In my previous post, "Selling a Sexy Halloween to Little Girls," I said the following:
"We're a conflicted society when it comes to sex and violence. We don't seem to mind depictions of violence, thus the many gory Halloween costumes for little boys, including terrifying characters from films that they are too young to see without an adult present. (I've never figured out how simply having an adult present somehow immunizes a child against the disturbing emotional effects of grotesque and gratuitous carnage, but that's the accepted cultural standard.) Yet children are almost fanatically protected against seeing any depiction of sexuality in film.
"Personally, I'm not enthusiastic about exposing young kids to either sex or violence on screen, but, of the two, allowing children to see graphic movie violence is far more disturbing to me."
So, naturally I couldn't resist sharing the Yahoo News item, "Zack and Miri Banned in Utah," about a new film called Zack and Miri Make a Porno:
"Utah Jazz and Megaplex Theaters owner Larry Miller has refused to book the film. The chain's spokesman Cal Gunderson expressed concerns about the film with The New York Post, citing the film's 'graphic nudity and graphic sex' and that it was 'too close to an NC-17.'
"The company's standards seem a little odd considering that the chain had no problems screening ultra-violent fare like 'Saw V,' which features beheadings and explicit self-mutilation. When asked why Megaplex Theaters did not object to the gory horror sequel, Gunderson had no comment.
"Furthermore, the company's decision might make sense if 'Zack and Miri Make a Porno' were in fact pornographic. Instead, Kevin Smith's surprisingly tame and sentimental movie has a few flashes of nudity, a handful of love scenes played mostly for laughs, and a whole lot of foul language."
I haven't seen Zack and Miri Make a Porno, nor have I seen Saw V or any of its predecessors; I won't be seeing them in the future, either. Life is short and vulgar comedies and gory screamers hold no appeal for me. I'm responding strictly based on the fascinating principle behind Mr. Miller's decision that viewing sex (and hearing foul language) is more disturbing than viewing graphic violence.
The Motion Picture Association of America explains an "R" rating as follows:
"An R-rated motion picture, in the view of the Rating Board, contains some adult material. An R-rated motion picture may include adult themes, adult activity, hard language, intense or persistent violence, sexually-oriented nudity, drug abuse or other elements, so that parents are counseled to take this rating very seriously. Children under 17 are not allowed to attend R-rated motion pictures unaccompanied by a parent or adult guardian. Parents are strongly urged to find out more about R-rated motion pictures in determining their suitability for their children. Generally, it is not appropriate for parents to bring their young children with them to R-rated motion pictures."
Both Zack and Miri Make a Porno and Saw V received "R" ratings. At least they aren't considered "PG-13."
Okay, I'm willing to acknowledge that I'm past the age group that makes up the target market for these films. And, yes, I'd be happier if films in general were far tamer than they ever will be again. Still, I'm just mystified by the "logic." Are you?
© 2008 Cynthia Friedlob