PG, R and art in movies

Posted: Sunday, June 03, 2001

The following editorial appeared in Saturday's Washington Post:

Here's proof that the movie industry for years peddled sex and violence to children: Now that studios and theaters are actually trying to enforce age restrictions, R-rated films are making less money. The enforcement seriousness follows criticism that in turn stemmed from a Federal Trade Commission report on industry practices last year. The report, which briefly became a campaign issue, showed that studios were marketing to children movies from which those children were ostensibly banned without adult accompaniment, and theaters weren't doing much to keep the young teens out. Now, to their credit, studios and theater owners are trying harder.

This trend has produced some hand-wringing about artistic freedom. But the advent of the rating system in the late 1960s allowed the studios to be far more adventurous than they had been previously -- to make great movies under the protection of the R rating. The ability to produce such films for adults has not changed. It is hard to fathom any principle of artistic freedom under which movies ostensibly intended for grown-ups should be marketed principally to kids.

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