This week, with Lynnette here to visit, I finally succeeded in inflicting my current favorite movie ever upon the last family holdout: we made Eve watch Troll 2. I’m pleased to say that she enjoyed it much more than she expected; she was still talking about the infamous and inexplicable popcorn scene the next day. Most of the other ZDs were able to experience this steaming pile of cinema at Christmas, after Lynnette helpfully gave it to me for my birthday, a decision which she has only had occasion to regret two or three times since. Read More
A few months ago, The Baron argued in a post at Waters of Mormon that a weakness of the MPAA movie rating scheme is that it considers only the movie’s worst content category (of violence, profanity, and sex). For example, if a movie has enough profanity to get an R rating, the R says nothing about its levels of violence or sex. Such a movie could have any combination of levels of violence and sex, from none at all up to enough to warrant an R rating on their own even without the profanity.
The Baron pointed out that this practice of rating movies by only their worst type of content might set up an odd incentive:
this only encourages filmmakers to add more “R-rated” content to their movie, since obviously if they know they’re getting an R for violence already, why NOT add a lot of profanity and nudity as well? The rating is going to be the same, either way
This had never occurred to me, but I can see his argument that the rating system would create this incentive. His unstated assumption, though, is that movie makers want to put as much violence, sex, and profanity into their movies as they possibly can. I doubt that that’s actually the case. While I suspect they probably chafe at times at restrictions that trying to get a particular rating might place on them, I would be surprised if getting lots of offensive material in is often one of their major goals.
So which is true? Are movie makers anxious to put lots of offensive content into their movies, or not? What’s fun about this question is that there’s data I can use to try to answer it.