Thank God We Invented the… You Know, Whatever Device

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The MPAA is finally going to include portrayals of smoking in its rating system, theoretically bumping innocuous G- and PG-rated fare into the R-zone if one of the characters takes a puff. From the Washington Post:

The new policy for the movies allows for mitigating circumstances in which smoking may not affect a rating, the trade group said. For instance, the rating on historical films—such as 2005's "Good Night, and Good Luck," set in 1953, when indoor smoking seemingly was required by law—would not be affected.

Foreign films will also fall under the new ratings criteria. New versions of French art films, such as the 1960 classic "Breathless," in which even the main character's dying breath is seen in a puff of smoke, could be particularly hard hit.

"It's disgusting." "No, you're disgusting."

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  1. There goes what little relevance the ratings ever had…

  2. Gratuitous drinking and praising of the Lord are still okay, though.

  3. Does this mean that TV broadcasts of “Casablanca” will be edited to leave out all the scenes where Rick Blaine smokes, the way the steamy scenes from R-rated movies like “An Officer and a Gentleman” are edited out to make them fall within the PG-13 guidelines?

  4. So, if my lovely leather corseted, spike heel women smoke they get another X in the rating? There won’t be enough room left on the box for the picture!

    I am sticking to teh intertubes.

  5. What next? Maybe they should revise the rating of Easy Rider to “X” because it portrays helmetless motorcycling, an egregiously reckless and anti-social form of behavior.

    What if a movie shows a minor climbing a tree, for goodness’ sake?

  6. What next? Maybe they should revise the rating of Easy Rider to “X” because it portrays helmetless motorcycling, an egregiously reckless and anti-social form of behavior.

    Yea, but they lose an X for weed and coke. Tobacco is to be the only banned weed don’t you know.

  7. Our hero can stand upon the pile of dead bodies he just laid to waste, but if he enjoys a post massacre smoke, that’s going to warp little Timmy’s mind. Well, at least someone is finally thinking of the children. [drink]

  8. Well hell, Shweetheart, maybe we won’t always have Paris after all.

  9. Pi Guy
    No I believe they starting bumping up the ratings on those praise the Lord films last year. You know they could offend some people, like yourself.

  10. I remember reading a prescient short SF story many years ago, around the colorization craze in the 80’s, where smoking was digitally removed from old films. First they came for the stamps, and I didn’t speak up….

    I just can’ts takes this nannified idiocy any more.

  11. the colorization craze in the 80’s

    That string brings back a flood of memories on the STUPID whining of the AV club classes (of people) about how the movies were being ruined, calling for bans and all sorts of stupid hysterics. All could be solved by adjusting the color out of your TV while playing the movie.

  12. In the book, now several decades old, by Arthur C Clark called Ghost from the Grand Banks (or something like that) there is an entrepreneur who made lots of money editing old movies to take the smoking out, as the smoking so offended the future public. I thought this was the silliest thing I could ever think of. Turns out again that Clark was pretty prescient

  13. Yea, but they lose an X for weed and coke. Tobacco is to be the only banned weed don’t you know.

    WTF, Guy?
    Do you really think coke and reefer are socially acceptable, more so than tobacco? Are you as dumb as you sound?

  14. What next? Maybe they should revise the rating of Easy Rider to “X” because it portrays helmetless motorcycling, an egregiously reckless and anti-social form of behavior.

    I personally think fatty foods are offensive, and any movie showing people eating it should be rated R and not be marketed to children because only US adults can responsibly make decisions about what’s appropriate for us to eat. Honestly, there are certain decency standards we must all unwillingly adhere to because I say so.

  15. In the book, now several decades old, by Arthur C Clark called Ghost from the Grand Banks (or something like that) there is an entrepreneur who made lots of money editing old movies to take the smoking out…

    Yeah, I think that’s it. I remember reading that book, now that you mention it. For some reason, I thought it was in a magazine where I read it.

  16. Are you as dumb as you sound?

    DUMBER!!!!

  17. Hi, Mr DAMON. Good to see you again.

    Sometimes, I am still shocked by the willful ignorance. Willful – that’s what gets me.

  18. So what’s the problem? The ratings system acts as a guide to parents so they’ll have some idea of what kind of material their kids might be exposed to when they see a movie.

    Smoking is an unhealthy behavior generally taken up by young people. So it makes sense that the MPAA would consider it something that should be relegated to films for adult crowds.

  19. “Smoking is an unhealthy behavior generally taken up by young people.”

    More unhealthy than fighting ninjas or driving racecars or going spelunking without an adult (or spelunkingly-experienced teen) present?

  20. So what’s the problem? The ratings system acts as a guide to parents so they’ll have some idea of what kind of material their kids might be exposed to when they see a movie.

    Paging Mr. DAMON….

    Smoking is an unhealthy behavior generally taken up by young people.

    Yeah, I smoked for a month when I was 15 because I saw 8th Man do it. No way it was from peer pressure; no way.

  21. MATT DAMON!

  22. … because only US adults can responsibly make decisions about what’s appropriate for us to eat.

    No. No, I’m afraid that you can not be wholly trusted with that responsibility. We, the nannys, know far better than you what you should eat.

  23. They should increase the ratings for movies containing foreigners, too, since politicians keep telling me that foreigners are overloading our healthcare system as much as smoking is; shooting a film with French people in it should be an automatic R rating…

    And terrorists. Surely terrorists are worse than smoking, right? Movies with terrorists should all be NC-17 right now.

    And don’t even get me started on all of those movies portraying motor vehicles… or gay people… or free trade…

    Defacing the image of a thing to alter the thing itself is, uh, well voodoo. Call this voodoo sociology.

  24. We also know far better than you how your money should be spent, as well.

  25. Jesus Christ.

    The movie Thankyou For Smoking nails this idea pretty well.

  26. this is insane, its only going to make kids want to smoke more.

  27. WTF, Guy?
    Do you really think coke and reefer are socially acceptable, more so than tobacco? Are you as dumb as you sound?

    Go away joe.

  28. Do you really think coke and reefer are socially acceptable, more so than tobacco?

    The parents in Poltergeist, rated PG, smoked weed–not tobacco.

  29. Once again, nobody’s really explained what the problem is. If you’re an adult without children, then why do you care if a movie you want to see is rated PG or R?

    But parents should care about the content of what their kids watch, and plenty of parents no doubt would rather their kids not see smoking portrayed in the films they see.

  30. The parents in Poltergeist, rated PG, smoked weed–not tobacco.

    Yeah,

    My dad’s a MASSIVE weed head. Everytime I come back to visit he’s got Marley blasting over the speakers, has his fake Jamaican rasta hat on and is attempting to hot box the dog’s room next to the kitchen.

  31. If you’re an adult without children, then why do you care if a movie you want to see is rated PG or R?

    Well, for starters, I might not want to be duped into thinking a movie might not suck, when in fact it turns out the ‘R’ rating was due to tobacco rather than the usual sex and violence.

  32. You know Dan T. may have a point.

    The more movies there are with R ratings the less likely it is I’m going to have to sit in a movie with a bunch of annoying little kids running around.

    Now if we could just find a way to keep teens out of R rated movies…

  33. yeah highnumber, go away joe!

  34. “I remember reading a prescient short SF story many years ago, around the colorization craze in the 80’s, where smoking was digitally removed from old films. First they came for the stamps, and I didn’t speak up….”

    Spielberg already did this with guns in ET.

    But I always thought that movie was one of his weaker films, anyway.

  35. The parents in Poltergeist, rated PG, smoked weed–not tobacco.

    Rhywun,

    Do you think that Poltergeist, if newly released today, would have a PG rating?

  36. Don’t we already have parental film industry watchdog groups that pre-screen movies for questionable content and child-friendliness and then report on them on their websites? Can’t they just.. you know.. keep doing that? And then parents who are actually concerned about what their children are seeing at the movies can read these websites’ reviews before taking their kids to a movie? You know.. like the people who made such a big stink about children going to see Happy Feet because of the underlying political commentary they saw in the film?

  37. But I always thought that movie was one of his weaker films, anyway.

    My wife bought the DVD and now my kids like it too.

    I’m gonna slit my throat if I have to watch that freakin’ movie one more time. Die! ET, die!

  38. mediageek,

    Spielberg had guns digitally removed from ET? I didn’t know that. I wonder why ET and not the others. If there’s one thing that Spielberg movies usually have – it’s guns.

  39. Do you think that Poltergeist, if newly released today, would have a PG rating?

    Absolutely not. Probably PG-13 if not for the ganja, more likely R. (And in fact it was originally rated R, but they fought to get a PG).

  40. Huh!

    MATT DAMON was right.

  41. Once again, nobody’s really explained what the problem is. If you’re an adult without children, then why do you care if a movie you want to see is rated PG or R?

    But parents should care about the content of what their kids watch, and plenty of parents no doubt would rather their kids not see smoking portrayed in the films they see.

    The problem is that the rating system becomes more and more useless when it considers the mere depiction of smoking, a legal activity enjoyed by what, 50-60 million(?) Americans every day in public, where children see it, to be as inappropriate for a child as graphic violence or sexual content. It’s a signal-to-noise issue.

    And it’s likely to have little or no impact on youth smoking trends in the real world. Still waiting for some evidence that demonstrates a causal link between kids seeing onscreen smoking and then taking up the habit after controlling for other relevant factors. This is pointless feelgoodery.

  42. According to Wikipedia, Poltergeist was released two years before the development of the PG-13 rating.

    I seem to recall that Gremlins and Indiana Jones & The Temple of Doom also were instrumental in the creation of a rating between PG and R.

    “Spielberg had guns digitally removed from ET? I didn’t know that. I wonder why ET and not the others. If there’s one thing that Spielberg movies usually have – it’s guns.”

    Yes, this was for the Super-duper somethingorother anniversary re-release a few years ago. Spielberg said that he did it because he felt that the feds threatening kids with guns was too unsettling.

  43. Still waiting for some evidence that demonstrates a causal link between kids seeing onscreen smoking and then taking up the habit after controlling for other relevant factors.

    This is the classic tactic of asking for evidence that would be impossible to obtain. I’ve noticed that people around here are bad about taking certain ideas at face value yet when they disagree with something (even something as generally agreed upon as the notion that young people tend to emulate others), they refuse to acknowledge it without absolute “proof”.

  44. Well, I guess that pretty much dooms The Hobbit to never being made, since with all the smoking childlike hobbits involved, it couldn’t escape an R rating.

  45. (even something as generally agreed upon as the notion that young people tend to emulate others)

    That’s generally agreed upon by mostly thoughtless people. If young people were blank slates who emulated anything they saw in the movies or on television then the murder, rape, and general crime rate would be about 100,000 times higher.

  46. I once asked a woman, “Do you smoke after sex?”

    She replied that she never thought to look.

  47. If you smoke after sex, you’re doing it too fast.

  48. Is farting still okay?

  49. Is farting still okay?

    Only until the global warming freaks get into the game.

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