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Should a movie be punished by an R rating simply because of an X number of F-bombs?

 
 
Reply Fri 10 Dec, 2010 08:11 pm
The charming and scandal free The King's Speech makes a great history lesson and feelgood story for shy children and teenagers who have a stammer or stutter. The story is also a great life lesson in perseverance and self-improvement for every students who stutter or not.

The problem? The movie was only the latest production to be afflicted with a seemingly arbitrary rating by the MPAA. It's sin? In the course of King George the VI's (Colin Firth) several year professional relationship with a speech therapist Lionel Logue (Geoffry Rush) try and tackle the majesty's near debilitating stutter. Before he was crowned king, his attempts at curing his disability failed and his failures earned him grief from his famous father King George V.

The swearing comes in with Lionel Logue's highly unconventional therapy sessions with the King, (attempts to loosen up the King to get him to understand why he stutters in the first place). Tons of s*** and f*** bombs are exploded on the screen but not out of malice to the viewer or to another character but spoken in a cathartic frenzy.

Because of the R rating, certain audience members (children and adults) will not see this film. This hit on its box office will be considerable considering its not a big budget film with a big marketing budget in the first place.

While Blue Valentine was able to repeal its own box office killing NC-17 rating down to an R rating, The King's Speech lost its appeal as its producers wanted to get a lesser rating when the film went from its present day limited theatrical run to its inevitable full nation wide theatrical run.

The film trailer:
http://trailers.apple.com/trailers/weinstein/thekingsspeech/


So? What do you think? Would you let your children watch an R rated film if its only fault was foul language? Would you let your children watch a PG-13 or a PG rated film that had implied sexual content, violence, and tons of toilet humor?
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Type: Discussion • Score: 13 • Views: 6,532 • Replies: 137

 
dyslexia
 
  3  
Reply Fri 10 Dec, 2010 08:23 pm
@tsarstepan,
Not having any children I can easily answer, **** the ratings.
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Fri 10 Dec, 2010 08:25 pm
@dyslexia,
I would probably have allowed my kids to watch this one. The question is, would they be interested?
tsarstepan
 
  1  
Reply Fri 10 Dec, 2010 08:26 pm
@dyslexia,
I agree with your sentiment. Down with those limey prudish MPAA bastards!
0 Replies
 
tsarstepan
 
  1  
Reply Fri 10 Dec, 2010 08:26 pm
@edgarblythe,
Probably an older set of children might be interested. For a period piece, its quite funny and particularly accessible.
0 Replies
 
boomerang
 
  2  
Reply Fri 10 Dec, 2010 08:42 pm
Quote:
So? What do you think? Would you let your children watch an R rated film if its only fault was foul language? Would you let your children watch a PG-13 or a PG rated film that had implied sexual content, violence, and tons of toilet humor?

I'm certainly no paragon of parenthood but I'd say okay to the language thing, depending on the story.

Movie ratings confuse the heck out of me, just like they confused my parents. I remember them catching a ton of **** for taking us to see "Harold and Maude" (I was 11) just like I caught tons of **** for letting Mo watch "Shawn of the Dead" (one of our favorite movies).
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Fri 10 Dec, 2010 08:46 pm
@edgarblythe,
That's a great question.

I looked at the trailer based on tsar's description thinking my suttering nephew might ought to see this film but I doubt he'd be interested at all.

Based on what I saw not only would he not be interested he'd end up feeling bad about the "fact" that anyone might consider that guy a stutterer.
tsarstepan
 
  1  
Reply Fri 10 Dec, 2010 08:55 pm
@boomerang,
Are you saying that Colin Firth's performance is poor or that he's not that severe a stutterer?
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Fri 10 Dec, 2010 08:56 pm
@tsarstepan,
I'm saying my nephew would find that stutter laughable.

That is, if he was able to laugh about a stutter.

edit: Don't mean to be a downer. Your question is a really good one and I'd love to hear what people have to say about it. M stutters so bad he simply quit talking to anyone when he was about 12/
0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Fri 10 Dec, 2010 09:52 pm
Porky Pig. He's a stutterer.
0 Replies
 
maxdancona
 
  2  
Reply Fri 10 Dec, 2010 10:38 pm
@boomerang,
I am a paragon of parenthood. I would let my kids watch this movie in a heartbeat.

The idea that kids shouldn't be exposed to language is ridiculous. This language is part of their lives anyway (I don't think there is think there is any 10 year old who hasn't heard, or even used, the word '****').

The idea that parents would not let their kids watch a movie with an important message for something as trivial as language is perplexing.
0 Replies
 
Ceili
 
  3  
Reply Sat 11 Dec, 2010 12:24 am
It kills me that violent movies are a-ok, but day to day language, that kids hear EVERYWHERE is considered R-rated.
It's part of the vernacular, like it or not. My kids have probably heard worse while I was driving... Twisted Evil
0 Replies
 
Finn dAbuzz
 
  0  
Reply Sat 11 Dec, 2010 02:40 am
@tsarstepan,
tsarstepan wrote:


So? What do you think? Would you let your children watch an R rated film if its only fault was foul language? Would you let your children watch a PG-13 or a PG rated film that had implied sexual content, violence, and tons of toilet humor?



Depends upon how old my kids were.

At the age below which I wouldn't let them see this film, they probably wouldn't appreciate it anyway.

As for violence and sex, it's the same answer. Depends on how old they were and how graphic I thought the sex and violence would be.

They're only movies afterall and even the best ones aren't going to be life changing events for kids. I would err on the side of not letting my kids see the movie.

The actual ratings aren't worth much. Parents that rely solely on ratings to inform them as to whether or not they should bring their kids are not, in my opinion, displaying good parenting skills.

There is no reason to rush your kid's growing up. There will be plenty of time ahead of them to listen to F-bombs, watch a couple tongue kiss, and see the hero cut off the bad guy's legs.

I recall watching Silence of The Lambs in a theater where a woman and her two kids sat in the row in front of me. Neither of the kids could have been older than 10. I figured 6 and 8. Another woman sitting inthe same row as mother and kids voiced her opinion that the kids were too young for the movie and mom told her to shut up and mind her own business. The woman moved to another row.

That was a strange night involving a strange movie and a strange fellow audience. Direct behind us a guy who was probably in his 30's was sitting in between too very attractive young women. They were with him, but sisters, friends, girl friends? Who knows? Throughout the film and during the most gruesome scenes, the guy behind us giggled.

Twenty years ago a movie called The Monster Squad came out. It was about a bunch of kids who run across Dracula, the Wolfman, Frankenstein and a host of other monsters. Sort of like Goonies, if you saw that one.

One of the characters in the movie is the lead kid's younger sister who is too little to join in most of the gang's adventures. She couldn't have been more than 4. At one point in the movie she befriends Frankenstein and brings him to the gang's clubhouse. Once the other kids catch sight of her companion they bolt and she's left alone with the monster. As the gangs runs off, she calls after them

"Hey guys, it's OK. He's my friend. Don't be chickenshit!"

It wasn't funny and it certainly wasn't cute.

Other than that, it was a great movie for kids and mine loved it. The first time we watched it I was taken completely by surprise; thereafter I fast forwarded when the scene came up.

To this day, I wonder what jackass felt it necessary to insert that totally gratuitous scene into an otherwise great kid's movie and why.
JPB
 
  2  
Reply Sat 11 Dec, 2010 08:55 am
Film makers know exactly what they're doing when they're making a movie. I took my kids to plenty of PG-13 movies when they were 10-12. Film makers have one of the characters say the word "****" or "****" just to get that rating so that adolescents will pony up $$$ to watch something that isn't G rated. It's a right of passage for the kids -- getting to see things that their younger sibling don't get to do without a parent.

I sat through a number of the movies waiting to see if I could catch the "offending" part and it was oftentimes nothing more than a brief shot of a bare ass or the word "****" thrown in there for no apparent reason whatsoever other than to garner the coveted PG-13 rating.

I think it's sometimes the same deal with R ratings. Certainly for the teenage set who want to separate themselves from the Kids who can't get into these movies.
0 Replies
 
JPB
 
  1  
Reply Sat 11 Dec, 2010 08:57 am
@Finn dAbuzz,
Quote:
To this day, I wonder what jackass felt it necessary to insert that totally gratuitous scene into an otherwise great kid's movie and why.


HA! I hadn't read this when I made my post above. Yep, totally gratuitous.
maxdancona
 
  2  
Reply Sat 11 Dec, 2010 09:09 am
@JPB,
Finn's gratuitous use of the word 'jackass' is amusing, but it raises an interested question. Why did he feel it was necessary? Did Finn say 'jackass' to increase the ratings of an otherwise great post?

Of course, there is the possibility that these words are used for effect as part of normal communication even though some people overreact in a rather ridiculous manner.

engineer
 
  2  
Reply Sat 11 Dec, 2010 09:29 am
The purpose of using "swear" words is to shock. Gratuitous use of such words causes you to start focusing more on the words than on the movie. It's like a misspelling in something you are reading; your mind locks onto the misspelling and you momentarily lose the thread of the sentence. I find it the same with bad language in movies - unless the language is critical to the movie. I haven't seen the movie in question so I can't say of the use of curse words is critical to the movie. In general I find that the dialog of any movie is better without using strong curse words, but mild ones often provide a natural flow.

While I agree that children occasionally hear bad language, I think the reality is that most of us (and children more so) are not subjected to extremely bad language routinely. That's why it retains its shock value. Personally, I save it until I really need to make a point. Once I told my teenager he was behaving like an ass and he looked like I'd hit him with a taser which was exactly the effect I was hoping for. Does he hear worse everyday at school and on the Internet? Absolutely. That didn't lessen the impact when used at the right time.
maxdancona
 
  3  
Reply Sat 11 Dec, 2010 10:21 am
@engineer,
Let me quibble with the term "gratuitous". Words that have a purpose are not gratuitous by the definition of gratuitous. When you say the purpose is to shock, and then refer to them as gratuitous, you contradict yourself.

Of course there many other reasons to use swear words (or any other word).

Swears express emotion; "I am ******* pissed" expresses an idea that can't be exactly replicated with other phrases. "I am very angry" doesn't have the same meaning.

Swears are modifiers; There is a difference between an idiot and a ******* idiot. There is no replacement for "*******" in "******* idiot". Big idiots and blithering idiots aren't at all the same things.

Swears express familiarity. My poker buddies through around swears like crazy, "I am fucked", "this is bullshit". There is even a poker hand (QQ) we refer to as "bitches". This is language that I would never think about using with work colleagues (I work in a staid, professional office). This is the point. The language I use with my poker buddies express and informality and an acceptance. The informality is part of the closeness of the group.

Words are tools. They are used to communicate ideas and feelings and meanings. If you take away some of the tools used to communicate, the communication will be much less flexible and expressive.

Language in movies is no different. The writers are trying to communicate something (through their characters) and when swears are the appropriate tools, they should use them.

I don't think the word "chickenshit" coming from the mouth of a preteen to mean cowardly is at all gratuitous. It has a purpose (and in a movies it is a fine word choice).

I can't think of a movie where the use of "swear" words was gratuitous. I do think the use of the word "gratuitous" in threads about language is often gratuitous.
engineer
 
  2  
Reply Sat 11 Dec, 2010 11:30 am
@maxdancona,
I understand you general point, but I disagree on the specifics. I don't think you are quibbling on gratuitous, I think that is a key factor. In some movies, the language is essential. Curse words are not gratuitous, they are required. In others, I think they are clearly not required and even seem out of place and detract from the flow of the movie. Take "chickenshit". There are many alternatives for chickenshit that would work just as well in a children's movie. Coward works great and has all the connotations to go along with it. What using chickenshit does is paint a picture of the speaker as more streetwise than if they had used coward. I also disagree that "******* pissed" is significantly different than "pissed". It adds a little emphasis, but pissed itself is a strong word compared to "angry" so that already has emphasis added. "*******" doesn't particularly do much more IMO. I haven't seen the movie Finn was pointing to, but if that was the only curse word in the whole movie, then I think it was "gratuitous". I understand your disagreement though.

I also understand that swearing in a protected environment (your friends would not likely use the same language at a big family gathering at a local restaurant) provides a sense of intimacy, but a movie maker has other considerations. If he is trying to set up a intimate setting in the movie, he might resort to the casual language you mentioned, but there are other ways to do it if you are targeting a younger audience. I'm not saying he would be wrong to use strong language, only that there are alternatives if he wants to explore them. If that one scene is the only use of strong language in the entire movie, it makes sense to me to attempt to even out the flow.

I think in movies, there are many avenues for the characters to express their personalities. Swear words are one of those, but there are others that are equally or more effective and if your target audience is younger than it makes it a consideration.
tsarstepan
 
  0  
Reply Sat 11 Dec, 2010 11:56 am
@engineer,
Wow. Kind of naive aren't we?
Quote:
Take "chickenshit". There are many alternatives for chickenshit that would work just as well in a children's movie. Coward works great and has all the connotations to go along with it.

You never heard a kid ever swear before when you were a kid yourself ? You must have lived a very sheltered childhood.

Here are other words that would be quite authentic in your reasoning for a child to say to other children when no adults are around:
alarmist, caitiff, chicken heart, chicken liver, chicken*, craven, cur, dastard, deserter, faint-of-heart, faintheart, invertebrate, malingerer, pessimist, poltroon, rabbit, recreant, shirk, shirker, skulker.

Yep. The screenwriter who would have a child character use these alternative words in the presence of other children (sans adult supervision) would most likely get this poor kid beaten up for being a nerd. These alternatives would make sense if the child character was a word nerd in the first place.
 

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