I remember sitting in my comfy, little seat at the movies waiting for some badass trailers and seeing for the first time the preview for Rob Zombie’s “The Devil’s Rejects.” I, of course, was quite antsy, expecting another violent roller-fucking-coaster ride through Hell and back. The trailer fed my hunger, but as it ended, something just didn’t sit well. It was the rating. I knew before I even saw it that it would be a hard ‘R.’ That was a given. But it was the explanation for the rating that threw me a bit of confusion: for sadistic violence, strong sexual content, language and drug use. Language and drug use were nothing new. And over the years, for some reason, I’ve seen sexuality and nudity become one when the movie featured both, instead of separating the two. But strong sexual content?
Since when did the MPAA feel the need to use new adjectives, oddly enough on top of other adjectives already describing the movie. But even that wasn’t the real surprise. What really caught my eye was the sadistic violence. I just thought to myself, maybe they just fucking hate you, Rob. But I shook it off, and as time went on, I started noticing more and more descriptive adjectives prefixing the staple explanations we’ve become so accustomed to.
But recently, as I was watching “Zodiac” on DVD, I noticed a little switch-a-roo on those words and instead of sexual content, I found: ‘R’ for some strong killings. I didn’t really know how to take that. Was that an explanation or a compliment? As in, “those are some tight fucking murders in that movie.” Regardless, is there even an opposite to that? A weak killing? That sounds like an insult. As in, “you guys fucking suck at killing people on TV.” Either way, I had a good laugh.
So what the hell happened to the simple shit that just told us what to expect? Or better yet, why were these explanations for ratings originally created? It was to simply inform the viewers of why that particular movie garnered that particular restriction. If the movie is rated ‘R,’ then they have to explain why annoying, little bastard children aren’t supposed to see it without their annoying, bitchy parents. To go beyond that is not only pointless, but arrogant. I enjoyed "Zodiac" myself, but those killings were far from strong. It’s bad enough that they tell us what we can and can't watch, but now they think they’re fucking critics too?
Another recent rating they’ve given is to the forthcoming “Return with Honor,” a movie about a pilot shot down in North Vietnam: rated ‘PG’ for sensuality, bullying, and brief smoking. Yes, I’m going to tear down all three of these fucking reasons. First, bullying? That has to be someone’s lame fucking joke, seriously. That is hands down the worst thing I have ever seen in a rating. I’m afraid I don’t even have anything else to really say about that one. I’m dumbstruck. Second is sensuality, which apparently is not as bad as sexuality. I’m guessing that there's more kissing beforehand, he buys her some flowers, tells her he loves her, and then calls her back after the first date. It’s nothing like sexuality, which would be dirty, sweaty sex in a truck-stop bathroom, anal or doggie-style, and in between hits of their crack pipe they'd hail Satan, right?
The last one is something I truly expected, but this is the first I’ve actually seen in a rating: brief smoking. That’s right, ass-hats. Not drug use. Smoking. And brief, at that. I’m not sure if you have noticed, but smoking has disappeared from movies and television over the past decade. I talked quite a bit before about how they were going to start rating for this, but this is the first I’ve seen them come out and say it in a rating. I’m caught being surprised between the rating itself and the fact that the directors/writers actually had the balls to put someone smoking in the movie, a ‘PG’ movie, no less. Props to Tom Hanks for sticking it to Big Brother and the MPAA.
I don’t really have any great solution. Problems like these are never solved. They’re only dealt with, accepted, coped with. The problem isn’t the people in power making decisions for us. The real problem is that we make pathetic decisions for ourselves and give the worst of the group too much power. You want someone to blame for ratings on movies, video games, CDs, and television programs? Then blame yourself. Indifference is worse than being wrong.
I’ll leave you with the greatest rating I know of, almost poetic: Rob Zombie’s soon-to-be-released “Halloween,” rated ‘R’ for strong brutal bloody violence and terror throughout, sexual content, graphic nudity and language. Now I’m sure. They hate you, Rob, and everything you fucking touch. But don’t worry. Even though I’ve been waiting for this one, I’d go see the movie based on that kickass description alone (well, that and your wife). See you at the movies, bitches.