After a series of off-screen scandals and controversial movies, Hollywood sought to improve its reputation. So, in the early 1930s, the Motion Picture Production Code and an accompanying censor’s office were created. However, by the late 1960s, film writers and directors were becoming more daring and wanted to address more realistic themes than those allowed by the Production Code. Films like Bonnie And Clyde and Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? were pushing the limits of the restrictive Code, and many filmmakers believed that the Code was stifling creative freedom. Most famously, despite being denied Production Code approval for a bit of nudity, Michael Antonioni’s 1966 Cannes Film Festival Palme d’Or winner Blow-Up was a critical and commercial smash hit.
So, the film industry brass determined that something needed to be done, and it was on this day in 1968 that the Motion Picture Association of America announced a ratings system. So, the initial ratings used in the first year of the MPAA ratings system were G (General Audiences, all ages admitted), M (Mature Audiences, parental discretion advised), R (Restricted Audiences, Persons Under 16 Not Admitted Unless Accompanied by Parent or Adult Guardian), and X (Adults Only, Persons Under 18 Will Not Be Admitted). M would later become GP (General Audiences, parental guidance suggested) and then finally the current PG.
Later, in the 1980s, after complaints were raised about the level of violence and horror in PG rated films like Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and Poltergeist, Stephen Spielberg suggested a rating between PG and R and soon the PG-13 rating was created. Finally, by the late 1980s, the X rating had become more associated with pornography, so the X was phased out and replaced by NC-17 (No One 17 and Under Admitted).
So, although the MPAA ratings work in theory, many filmmakers and film scholars have criticized how they work. The most common criticism is that the MPAA unfairly targets language and sex while being more lenient on violence. Take for instance, the case of 2010’s The King’s Speech. It’s an unoffensive film that happens to feature a sequence in which the main character says the word “fuck” several times as part of an unorthodox treatment for his stammer. So, rather than looking at the context of the repeated “fucks” or that the very repetition of “fuck” would actually diminish the word’s alleged offensiveness, the film was given an R rating for “language.” This means that an essentially positive, family friendly, inspiring film that happened to feature some very important “fucks” was given the same rating as grimey, bloody and ultraviolent torture porn of the Saw films and their ilk. Additionally, the documentary This Film Is Not Yet Rated, an investigation into the MPAA and its ratings system that you can view right here, pointed out that four times as many films received an NC-17 rating for sex rather than violence. For the final word on the MPAA, let’s go to South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker who can speak on their own first hand experiences with MPAA hypocrisies:
So, until we wait for the MPAA to get its act together, let’s drown our sorrows in a drink. It took me a bit of time to find a drink relevant to the ratings system, but the X-Rated Kiss seemed appropriate. Although it claims to be X-Rated (due to the presence of X-Rated Fusion Liqueur, made with blood orange; mango and passion fruit), this allegedly naughty drinks has a sweet taste that’s closer to PG-13 fare.
- 1 1/2 oz X-Rated Fusion Liqueur
- 1 1/2 oz Vodka
Black Raspberry Liqueur
Shake the vodka and X-Rated in a cocktail shaker with ice, and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Drizzle the raspberry liqueur over the inside of the glass and garnish with a raspberry.
Tomorrow: Do you hear the people sing?