Friday, April 27, 2007

Jack Valenti Dies

Jack Valenti, the Houston native born of Sicillian parents and former LBJ assistant who made a name for himself as the unapologetic lobbyist for the Motion Picture Association of America, died yesterday at 85. His biggest contribution likely was the introduction of the ratings system.

As we've worked to communicate with our international counterparts for the upcoming Lone Star International Film Festival, featuring the FWSCI Film Series, we've spent time recently reviewing the MPAA ratings system and comparing that to those of other countries.
The current MPAA movie ratings consist of:
G - General Audiences - All ages admitted
PG - Parental guidance suggested Some material may not be suitable for children
PG-13 - Parents strongly cautioned Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.
R - Restricted Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.
NC-17 No one 17 and under admitted.
If a film has not been submitted for a rating, the label NR (Not Rated) is often used; however, NR is not an official MPAA classification. Films that have not yet received MPAA classification, but are expected to, are often advertised with the notice "This Film Is Not Yet Rated" or "Rating Pending."
The Kirby Dick documentary This Film Not Yet Rated, takes a look at the ratings system. According to the Independent Film Channel's website, "The documentary asks whether Hollywood movies and independent films are rated equally for comparable content; whether sexual content in gay-themed movies is given harsher ratings penalties than their heterosexual counterparts; whether it makes sense that extreme violence is given an R rating while sexuality is banished to the cutting room floor; whether Hollywood studios receive detailed directions as to how to change an NC-17 film into an R, while independent film producers are left guessing; and finally, whether keeping the raters and the rating process secret leaves the MPAA entirely unaccountable for its decisions."