June 13, 2001

Movie Ratings Continued
Ji-Soo W.

This is just a follow up to my earlier debate contribution addressing the numerous points raised by others in response. First of all, an admission on my part. It might be that this disagreement (for there was not much agreement with my stance) is, to a degree, merely semantic. From my reading of Louie V.’s article (and Matt T.’s) it appears that the only alternative to a PG rating is an R rating. It reminded me that I was thinking from an Australian rating perspective. Here we have the following ratings:

G – General viewing
PG – Parental Guidance
M – Mature Audience (recommended 15 years+)
MA – Mature Audience (restricted 15 years+)
R – Restricted to Adults 18 years+

I agree that an R rating would be unwarranted (unless there is a scene in the books involving Galadriel and Shadowfax I somehow missed). However, in this scheme a PG rating is definitely in the shallow end of the maturity pool. Perhaps someone could explain to me exactly how the US system works and where PG or PG-13 fits into it.

Nevertheless, my core concerns still remain. Yes, Peter Jackson is under a contractual obligation from those who hold the purse strings to deliver a PG-13 movie, but why? Because a lot is riding on the commercial success of these films and the backers want as much of a ‘sure thing’ as possible. While I do not deny the importance of commercial success, movies that go out of their way to seek it out tend to be formulaic and shallow (for example, every movie ever made by Mr. Commercialism himself, Steven Speilberg…I know people will be whining about his more recent ‘serious’ movies like Saving Private Ryan and Schindler’s List, but I beg to differ). Meanwhile, movies that resist commercial pressures in favour of artistic integrity can become real milestones in cinema history and achieve commercial success anyway (Blade Runner falls into this category, and even the original Star Wars trilogy). The fact that a PG rating is even stipulated contractually suggests to me a lot of pressure for a lowest common den

P.S. I did not mean to disparage Disney with the use of the term ‘Disneyesque’. The term just has a lot of useful connotations that was handy for the point I was trying to make. I agree that in reality there are Disney movies out there that do not fall into this stereotypical category.

P.P.S. Matt, I do take comfort in the promise that the movies will be at least 2 hours long. I just hope Peter Jackson keeps to it.