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Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Unrated Films

Recently, I had a discussion with a colleague regarding unrated films.
What does that actually mean?
We received what appears to be two different answers from two different sources.
A Midwest Tapes customer service representative defined it as editing by the studio of undesirable segments for the home viewing audience.
On the website www.parentstv.org/ptc/publications/rgcolumns, I found a longer, and a little more confusing explanation.

As librarians, should we be concerned when purchasing these items? What do we tell a parent who wants to know what that means for their children's viewing choices?

Any thoughts, views, and clarifications would be welcome.

3 comments:

Micah Levine said...

Hi,
My understanding has been that an unrated film is just that. It is simply not rated, meaning that it was not submitted to the MPAA for review. The term "unrated" is often used as a marketing term though. "This DVD features UNRATED content too (insert silly adjective) for theaters!" In reality, the extra content could be ice melting, but if it wasn't submitted to the MPAA for a rating, it's unrated.

Not that this solves anything for librarians. I think an unrated movie has to be judged on a case by case basis. Many documentaries are unrated, but sometimes a film really is so "offensive" in one way or another that the filmmakers just didn't even bother submitting it. Nothing has to be rated to be released. Not getting your film rated though is generally considered commercial suicide.

There's a pretty interesting documentary about ratings and the MPAA, "This Film Is Not Yet Rated."

Christine Drew said...

See MPAA's Who Rates the Movies and How Does it Work:

"No one is forced to submit a film to the Board for rating, but the vast majority of producers/distributors opt to do so. Any producer/distributor who wants no part of any rating system is free to go to the market without any rating, or with any description or symbol they choose, as long as it is not confusingly similar to the G, PG, PG-13, R, and, NC-17. The rating symbols are federally registered certification marks of the MPAA and may not be self-applied."

See also 2008 YEARLY BOX OFFICE for unrated films, as Micah suggests a case by case basis is the best way determine whether or not the content is appropriate for children.

E. Belanger said...

Hi everyone, some of this is redundant but at the bottom is a link to the MPAA site.

It is more like this... folks pay to have their movies rated, no pay, no
rating, don't like the rating... edit and resubmit, or appeal.

"The ratings are decided by a full-time Rating Board located in Los Angeles.
There are 10-13 members of the Board who serve for periods of varying
length. They work for the Classification and Rating Administration, which is
funded by fees charged to producers/distributors for the rating of their
films... No one is forced to submit a film to the Board for rating, but the
vast majority of producers/distributors opt to do so. Any
producer/distributor who wants no part of any rating system is free to go to
the market without any rating, or with any description or symbol they
choose, as long as it is not confusingly similar to the G, PG, PG-13, R,
and, NC-17. The rating symbols are federally registered certification marks
of the MPAA and may not be self-applied."

There is also more info on the FAQ page on the website:
http://www.mpaa.org/Ratings_HowRated.asp

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