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Editorials

1997-1998 - 1999 - 2000 - 2001 - 2002+



Rating the Menace

When I first found out months ago that The Phantom Menace was going to be rated "PG", I breathed a sigh of relief. For the first time in recent years, somebody has figured it out.

Personally, I think that one of the reasons Star Wars was so popular in the late 70s and early 80s was because it had everything. Romance? Leia, Luke and Han. Comedy? You can't watch but for a few minutes and you have to chuckle at C-3PO or one of the wisecracks from our favorite heroes. Drama, Action, Special Effects, Suspense? Yes, these are all integral parts of the Star Wars universe. But there is more then the balance of these things that made Star Wars the phenomenon it is today.

One other part that is often overlooked as well is the fact that the movie is CLEAN. Yes, there's romance, but it's done in a tasteful way and without the sex-filled sequences that fill our current theaters. There's violence, but not done in a way to encourage it among our teens or condone it in any other situation other than an all out war. Many people will say, "that's just the way films were done in the 1970's." But is that really accurate? Was the society of the early 70's really that much better than ours today? As Lucas grew up in the 60's, was that a society that demonstrated traditional family values and morality? Certainly not.

Which brings up a second point. Not only is the Star Wars trilogy clean, it's fairly MORAL. Did Han and Leia go jumping into bed together? Is there large strings of unnecessary swearing? Is there a sequence where the characters go into a strip club to meet an informant? No way! In fact, Star Wars is more clean and moral than most shows on television today.

After visiting the MPAA webpage (found here), you can find plenty of information about the rating system, and why it's significant to us. Also on their website is plenty of information on what distinguishes PG from PG-13 and higher. But here's what they had to say about the 'PG' rating:

PG:"Parental Guidance Suggested. Some Material May Not Be Suitable For Children."

This is a film which clearly needs to be examined or inquired into by parents before they let their children attend. The label PG plainly states that parents may consider some material unsuitable for their children, but the parent must make the decision.

Parents are warned against sending their children, unseen and without inquiry, to PG-rated movies.

The theme of a PG-rated film may itself call for parental guidance. There may be some profanity in these films. There may be some violence or brief nudity. But these elements are not deemed so intense as to require that parents be strongly cautioned beyond the suggestion of parental guidance. There is no drug use content in a PG-rated film.

The PG rating, suggesting parental guidance, is thus an alert for examination of a film by parents before deciding on its viewing by their children.

Obviously such a line is difficult to draw. In our pluralistic society it is not easy to make judgments without incurring some disagreement. So long as parents know they must exercise parental responsibility, the rating serves as a meaningful guide and as a warning.

You know, it may be fun to see a PG-13 Star Wars, but only because I am now quite a bit older. When I was growing up, my parents knew that I was safe with this movie because of it's rating. Should today be any different? Absolutely not! As much as I would like to see perhaps a grittier look at the Star Wars universe, Star Wars is for children (of all ages, including me at 24 years old), and should be kept that way. Besides, think of how much more they can get away with today with the PG rating than 20 years ago!

It seems sad that many movies today have the right formula: a good script, top notch actors and great effects, yet choose to fill the movie with inappropriate language and nudity. It's sad that much of the population will miss out on those movies, choose to ignore the ratings system, or could care less either way.

For one, I am glad that Lucas, in the face of a society that has changed for the worse, has decided to keep his vision of Star Wars clean and moral; something totally lost in the plethora of today's theater. Am I looking forward to a 'darker' Episode II? Absolutely, but I hope and trust that George Lucas continues with his decision to keep his movies clean and traditionally moral.

SW2 must be PG, and that's the way it should be.

Joshua Griffin
October 1st, 1999

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