Down with MPAA ratings

The New York Times reported yesterday that Hollywood is still trying to fix the MPAA rating system in the wake of "This Film Is Not Yet Rated," a documentary by Kirby Dick which, among other apparent scandals reveals that "lay representatives from the Roman Catholic Church and the Protestant National Council of Churches sit in on the appeals process."

Horrors! You know how those Catholics are when it comes to movies. Rent "Nuovo cinema Paradiso" and get a load of the censoring priest, who insists on screening all films before anyone else does, ringing a bell to indicate where the projectionist should cut out scenes so as not to taint the faithful.

Seriously, though, I'm truly stymied about why there is any hoopla over the ratings process at all because, like most parents, I realized long ago that the ratings offer no indication about whether you want your kid to see the movie or not.

G and PG films can be mind-numbingly insipid ("Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day") or so emotionally upsetting they'll scar you for life ("Old Yeller").

PG-13 movies may be a nauseating parade of jokes about hazing people ("Bench Warmers") or inspiring stories of derring-do ("Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire").

We have independent movie reviewers in our local, state, national and myriad religious media. There are lots of Web sites that exhaustively outline specific incidents in movies that might potentially offend (screenit.com, for example), and I routinely include links to those sites for parents of children my son invites to the movies.

There just isn't any such thing as a "one size fits all" arbiter of taste and morals when it comes to kids at the movies. The MPAA should quit pretending there is.

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