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Reflections on This Film is Not Yet Rated

This Film is Not Yet Rated was a very interesting and eye-opening documentary. I never really thought about the movie ratings business as being so political. It is actually very sad to think that the fate and success of extremely talented movie directors is in the hands of a bunch of conservative Republican ‘parents’, who think they know what is best for the American public. What makes them experts on the topic and who are they to determine the ultimate success of an outstanding film? What interests me most is that Jack Valenti and his Motion Picture Association of America board are playing God when it comes to the choices that the American people should be allowed to make for themselves – in the best interest of their children and families.

Let us take a look at Europe, shall we? They believe that on-screen violence is much more hazardous to children than nudity and they do not censor nudity with as much aggression as in America. Are European youths more sexually active than American youths because of the lack of censorship of nudity? I would be inclined to say that because European culture is so open to nudity and sexuality, that the youths are exposed to it and become used to it as ‘not really a big deal’. In contrast to America, where children are so sheltered from on-screen sexuality and nudity that they are more inclined to experiment sexually. I believe that the more sheltered one is from something, the more likely that their curiosity will get the better of them. This could also explain the high numbers of teenage pregnancies in the U.S.

What is even more disheartening is that movies with gut-wrenching violence are more likely to get permissive ratings than films with sex scenes. It seems that the American rating system is more concerned about their children having sex than they are about them shooting and killing each other in school. There was an interesting point made in the movie about films like Mr. and Mrs. Smith, for instance, which depict multiple scenes of shooting and violence as ‘cool’ and ‘sexy’, and is “Rated PG-13 for sequences of violence, intense action, sexual content and brief strong language? (MPAA, 2005). Then you have movies like Saving Private Ryan, which is “Rated R for intense prolonged realistically graphic sequences of war violence, and for language? (MPAA, 1998). Should we not want our children to see the reality of the consequences that result when using violence and shooting guns? I guess not because we allow a rating of ‘PG-13’ on films that give American children false images about using weapons, but then restrict them from seeing and learning about the reality.

-Hasti Fashandi