protects them from influence, and yet it later emerges that they are in regular contact with various studio executives.
2) Independent films are given little or no feedback on their films, whereas major studio productions are given detailed notes on exactly what to change to get a desired rating.
3) Homosexual sex is treated far more harshly than heterosexual sex.
4) Sex and nudity is treated far more harshly than extreme violence.
5) The appeals process is conducted by a separate anonymous panel. It includes two members of the clergy and the rest is made up of important people in various studio, distribution and theatre companies all linked to the big 6 studios.
6) During the whole process, the filmmaker is forbidden from knowing who is sitting in judgement on their films or the judging criteria. During the appeals process, they are forbidden from mentioning any other films as a precedent and comparing it to their own film.
7) Claims that the judging panel were all parents of kids between 5 and 17 turn out to be a massive lie.
8) The entire judging panel are white and heterosexual.
9) The entire appeals panel are white, male and heterosexual.
10) It is presented as a voluntary rating system, and yet because of the monopoly that the big distributors and theatre companies have on the industry, so many films will never get distributed unless they get an R-rating.

Personally, it seems a bit strange to me that NC-17 is such a toxic certification in the US, because it's only the equivalent of an 18 in the UK, and no film has ever been refused distribution on the grounds of an 18 certificate. Hell, in the horror genre, it basically a badge of honour. But this secretive, studio-controlled system prevents truly interesting films about serious subjects from being widely distributed (or distributed at all, in many cases), whereas films that trivialize violence clog up the cinemas.

And on that note, I really like the suggestion Darren Aranofsky made in the film. He said that violence that shows the true consequences, such as the extremely bloody sequences from Saving Private Ryan should be PG-13 and any violence that contains no blood and apparently no consequences should be rated R.

But yeah, it's been 8 years since this film. Any signs that things are getting better yet?

I think this is largely similar to the Dutch system called "Kijkwijzer" of Watchinformer, which is a rating system based on age and categories.
Who makes the ratings is incredibly unclear to the average Dutch consumer.
Films get age grades and labels with warnings for categories, like sex, coarse language, drugs, etc.
There's been lot's of criticisms, for example films getting a sex label and thus 18 rating, merely because there's a scene where a woman walks out of the shower with only a towel on.
Or films being labeled 16 years and older because of foul language, etc., etc.
Officially only films for 16+ are illegal to sell/show to underage children, but more and more stores are selling by lower age criteria as well, unfortunately.
"Respect for personal beliefs = "I am going to tell you all what I think of YOU, but don't dare retort and tell what you think of ME because...it's my personal belief". Hmm. A bully's charter and no mistake."
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Re: This Film Is Not Yet Rated

#3  Postby Thomas Eshuis » Sep 15, 2014 8:05 am

Comment rated PG-13
By the way, do kids really need parental guidance for the words 'shit' or 'ass'?
WTF?
"Respect for personal beliefs = "I am going to tell you all what I think of YOU, but don't dare retort and tell what you think of ME because...it's my personal belief". Hmm. A bully's charter and no mistake."
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Re: This Film Is Not Yet Rated

#4  Postby tuco » Sep 15, 2014 8:24 am

Is there any evidence at all that certain material is not appropriate for certain age group? By not appropriate I mean potentially damaging. In other words, what is the justification for such rating system beyond this age group would probably not like it.
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Re: This Film Is Not Yet Rated

#5  Postby Thomas Eshuis » Sep 15, 2014 8:33 am

tuco wrote:Is there any evidence at all that certain material is not appropriate for certain age group? By not appropriate I mean potentially damaging. In other words, what is the justification for such rating system beyond this age group would probably not like it.

Probably no evidence other than anecdotes of children having nightmares/acting inappropriately after seeing the wrong film.
"Respect for personal beliefs = "I am going to tell you all what I think of YOU, but don't dare retort and tell what you think of ME because...it's my personal belief". Hmm. A bully's charter and no mistake."
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Re: This Film Is Not Yet Rated

#6  Postby I'm With Stupid » Sep 15, 2014 8:43 am

tuco wrote:Is there any evidence at all that certain material is not appropriate for certain age group? By not appropriate I mean potentially damaging. In other words, what is the justification for such rating system beyond this age group would probably not like it.

The justification is largely down to parents being allowed to choose what they consider appropriate or otherwise for their children, rather than any scientific objections. It's obviously somewhat redundant nowadays with all of the porn freely available on the internet, but I guess in principle, being able to rely on shops to not sell your 12 year old something you think is inappropriate for them is fair enough.

But yeah, no-one really knows the impact of children being shown such material. In fact, one of the key points in the documentary is that the raters receive no training whatsoever, and there is absolutely no impact from child behavioural experts, neuroscientists, psychologists or any other professionals who might have a valid input into the subject. There is, of course, input from a representative of the Catholic and Methodist clergy, however.
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Re: This Film Is Not Yet Rated

#7  Postby tuco » Sep 15, 2014 8:47 am

If that is so, the rating system has little to do with "protecting" and everything to do with what is "good for business". And in this sense, is to me useless - rate your movies whatever you want.

edit: We went to see Godzilla PG-13 with our 5 and 7 year old and they liked it despite it was in English with subtitles they cant understand/read - huge dino fighting another huge dino destroying stuff in process cool! Then we watched Show White and Huntsman also PG-13 and after 3 mins the kids told us .. we do not like it its scary. Alright lets watch something else then. btw when they see naked bodies, they found themselves fooling around with satellite channels, they find it very funny and laugh. So we do not lock such channels. Though, its not porn.
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Re: This Film Is Not Yet Rated

#8  Postby I'm With Stupid » Sep 15, 2014 8:54 am

Thomas Eshuis wrote:Who makes the ratings is incredibly unclear to the average Dutch consumer.

Unclear, or almost impossible to find out? Because in the documentary, they had to hire a private investigator to find out who rates the films, and even the filmmakers themselves can't find out. I don't know who judges films in the UK either, but I'm pretty sure I could find out fairly easily if I really wanted to.

Thomas Eshuis wrote:There's been lot's of criticisms, for example films getting a sex label and thus 18 rating, merely because there's a scene where a woman walks out of the shower with only a towel on.
Or films being labeled 16 years and older because of foul language, etc., etc.
Officially only films for 16+ are illegal to sell/show to underage children, but more and more stores are selling by lower age criteria as well, unfortunately.

Hmm, that's quite surprising. I always figured the Netherlands would be one of the more liberal countries in this respect. Europe is often characterized as being more liberal on language and sex, but harsher than the States on violence. And for some reason, I figured the Dutch would be more liberal than most.
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Re: This Film Is Not Yet Rated

#9  Postby Thomas Eshuis » Sep 15, 2014 9:03 am

I'm With Stupid wrote:
Thomas Eshuis wrote:Who makes the ratings is incredibly unclear to the average Dutch consumer.

Unclear, or almost impossible to find out?

Well, unlike the US , over here the ratings are done by a person certified by the instutution, but hired by the producer/film studio.
So basically the companies produce the ratings, the instution does random checks and the public (read prude parents) can make complaints to the institution.
Problem being that the category ratings mess up the age ratings and some films have been rerated by the institution because of a minimum of complaints.

I'm With Stupid wrote: Because in the documentary, they had to hire a private investigator to find out who rates the films, and even the filmmakers themselves can't find out. I don't know who judges films in the UK either, but I'm pretty sure I could find out fairly easily if I really wanted to.

Yea, if you really wanted to you could find out.
Not that you'd be able to actually do anything about it though, maybe mail a parlementarian.

I'm With Stupid wrote:
Thomas Eshuis wrote:There's been lot's of criticisms, for example films getting a sex label and thus 18 rating, merely because there's a scene where a woman walks out of the shower with only a towel on.
Or films being labeled 16 years and older because of foul language, etc., etc.
Officially only films for 16+ are illegal to sell/show to underage children, but more and more stores are selling by lower age criteria as well, unfortunately.

Hmm, that's quite surprising. I always figured the Netherlands would be one of the more liberal countries in this respect. Europe is often characterized as being more liberal on language and sex, but harsher than the States on violence. And for some reason, I figured the Dutch would be more liberal than most.

Well, it's kinda both.
We're pretty liberal about sex, in private situations or among friends.
But in public and especially when it comes to kids, we're still under the thumb of the babyboomer generation.
Who, compared to subsequent generations, are still rather prudish and concerned about protecting children.
So when things become political like this, the majority of the elected official still stick to save and therefore prudish line.
"Respect for personal beliefs = "I am going to tell you all what I think of YOU, but don't dare retort and tell what you think of ME because...it's my personal belief". Hmm. A bully's charter and no mistake."
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Re: This Film Is Not Yet Rated

#10  Postby Thomas Eshuis » Sep 15, 2014 9:43 am

Comparison time:

The Lion King
Category rating: scary
Age rating: 6
http://www.kijkwijzer.nl/the-lion-king/page26-0-158235.html

Scream
Category rating: scary
Age rating: 16
http://www.kijkwijzer.nl/scream/page26-0-185418.html

Gremlins:
Category: scary and violence
Age rating: 12
http://www.kijkwijzer.nl/gremlins/page26-0-46072.html

Lord of the Rings FotR
Category: scary and violence
Age rating: 12
http://www.kijkwijzer.nl/lord-of-the-rings-the-the-fellowship-of-the-ring/page45-0-51717.html

Sin City
Category: scary, violence, foul language
Age rating: 16

If anyone can see the logical pattern in this..... :confused:
"Respect for personal beliefs = "I am going to tell you all what I think of YOU, but don't dare retort and tell what you think of ME because...it's my personal belief". Hmm. A bully's charter and no mistake."
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Re: This Film Is Not Yet Rated

#11  Postby I'm With Stupid » Sep 15, 2014 10:21 am

That seems fairly in line with the rest of the world, tbf. For violence, the rule is generally that fantasy violence is considered less problematic than realistic violence, so Gremlins and Lord of the Rings are generally given lower ratings despite having beheadings and limbs being cut off. A film like Braveheart has similar sequences to LOTR, but because it's humans, it gets the older certification in most countries (although it was considered suitable for all viewers in France, presumably because it showed the English losing). The other general rule is that rules are relaxed over time (with the odd crackdown). So often in the UK, when a film is re-released on DVD, it will get a new rating, almost always lower than the original. I always remember The Terminator being an 18 in the UK growing up, but it's been a 15 for about 15 years now. As a result, it's not usually useful to compare the original ratings of films that came out at different times. In the 70s and 80s, lots of stuff was banned in the UK. Now an 18 certificate is almost anything goes, with the most recent taboo, the erect penis, being allowed since, I'd guess, The Idiots in 1998.

The other annoying thing is that because of the dominance of American companies on the internet, the rest of the world is now basically running under an American system of what is acceptable content. As a result, you don't have to look hard to find extreme violence (even of the real variety) or hate speech on Youtube unrestricted (despite both being forbidden under their terms and conditions), while a woman dancing in her pants is hidden behind an age filter (admittedly not a difficult one to bypass). Because like censorship more generally, it is basically in place at the behest of pressure groups, not the wider public, and relies on people reporting "offensive" content to them. In all my time of viewing Youtube, I've never had to sign in and confirm my age to watch violent content, only the (most mildly) sexual content, which tells you the sort of things that concerned parties are reporting.
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Re: This Film Is Not Yet Rated

#12  Postby Thomas Eshuis » Sep 15, 2014 11:39 am

But if you argue based on violence, eventhough the Lion King is an animated film, it includes the trampling to death of humanised character. Yet it's rated age 6.
I felt very depressed when I watched that scene as 7 year old.
"Respect for personal beliefs = "I am going to tell you all what I think of YOU, but don't dare retort and tell what you think of ME because...it's my personal belief". Hmm. A bully's charter and no mistake."
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Re: This Film Is Not Yet Rated

#13  Postby I'm With Stupid » Sep 15, 2014 11:52 am

But that's not violence, it's an accident. The Animals of Farthing Wood (greatest cartoon ever) regularly killed off characters in realistic ways (including the infamous motorway episode with the hedgehogs), and that was a kids' show. It seems that cartoons and animal characters are allowed to get away with more, especially if it's in keeping with animal behaviour. I guess everyone's seen documentaries by that age. Watership Down is certified suitable for all ages, and here's a screenshot:

Image

I couldn't tell you the logic behind that, only that every step you take away from realistic human violence seems to reduce the certificate.

But yeah, there are certainly parents who refuse to let their kids see any storyline that might upset their kids. I don't know why. Stimulating emotions is what films (and art in general) are about.
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Re: This Film Is Not Yet Rated

#14  Postby Thomas Eshuis » Sep 15, 2014 11:57 am

I'm With Stupid wrote:But that's not violence, it's an accident. The Animals of Farthing Wood (greatest cartoon ever) regularly killed off characters in realistic ways (including the infamous motorway episode with the hedgehogs), and that was a kids' show.

One of my all time favorites. :)

I'm With Stupid wrote: It seems that cartoons and animal characters are allowed to get away with more, especially if it's in keeping with animal behaviour. I guess everyone's seen documentaries by that age. Watership Down is certified suitable for all ages, and here's a screenshot:

Image

Another favorite. But yea animal violence seems rather less severe than human violence.

I'm With Stupid wrote:I couldn't tell you the logic behind that, only that every step you take away from realistic human violence seems to reduce the certificate.

But yeah, there are certainly parents who refuse to let their kids see any storyline that might upset their kids. I don't know why. Stimulating emotions is what films (and art in general) are about.

:nod:
"Respect for personal beliefs = "I am going to tell you all what I think of YOU, but don't dare retort and tell what you think of ME because...it's my personal belief". Hmm. A bully's charter and no mistake."
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