In 2007, the biggest movie event of the summer at least for me was the premiere of Superbad, you know, Michael Cera and Jonah Hill on a quest to lose their virginity.
At the end of high school.
It’s the movie that gave us McLovin my friends and I desperately wanted to see it but it was rated R and we were still a couple of years shy of 17.
So we devised a plan, we get tickets to the only PG-13 Movie showing that night and then sneak our way into the Superbad, screening.
So we did just that but pretty much the very second, we stepped into the super bad theater.
The security guard was like nah fam, absolutely.
Not he escorts us out and is like you need to go watch the movie if you paid for.
So I looked down at my ticket for the first time and it hits me.
I’m really about to see Rush Hour 3 and theaters and I did I watched Rush Hour 3 and theaters all because my local theater did not fuck around with film ratings.
But was Rush Hour 3, really more appropriate for me than Superbad.
There were a million fewer dick jokes, but it’s pretty violent and they’re a bunch of creepy predatory jokes, not exactly good for my teenage brain, which prompts the question.
What’s up with movie ratings?
From gimlet media.
This is not past it a show about the stories.
We can’t quite leave behind every episode.
We take a moment from that very same week in history and tell you the story of how it shaped our world.
I’m Simone plannin on July 1st, 1984 37 years ago this week.
The PG-13 rating was born.
It’s the only new rating to be added in a 50 plus year history.
Today on the show, we’re going to dive into how movie ratings came to be who those ratings are actually for, and how they reinforce racism, and sexism in our culture.
And unlike Rush Hour 3.
It’s a story worth telling all due respect my king Jackie Chan.
So quick stuff, this candy in your purse because we’re headed to the movies.
Symbols, we’re all familiar with them.
There are short cuts to Vital Information.
That’s why to familiarize you with the movie rating symbols, which will be used by this theater.
We present the following guide for parents and young people.
This is a PSA by the motion Picture Association of America or the MPAA from 1970 explaining their new rating system to movie-going audiences.
It is designed to inform parents about the suitability of movie content for viewing by their children.
All ages admitted, General audiences GP all ages.
Admitted Parental Guidance suggested are restricted under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult Guardian.
It’s largely the same system.
We use now aside from a few changes, like, instead of GP.
It’s now PG for Parental Guidance, and the X rating is now NC-17.
And as that clip makes clear, the primary goal is to help parents decide.
What their kids should and shouldn’t see.
But let’s go back in time for a minute, because before this new system was introduced, the movie, making industry operated under a much more rigid system.
The Hays code starting in 1934 at Bard filmmakers, from doing a whole bunch of stuff like showing nudity, or using profanity.
Portraying interracial relationships adultery homosexuality.
Anything deemed immoral, even childbirth.
Censored because showing the pain of giving birth.
Might put a damper on, you know, the joy of family life compliance.
With the Hays code was basically censorship the system regularly forced filmmakers to change the content of their films.
Like, for example, Betty, Boop had to change out of her flapper dress, and into a long skirt and stockings.
And in the movie version of who’s Afraid of Virginia, Woolf, the filmmakers were forced to remove the word screw even though, The phrase, hump.
The hostess was cleared for some reason.
How about hump the hostess?
How about, how about how you want to play that when you want to play out?
Those enter a man named Jack, Valenti picture a smallish guy, Charlie Chaplin eyebrows, impeccable style Valenti was a Texas advertising executive, turned DC Insider.
And in 1966.
He was named head of the Motion Picture Association of America.
At this time, film studios and directors were starting to push back on the code and Valenti could see, it was time to make a change.
So he came up with the mpaa’s new rating system, which he said, would not work, like the Hays code.
I wouldn’t defend some of these movies.
If my life in job depended on it, but we are not sensors.
Please understand that we are not censored the death of the Hays code and the birth of this new rating system set off of Revolution and film.
Sometimes called the Hollywood Renaissance or American New Wave.
What the hell is this?
That’s just silly a message.
It means a little brush.
He sleeps with the fishes.
This period from the late 60s and into the 70s produced classic films.
Like The Godfather Chinatown.
You talking to me.
These weren’t the hyper sanitized movies of the.
Do you think they were gritty profane violent, all the juicy stuff?
This time period also brought about the birth of the Hollywood Blockbuster films like jaws and Star Wars as the toddler and has a three and four-year-old.
I mean, it was Star Wars wallpaper and my bedroom Star Wars.
Sheets on the bed R2D2 and C3PO on my birthday cakes.
My wife put, you know, Yoda on my birthday.
Professionally, he’s a journalist for the Washington Post.
But at heart, he’s a George, Lucas Mega fan.
And as a kid, Jason’s parents would take him to see all the big Blockbusters like Star Wars and Indiana Jones.
These movies were rated PG.
All ages permitted with Parental Guidance suggested, but that was about to change.
All thanks to one of Jason’s favorite adventurers, Indiana Jones.
That Fearless wisecracking archaeologist.
Is back on the big screens and theaters across the country tonight?
And that spells Mo NE y money at the box office.
It was May 1984.
Jason couldn’t wait to go to the release of the second Indiana Jones film.
The Temple of Doom, the theater was packed for the summer blockbuster, produced by George.
Lucas and directed by none other than Steven Spielberg.
Oh my God, I was so pumped up.
And I remember so, old school theater, big.
Kind of cushy seats, there were definitely snacks.
Some people would get the Red Vines and kind of turn it into a straw and, you know, stick it in there.
The lights dim, the curtain opens and the movie begins immediately.
The audience is thrown into the middle of the action.
And there’s this really kind of Swank seen it a Shanghai nightclub and they poison, Indiana, Jones and you know, there’s an antidote and the diamond and then they escape China with that.
He’s off on a Just for fortune and glory to India to track down the enchanted Sankara Stone.
It’s got all the ingredients of an Indiana Jones movie, The Hat, the whip, that’s score, the devilish Harrison, Ford charm.
And of course, the villain mola Ram, he’s got evil written all over him.
A cult leader with bulging eyes, black and red robes, and a headpiece with giant horn sticking out each side of his head.
Guy named mola Ram, makes human sacrifices by pulling out beating Hearts from people’s chests.
That burst into flames.
While he drops these human sacrifices who are still alive without their hearts into this molten lava.
If you’re a person of a certain age, you probably remember this scene in detail.
Just like Jason, maybe you even did the weird heart pulley, Audi thing with your hand on the playground.
Maybe it gave you your first ever panic attack, but Jason actually took it pretty well.
It didn’t give me nightmares or make me want to rip.
Anybody else’s heart.
I’ve never wanted to rip.
Good to hear the 8, year-old.
Jason might have been.
But parents Across America were Furious about this scene.
There has been controversy over the violence in Indiana, Jones.
There are murders, shootings, stabbings, whippings beatings prussians and torture.
It was almost rated R, instead of G.
It wasn’t just the mola Ram scenes.
At the beginning of the movie.
One guy gets impaled on a flaming meet sword.
And at the end dozens of mullah ROMs cronies fall into alligator-infested Waters and get ripped to shreds.
Op-eds and critical reviews about the nonstop violence ran for the entire month of May of 1984 and Publications.
Like the New York Times Christian Science, Monitor and variety for context violence in film and TV was a hot-button issue.
At this time, in 1982.
The surgeon general’s, scientific advisory committee on television and social behavior released, a report that showed a relationship between television violence and children.
More aggressive alongside this report psychologists in the 1980s started publishing academic articles about the threat of increased violence in media.
All sorts of art forms were being scrutinized for their depictions and they even had Congressional hearings about it.
Five between 1982 and 1986.
This all felt like it came to a head with Temple of Doom, but that wasn’t the end of the parental outrage because a few weeks later in June of 1984 on here, the Spielberg machine released another monster into the world.
Literally, they’ll be expecting you.
Gremlins released on June 8th. 1984 was about one, guy’s mishandling of his strange, new pet, and how it Unleashed an invasion of Furby looking creatures in his small town.
And audiences saw these little Fried Chicken, loving monsters, being chopped in half by a mom with a kitchen knife, exploded and a microwave and diced up in a blender yeesh.
But despite all of this.
It was rated PG, all the big hits recently, Indiana Jones Gremlins.
And the others have been rated PG, Parental Guidance and a serious debate has erupted this summer over.
Whether PG covers too much territory.
I think should be x-rated for violence, but then the whole rating system strike me as crazy.
Anyway, parents were angry and Spielberg.
Who had had a hand in making both Temple of Doom and Gremlins knew he had a problem.
I’m not really A psychologist about this.
I’m just saying that if I had a ten-year-old, I probably would prefer that he sees something else or wait, until he’s 11.
Yeah, just wait one year and the kid’ll, be good to go.
So Spielberg called up president of the MPAA.
Jack Valenti Godfather of the rating system and suggested an addition.
He wanted something between R and P G, maybe for younger teens like 13.
Valenti didn’t like the idea initially.
He told reporters that he was opposed to any change in the fragile system and the MPAA reminded parents that PG doesn’t stand for pretty good.
Basically saying, hey, you’re a parent, provide some guidance, but the hubbub of the summer of 84 left.
There was a huge gap in the rating system and some powerful players in the film industry.
Really put the pressure on So eventually the Plenty caved Hollywood confirmed today that it will add one more category to its 15 year old film rating system.
This one is called PG-13.
It is meant to urge parents to show strong caution before letting their children under the age of 13.
Attend some movies new rating is a reaction to parental.
PG-13 was born on July 1st, 1984.
The rating meant that a film intended for wide audiences could include more curse words, sex and drug use.
And that kids. 14.
Probably shouldn’t see it, though parents weren’t required, to be present.
Unlike R-rated movies.
Some people liked the rating.
It didn’t go far enough.
Either way the PG-13 rating had a real impact at the box office.
Some of the highest grossing films over the years Titanic.
Avatar all the Avengers movies.
They’re All PG-13.
Our ratings make millions of dollars less compared to their PG-13 counterparts.
Which makes sense movies with broad appeal, that pushed the envelope, just a little bit further, sell more tickets, Spielberg actually called PG-13, the hot sauce rating that would draw people in after the break.
We’ll find out how films even get their ratings in the first place.
Whether it’s the lucrative PG-13, or one of the other ones.
Plus, there’s a very real war on cunnilingus in the movies.
Before the break, we learned all about the motion Picture Association of America’s rating history and the power of a pissed-off parent.
And all this, got me wondering who the hell even makes these rating decisions who decides what is and isn’t appropriate for moviegoers.
While since the system was created in 1968, ratings have been decided by a rotating Board of about 10, Anonymous parents all with kids between the ages of 5 and 15 there.
Part of the classification and rating Administration also known as Cara and they’re housed in the mpaa’s Los Angeles office.
Rating films is their full-time job and every day the small group sits down together in a room and watches about two to three movies.
We don’t know a whole lot about the process.
They keep it under wraps on purpose.
But what we do know is they fill out some kind of form discuss and vote on what the film should be rated the majority wins.
And this is what we get cartoon lion.
His dad get killed by a stampede of wildebeests.
Left abandoned by Family.
Protects his house by torturing the wet Bandits PG.
Large ship crashes into Iceberg, delaying nude painting and killing Young, Jack PG-13, giant cyborg mad comes back from the future to destroy.
Connor are When you read the ratings breakdown between R and P g—thirteen, it’s interesting to see where the boundaries are for PG-13.
Violence is okay for the most part as long as it’s not realistic or persistent sexual scenarios are generally a no-go one F bomb is okay.
Three is usually too many.
So shaving off a couple of fucks could actually make you a few million dollars richer.
But not all of the rating is, as simple as counting swear words.
They’re also subjective judgments to be made, and that can lead to double standards.
So, in my research, I was looking at a picture of sexual content, specifically scenes of oral sex before Madan male or female characters.
This is Chloe nurik.
She’s getting her PhD and JD at the University of Pennsylvania, and part of her work.
Includes researching and consistencies in the MPAA rating system and when it’s available, On a few.
That was very frequently at NC-17 rating for as if it was before Madonna man.
That was very frequently in our rating, so scenes of women getting head get rated way harsher than scenes of men doing the same told you there was a war on cunnilingus in the movies.
There’s also scenes of sort of male masturbation being rated kind of lower scenes of female, orgasms being seen as very threatening and conversely male nudity.
There was actually like attack.
There’s also a difference in how male and A male nudity get rated.
So, tits on film are a dime.
A dozen that makes them like what 20 cents a pair, but if there’s a wiener in your movie, good luck, getting anything lower than an NC-17 rating.
And Chloe says, this has to do with the opinions preferences and tastes of the individual Raiders.
It turns out that there’s certain views that are being threaded throughout the regulatory process.
And because you have some some level of subjectivity.
Even I don’t think that a lot of this is purposeful.
But there’s some ways in which discriminatory views or hegemonic Norms work themselves out through the regulatory process and the subjective nature of this process can lead to some very real, very glaring, blind spots that seem to miss whole categories of offensive material like racist content, take Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.
For example, most of the Uproar from the parents in the 80s, was about the violence in the movie, but it’s chock-full.
All of racist stereotypes.
When I watched it for the first time recently.
I was really taken aback by the depiction of Asian cultures and people like, there’s this scene where ND and his crew are serve dinner and this Indian Palace and it’s all like, oh, look at these creepy foods and other countries.
Like when they’re served severed, monkey heads on a platter.
I asked our George Lucas.
Superfan, Jason what he thought, as an eight-year-old, who’d never been out of Northern California.
I had to assume that in India, they He did eat chilled monkey brains for dessert chilled monkey brains.
Let’s go deeply problematic.
So much of what happened in that movie filtered into the popular conversation, right?
The the Zeitgeist and then there are scenes from the movie that really seem like they’re making fun of the Goddess Kali and the Hindu religion.
I don’t know if it was supposed to be Kali.
Is that some kind of an offshoot like, is this supposed to be evil Hindu?
God is It Hinduism.
I mean, it’s like a made-up Hinduism.
Yeah, so that’s a problem.
Not to mention the whole white savior narrative, the Casual killing of Asian people.
And the Indian children working in Sweatshop like conditions.
And then there’s Short Round Indiana.
Jones’ Child sidekick from China in one scene.
They’re walking through a dark cave.
Yeah, something on the ground.
It’s not fortune cookies.
Yeah, they’re walking on bugs not fortune cookies, obviously, but it’s like is that the only reference point you think a kid from China has over the last few years?
Kara, has started to correct these blind spots.
Like, in Harriet, the 2019 film about Harriet Tubman.
They rated the film PG-13 and included.
A descriptor warning, parents about racial epithets and Distributors are also adding warnings to Old films.
Last year HBO, Max and Disney + labeled some of their movies as having outdated cultural depictions.
For instance, in Disney’s 1941, animated film Dumbo.
There’s a group of jive-talking crows that pay.
Homage to racist Minstrel shows and the lead crows named Jim Crow referring to the racial segregation laws in the u.s.
I don’t eat too fast.
They don’t need to have my back up again.
And also the 1940 oscar-winning Gone With the Wind, we’re enslaved.
Black people are depicted as being content about their circumstances.
Going with outdated cultural depictions.
While Hollywood catches up parents whose perspectives are not being represented by film, ratings have had to put in the extra work where they can.
I grew up with a mom like that who took the time to call out when Hollywood got lazy and Reckless.
She wouldn’t let me watch Disney’s animated Pocahontas until she taught me the real history of the story.
It definitely took some of the joy out of belting Just Around the Riverbend, but at least she gave me that awareness of hey, this isn’t real life.
This is Hollywood as we carry these movies with us into the future.
We’re trying to figure out how to contend with the stuff that no longer flies in mainstream culture.
And we could have gone in a very different direction, Banning movies, cutting scenes, changing, the name, Jim Crow to Ed equality or whatever.
Just be like, hey, that’s not us anymore.
Destroy the evidence and keep it moving.
But as the title of this podcast suggests, we are very much.
Each not passed, it images and messages from Hollywood movies are ingrained in our society and to deny that would be to deny insight into our own culture.
However, ugly, those parts may be, so if we’re not changing the movies themselves, ratings and disclaimers at least give us an opportunity to have a conversation around them that evolves with the culture and I guess that’s a start.
Not passed it as a Spotify original produced by gimlet and zsp media next week.
It’s the Illuminati up.
So keep your third eye, open.
The Illuminati really are revolutionaries.
They want to change society.
They are progressives.
They want to move beyond the status quo.
This episode was produced by Julie Carly, Sarah, Craig and Kinzie Clark.
Maya Arlo is our associate producer.
Our intern is Laura Newcomb.
The supervising producer is Erica.
By Andrea be Scott and Zach Stewart Pontiac.
Fact, checking by Jane.
Ackerman sound design and mixing by Bobby, Lord, original music, by Sachs kicks, Ave.
J bless and Bobby Lord.
Our theme song as touka Liana by Coco, Co with music supervision by Liz Fulton, technical Direction by Zach Schmidt show art by Elysee Harvin.
And Talia Rahman, the executive producer at zsp.
Media is Zach Stewart Ponte the executive producer from Gimlet is Abbie ruzicka and just a side note, if you recognized Jason rezaian’s name, that’s because he was taken hostage in Iran, a few years back and released in the 2016 nuclear deal.
He was all over CNN and Fox News sometimes still is there’s an entire podcast called 544 days from gimlet coming soon.
He’s also written a book called prisoner.
Check it out special thanks to Tom’s.
I go from the MPAA.
Freaking formerly of Kara.
Jason’s mom and Lydia Pole Green, Dan Behar and Clara.
Sankey Emily wiedeman list Styles and Nabil.
Follow, not past it now to listen for free exclusively on Spotify, and follow me on Twitter at Simone, polyanin.
Thanks for Hangin.
We’ll see you next week.
Crystal Skull was probably only moderately less disappointing Than The Phantom Menace.
With the biggest disappointment of my life and you know, I’ve been falsely imprisoned after that put that really puts it in perspective, huh?