This weekend, while rearranging our DVD collection, I decided to conduct a little experiment. Just for fun, I wanted to know how many movies we had of each rating under the MPAA. The results and follow-up findings, while not shocking, started me down the path of, you know, thinking.
Currently we have exactly 50 DVDs, which fall under the jurisdiction of the MPAA rating system. Of the 50, 3 are rated G (6%), 10 PG (20%), 24 PG-13 (48%), 13 R (26%), and 0 NC-17. The only category that really surprised me was PG. As I looked closer, most in this category were pre-1995 and as I looked even closer, of the more recent PGs, most were animation. Now, realizing this is a very small sample size and holding a few million other variables constant, this seems like further proof to me that the PG rating is disappearing from film and reinventing itself as the new rating of slightly more intense and/or crude animation (The Incredibles for the former, Shrek movies for the latter).
But that’s not all I wanted to point out here. The other night, my wife and I were deciding what movie to watch potentially with some friends who were coming over. We were both interested in seeing the movie De-Lovely. But knowing that these friends were R avoiders and more conservative in their movie-watching habits, I decided to research on-line the basis of the PG-13 rating for De-Lovely. When I found the reasoning to be for homosexual undertones, the red flag of uncomfortableness was raised in my mind, and my wife and I quickly decided on another movie (though we watched De-Lovely later and found it to be, well, quite lovely).
After the fact, my wife commented on how it was a good thing that we didn’t watch De-Lovely with our friends, as she thought it was rated R. What?! How could she not know that this movie was, in fact, rated only PG-13? Not to mention the fact that these particular friends of ours would not watch a rated R movie, thus making our previous hypothetical of should-we-watch-it-with-them-or-shouldn’t-we completely pointless. But my wife was completely oblivious to all that.
As I analyzed it further, I realized that I was the weird one (I know, I know, you could have told me that long ago). This is how I was raised; I was conditioned to always know the MPAA rating of any movie. Not only that, I was conditioned to quickly decipher movie-watching habits of others (at the time, this was so that I’d be prepared to decline offers to watch movies I shouldn’t see). Old habits die hard, I suppose. As I conducted my little experiment, I didn’t have to verify the rating of even one of our DVDs. I already knew them all. It gets worse. If you ask me the rating of any movie, I’ll almost always know it with the only prerequisite being that I have to have at least heard of the movie (old not-very-grammatical phrases die hard as well).
Am I alone here? Anyone else conditioned in a similar way? In any event, I’d be interested in hearing the results of any other movies-by-rating home studies.