In case you are wondering how much the Republicans are going to try to use the evil boogeyman of Hollywood as a way to try to whip up their base in a desperate attempt to keep the House this fall, then look no further than this amazing quote, from House Majority Whip Roy Blunt:
“This incident raises the disquieting possibility that the MPAA considers exposure to Christian themes more dangerous for children than exposure to gratuitous sex and violence,” Blunt said in a letter to MPAA Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Dan Glickman.
All this is due to the fact that the MPAA had the temerity to give a PG to a film about a football coach, and how his faith sustains him. Apparently, the filmmakers claim that the MPAA originally said the the PG was given due to the religious content, and then changed their story. The MPAA says that ain’t so.
I say that the filmmakers smell a potentially box-office boosting controversy and the Congresspeople smell a potentially ballot-box boosting issue.
However, what drives me crazy enough to post this whilst I’m supposed to be on vacation is the lie at the center of the controversy: that a Christian-themed movie should automatically garner a G rating, as opposed to a PG. Here is the definition of the PG rating, ripped from the MPAA site:
This is a film which clearly needs to be examined by parents before they let their children attend. The label PG plainly states parents may consider some material unsuitable for their children, but leaves the parent to make the decision. Parents are warned against sending their children, unseen and without inquiry, to PG-rated movies. The theme of a PG-rated film may itself call for parental guidance. There may be some profanity in these films. There may be some violence or brief nudity. However, these elements are not considered so intense as to require that parents be strongly cautioned beyond the suggestion of parental guidance. There is no drug use content in a PG-rated film. The PG rating, suggesting parental guidance, is thus an alert for examination of a film by parents before deciding on its viewing by their children. Obviously such a line is difficult to draw. In our pluralistic society it is not easy to make judgments without incurring some disagreement. As long as parents know they must exercise parental responsibility, the rating serves as a meaningful guide and as a warning.
All that the PG rating says is that some parents may not consider some of the material in the movie suitable for children.
I’m not even going to go into the obvious reason that a Christian film could be rated PG under this definition: that non-Christian parents may very well want to guide their children away from a movie that shoves Christian faith down their throats. We can assume that in this day of niche marketing, that the film knows who its audience is and the audience that wants this film will be the audience that finds this film.
Even so, I still don’t see what the real problem is. After all, there is some pretty adult stuff at the heart of Christianity: the torture and murder, resurrection, the sybolism around “this is my body” and “this is my blood,” even the socio-polticial intrigue swirling around the Jews and Romans at the time. Perhaps there are Christian parents who don’t necessarily want to yet have those types of discussions with their children, and so would appreciate a PG rating, which would get their attention.
After all, by the logic that Christian-themed movies should always have a G Rating, doesn’t that mean that The Passion of the Christ — maybe the most Christian-themed movie ever — was suitable for all audiences?
Of course not, and people like Roy Blount know this. Just as they know that they are trying to create controversy where none should exist. Shame on them. As usual.
And finally, people, the ratings are guidelines: they are supposed to be another tool help responsible parents make informed decisions on what to expose their children to. No more, no less. But, naturally, people often treat them as immutable laws, as opposed to value judgements. That’s too bad, as well.
Happy Fourth of July, y’all!!!