WARNING - THIS POST IS RATED R FOR LANGUAGE.
Rissa saw her first R rated film when she was probably 10. Yep, we were those parents. The movie was Love Actually. You know the one... Richard Curtis's quintessential feel-good Christmas film? Probably one of the sweetest holiday movies ever? The one where even the most manly of men will be crying when the kid jumps into Liam Neeson's arms? That one. It was rated 14A in Canada and rated R in the States for language, sexual situations and nudity. And yes, Bill Nighy had some colourful language and there were some comical positioning of nearly nude bodies as body doubles, but it was pretty freaking tame.
Richard Curtis's latest film, About Time, also got an R-rating in the States. We'd been looking up reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, found out it was rated R and suddenly we felt we had to develop a strategy for sneaking Rissa in. Turns out we didn't have to worry for two reasons: 1) the movie is rated 14A in Canada and Rissa looks like she's 18 already, and 2) in researching the MPAA rating system, we realized that David and I can take Rissa into any R rated movie we want to because we are, in fact, her parents/guardians. Did you know that? We could take her to see the next graphic slasher film - in the theatre - WE'RE NOT GOING TO, but we could.
- Rated G: General Audiences – All Ages Admitted.
- Rated PG: Parental Guidance Suggested – Some Material May Not be Suitable for Children.
- Rated PG-13: Parents Strongly Cautioned – Some Material May be Inappropriate for Children Under 13.
- Rated R: Restricted – Under 17 Requires Accompanying Parent or Adult Guardian.
- Rated NC-17: No Children Under 17 Admitted.
Canadian Motion Picture Ratings
- G - General Audience - Suitable for all ages.
- PG - Parental Guidance - Parental guidance advised. There is no age restriction but some material may not be suitable for all children.
- 14A - 14 Accompaniment - Persons under 14 years of age must be accompanied by an adult.
- 18A - 18 Accompaniment - Persons under 18 years of age must be accompanied by an adult. In the Maritimes & Manitoba, children under the age of 14 are prohibited from viewing the film.
- R - Restricted - Admittance restricted to people 18 years of age or older.
According to the MPAA "A motion picture’s single use of one of the harsher sexually-derived words, though only as an expletive, initially requires at least a PG-13 rating. More than one such expletive requires an R rating, as must even one of those words used in a sexual context.4 or more utterances of 'hard language' gets you an automatic R rating." Which I'm thinking means that if you're using fuck as an adjective and not sexually, you can get 4 before you get your R rating. But if you say you want to fuck someone then it's automatically an R rating. Because fucking, folks, we all know is bad.
As to the language in the film... There were a few haphazard fucks in the script, but I double checked with Rissa and apparently the fucks really start flying in the school yard at around the age of 11, so the brief use of language of its ilk in the film for our 13 year old daughter doesn't freak me out because she will literally hear worse at school. There wasn't any nudity in the film apart from arty photographic shots of Kate Moss at a gallery in the film. We figured that the rating had to come down to the joking mention of oral sex and actually uttering the word 'cunnilingus.' So About Time gets its R rating in the States for alluding to pleasing a woman orally and using technical language to describe that act... in a joke. Although I guess I shouldn't really be surprised, Rob Ford crassly mentioned having "more than enough to eat at home" and the gasps could be heard around the world.
And yet... AND YET... violence in PG13 movies in the States has been ramping up and up and up for decades, but that's okay. God no, don't even allude to consensual sex, but showing rampant gun violence? Not a problem. Snapping people's necks? Shooting them? Completely fine. ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME?!? They just did this study that's catching a lot of air time this week: GUN VIOLENCE TRENDS IN MOVIES. Well worth a read. And perhaps a re-examination of the ratings system, and how 'bout while we're at it, a re-examination of what really is okay for our kids to be exposed to in film? Cause here's the thing: I would love, love to share the Kill Bill films with Rissa for their strong portrayal of women and the brilliant visual stylization of Tarantino's film-making, but Rissa will not see those until she's at least 16 because of the extreme violence in them. Not the language. I really don't give two fucks about the language - the language isn't going to hurt her, isn't going to scar her. Violent images, however, just might. She's my kid, I've got to to look out for her.