Ratings Boards: The Fuck You Brigade
That, right there, ladies and gentlemen, is the bane of my existence. The Ontario Film Review Board; agents of the state badgered into existence by sheltering soccer moms afraid little Timmy might see a tit.
You see, today, me and a few friends went to the local theater to go see a movie. As you can probably tell from this site’s existence, that is an experience I quite enjoy. So, imagine my surprise when we get to the movie theater, and the movie, Horrible Bosses 2, is 18A. We were not expecting this, seeing that the first movie had been rated 14A and the material couldn’t be too far off from the first one.
So we decided to take matters into our own hands and bought some tickets to see The Theory of Everything, since that was the only movie playing at the same time. The plan was simple; just walk into the other theater. It would have worked if our friend hadn’t chickened out at the last moment and sprinted over to the water fountain. A ticket collector on a power trip strolled right up to us and said “Excuse me, show me your ID or get out!”
He yelled that last bit. Another ticket collector came up to us after and said “If it was me, I would’ve let you in. The problem was your friend. He was too slack, man.” I still don’t entirely know what ‘slack’ means, but either way, we weren’t getting into our movie. So we refunded our tickets because the Stephen Hawking biopic seemed absolutely terrible, and we got crappy burgers at McDonald’s while wallowing in self pity.So who’s to blame here? The ticket collector who was power tripping and put way too much effort into a job that isn’t paying enough for that kind of dedication? Us, for trying to sneak into an 18A movie, whether we had bought any ticket for it or not?
Or is it the ratings system who’s barring us from getting into the movie in the first place? You see, after I got home from eating my depressing McDouble, I decided to go appraise the Ontario Film Review Board. If I couldn’t review the movie, then I was going to review the review board! I found a website that hasn’t been updated since the nineties, and a FAQ section that didn’t really answer my questions.
For example: “Why do we need a film classification board?” That’s an excellent question! The “answers” that you’ll find there say it’s to provide people with an informed choice about the film, and “all these other countries are doing it, so we should too!”
Alright, except the problem is, just saying 18A on the marquee at the theatre doesn’t tell me why it got that rating. I don’t know whether it was for sex, drugs or violence, just that something set off the Moral Guardians. So they’re doing a terrible job of informing anybody of anything.
We have a system established by conservative suburban parents who are scared of their little Timmy seeing anything objectionable on the silver screen. And you know what? That makes perfect sense! But if it’s really about enabling informed choice, it should be a choice, not a legal requirement for theatres.
Of course people are influenced by what they see in the media. Mainstream media reflects the interests of popular culture, because it’s made to cater directly to the average person. But all this crap about how if little Timmy sees a pair of breasts or if Bobby plays Call of Duty he’s going to shoot up his school is, well, bullshit.
Let’s face it. There’s no problem in letting our kids see these movies. It’s perfectly healthy for a young adolescent to be exposed to sexuality, so that they can know that yes, it is normal to have these feelings and that they aren’t creepy.
18A and R ratings, as-is in Ontario, will cause studios to simply stop making movies that deal with mature themes because they’re no longer profitable. This is a trend we’ve already started to see ever since the PG-13 rating was introduced down in the United States, and that’s a voluntary system unlike Ontario’s. Either way, it’s bad for business and it’s bad for culture.
Seeing some blurry image of private parts in a Hollywood movie isn’t going to irreparably corrupt your teenage son. If movies and video games influenced our children that much, then Pac-Man would have had my Dad’s generation running around in dark rooms listening to repetitive music while munching pills. Which in hindsight, maybe that did happen.
If there is anything to take away from this, the current state of movie ratings is not good. I implore you all to go see more R-rated films, and to bring your kids along! Hollywood will respond to one thing, and one thing only: voting with your wallet. Show them that R-rated movies are profitable, and we’ll be able to enjoy movies that deal with mature themes. And whether or not kids will be allowed to see that movie will be something for their parents to decide, not some nanny state government mandate.