Monday, February 25, 2008

Rating blogs and movies

I saw a rating posted on a blog I read pretty regularly, and clicked on it to rate my own. This blog was given a rating of PG. Want to know why? Because the word "gun" appears in it, once. You can go back and read that post here.

I found this really curious since my other blog got a rating of G despite my using the word "gun" there too. Here's the link to that post.

So obviously the rating is not accurate, even just for so-called "bad" words. The site where you can find out your rating says nothing about how it is formulated. It also doesn't say how many posts back they go in their search for bad words. The utility checked my site way too fast to have gone back through all my old posts, so I'm guessing they only check the "home page" of a given blog. The word is in the title of one of my posts, and therefore in my archives; so the word "gun" appears in the code of my home page.

I like the idea of using a rating system for blogs, despite the fact that my children do not yet read any. But I think if this rating system does get used, it will have to be more of a self-rating which we impose on ourselves. If this were the case, I would rate this blog PG, but not because of the words, but rather the subject matter. I talk about what I think about things, and even though my language might be rated G, the subject matter may very well be rated higher.

On the other hand, I have read blogs where the subject matter is rated G and the language is R. This is unfortunate because my children will never be allowed to read the blogs of some of their friends' families. Some people just have potty mouths.

With ratings, we also come up against the problem of what some people think deserves a G rating compared to what others think.

My husband and I recently watched a movie called This Film is Not Yet Rated. We checked it out because I was interested in learning how movies earn their ratings, or more specifically, who is deciding that stupid, dummy, idiot, and other such words deserve a G rating. (Although I am very liberal, I am super conservative when it comes to exposing my children to things before they are ready.)

Well the movie never specifically addressed that. Unfortunately, the movie came from the viewpoint that some movies are getting unfair ratings of NC-17 when the film makers feel they should be getting R ratings. There was also the ridiculous statement that a war movie should be rated PG instead of PG-13 because "kids shouldn't be protected against the realities of war". So this documentary wasn't getting to the facts I wanted to hear in the way I had hoped it would get there.

Nevertheless, it did show how utterly ridiculous the whole rating system is. I really can't write a better review than this portion of one I read on Netflix:
"The very nature of the uber-secretive MPAA makes any documentary on the rating system difficult and one-sided. This is because MPAA refuses to stick up for itself, as to explain itself would only make them vulnerable. And as they are already unquestionably accepted by the industry as THE standard and have the decision to enormously and financially affect 90% of movies released today, lacking any opposition, what would they have to gain? The average person believes the ratings system is mandated by some level of government anyway, why let them know who controls what millions and millions of people learn by means of movies every year?

This movie reveals the kinds of numerous fabrications, doublespeak and antidemocratic processes that can only happen when the 6 largest conglomerates of U.S. media come together and decide who gets rich and what ideas are "safe". Watch this if you are not afraid of naked people [there are many] and feel responsible enough to choose what your own children watch, and not what a bunch of white Californians with no children (ages 5-17) think they should see."
The bottom line is that it's important to watch where your children wander; you can't trust others to keep them safe, because we all have different versions of what safe means. In the movies or on a blog.