Saturday, June 10, 2006

When PC Turns PG

There's a megachurch in Georgia - I'm assuming it's a megachurch because they make movies - called Sherwood Baptist. They've got a film coming out in the fall called "Facing The Giants."

I've watched the preview and it appears Hollywood will be able to keep a firm grip on the Oscar statuettes. I don't envision there being a groundswell among the voting members of the academy to toss any Oscars toward Atlanta. Nonetheless, it seems like the type of movie that almost everyone enjoys, albeit a bit predictable: a football team down on its luck, a coach down on his luck, a coach's marriage down on its luck, everything riding on the upcoming season. Sound familiar? Okay, so we could probably all sit down and knock out a script for this one.

The interesting thing is this particular movie earned a PG rating. That's no real biggie to me. I've never really understood movie ratings and when I've deluded myself into thinking I finally did, the line would shift. What was PG when I was a kid certainly isn't PG today.

I remember one of my first "solo" outings with two of our kids, Lisa and Joey, was to a matinee movie. Simple, 'em some overpriced food...sit 'em the movie - no real parenting required. At the time, Joey was a huge fan of Jim Carrey and I - being either a new step-parent or a soon to be step-parent - didn't give it a thought when I took the kids to see "Ace Ventura - Pet Detective." It sounded cute, it had Jim Carrey...I didn't know the movie was PG-13...until it started. It was so full of double entendre, crude humor, blatant sexual references that I wanted to crawl under my chair. The kids? They didn't notice that stuff...they saw Jim Carrey acting goofy and they loved it, although they wondered why I was squirming around so much.

I learned a lesson. What looks cute can be crude - and I'm not denigrating Ace Ventura, it was actually a semi-funny movie...but on that day, when I was trying on my ill-fitting "parent" shoes for one of the first times, it wasn't the least bit humorous.

Anyway, what was PG-13 in 1994 is not what's PG-13 today either. The line shifts all the time...and not always toward the more prurient.

I remember as a boy going to my first PG-13 movies and being surprised (and admittedly somewhat delighted) to discover a number of them contained significant amounts nudity. I thought I was getting away with something. But back then the line was in a different place. Those films may have contained nudity - okay maybe not significant amounts, but any nudity to a 13-year old boy, at least this one, was significant back then - but the movies didn't contain "bad language." When I was a kid, it was language that automatically moved a film into a different rating category...the line was drawn at certain words. I find that odd now since at 13 I was well acquainted with foul language, but scantily dressed women were certainly not
part of my life...not even my dream life at that point.

Before letting my mind drift any further in that direction let's get back to a much less incriminating point that this little low budget football movie - that'll probably go straight to DVD - called, "Facing The Giants" has received a "PG" rating.

Personally, I would expect any football movie to have a PG rating. I assume somewhere in the film will be a coach who curses, and there are bound to be bone-crunching tackles that could be disturbing to little kids...but that's NOT why the Motion Picture Association of America bestowed the PG rating on this film. It was rated PG...for "thematic elements." That's a pretty broad umbrella, so when members of the pseudo-mysterious MPAA board were asked to elaborate, the response they gave was that parents should be "warned" essentially about the film proselytizing.

Not foul language, violence or nudity...but Gospel spreading.

According to the Scripps-Howard News Service, the movie was deemed "too evangelistic" for a "G" rating.

"Too evangelistic."

That's a new one. Isn't it?

A spokeswoman for Sony films is quoted as saying the MPAA determined the movie talked about one religion so much that it, "might offend people from other religions."

There's not a doubt in my mind that this movie hammers home a strong Christian theme. I'm not expecting subtlety from a film produced by a church. Heck that is the theme, the plot and half the dialogue I'm certain. It was written, produced and for a large part, acted, by members of Sherwood Baptist Church. I suppose someone could go to this movie completely unaware that it is a Christian film, but it's not like they're hiding it on the movie poster that says, "Never Give Up. Never Back Down. Never Lose Faith."

But would people from "other religions" really be "offended" by it?

We could argue the minutiae of religions indefinitely, but for the most part I think we could agree that - when not interpreted by psychos - most religions make "faith" at least a component if not a cornerstone.

So exactly what "religion" would be offended by that concept? You may very well consider any number or all religions misguided, or even crazy...but would you be "offended" by a movie showing people who believe differently?

For the record, "Fiddler On The Roof" is rated "G." That's a movie that's certainly dominated by a Jewish perspective...Um...because it's about a Jewish family. I love that movie. I'm not Jewish, but I wasn't offended by it.

Do you know anyone who was "offended" by Fiddler?

Me neither.

Oddly enough, the PG rating will probably help the film anyway. More kids are apt to go to a PG movie than one rated G.

Still I find the rating reasoning odd.

So what else is new?

I guess the line moved again.