by Kathy Licht
Supposedly, teenagers of today mature quickly, are knowledgeable, and have great access to education. Yet we are patronized and turned away from some of the best movies.
“Medium Cool” and “Midnight Cowboy” rated excellent by movie critics and “X” by the Motion Picture Code Administration, are two prime examples.
The movie rating system was recently revised; movies are now placed in four categories. “G” movies like “Oliver” are for general audiences which may include your entire family.
“Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” received an “M” rating (mature audience) although no restrictions are enforced.
The last two categories are the patronizing elements of the system. “R” movies are restricted: you must be over 16 or accompanied by an adult guardian. If you’re under 16, not even your grandmother can get you into an “X” rated movie.
What made 16 the critical age? I am sure we can all name some 14-year-olds who are very mature, and just as many 20-year-olds who are hopelessly immature.
Besides, maturity isn’t taken into consideration when the friendly ticket lady insists that you pay an adult admission after your 12th birthday.
Possibly they are trying to shelter us from the harshness of the world, but there isn’t anything they can show on the screen that can’t be found in the daily newspaper, or looked up in the library.
I’m sure that many of us, even before reaching adolescence were aware of sex and violence. There is nothing abnormal about sex or the human body. Concealing sex only gives it an aura of mystery and sometimes forms wrong impressions in young teen minds.
The system itself is bad, but the way it is enforced makes the matter even worse. Some theaters don’t care, some give an argument but let you in, and some are very strict. If there is a system, it should be enforced uniformly, without exception, or the system should be abolished.
Many difficult and embarrassing situations arise from the rating system. If you’re a 15-year old girl, your 17-year-old boyfriend cannot take you to see an “R” rated movie. Identification poses another problem. Most school ID cards don’t give age information and many 16-year-olds don’t drive. Besides, how many girls do you know who carry draft cards.
If your parents enjoyed “Medium Cool” and feel you are mature enough to benefit from seeing this movie, there is no way they can take you to see it because of its “X” rating.
Of course 7-year-olds shouldn’t see a movie containing homosexual relationships, but at any rate, this decision should be left to the parents.
Movies are no more suggestive than books, and do not cultivate wild ideas in innocent minds of America’s youths. We deserve a right to choose for ourselves.
A rating merely describing the type of movie, without placing restrictions, would be perfect. The public would be made well aware of the elements of the film, and each individual could evaluate for himself whether or not the picture would suit him.
The job of choosing viewing material should be the responsibility of every individual, not a group of technicians.