Friday, March 12, 2004

Nightmares for Christian children

From Roger Ebert's Movie Answer Man column...
Q: I just returned from seeing "The Passion of the Christ." Had I been able to wrench my attention away from all of the horrified children gasping in the audience, I might have appreciated it more.

I can understand parents showing up at this film with their children expecting something different, but after a few minutes of the tremendous violence shown onscreen, I would have thought more parents would have spared their children further horror. Shouldn't ticket sellers offer some kind of warning to parents showing up with good intentions and young children?

Carson Utz, Novato, Calif.

A: I'll go further than that: No responsible parent would allow a child to see the film. "The Passion of the Christ," the most violent film I have ever seen, received an R rating from the MPAA because the group, which exists in part to quell the fears of churchgoing America, lacked the nerve to give it the NC-17 rating it clearly deserves.

This becomes an unanswerable argument for my recommendation of an A (for adults only) rating between the R (which allows parents to take in children of any age) and the NC-17, which is irretrievably associated with pornography.

Because many theaters refuse to book NC-17 films, and many media outlets will not advertise them, imagine the irony if their own policies had forced them to boycott "The Passion of the Christ"!

Let the MPAA bring back the X, which everyone understands, for porno and establish a useful adults-only rating for films that are not pornography but are simply unsuitable for children.

I wholeheartedly agree — both that the MPAA's ratings policies are ridiculous and that we need a system that clearly distinguises porn from movies that are simply for adults-only. R doesn't cut it, and NC-17 is inappropriately feared.

In the meantime, too many parents are irresponsible and pay no attention to ratings, regardless. "Passion" is rated R. Critics everywhere (whether they like the film or not) have described it as intensely violent. Yet parents continue to stupidly take kids to see it. "Passion" is not alone here, though. I've seen parents escorting kids into many movies that were clearly too violent for them. I don't care how mature you think your 7-year-old is, he shouldn't see "Terminator 3."

The MPAA can only do part of the work. Parents and theater managers are responsible, too.

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