Following my phone meeting with Joan Graves and Marilyn Gordon of the MPAA and the FTC’s report (citing my article) criticizing the motion picture industry, the MPAA has informed me that it will be making some changes to its rules after the first of the year. While they did not give me any details, I believe that the new rules will improve the alerts on “green band” trailers. As I reported in September, the MPAA made an unannounced change in April of this year, switching the “green band” language that begins most movie trailers from the unambiguous “approved for all audiences” to the meaningless “approved for appropriate audiences.” They may also address some other concerns in the FTC report, including the marketing of promotional tie-ins for children that market PG-13 movies, un-rated DVD versions of previously rated movies, and some response to the FTC’s finding that “In its review of marketing plans and ad placements, the Commission found explicit and pervasive targeting of very young children for PG-13 movies,” including specific attempts to disguise the level of violence in the marketing campaign.
I am hopeful about their willingness to address the concerns I raised and I will provide the details of the MPAA’s new rules as soon as they are available.
On a related note, the LA Times’ Patrick Goldstein has a very good point to make today about the MPAA’s poor judgment in giving the new Meryl Streep movie, “It’s Complicated” an R based not on a scene of pot smoking by people in their 50′s but because there are no bad consequences.
Apparently, everything would’ve been fine if only the characters had been killed in a gory car crash because their reflexes were slightly impaired after sharing the joint, which surely would’ve served as a stern warning to kids not to ever touch the evil weed.
It’s another outrageous example of the lunatic priorities of the MPAA, which claims to serve the interests of parents but actually dances to its crazy drummer, happily handing out PG-13 ratings to unbelievably violent movies like “Terminator: Salvation” while whipping out the R rating at the first sign of a few naked breasts or, God forbid, an unsheathed penis. In Rob Marshall’s upcoming film, “Nine,” Daniel Day-Lewis smokes non stop through the entire film, but since it’s only cancer-causing tobacco, the MPAA had no problems giving the film a PG-13 rating. That’s a travesty. If you’re going to restrict kids from seeing a movie because of pot smoking, you certainly should apply similar standards to heedless cigarette smoking.
The R rating for “It’s Complicated,” which hits theaters Christmas Day, is especially ludicrous. It would be one thing if we saw Kristen Stewart smoking weed in “The Twilight Saga: New Moon,” since the movie is right in the sweet spot for teens and tweeners. But if the MPAA is really sticking up for families everywhere, it hardly seems to be a parental concern that impressionable kids are going to be flocking to see a romantic comedy featuring actors who are — in the case of Streep and Martin — even older than some of their grandparents.