Eric Zorn at the Chicago Tribune is wondering why Once from Fox Searchlight, which features just a few conversational F-bombs and no other objectionable content, is rated R. Such a rating, of course, limits the audience and creates a stigma around the movie.
The answer, of course, is that the MPAA’s ratings board thinks bad language is the end-all-be-all of cinematic sins. Sex, of course, is next but violence is way down the list. You can blow someone’s head off and get a PG-13 but if you swear while doing it you’ve earned yourself an R.
No, this makes no sense. But the entire ratings system is kind of completely broken. There needs to be a massive overhaul of the process so that truly objectionable content is restricted from young audiences who are impressionable and largely incapable of making such distinctions on their own. But if you’re keeping rationale adults from seeing an adult-themed movie you’re just being silly.
There’s also the belief held by many (including myself) that the MPAA is overly harsh with ratings for smaller, non studio flicks. The thinking is that, since the big studios pay for the MPAA’s operations and smaller ones don’t, the MPAA lets them get away with more to protect their market share.