508 Swears- Hollywood Ratings are Ridiculous

rated r

Ok. Guys get ready for a little bit of a soapbox…

In the Mormon culture I grew up in it is commonly discouraged to see Rated R movies. I am not sure where that designation got started but it is a stupid way to evaluate content in a movie.  What!  You say! How can that be?

Here’s what’s going on…

If a movie has more that 3 f words it is immediately tagged with an R rating.  It does not matter scenario (war time, under attack, bullying, documentary, more than 3 you are out).

There is no limit that I can see on the number of swears that can be said to make something NC17.  As far as I can tell NC17 is used only for sexually explicit erotic movies like Showgirls.  We saw a great example this week of the lack of limits when Martin Scorsese’s movie Wolf of Wall Street had 508 f words.  A record! How exciting…

The most swears I have ever seen in a movie is 146 in Goodwill Hunting, which if you read this blog you know is a movie I hate and wouldn’t watch again without being bolted to the chair.

One I liked called Silver Linings Playbook had 76 but a lot of that was background and it did feel natural to the setting and place (see I’m not a total prude).

Last summer the movie Bully, a documentary about bullying and trying to STOP VIOLENCE was made R for 4 audible f words from the bullies beating up a kid on a buss.  This is a documentary! It’s not glorifying that behavior it’s trying to stop it.  Shouldn’t that count for something.

But no.  It’s an R.  So if someone has a rule about no R rated movies they miss out on one movie with 4 swears and are kept rightfully away from one with 508.  Should that really be the same rating?  It doesn’t make sense!

The next reason why the ratings system is stupid is how they judge violence.  If your scene has blood it is considered an R but if it is a bloodless death it can be PG13.  That’s how movies like the Hunger Games get away with murdering children for sport at a PG-13. I remind you Bully is an R that is trying to reduce child on child violence…ironic.

dark knightTake a look at this graphic it contains all the violent content of the Dark Knight, a PG-13 film.  This is so long that I had to make it super small font to fit on one page.  It includes shooting a cop, an explosion in a jail, a man’s face is burned off in chunks and a pencil is stuffed through another man’s head.  I mean what does a movie have to do to make R for violence?  Evidently be Saving Private Ryan and actually show a real invasion that actually happened with blood…but you can have pencils through heads no problem. Sigh…

Sensuality is another issue that the ratings are bonkers about.  You can only show certain things, make certain sounds or kisses to be PG-13.  It’s all ridiculous and kind of insulting.  We get what’s going on even if there’s a convenient white sheet in places.  Please!  Plus, sensuality depends so much on situation as far as offense.  Is it a real relationship? Are the characters married?  Is it a prostitute? The same scene could be wildly different in offensiveness depending on the story.  That’s why a flat rating for a list of objectionable scenes/words doesn’t make sense.

Here’s the thing I want to watch adult movies about adult topics.  I love children’s movies but I also like films about adult characters struggling with life and its challenges.  I am also willing to admit that some movies are not made for me and my moral and that’s ok.  I’m perfectly fine with that but we should at least be given a rating system that makes sense or have none at all like they do at Sundance.  This would force patrons to use a site like Screenit.com to find out the actual content of the movie and if it is something they feel comfortable seeing whether it is PG, PG-13, R or whatever.

The ratings are STUPID!!!  The only good they might be is to stop kids from seeing R’s in the theater..maybe. Although I snuck in once when I was in high school.  (secret…)

I think we should all look at criticism out there, read the screenit summary or detail and decide on our own terms if it is a movie we want to see.  That’s what I do with live theater.  No rating system required.

If a rating system couldn’t steer me away from seeing a pencil through a man’s face than it is of no use.  I’m on my own for determining movies to watch and I recommend the same to you.  Also share with your friends so they can use your experience to make their informed movie-going decisions.

I give the Rating system an F

rating system

Mixture of Thoughts

So today has been a thoroughly strange day.  On one hand I woke feeling hopeful.  Drained but hopeful.  Things in my personal life and my health are looking up and for that I am deeply grateful.  I really felt a wad of stress I’d been carrying around settle and am looking forward to the future.

Wanting to process my life and having the PTO I decided to take some time off today and was feeling great.  I noticed a facebook post from my siblings about the Dark Knight premiere they had been to and how good it was.  It seemed like nothing could burst my bubble.

Then I turned on the TV…

“Massacre in Colorado Theater”.  Horrified I then saw details of the awful shooting at the Dark Knight screening in Colorado.  Initially my bright mood turned to anger, confusion and then finally despair.  I tried to make sense of it for a while but obviously there is no making sense of such an action.

Here are some jumbled thoughts

I think it almost goes without saying that my thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their loved ones.  I can’t imagine facing such a shock and loss.

When it comes down to it EVIL exists. Satan is real and he wants all men to be miserable just like himself. If we let him, He can take a seed of anger or disappointment and work on it until it unfolds in true horror.  He wants us to hurt one another.  He wants us to be angry and resentful and there is no end to the anger if left unchecked.

My next thought I’m going to try to word carefully.  When such things happen people immediately jump to conclusions about mental illness.  That someone must have been ‘insane’ or ‘crazy’.

Here’s where I think we have to be careful.  Millions of Americans suffer from mental illness that are not going to kill anyone.  Mental illness is probably involved in such a case, but a shooter is a bizarre extreme symptom of an illness.  It would be like saying everyone who has the stomach flu is going to die because one woman does pass away. Its an abnormality, a mutant like distortion of the real disease.

The stigma and fears surrounding mental illness are only inflamed when such careful distinctions are not made and then situations like this become more likely.  People who have severe conditions do not get the diagnosis or the help they need because of the stigma and the community in general is not informed enough to encourage or even enforce such treatment.

As someone who has struggled with anxiety and the occasional panic attack I will tell you it is a scary experience and I only was able to make healthy choices once I was honest and disregarded the stigma.  Not everyone can do that and not everyone has the overwhelming love and support I am lucky enough to have.

If I was king of the world I would require mental health check ups for all college students because it is such a great time of change and the time when most mental illness such as schizophrenia manifest themselves. Someone may have never dealt or thought about mental illness and then all of the sudden they are dealing with signs and symptoms and yet no treatment is sought out of shame or fear.

Mental illness is just another illness.  It’s a part of our anatomy and sometimes it gets sick just like anything else.

So there I said my peace on that.

One last thought.  My cousin Anne spoke her peace about the violent content in the Dark Knight movie after viewing it at the midnight screening.  She said quite movingly

“I am very saddened about the shooting in Colorado. The news article said they could not identify the shooter’s motivation…. How about the very movie that was showing in the theater where the shooting took place?! I know The Dark Knight Rises is the movie of the Summer, but I walked out because of how intensely violent I felt it was and the ruthless killer Bain was dark and evil. After 20 minutes I went back in because I didn’t want to feel left out… (wish i would have chosen differently now.) i know its bold to say, but we cannot keep watching this violence on screen and expect to be exempt from it in real life!”

Now did the movies cause some kind of hypnosis that made the shooter do what he did?  Of course not, but I do agree with her that as a society we have become increasingly desensitized towards violence.  I’ve felt this for some time.  I remember coming back from my mission and being shocked by the decapitated heads in the final Lord of the Rings movies.  I was horrified at first but then  I started watching 24 with friends.  Slowly I began ignoring more and more violent content until one episode Jack basically hung a terrorist on a chain to get what he wanted.  That was it for me.  My wake up call.

Violence stays in my head and never leaves.  The other day I was watching Project Runway and an ad for some terrible serial killer movie came on and before I could change the channel there it was in my brain.  Nightmares! Thanks Lifetime!

I resisted the temptation to see the 2nd Dark Knight movie for many months until it was out on DVD and finally caved because EVERYONE I knew loved it.  I’m not exaggerating when I say it completely terrified me.   I had nightmares for weeks.  I recognized that it was well made and acted but I did not feel a good spirit while watching and regretted it ever since. I really felt like the only one out of all my friends who didn’t love it.

Even a movie like Ironman that has some torture of the lead in the beginning I found quite upsetting.  As a single woman living alone I’ve found I must be very careful with what I view because it sits there in my head making mischief.  I realize not everyone is in my situation or has my sensitivity level but still I just don’t see how watching such things can be helpful or inspiring.

What really makes me crazy is we have this pretense of an MPAA giving movie ratings but they should just change it to the ‘counting swear words brigade’.  I don’t understand how The Dark Knights and Hunger Games (children killing other children) gets a PG-13 when Bully a movie that might actually help reduce violence is given an R because of 6 words.  How can anyone say that 6 words are worse than murder? It doesn’t make sense. Something has to be so over the top in sexual content and violence to merit the R rating but 6 swear words and an automatic R? Again, to me that makes absolutely no sense.

If I ran the world I would make the MPAA like http://www.screenit.com which provides incredible details of the content you are viewing so you can make an informed decision.  I think it is $25 a year or something like that and I would recommend anyone sign up kids or no kids.

As to whether there should be some type of censorship or monitoring on this type of violent content, I’m unsure.  I certainly think there should be a discussion and its effects should be taken seriously.  We have no problem acknowledging the negative effects of sexual pornography and that industry is regulated fairly strictly.  What’s wrong with applying those same standards to violence?  I’m not expert on stimulus addiction but violence seems as penetrating in the brain as sexual content and clearly can be as destructive to human life.

I don’t know the answer but the human mind has always been attracted to violent content.  That’s Satan’s job, that’s the natural man. In the past a salacious story of Western slaughter or war would excite readers but now the malcontent can be exposed to images, video, dialogue, again and again, with each time needing more intense portrayals.  How can that not have a damaging effect?  Do I have a solution to fix that in a free America?  No.

Except to say this- watch what you watch and what your children watch.  Watch how you rationalize things away and try to stop it. Stop spending your money on things that glorify violence.  Hug your loved one’s.  Resolve differences.  Forgive because you never know when things can change and you’ll miss out on the chance to make things better.

Please go to http://www.bringchange2mind.org/ to sign the pledge to end the stigma against mental illness.  Maybe if we all work together we can stop such tragedies from happening again?  That is my hope.

I started my day hopeful and I’m ending my day with hope. Hope in Christ and His great love. He heals the broken hearted and gives comfort to the weak.  I KNOW that is true.