New Film Ignites Debate on Ratings Policy 

function share_this(num) {
 tit=encodeURIComponent('New Film Ignites Debate on Ratings Policy ');
 site = new Array(5);
 return false;

  New Film Ignites Debate on Ratings Policy 

Posted by CN Staff on December 24, 2009 at 18:54:07 PT
By Brooks Barnes 
Source: New York Times 

Los Angeles -- The romantic comedy “It’s Complicated” arrived at the multiplex on Friday complete with an R rating, ranking it in the same category as “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” and “Basic Instinct” in the eyes of the Motion Picture Association of America. But there is no violence in “It’s Complicated,” and the bedroom scenes are decidedly tame by contemporary standards. Instead, the R rating — which experts say could limit the box-office potential of the Universal Pictures film — comes largely from a sequence in which Steve Martin and Meryl Streep smoke marijuana.
Giggles ensue.The rating has kicked up dust in Hollywood, with movie bloggers starting blistering attacks on the M.P.A.A. for being out of touch. The marijuana lobby is equally miffed. “This is an absurd ruling rooted in old cultural thinking,” said Allen St. Pierre, executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. Universal and Mr. Martin unsuccessfully appealed, seeking a PG-13 rating.Conservative groups, meanwhile, find themselves in the rare position of cheering the ratings system instead of condemning it. Dan Isett, director of public policy for the Parents Television Council, which also monitors movies, said “It’s Complicated” was a “rare instance” of the board getting a rating correct.“The last I checked, smoking pot was still illegal, illicit behavior,” he said. “Too often material gets rated lower than it should be.”Figuring prominently in the brouhaha are other depictions of marijuana in cinema, particularly the scene in the 1980 comedy “9 to 5” showing Dolly Parton, Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin getting high and raiding the refrigerator. Its rating was PG.“This demonstrates a real hilarity and inconsistency, especially given how far the medical marijuana movement has come,” said Martin Kaplan, the director of the Norman Lear Center for the study of entertainment and society at the University of Southern California.The rumpus comes amid informal discussion about tweaking the ratings formula, particularly where R is involved. The M.P.A.A., a trade organization financed by the major studios, has ruminated about dividing the R rating into new categories. Already, the industry refers informally to movies that are “soft R” or “hard R.”Nancy Meyers, who directed the film, declined to comment, as did Universal and the film’s producers.But financial forces are at work against any changes. If the difference between a PG-13 and an R rating can be tens of millions of dollars at the box office, the last thing studios want is to slice the pie thinner. “In general, the more child-friendly the rating is — even for movies that might not be aimed at teenagers — the more tickets you sell,” said S. Abraham Ravid, a business professor at Rutgers University who has published many studies on movie economics.Joan Graves, the chairwoman of the film industry’s Classification and Rating Administration, declined to comment on “It’s Complicated,” citing internal policy barring the public discussion of a specific picture. But she dismissed criticism of her board members.“They react the way that most people react,” she said. “America is not just two coasts.”Some in the industry see something deeper at work, arguing that the trade organization is on its best behavior because it has a lame-duck leader in Dan Glickman (who is to step down as chief executive in September) and because Congressional elections will take place next year. The Federal Trade Commission harshly criticized the movie industry this month for inappropriately advertising movies with PG-13 and R ratings to children.It was not specifically the actual drug use that got “It’s Complicated,” about a divorced woman who has an affair with her remarried ex-husband, into this pickle, according to people with knowledge of how the decision was reached. Instead, the ratings board was concerned about what the movie did not have: a negative consequence for the behavior. (Ms. Graves said that “no scrutiny or outside influence impacts the rating of any film — period.”)The board, according to these people, thought the scene was uproariously funny and could leave children with a strong message that smoking marijuana is fun. The opposite, of course, could be argued: One way to make young people think that marijuana is uncool is to show the white-haired Mr. Martin, 64, smoking it.This emphasis on consequences has long been part of how Hollywood has navigated taboo subjects, dating back to the Hays Code era, said Robert Sklar, an emeritus professor of cinema studies at New York University and the author of “Movie-Made America.” “If somebody transgressed — infidelity, alcoholism — they had to pay for it,” he said.The M.P.A.A. is often accused by conservative groups of “ratings creep,” a loosening of standards as the years go on, and of pandering to the studios, which resist R ratings because it could limit the audience. But “It’s Complicated” may be an example of the reverse.Ms. Graves said the board has grown more strict about drug use over the last two decades. “In the ’60s and ’70s, drugs were considered fun and recreational, but then parents started to wise up and standards shifted the other way,” she said.In other words, “9 to 5” was born of a different cultural time. It is hard to argue, however, that cannabis has become anything but more routine over the years. There are now about 1,000 medical marijuana dispensaries in the Los Angeles area alone, according to city estimates; as a point of reference, there are fewer than 300 Starbucks outposts.Source: New York Times (NY)Author: Brooks BarnesPublished: December 24, 2009Copyright: 2009 The New York Times CompanyContact: letters nytimes.comWebsite: -- Cannabis Archives

Home    Comment    Email    Register    Recent Comments    Help    

Comment #19 posted by FoM on December 26, 2009 at 05:03:31 PT
Sinsemilla Jones
I am looking forward to seeing this movie when it is released on DVD. I watched the movie trailer and it looks like a really fun movie.
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #18 posted by Sinsemilla Jones on December 26, 2009 at 04:56:29 PT
Steve Martin partakes sometimes, but...
...only late in the evening....well, sometimes in the early evening or the late middle of the afternoon...and sometimes in the middle of the early afternoon or the late early middle morning...but never at dusk.And he used to get small, too.
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #17 posted by FoM on December 25, 2009 at 13:12:42 PT
Meryl Streep and Steve Martin
I think they are great. Here's a short clip.Meryl Streep - It s Complicated Clip - Do you smoke Pot?
[ Post Comment ]


Comment #16 posted by Universer on December 25, 2009 at 13:07:22 PT

{quote src=article}(Ms. Graves said that “no scrutiny or outside influence impacts the rating of any film — period.”){/quote}--------------The movie raters may believe themselves to be operating in a vacuum, but most assuredly they are not. They do not literally live under rocks, no matter that their opinions and deliberate public images belie this.Movie raters have homes and families and opinions and lives, watch TV and go shopping, align themselves ideologically with a particular cable news network as much as anyone in this still quasi-free country. They are as susceptible to subliminal cultural influences as anyone with ostensible quantities of grey and white matter under their dome.There was a well-done independent documentary produced a few years ago named "This Film Is Not Yet Rated." It is a brilliant exposé on the methods and lives of the chosen few who are MPAA raters -- the aforediscussed underachieving bureaucrats, the Peter Principle personified -- and how incredibly fallible and hilariously inconsistent they are. And they are.I'm glad this rating -- and more saliently, its stated reason -- is making news. It is a relatively rare thing for a movie rating to cause NYT headlines, so when it does, there is deeper, more societally broad meaning underlying.In this case, it means that an older couple enjoying sexual tension at a party with a smoky mental lubricant -- without, gasp!, adverse consequences -- is not something worth giving a crap about.The movie, which I'd rather like to see, seems to be a sophisticated yet whimsical romantic comedy for the older set, but humorous and cool enough to appeal to more mature Gen-X'rs. These demographic groups should be and are undaunted by the sight of intelligent middle-aged upper-middle-classers willfully putting a doobie to their lips.--------------Ah, and by the way, MPAA Raters: 'Tis true that most of America is between the coasts. 'Tis also true that most Americans are on the coasts.And Middle American cities like Chicago, Austin, Houston, Madison, Minneapolis, Denver, Tucson -- these population centers a day's drive from either coast are not exactly neocon bastions.Booyah.
[ Post Comment ]


Comment #15 posted by FoM on December 25, 2009 at 12:42:29 PT

Merry Christmas Everyone
I hope everyone is having a nice day. I just got done making peanut butter cookies and am now listening to one of museman's songs.
[ Post Comment ]


Comment #14 posted by runruff on December 25, 2009 at 10:41:52 PT

"pot was still illegal, illicit behavior,” 
Based on this mind set we should give an "R" rating to:Movies about murder. "   "  car theft. "   "  gay marriages "   "  illegally declared wars. "   "  Tiger Woods? "   "  underage beer drinking. "   "  underage tobacco smoking.I mean, come on! Where does the hypocrisy stop and pure stupidity begin?
[ Post Comment ]


Comment #13 posted by afterburner on December 25, 2009 at 10:35:27 PT

RE The Ratings
I'm tired of all the counter-revolutionary twaddle from the unenlightened. Pray for peace.Christmas has been strange this year, full of hope and promise, rising above the fear & dread & sadness.Somehow, everything worked out for the best. I'm off to Christmas dinner at my daughter's home.Merry Christmas -- or whatever you celebrate -- to all my cyber-friends.ego destruction or ego transcendence, that is the question. 
[ Post Comment ]


Comment #12 posted by Vincent on December 25, 2009 at 10:08:14 PT:

Merry Christmas
Merry Christmas to all. Even though this article aggravated me, I still have high hopes for the New Year. So, Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!
[ Post Comment ]


Comment #11 posted by runruff on December 25, 2009 at 08:50:52 PT

I have a comment....
...I'd like to tell her?!
[ Post Comment ]


Comment #10 posted by JoeCitizen on December 25, 2009 at 08:44:34 PT

Telling comment
Joan Graves, the chairwoman of the film industry’s Classification and Rating Administration, declined to comment on “It’s Complicated,” citing internal policy barring the public discussion of a specific picture. But she dismissed criticism of her board members.“They react the way that most people react,” she said. “America is not just two coasts.”***I live in the Midwest, I like Midwestern values for the most part. But this comment reeks of parochialism. It's a convenient (and less obviously prejudiced) way of saying, "We don't take to New York Elites (Jews) or San Francisco Values (Gays) 'round these parts."Since most of the dense population centers are on one of the two coasts, I don't know where she gets off saying that "most people" (apparently those who don't live on the coasts) react that way. Most of the people DO live on or near the coasts. And they should very much resent the Legislators from those big empty rectangular states in the middle telling THEM what to think and how to act.Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all at Cannabis NewsJC
[ Post Comment ]


Comment #9 posted by runruff on December 25, 2009 at 06:58:52 PT

Oh my!
Is it Christmas again already?I am getting old!
[ Post Comment ]


Comment #8 posted by runruff on December 25, 2009 at 06:22:32 PT

Four bureaucrats = one self actualizer!
Bureaucrats are underachievers who find a home on the public teet!Even in Roman times men of power recognized the value of hiring four under achievers to do the job of one self actualized person.Ambitious people pose a threat so, who wants people under you who may someday have your job?If you are spending the peoples money you can buy as much labor as you want to fill all the spaces. You know why they call bureaucrats mushrooms? Because they are kept in the dark and fed bovine scat! A dull paper pusher is much more effective than and energetic ambitious one.Stalin referred to his bureaucrats as "useful idiots, and disposable. Bureaucrats are supremely disposable!I am reminded of the video of Pink Floyd were everyone was dressed alike and looking the same walks, a plank and tumbles into a vat! No one is missed because there are so many, all the same!Those of us here are "Self actualizers"! Free thinkers with a vision.Self actualizers of the world, "untie"!
[ Post Comment ]


Comment #7 posted by FoM on December 25, 2009 at 06:14:22 PT

Merry Christmas Everyone
It was really nice to see family yesterday and I hope everyone is enjoying the holiday.
[ Post Comment ]


Comment #6 posted by runruff on December 25, 2009 at 05:45:18 PT

I only quote the greats!
"Nothing really rocks and nothing really rolls and nothing is really worth the cost!"-Meat Loaf!
[ Post Comment ]


Comment #5 posted by RevRayGreen on December 25, 2009 at 05:09:47 PT

WOW, a movie with my FACEBOOK ..
relationship status as the title......awesome........Merry Christmas 2009 and much love to all my CN friends....JOAN JETT & THE BLACKHEARTS - Little Drummer Boy - LIVE 12.31.1981 (my fav version next to Bowie and Bing)
[ Post Comment ]


Comment #4 posted by runruff on December 25, 2009 at 04:46:54 PT

Rating "R"?
Guarantees everyone under seventeen will see it!Kids now have the internet and will see it bootleg before it hits ths theater but anyone old enough to fart dust wouldn't think of that!
[ Post Comment ]


Comment #3 posted by GeoChemist on December 25, 2009 at 04:04:50 PT

Happy Holidays
I would like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas (where applicable)
[ Post Comment ]


Comment #2 posted by FoM on December 24, 2009 at 20:15:07 PT

Thank you. We watched the exact video earlier today. Feed the world!Merry Christmas!
[ Post Comment ]


Comment #1 posted by Dankhank on December 24, 2009 at 19:57:32 PT

ratings ...
We all hope for sanity one day in this Bizarro world. Perhaps it will come to pass.In celebrating this day, we should be mindful of the truly downtrodden of this world.In honor of them, I offer this video ... the world ...peace to all ...
[ Post Comment ]

  Post Comment