Wednesday, August 6, 2008

How Much Blame Does Hollywood Bear?

Unfortunately, parents are still at the mercy of Hollywood. Our children deserve and crave good programming, but are we getting it? I guess that depends on whose definition of “good” you are talking about.

My Mommy definition of “good programming” is the following: Programs that are age appropriate with honest age-related ratings such that I as a parent can easily see that a program is suitable for my children. The current system fails families miserably.

There should be a more comprehensive rating system. The current G, PG, PG13, R rating system is just not cutting it. The difference from PG13 to R seems to have been blurred. My experience is that they are pretty much the same. Likewise, I fail to see much difference, if any, between G and PG movies. And let’s be honest, PG movies are of no interest to most children 10 years and up. They'll tell you it's for babies.

I mean, did my kids really need to see Vince Vaughn beat up Santa Claus in Fred Claus? This movie was rated PG13 for rude comments.:{ I don’t know how many times I heard the characters say “Crap!” All the mommies had to sit there and endure the on-going argument between Vaughn and his girl friend who breaks up with him because Vaughn won’t move in with her.

The ratings just don’t tell us anything. I recently told my sister that I had seen Mama Mia! (rated PG13) with my husband. She said she couldn’t wait to take her 12 year old daughter to see it. Surprised, I suggested she see it first and then decide if it was appropriate for her 12 year old to see. In my opinion this movie, while excellent, is filled with sexual innuendo that, frankly, mommies will have to explain on the spot in the theater because kids just have to know what it going on.

I’ll never forget when my girlfriend and I went to see Because I Said So (rated PG13). There was a scene where the mother and daughter were discussing the fact that the mother had never had an orgasm and asked her daughter what it was like. 2 little heads popped up a couple of rows down and the entire theater heard, “Hey mom. What’s an orgasm?” MORTIFYING! Then, there were a couple of scenes where grandma was getting it on (although fully dressed) with her new lover. Whose idea was it that our children should be exposed to movies with sexual content?

Then there’s the issue of violence. This summer I took my girls to see (rated PG13). I loved watching the series as a child, so I was excited for the girls to see it. I was shocked at the violence. My kids, whom I’ve taken great pains to protect from seeing murders on TV and movies, witnessed some 30 murders in a matter of 60 minutes! I was mortified and wondered when we would ever sleep through the night again.:{

Then came the seen were Max is trying to get the keys out of the pocket of his unconscious kidnapper. A bad guy walking by peeks in the window and sees what appears to be a gay sexual act. Oh heck! Max, the hero, appeared to be humping the passed out bad guy. There! I said it! Of course the audience erupts in laughter. Confused, my eleven year old daughter leans in and asks, “Hey mom. Why is everybody laughing?”:{

I know we have gone around and around with Hollywood on this issue, but the current system is completely inadequate and irresponsible. More care needs to be taken when rating movies and television programming for kids. Maybe Hollywood could redefine PG13 and remove all murder and sexual innuendo from movies targeting our children and add a rating in between like PG16, which would be a more appropriate rating for movies with both sexually implicit and explicit material.

Such a rating system would be very helpful to all parents in determining what is appropriate and what is not. I, for one, am tired of being surprised in my living room and movie theaters.:{ What about you?

And don't even get me started on Hollywood's glorification of mean girls and bullies. That's a topic for another day.

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