...So here's what we do. We lobby to eliminate PG-13. What this does is force the MPAA to look at content differently.... Instead of shaming adults into seeing a PG-rated film, embolden them to see an R-rated movie, knowing there's more adult content available for them.And on the anti-abolish side:
...Thanks to the PG-13 rating the PG rating has been softened to the point it's rarely used any longer, while at the same time studios aren't going to make big budget tentpole features for an R-rated, adults-only audience. Marvel and DC Comics' movies will be watered down to the PG-rating and adults will begin to shy away, a solution no one wants.(Emphasis mine in both quotes.)
Why should there be any shame in seeing a PG movie? If we agree, as both sides of the debate do, that PG-13 means an extremely limited amount of profanity and nudity and a fair amount of violence (as I noticed, for example, in X-Men: Days of Future Past), does that mean that we, as an adult audience, reject movies without them, regardless of content? I'm not sure I like what that says about us (and I absolutely include myself in this statement).
PG-13 was created to stretch the boundaries of PG movies, while stopping short of explicit sex and violence, which would remain the purview of the R movie. As a result, PG-13 has become extremely profitable for Hollywood because it favors the youth market, particularly when it involves genre material, whether it's young adult action (Hunger Games, Twilight, Divergent), general sci-fi/fantasy (Inception, Pacific Rim), or the superheroes (as if you need examples of those). Indeed, these days it's not unusual for some PG-13 movies to skate close to the edge of an R rating.
|'Belle' is a recent example of |
a PG movie with adult themes.
Many of the greatest movies of Hollywood's Golden Age would get by with a PG rating today (assuming they could get made at all). True, the industry operated under a production code that placed extreme limits on sex and violence, but those great movies succeeded, and stood the test of time, in spite of those restrictions. Does anyone really think Casablanca would be greatly improved with Humphrey Bogart swearing, or with a sex scene between him and Ingrid Bergman? But no one thinks in those terms these days.
I'm not a prude, but I do think it's unfortunate that market demands have prevented adult PG films from being economically viable. Sure, nudity and profanity may make a movie look more like real life, but in creative terms, it's easy, and after using it time and again, it loses its impact. Not every movie needs it that badly. So if we must have ratings in American films, I say that instead of eliminating the PG-13, let's strengthen the PG instead, by investing in adult films that don't rely on sex and violence. It would open up an under-served audience that's fed up with modern movies, and it would do away with the stigma associated with PG films, a stigma it didn't earn and doesn't deserve.