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Voices From The Movie Line 327

Columns last week on Ticket Booth Tyranny drew well over a thousand e-mail messages, mostly from kids (including many of those ushers) enraged at theater chain restrictions, posturing and hypocrisy, and scrambling to buy DVD's and build home theaters. The entertainment industry seems not to grasp the strong message that digital technologies give kids lots of choices. They can't wait to make them.

For centuries, technology was of little interest to anyone outside its own developers and users. These days, technology seems to be pushing the country towards a cultural and moral meltdown. Technnics aren't simply a source of wonder and surprise, but of fear, resentment and widespread puzzlement.

The flashpoint of much of this unease -- perhaps a metaphor for it -- is the place where kids, culture and technology converge -- the Net, the Web, music, TV and, lately, movie theaters.

Pop culture been much more than entertainment for kids ever since rock and roll. One of the few enduring legacies of the Boomers was to elevate popular culture to a central place in American life. That evolution has only deepened. For kids today, culture is a primary recreation, but movies, TV shows and music are also something else -- a universal language and common interest, almost a shared ideology.

Many people define themselves by the shows, CDs, Websites, computers and movies they like. Culture isn't just something that's fun for the young, but more and more something that defines who they are. Liking "South Park" isn't just an expression of what's fun. It's a statement of individual identity. Technology has heated up this process by delivering more culture in faster, more graphic, more explicit and less censorable forms.

That's why the growing tendency to blame techno-driven culture for violence and other social problems is so pressing an issue for kids, who have no political voice or spokespeople, and who are presumed to have no rights beyond those which parents and politicians grant them. In fact, morality and the young has become a cheap, sure-fire political issue all over the country.

The massacre in Atlanta this week tragically underscores the irrationality of America's approach to violence, kids and culture. Would the killings have been prevented if the killer had been kept out of violent movies? Should adult access to e-trading sites now be restricted? Outrageous responses like that would never be considered for adults. They shouldn't be for kids either.

The giant conglomerates that control much of American pop culture are happy to go along with these prevailing winds, yet seem strangely ignorant of the technologies they are acquiring and developing and the ways in which so-called "children" use it. This is going to prove a monumental mistake.

The music industry, greedily confusing freedom and piracy, has driven an entire generation towards the now entrenched habit of acquiring music for free. The movie industry and the theater chains are now embracing this generation-alienating philosophy in their embrace of faux morality. They adopt the pretense that kids will be safer if they see only violence, but not sex . But by pandering to so-called moral guardians, adopting useless and quixotic rating systems, imposing ticket booth interrogations of kids and parents, the people running Hollywood seem not to grasp the growing power of the young to access and control their own cultural lives, and make their own choices about what they watch or see, thanks mostly to technology.

Earlier this week, I received more than 1,000 e-mail messages (second only to the "Hellmouth" series) in response to a two-part series called "Ticket Booth Tyranny," which talked about the sudden post-Columbine ticket booth harassment of teenagers trying to see movies with profane language or sexual imagery.

The movie industry may be mollifying some fuddled parents and scoring some points with the moral guardians in Congress, but if the e-mail I got is any indication, this is one of the most profoundly short-sighted trade-offs in entertainment industry history.

These messages were angry. They saw clearly through the posturing and pretense. They spoke directly to the lunacy that occurs when corporatism, technology, politics, morality and culture get tangled up with one another.

"I'm 17," wrote Sean, who's entering the University of Michigan in a few weeks. "I'll be eighteen in September. I drove last weekend with my date to see 'Eyes Wide Shut.' They carded me, and wouldn't let me in. The chain decided that they were enforcing an '18-year-old only' policy for this movie. It was humiliating. All summer I've worked as a counselor helping retarded kids, but I can't see Nicole Kidman's butt? I've got a DVD player, of course, and will see this movie soon enough. But I'm never going back to that theater. I might not go back to any theater."

Matthew works for a multiplex in Maryland. He's also 17. "I'll turn away sometimes 10 or 20 people a night, not because I can, but because my job is on the line. Before we obtained 'South Park & American Pie,' anyone who would sell tickets, or usher, had to sign a paper stating that they would enforce the regulations or face dismissal if underage people got in under their watch. The policy posted at the box office states that anyone that looks underage to the ticket seller is to be carded. Again, sometimes people are carded walking into the movie by an usher. One night, an usher kicked 30 people out. First night of 'American Pie,' the theater did over $1,000 in refunds to underage kids."

It's hard to be rational about this idiocy. "American Pie" is an often hilarious spoof of teenaged sexuality that features four horny high school kids plotting to get laid. Without exception, the four are thoughtful, sensitive and good-hearted, both to their friends and their girlfriends.

There is nothing even remotely as vulgar or disturbing in this movie as much of what's on any local newscast almost every single night. Or a score of cable channels or accessible websites. "American Pie" could safely be shown in high school classrooms as a guide to sensitivity in sexual relations. The idea that a 16-year-old kid could see this movie and turn violent or otherwise be morally damaged is amazing in the 20th century, sure to be remembered for monumental advances in technology.

Matthew said he's also instructed to make sure that "children" under the age of 17 are accompanied by their parents into any "R" rated movie. "I think along the same lines you stated in your article - if the parent wants the kid to see the film, and they're there buying the tickets at the box office, the kids should be let into the film. That is the ratings system in action - advising parents, instead of forcing moral values on their kids."

Matthew and many of his fellow usher e-mailers made it clear that they have no desire to be in charge of enforcing and defining moral values for other people.

At least a dozen other ushers wrote in to say vigilance varies according to:

- Whether the manager's on duty or nearby. -
- Whether the ushers know the kids trying to get in. -
- Whether the usher is about to quit for another, better-paying job and doesn't care who gets in. -
- Whether the usher is in a good mood or not. -
- Whether the lines are long. -
- The gender and attractiveness of the ticket-buyer. -
- The pressure from the parent company. -

Several of the ushers wrote in to suggest seeing restricted movies close to Labor Day when many movie chain workers are about to go back to high school or college and don't care if they get fired or not. Employers are also desperate for help, and less likely to toss benevolent workers out.

Jon Winters messaged to say he and his wife recently built a home theater in their house. "We prefer to wait until movies come out on DVD and watch them in the comfort of our home." He and his wife went to see "Eyes Wide Shut" but wished they'd waited to see the movie at home. The projector was out of focus, and the sound from an adjacent screening room was bleeding through the walls.

"In the future we will wait for the DVD no matter how badly we want to see the movie. At least I can control the technical merits of my home theater."

Jon's message is significant. Among other things, the Net and other digital technologies offer precisely that kind of choice and control. His sentiments were repeated by hundreds of other people restless about their movie-going experiences even without being hassled at the ticket booth. Jon said he's building a home theater. The best high definition projectors will function as computer monitors, he said. "My friends freak when I pull up GNOME on my 72" HD projector. I can surf the Web and check e-mail during TV commercials. Lots of fun."

Almost as much as getting booted out of a movie theater because you haven't passed some arbitrary biological morality benchmark.

Many other e-mailers said they were also eager to find alternatives to theater going. They cited crying babies, people talking, high prices, out-of-focus projectors (this generation is especially used to clarity in images), sound "bleed-thru;" high prices for bad snacks; the absence of "Pause" buttons, and the movie industry's self-imposed censorship ratings.

Movie theater operators may have much bigger problems to worry about than the oral sex discussions in "American Pie."

"This ratings bullshit is the last straw for me," wrote JimB. "I am going DVD. These people are so gutless. I have the right to see what I want. I don't believe for one micro-second they are worried about my morality or well-being. They are just trying to keep the religious crazies off their back. I'm old enough to be a camp counselor, but I can't watch a friggin' movie like American Pie. I've given these a-holes countless dollars over the last few years. No more." JimB is 16.

Many of the messages had this familiar themse: the Net and the Web provide an alternative to moralistic restrictions like those going on in movie theaters. And adults are clueless when it comes to the nature of kids lives during this time of technological change. "I've been seeing violence and sex all my life," wrote Don from Portland, Oregon. "I remember seeing the LA Freeway shootings, and cable shows and magazines and radio and all sorts of other stuff. Do they think by keeping us out of movies that we will not be exposed to stuff like this. Some of the stuff I've seen is graphic, but I can't say it's hurt me. I'm a straight A student and looking forward to college. I've never broken any laws. These people are just outrageous." Like many of the others, he was saving for a DVD player.

Adam, who's also 16, was denied permission to see three movies last weekend "South Park," "American Pie," and "Eyes Wide Shut," even though his parents said it was fine for him to go and sent him a note to that affect, which included a number for the theater to call if necessary.

He was escorted from the lobby.

A middle-aged couple offered to take him and his friends into "South Park" but backed out when the theater manager said they had to stay inside with them for the entire movie.

Adam said he and his friends were furious. "And I can turn on HBO anytime late at night and see people having sex. Just how is South Park supposed to hurt me? Or American Pie? I want to study film when I go to college. Are these movies supposed to damage me? Undo my parents teachings? Turn me into a murderer? I ama a kid who actually likes going to Church! I don't need moral lessons from ushers. Are they supposed to keep some kid from grabbing a machine gun and shooting me in school? Or keep me from doing that? Don't these yahoos know that I can stuff on TV or online that's a million times more violent or sexy than this anytime I want. Screw these theaters. As soon as I get the money for a DVD player, I'll get what I want on the Net and I'll never go back. I don't have to spend that money for overpriced popcorn and humiliation."

Cathy wrote that her father listens to Howard Stern every morning when he drives her to school. "He says stuff all the time that is sexual and vulgar. He talks about women's vaginas. I can listen to him but I can't go see 'American Pie'?"

In fact, the restrictions on "American Pie" in particular -- a movie directly about the lives of many of the kids forbidden to see it -- had hundreds of e-mailers in a fury.

MReynolds messaged that he believes the current epidemic of ticket booth moralizing is part of a larger pattern. "There seems to be a large segment of the population that welcomes regulation of everything from cryptography, to television, to the Internet. And almost all these campaigns to regulate our freedoms (I consider the ability to encrypt my porn a freedom) are encapsulated behind the banner of 'we must save the children from these evil things!'"

MR may be more correct than he even knows. Technological historians like Langdon Winner have written about the outbreaks of moral outrage that often accompany periods of great advances in technology -- the Renaissance, the Industrial Revolution, the development of the Net and the Web.

They are, he says, almost akin to religious upheavals.

"The writers who have isolated technology as an issue have repeatedly stressed that what is involved is not merely a problem of values or faith," he writes in Autonomous Technology, "but, more importantly, a problem in our understanding of things. There is, they assert, something wrong in the way we view technology and man's relationship to it."

There sure is. Thus most Americans blame technology for teenaged violence, even though there is little to link the two, and violent crime among younger Americans has been dropping sharply for years despite enormous increases in the availability of techno-driven pop culture, violence and sexual imagery.

The Internet has altered the very context in which kids, morality and technology interact. It makes censoring the cultural lives of the young, or bovine symbolic gestures like the theater operators are now making, ludicrous. They young don't become more moral, just more cynical.

Technologically-inspired ratings systems, V-Chips and filtering programs don't work. They can't raise moral children, or get lazy and irresponsible parents where they want to be -- off the hook.

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Voices From The Movie Line

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    The Religious Right (note: not all religious americans, or even a majority) thinks that the prevalence of sex in movies and culture is the driving force behind everything from teen pregnancy to mass murders. However, sex and erotica are far more prevalent in Europe and Japan than they are in the U.S., and these countries have far lower rates of violent crime and teen pregnancies. Also, this attitude allows a variety of expressions of sex to be shown. Sure, there will be pornography, but there will also be adult discussions of sex, its place in society, and gender relations.

    Japanese anime, for instance, is infamous for its gratuitous sexual scenes, especially when females are concerned. This is not seen as a bad thing in society, and there are plenty of anime that take a more serious tack on issues. Also, few members of the Religious Right (or anyone else) would question the sexual morality of the children and adults exposed to these images.

    Jon Katz is right on this one. The movie code is meaningless, and also does not allow for differences between American Pie and Eyes Wide Shut, or take into account the social comentary and artistry of these movies. It should be downgraded to merely "advisory" status, to allow parents to make these decisions, and also to allow kids to be raised to critically look at the messages (positive and negative) that their culture is sending them.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    The thing you should be afraid of is the amount of restrictions and regulations coming about in the name of 'protecting the children'. The U.S. which supposedly values individual freedoms has many special interests and groups who want nothing more than to take those freedoms away.

    If people don't speak up, don't participate in their government, and ignore the things that don't affect them, then pretty soon there won't be much left to salvage. Government tries to get its claws on so many aspects of our lives that it is frightening. People need to raise their own kids; teach the proper values. If you keep asking the government to do this for you, you may get more than you bargained for.

    - Speed
  • by Anonymous Coward
    So, the prospect of actually getting laid is shameful?

    Or is it the act of preparation for getting laid?

    How about this, you see me and a cute girl at the drugstore. I'm picking up an extra large box of ribbed nobblers (name the quote). Do you feel sorry for me? Do you feel sorry for her?

    Or do you wish you were me?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I think you've answered your question yourself -- at least in part. Parents are too busy because it takes two people's wages to run a household instead of one person's. The blame can be placed on the standard of living having changed over the decades between our parents' generation and ours.
  • by Zack ( 44 )
    There seems to a lot of readers here who disagree with this article simple because of it's author. They rant "can't he read? Last time he posted this I said that he was wrong!" Well guess what, bucko, I thought he was dead on. Christ, you aren't listening to what anyone has to say. You flame Katz for writing an article that is pro-freedom because of the group that he's writing for. These are the same people who are scared of Echlon! Make up your damn minds.

    Now that that's out of the way, why don't we actually talk about this instead of flame? Okay...

    People here have posted that they don't believe that children should not be allowed to see movies because they are children. This is where I start to get confused already. I watched plenty of R movies when I was young... Did they make me go out and kill people? Uhh.. lemme think... no.

    Then people say that it's okay if the parents go in with them. Wait. So the fact that their parents are there change the movie somehow? Uhh.. lemme think... no. The movie is the exact same movie. How is it different if the parents BUY the tickets? wait.. that's right.. it's not.

    Then you claim that the theatres can turn away whoever they want. Yeah, right. You guys would be up in arms in a second if a movie theatre decided to not let black in. Or refused to sell tickets to Jews. How is that any different from refusing a 16 year old and letting in his 17 year old friend?

    The point is that this is baseless age discrimination and enforcement of someone elses morals.

    I went to see American Pie last night... I didn't get carded... In the movie there were plenty of 15 year olds, a few 6 year olds, and a couple of (crying, sigh) infants. Only the infants were with parents.

    I don't remember any of those kids raping anyone on the way to the parking lot...
  • by Zack ( 44 )
    I breath Oxygen, and I haven't killed anyone.

    But ya know, that day trader breathed oxygen as well! I say we don't let any of the children breathy oxygen.

    Thanks for the flame pal... You're exactly the kind of guy I was talking about. You couldn't refute anything I said so you merely attacked _me_ instead.

    > Yes, you are a hypocrite.

    Uh. How?

    >So, because you watched R movies and didn't kill
    >anyone, then it is okay for anyone to watch R

    My point is that movies don't make people go kill other people. Music doesn't make people kill other people. WWF doesn't make kids get into fights. South Park hasn't resulted in any mass sucides to get on the mother ship.

    >You know, Katz' supporters would have a better
    >case if they could actually think about their

    Well then bring up something about my statment, AC.
  • > Zack, how old are you? 15,16?

    I'm 20. I consider myself older than the "children" mentioned in this article and younger than the "parents" I think this gives me a pretty decent perspective for both sides of this argument.

    > It is really, really sickening to see an adult
    > attempt to incite children over ridiculous
    > issues

    The issue I see here is personal freedom. I don't see that as ridiculous. The issue is that theaters are stopping people (these kids are people, aren't they?) from going to see the movie they want to see. Not because the movie is going to damage and warp them and turn them into pyschotic maniacs, but because they're underage.

    > Hell, he goes as far as suggesting that the
    > aforementioned entities are the centerpeice in
    > teenage life today.

    Well, the are somewhat. Children today spend a LOT of time watching TV.. the "movies" is a popular hang out, the only place you go on dates in high school, etc, etc... That they define you as a person is a bit backwards though... It's the other way around. Who you are determines what movies you want to go see.

    > most parents are out to cursh any dreams
    > children have of having 'fun'.

    I know... I understand that parents have the best intentions. That's not what I was arguing. So when the parents take their teen to the movies and by them a ticket, their intentions are good, right? Where does the movie theatre have the right to say "no" to them then?

    > they have been alive just a little bit longer
    > than you

    Right... and my grand parents lived in a generation where the thought that swing music was the downfall of society and anyone who liked the music was obviously a santanist and a heathen.

    The whole fuss over R rated movies is going to be laughed at by our kids kids.

    Anyway, I appreciate your comments (well, except for the one where you called me 15... and the absolute bias against Katz because he is Katz).. the rest was pretty well thought out.

    Looks like we have to agree to disagree...

  • There's plenty of non-Hollywood stuff on DVD. I've got Pi and a bunch of anime titles, and there's more where that came from.

    Check out DVDExpress [] sometime.

  • by drwiii ( 434 )
    One thing Katz [] misses on is that the theater restrictions are still being implemented on a voluntary basis. I can see what the fuss would be if this were a law of some sort, but it's simply a suggestion that some businesses are choosing to follow.

    I was in a local theater this past weekend to see Deep Blue Sea [], which was an average movie, but was also rated R. Looking around the theater I could see quite a few unaccompanied under-17 persons attending the showing. So much for the big "we honor age restriction guidelines" banner hanging out front, eh? Theaters just want your money. That's the bottom line.

    Just remember, if they ever put Schindler's List back in the theaters, your kids won't be allowed to see it because it's rated R, and they're under 17. So much for learning from the past.

  • The US seems to be the only country in the world that has so little faith in it's citizens that those in charge feel the need to protect the citizenry from fiction, nudity, and "foul" language. The worst thing is, that American parents go right along with it, fooling themselves into believing that it's helping. Instead, all it's doing is creating a new generation of kids who will grow up to give parental control over to some other arbitrary authority figure. Parents need to teach their children about the human body and about so-called foul language, then it won't be so much more appealing as a forbidden fruit. If the worst thing an American kid does this year is see Nicole Kidman naked or hear the South Park kids cussing up a storm, this would quickly become a much better place to live.
  • I support teaching children never to use "u" as a substitute for "you," and never to use "4" as a substitute for "for."
  • Hmmm, he gets thousands of messages from kids upset that they cannot break the law

    How do you come to that conclusion? What law is being broken? There is no law against under-17-year-olds seeing R-rated movies. The MPAA movie rating system is a voluntary industry system, and has no grounding in law. If a movie theater wanted to let anybody see R rated movies without asking for their age, they would not be in violation of any laws. They might get in trouble with the National Association of Theater Owners (NATO...interesting acronym), but they would not get in trouble with law enforcement.

    Basically, know what you're talking about rather than spouting off ignorant drivel. This law you speak of does not exist.
  • No, corporations do not that have the right to do so. They may restrict particular people from frequenting their establishments if those people cause problems, but they may not make discriminatory class-based prohibitions. For example, I could not start a theatre that only admitted white people, even if i owned the theater and didn't feel like letting non-white people in.
  • Well, MPAA ratings and age "guidelines" don't have the force of law behind them, but the theater owners are not free to do whatever they want either. If theaters do not follow the industry's policies, they run the risk of not being allowed to purchase movies from the studios.
  • Kids are the people most affected by these regulations. Kids are the people who directly experiences the effects (if any) of the movies in question. The testimony of the kids themselves is the most important and most overlooked part of this debate, and the point of the thousand E-mails is that the kids unanimously disagree with the moral guardians.

  • You can register, then filter Katz out yourself. If you don't do that, if you'd rather sit there and bitch, you deserve to be ignored.

  • You try to make the point that the parent should be there to make the judgement call when things get 'too adult' for the kid. Your argument has the hole that the movie industry has chosen ahead of time, before the parents had any say, that movie X requires their attendence and movie Y does not. The decision to require their attendence or not is removed from the parent's control.
  • Movie ratings these days are *way* off the
    scale these days. As are the ludicrous attempts
    at censoring movies, denying people access
    and more of that fun stuff.

    Practical example. This weekend I went to see
    SouthPark with my girlfriend and her two kids,
    aged 11 and 6. We got in but only after we
    created a scene. The usher and manager told *us*
    what was best for *our* kids. Fuck that, they
    wanted to see SouthPark, they got to see it.

    Did they swear after the movie? No. Did they
    pull out guns and mow down the lobby? No. Did
    anything change? Not at all.

    After that we decided that we wanted to see
    another movie and the kids went to watch
    Tarzan and my girlfriend and me went to see
    the Haunting. The strange part here...

    SouthPark is rated R. SouthPark is animated
    and is so clearly an animation that you can't
    really get around it. the Haunting is rated
    PG-13, yet the images displayed in the movie
    were rather disturbing, now I'm not really
    in to horror movies but it sure as hell wasn't
    going to do a 13 year old any good.

    Moral of the story -- I'm saving for a DVD player
    and the theatres can collectively decide where
    they want my business to go. I know for a fact
    that if I get trouble one more time I will never
    ever visit a theatre again. The only reason
    I do is because it's a night out, but if I have
    to, I'll make it a night out at home where
    I can decide what my family and me watch and
    where nobody can decide what's best for my girlfriend, her kids and me. We're all perfectly
    able to decide for ourselves.

    (Just a sidenote -- the kids initially wanted
    to see the Haunting as well, but we told them
    that it was a rather scary movie and that we'd
    see it first and if we thought it was okay,
    we'd let them watch it next week. They're not
    going to see it though, and I'm pretty glad
    that it's my gf's and my decision and not some
    lame ushers' or managers' decision).
  • Is anyone surprised that the very people who are being censored are complaining? Gee, when the Nazis were killing Jews, why didn't the German soldiers complain? Maybe because they weren't next...

    If a movie is rated R, there's no reason for a theater to deny people who are 17. If they do that, then they should (a) have rated the movie NC-17 or X, or (b) prepare for angry phone calls, letters, and lawsuits, and people talking about freedom of speech.

    Any arguments?

    Incidentally, I'm 21, I saw Eyes Wide Shut, and I thought it should have been (a) uncensored and (b) rated X for nudity and adult situations. I don't think they'd show A Clockwork Orange in theaters today either, and I don't think Southpark or American Pie are even in the same category... if Eyes Wide Shut is rated R, they should be rated PG or PG-13.
  • Oh, so it's popular, so we don't need to rate it on content?

    I understand your argument, and I think you're right, but I don't think it would hold up to any serious legal test. (Fortunately. :)
  • Godwin's Law [] has been invoked.

    This thread is over. You lose.

  • I don't think you can divorce a country's entertainment ratings system from its society and its history. Social commentators, particularly religious ones, will view the current obsession with sex and violence as symptoms of a deeper social problem based on how western society has developed. The ratings system that seems to be getting in the way is from a slightly earlier time when there was less of an obsession with either.

    At the same time, it is not straightforward to compare "norms" from one society to another. For instance, Japanese culture and society is not the same as American culture and society. That is one reason why anime has so much gratuitous sexuality. Simply put, what is depicted is part of their culture. A number of things western society would find sexual in an anime, the Japanese would not.


  • I believe this is how it is supposed to work. The ratings system reflect what whoever influences the censorship board believe most movie-viewers want. I would review a questionable movie, like you did, before I let my kids see it, taking into account the rating it's been given (and why). OTOH, I'm not the sort of person to violate the rules of the rating, either. [South Park the Movie is rated MA down under, which I think requires Parental Accompaniment. Eyes Wide Shut is rated R, which means no-one under 18.]

    I've had discussions with friends of various ages about who should and who shouldn't watch the TV serious of South Park. It is clearly not aimed at kids. The creators have clearly said so. One friend is a teacher of 8 year olds and is shocked so many of them are familiar with it. She won't let her 11 year old watch it!


  • Yes, it is about parental responsibility and rites of passage from child into adult. Social commentators are starting to argue with force that the lack of meaningful rites of passage for so many of today's adults is a Big Problem. A result? Obsession with ultra-violence and sex sex sex.

    When (if?) we get this right again, there will be less demand for X, R and NC-17 films. But it will take at least a generation.


  • If you look at projection film, you can see the grainy-ness on the screen. It's more apparent in movies shot with super-35, of course, or older flicks.

    Like with theatres: The larger the screen, the farther back you sit so you don't notice the fine detail imperfections. You'll hardly get the experience you might want from a movie if you stick your nose six inches awat from a 72x40" screen.

    -- (remove the SPAM-B-GONE bit)

  • It seems to me that most of the complaints Jon talks about are made by 15, 16, 17 year old 'children'. In the real world, while they may still have some childish ideals and attitudes towards life, many of these people are young men and women and are indeed being maligned by the arbitrary nature of minimum-age-limits. They may not know what's best for them... but how many of us do as adults anyways? Most people I know just keep doing what it looks like they're supposed to be doing until something new comes along.

    Until recently, most cultures had specific ages or events which divided children from men, and most of those events took place at around the time of sexual maturity. Keep in mind that it was as little as 100 years ago where many marriages were made where the participants were 13 or 14 years old. In environments where the dividing line between child and adult was clear, such moronic ideals as are coming from the government nowadays would be scoffed at.

    We shelter our children far more now than we ever have before. We keep them acting as kids longer, trying to hold back the inevitable tide of biological impulse... possibly because the urge to nurture isn't being outweighed by the need to have more able bodied helpers in the struggle for survival, who knows.

    I also find it highly distasteful to be forced into a situation where other people make choices for me, or my family, as to what is suitable for our viewing pleasure. Your morals are not my morals, and I'll kindly thank you to keep your borderline-mind-control attitudes out of my choices of entertainment... and that of my children!

    -- (remove the SPAM-B-GONE bit)

  • The government should, indeed, keep its hands and laws out of what I decide my children should experience... by the same token, I will steadily decrease my influence over thier choices of entertainment as they approach manhood, as they are more capable of making thier own choices and dealing with the consequences thereof.

    I have 2 boys, 8 and 5 (nearly 9 and 6). I don't let them watch south park. If they were 17 and 14, I would let them. In all likelyhood they've already heard the Uncle Fucker song in school anyways so my restriction there may be moot, but my decision to do so is in line with my best effort to raise my kids to be responsible members of society. If they were my daughters, and were 14 or 15, I'd probably let them watch it too. Blair Witch as well... I heard more foul language from disgruntled viewers leaving the theatre than from the actors themselves.

    Arranged marriages were an unfortunate fact of life (and in some places of the world, still are) as a means of political and economic necessity. I don't endorse the idea of marrying off your 13 year old daughter TODAY. If you were paying attention rather than engaging in semi-smarmy reactionism, you'd have seen that the point was saying that when such marriages were happening and that the participants were considered adults, and were given the rights and privilages thereof. Children matured faster by physical and societal necessity (shorter life expectancy, more need for able bodied labour to support family industry, yadda yadda yadda).

    Those imperatives are no longer such a concern, in these days of the post-atomic family unit, where a single parent can conceivably provide all the necessities of life for a family.

    -- (remove the SPAM-B-GONE bit)

  • by jafac ( 1449 )
    My 11 year old son has been begging me to go see South Park.

    I say NO WAY. I saw that movie myself first. I don't mind if he hears dirty talk, swear words, etc. I know he knows every word in the book - hell, I did when I was his age, but I told him until he learns to stop using the word "fart" in inappropriate situations (ie. in front of his mother, or especially infront of MY mother), I deem that he does not have the responsibility to handle those words, and that's what being an adult is all about.

    I would feel the same way if he was 17, unless he could show that he did have the ability to control his behavior.
    I told him that if he could stop using the word "fart" or stop belching loudly like he does to impress his freinds, for 1 week, I'd take him to see it. His record so far is 2 days.

    "The number of suckers born each minute doubles every 18 months."
    -jafac's law
  • Children don't like restrictions and boomer parents don't want to be bothered to go through the effort needed to raise their kids right. This is news?

    Hollywood has installed a totally incompetent rating system that only Jack Valenti could love. Jack's last reform was to call X ratings NC-17. Nothing happened. Still no news.

    Some day, these outraged teens and kids will look back at their outrage and wonder why. They will understand completely what motivated this "protection" that Hollywood was offering them. I hope they will see that what is happening is merely silly, not an outrage.

    The truly sad part is to watch kids who are officially too young to see the movies without their parents tell other kids that they can't see it either. If the movie chains want to enforce the rules, the cineplex managers should be the ones doing the carding, not the hapless ticket sellers.

    As a practical matter, I think that we as parents and as a society tend to treat teenagers as if they are younger and less mature than we ought, but it is still the responsibility of the parents to make the decisions for their kids and know when to delegate that decision-making to the kids. This is a responsibility that we cannot delegate to others. It's a responsibilty that we should not want to delegate.

    At one time societies had rituals for children who were becoming teens. These could be as simple as eighth grade graduation or religious ceremonies which brought the child into an official state of (nearly) adult. Now, the big statements of growing up are the driver's license and going off to college, rituals that come far too late in adolescence to be useful.

    When are kids old enough to see movies about sex, drugs, or evil behavior? Clearly, the absurd result of R ratings for movies that have a target audience that is younger than the rating "allows" in the door is no good. I'm hard pressed to think of any 15-year-old that I've met who could not handle South Park or any of the Halloweens or similar movies. Being scared is fun. Handling being scared is better. Being scared at the movies is a safe scare. Let the kids do it.

    The R and totally dead, NC-17 ratings have to go. I think it needs to be replaced with an R-14 (about 80% of the R movies of today) and an A-18 (adult movies, teens allowed with parents only) rating that better reflect the desires of movie goers and still give parents a chance to help their children decide what to see. Still, if parents hadn't been willing to give up their responsibility for raising their kids, Hollywood and the chains would never have felt that they had the right to tell children (and by extension their parents) what they can see.

  • I agree completely with Jon Winters - I am tired of movie theaters. In my neighborhood, there are FOUR mulitplex theaters, and they all show the same movies (more or less). I spoke with one of the representatives, and he said that they will all charge the same for movies, but they'll distinguish themselves by service. Well, that appears to be a load of BS. The service is no better in one place than another. In one particular theater, there is a row of bright lights in the aisle along the bottom of the screen - it's so damn bright I can read a book! I complained THREE TIMES to the manager, and they haven't done anything.

    The sound systems in theaters is also overrated. Anyone who has seen True Lies on a 60" screen with a Dolby Digital (aka AC-3) sound system at home knows what I'm talking about. It's a whole new experience when you can hear every single bullet as the jet fighter sprays the building floor.

    I can't wait until I get enough money and space to buy a home theater like some of my friends have. Once that happens, I will NEVER go to a movie theater again.
    Timur Tabi
    Remove "nospam_" from email address

  • Oh, that's right, freedom is a bad thing for corporations, but is good for individuals.

    Corporate freedom is not bad, just less important than individual freedom.
  • If you cannot be trusted with minor responsibilities like not seeing a restricted movie, why should you be trusted with adult things?

    If he can't be trusted to stand up for his right not to be discriminated against based on his age, how can he be trusted to stand up for all our rights should he be drafted into our armed forces or commisioned for jury duty when he turns 18?

    Because of the AARP, we can't impose special restrictions for old people. Why should it be any different for young people? You can't have it both ways.

  • Thanks for posting that link to the Salon article.. very relevant. I just read that article the other day and it's good to see the other side of the story escaping the hypocritical "double standard" that the rest of the media is under.

    The one comment I'd add is: enough about American Pie! What about "Coming Soon []?" As the Salon article points out, this sounds like a great movie about the female side of the equation, and a movie I'd really like to see. I know I'm not the only 20-something straight guy who doesn't feel threatened by female sexuality, right? My g/f and I really enjoyed American Pie and I'd love to see Coming Soon with her, but because the hypocritical MPAA keeps trying to give it an NC-17, it probably won't be "Coming Soon" to theaters.. and that really sucks!

  • I'm with you. While reading this article I couldn't help but think he's right about the hypocrisy of theatres, but that isn't really his agenda here.

    I especially like all the references to "the Net". What exactly does the internet have to do with any of this...the fact that DVD movies can be ordered online? How revolutionary!
  • The movie rating system would be a good thing if it was actually applied appropriately. However, the MPAA does not have a solid set of standards, and the few rules they do follow don't necessarily make much sense.
  • Yes, some movie theatres are actually making an effort to enforce the ratings now. Yes, that'll probably piss people off. Yes, ramping up the enforcement because of skitterishness over school violence is silly. But none of those things present a convincing argument for abolishing the MPAA ratings system, and they're not even particularly convincing of the apparent argument that children should be let into R-rated movies. Sorry, I just don't think the right to free speech is endangered by telling a 13-year-old he can't go see someone masturbate into a pastry.

    As for the argument that Mr. Winter's DVD home theatre with the GNOME interface is the harbinger of doom for the movie industry, sorry again, Jon. Last weekend was the biggest box office weekend in history in America. People are not failing to go to the movies, and it seems that those teenagers being turned away from The Blair Witch Project aren't significant enough to affect the bottom line.

    I can't address the argument that liking "South Park" is a form of asserting one's individuality without collapsing into giggle fits, so I won't try.

  • Just rent the things. The local rental store has DVDs here. And they generally won't degrade with usage, either, other than by bad handling. Much better than tapes!

    I'm definitely ready for DVD...

  • YAKC -- Yet Another Katz Complaint. Let's see, do we have the prerequisite reference to censorship? Yes. Letters from disgruntled teenagers? Yes. Abundant references to Nazi Germany or Stalinist USSR in the comments? Yes. Reduction of religious people to blathering buffoons for thinking softcore porn isn't a fundamental right? Yes.

    The more of these Voices from the whatever there are, the more that they show their true character. Is it irritating that some people were denied entrace to the movie? Certainly. Have they been denied some sort of fundamental right? No.

    The response to this is totally out of proportion to the severity of the situation. Being denied or inconvenienced in viewing movies that are at best mildly entertaining soft core pornography or full of racial humor is not so great an evil that the nerd community should rally around the so called "oppressed." To other commenters, its not Nazi Germany. Get over yourselves.

    Andrew Gardner
  • I liked the kid who was confusing VCDs with DVDs. VCD movies are already insanely large downloads for anyone using a modem (poor me, I guess; no good DSL or cable modems here). DVDs are what - like 4-18GB?

    If he's got a computer, he should just get a DVD player for it; much cheaper, even if you have to use one of those obscure non-Linux OSes.
  • Okay, fair enough. I had interpreted it as meaning that he planned to dl the movie, but maybe he was talking about ordering. (I would like to, but since I'm the amazing creditless boy, it's more trouble than it's worth)
  • I could agree with you more man. My wife and I are both 23 years old and the $%^&* ticket booth attendant would not sell us tickets without ID's to the Blair Witch Project. I too was tempted to walk away. It's not like I was even *close* to the age limit.
  • No way, you don't want kids seeing something like Saving Private Ryan before they could actually experience it.

    I hope you're just being sarcastic. I sure as hell would want my kid to get a damn good look at it. (Not just yet. He's four years old, his granddad was a WWII combat veteran, and we're largely a military family. He wants to be fire fighter, thank God.) I want him to be provoked into thinking before he joins up because he likes the uniform.

    For that matter, I'd like anybody who thinks drugs are cool to take a good look at Trainspotting, High Art, or Drugstore Cowboy. Then maybe we'd get a cop friend to drive with us to the nearest crack house.

  • Well, richnut,

    here's a larger social problem I see it's indicative of: Way too many parents aren't taking as much interest and control in their kids' upbringing, and this vacuum gets filled by legislators, school officials, and even movie ushers having to step in and make decisions.

    I hope that when my little guy is 17, I can take him to movies like these and actually talk to him about them afterward. I think that's the intent of the MPAA rating system, anyway.
  • I've read most of the series on Ticket Booth Tyranny and I think I may have a different solution to the problem. It seems to me that the effectiveness of civil disobedience has declined in the last several years, so maybe it's time for a new tactic>

    Vote with your feet.

    Sure, having a "Sneak a Geek Day" sounds like a nice idea, but look at what you're doing -- you're putting more money into the theatre owner's pockets. That's no way to change policy. Instead, I propose shutting down the entire movie theatre industry for a day. See how many people you can get to NOT go to a movie theatre. After all, the movie studios know that the really big money is in home video releases -- why do you think that theatre engagements keep getting shorter and shorter?

    If you want to change the mind of the theatre owners, don't add to their coffers. Hit them where they live -- in the wallet.

    That's just my opinion.

  • ....the right to control the clientele of their establishments with the right to expand or focus on what that base clientele is.

    Yes, the theaters have the right to say "OK, you are a problem viewer and you may not visit our establishment".

    They do not have the right to say "We as a corporation feel that we are better qualified to judge who the target audience of this movie is than the MPAA". The MPAA gives every movie a rating which is intended to guide parents on the content of the film.

    In agreeing to show movies, the movie theaters should be following the pre-established guidelines for the film. I wouldn't be surprised to find that a letter-writing campaign to the studios informing them that your local theater chain is not allowing all of the potential customers in to see the film would generate good results.

    This moral decisionmaking is being made at the corporate level for us, so bring in another corporate level to help counter the idiocy. Making movies is a business. If the studios can't get the movie out to be seen by everyone who wants to see it, then they will eventually come down on the outlets that are limiting their take on the film.

    Here's a few links for you all....

    And remember how to go about the advocacy, people. The studios aren't going to care if you and your brother, both 15, couldn't get in to see these movies. But they will care that theaters are shutting down legitimate 17-year-old viewers because some corporate menegement weenie thinks he has a better grasp on the morality of your children than you do.

  • On what do you base your assertion that theater owners do not have the right to make their own standards? They own the property, they make the rules. MPAA ratings are GUIDELINES, they hold no force of law one way or another.

    What the hell are they teaching in schools nowadays?

    We still need a permanent 'Katz sucks' poll option.
  • In a truly free market, there would be no prohibition on such behavior from a legal standpoint. Of course, people adopting such policies would advertise their stupidity, and would hopefully lose quite a lot of business, which is why I advocate repealing such laws. Bring the bigots out in the open.
    The point is, however, that property rights (a concept Mr. Katz cannot grasp, apparently) overrule any alleged 'right' of a 17 year old to see a movie.
  • maybe someday i'll even know how to do those link things. heh.
  • You forget to mention that the RAPES were alleged against the ADULT SECURITY GUARDS and POLICE. Ahem.
  • What does censorship have to do with movie ratings? People under 18 years of age are restricted from watching movies with certain ratings. Boo hoo! Will the movies be available from your viewing pleasure when you are are deemed chronologically old enough? Sure they will. Should you able to watch these movies now? No! Why? Because that's the current rule. Our society is bound by all sorts of these funky rules. We may not agree with all of them but you have to agree that they've served us pretty well so far. I do agree that some of them are dated and could be revised, however, until they're changed we're obligated to follow them.

    So buckle up little camper, and obey the rules...

  • I find it insulting that Katz has decided to take it upon himself to declare that theaters should no longer determine whether or not they wish to enforce voluntary policies pertaining to MPAA ratings. The managers who are attempting to establish an R policy do so to conform to what they view as community standards. And there is nothing wrong with that. It's perfectly LEGAL for them to do that, just as it is legal for stores to "refuse service" to a customer as long as it is not discriminatory.

    Is being treated differently because you are younger than 18 discriminatory? Hell yes, but it is also the point at which the LAW determines whether or not you're an adult. As arbitrary as it sounds, the law says the day before you turn 18 is different than your birthday. It's not a level of maturity that's being measured. It's not knowledge or experience that's measured. It's age that determines whether or not you can vote. Why? Because the government won't spend the time or effort to measure anything else unless you make it worth their while (example: see how many teenagers are serving hard time for "adult" crimes), so should we should expect theaters to determine an individual's maturity level before allowing them to watch a movie? Hell no.

    And so, a business owner tries to make it their business to act like a member of the community and puts up a policy enforcing the R rating. Well, gosh darn it. Life sucks for the kids. If they can't get an adult to watch the movie with them, then that business owner has the right to refuse service.

    All I read in Katz's article is whining. "I got a note from my Mommy." Even the schools have stopped believing that line. "I'm 17 and I couldn't watch a movie. Darn that's unfair!" That's life, brat. If you haven't learned that by now, you're gonna suffer when you get out in the real world. Go watch something they'll let you see. "I'm gonna buy DVD." If you wanna protest with your dollars, Hey, feel free to do so. The usher, cashier, or manager you had to argue with and whine to when you didn't get your way will appreciate it.

    It's not the theater manager's fault that the movie is rated G, PG, PG-13, R or NC-17. It's the Movie Picture Association of America (MPAA) that sets up these ratings. The manager follows the rules set down by the corporation that owns the theaters who try very hard not to get sued and upset the stockholders by following MPAA's standards. You wanna do something about it? Try fighting the MPAA instead. The manager is just trying not to get fired because some brat's parents sued his bosses for not enforcing the rules.

    What really upsets me about this story are the mention of parents who aren't willing to get involved enough with their kids to go watch these movies with them. The rules say "accompanied by a parent or adult guardian." What's to explain about that? You've known the rules have been since you were kids. Stop whining because you're too embarassed to ask Mom or Dad to watch the movie with you or because they won't do it. They have their reasons. Talk to them about it. Interact with your parents instead of putting the blame on the theater.

    Maybe we had it easier when us older folks were younger, but then people weren't so lawsuit-happy back then.

    -S. Louie
  • Interesting bit about Natural Born Killers:

    A woman in Amite, Louisiana, was suing [] Oliver Stone along with just about everybody else involved in the production and distribution of the film -- she'd been shot during a crime spree that was supposedly inspired by the movie. The shooters were said to have watched Natural Born Killers repeatedly before setting out on their adventure. Or whatever you'd call it.

    Both of the criminals -were- over 18 at the time of the crime. This case isn't even a "kids are impressionable, let's protect them" one -- according to the plaintiffs, we're all impressionable, and the defendants should have known the movie "would cause and inspire people such as the defendants to commit crimes."

    Let's just lock it all up, why don't we?

    Oh, forget it. I'm not really sure what I was trying to say here. It is an interesting case, though. People have tried this sort of thing before, and it generally doesn't work, but who knows what a jury in a smallish southern town will say about it?
  • I think you're right; the whole thing is silly. I just posted the bit about the Oliver Stone case... I dunno. I thought it was funny. And whatever one thinks of ol' Katz, it's always nice to have some more examples of weird entertainment-industry-blame-fests than just a couple of emails. Or a thousand. Whatever.

    Really, I think the MPAA is a load of hogwash... I should look into who funds them. The money's going to waste. If a parent really -is- concerned about what her kid sees, and has some sort of authoritarian bent anyway, she can (and does) research the movies on her own. There're all sorts of groups willing to provide information, ratings and whatnot keyed to every demographic, no matter how bizarre -- and they do it because they already believe the MPAA's not sufficient.

    The idea that a movie, book, etc. can incite violence like that is absurd -- especially since in the NBK case, they're claiming that it incites violence in "people like that" as well as the general public. Just think about the team of lawyers and psychologists even the smallest independent filmmaker might have to hire to make sure their movies won't "incite" the criminally insane to violence. It's almost funny -- but what if this sort of thing gains a court precedent?

    The idea behind this particular case is that they want to view intellectual property as being like a regular physical commodity, in that, just like with consumer safety lawsuits, you could sue for damages if you're harmed by the film (like you could if you were harmed by, say, a faulty child safety seat or something like that.) What a scary thought.

    The 'moral majority' -- that the politicians claim is demanding ever-increasing restrictions on what we can and can't view -- should take matters into its own hands and do it themselves (like some of them are already doing, to their credit.) Putting the responsibility for what they feel they should be doing for (to?) their children into the hands of an association that isn't accountable to anyone, least of all the people they're supposed to be serving, is not the way to do things.

    Probably why so many people are confusing the MPAA ratings with law -- it may not be government, but it sure feels like it, in the sort of tangly bureaucratic way that makes me itch.

    Thanks for your response.

    It's not a terribly well-formed one, but it'll have to do for now. :)
  • Remember early 1970's "Here come the seventies" TV-series, where the future was dissected every week?
    One episode above all marked me than all others: it said in substance "When children can dial-in a movie request, or insert a cassette, censorship becomes irrelevant".

    -- ----------------------------------------------
    Vive le logiciel... Libre!!!
  • I like going to r-rated movies. That way your *almost* sure that the snot-nosed, noisey kids wont be there to disrupt my movie going experience.
  • As a former ass. manager at a United Artists theater... The MPAA are basically all-powerful in the movie industry. To show movies, you must "voluntarily" comply with the rating system set forth by them. You don't, you can't show any movies. Once you agree to this, sign it into a contract that no one thinks twice about, they have the power to fine theaters thousands upon thousands of dollars if the regulations are not enforced.
  • I think it was two or three issues ago that Wired had a very interesting article on the highest of the high-end home theater gadgets, the $180,000 plus systems. The article described a system where a conventional video signal could be sent through a $ 25,000 black box that removed the scan lines and made it as gorgeous as HDTV.

    I was wondering if anyone had actually seen this kind of system, and if so, if it was worthy of the hype.


  • It doesn't matter how many thousands of emails you got from CHILDREN. They are still children. They are still the responsibility of their parents. They are NOT adults nor have the achieved the maturity necessary for the decisions on what is good or bad for them.

    You just fail to get it, do you? The things a parent needs to protect their kid against are certain parts of Real Life, not some fictious entertainment. There isn't an usher asking the teenager for an ID when he gets a dose of cocaine from a street dealer.

    What's the message you're trying to give? "Kids, you can live 'American Pie', you just can't watch it on a screen"? It's okay for Little Jill to learn about sex in the backseat of Horny Jack's car, but she cannot watch Cruise and Kidman have some in a theatre?

    All this "protect the children" bullshit are strawmen thrown up by sensation-hungry media and control freaks who make no effort to teach children right from wrong, they just try to remove as much "wrong" from the movies etc. that kids can get at, and foolishly believe this will lead to only "good" influences getting to the kids.

  • Anonymous Bonehead wrote:

    "You must still be asleep. If "censorship" cuts children off from "some aspect of human experience", and you don't want to do that, then porn must be okay."

    I have no problem with it. If you see a problem with your kids & pornography, then by all means, don't let them access it.
    Just don't try curtail ayone ELSE'S acceess.

    "Isn't sex an aspect of human experience?"


    "Do you have children?

    Maybe little girls?


    Don't worry, I'll make sure they have access to all aspects of human experience."

    What is this? Religious Whacko Acceptance Month? You're saying that if John thinks porn is okay, it's okay for you to threaten his kids.

    "After all, it isn't your decision as a parent as to what you consider your children ready for, is it?"

    That's the point, you drooling idiot. It's the PARENT'S responsibility. Theirs, and theirs ALONE. Censoring content for everyone is a result of laziness on the part of the parents - they don't want to be bothered, so they get the govenment do do it for them.

    "Why don't you try posting again when you've gained some experience with raising children?"

    Why don't you try posting again when you've managed to aquire a CLUE?

    Is it just me, or is anyone else out there tired of of the religious whackbrains in this country trying to decide what's "morally correct" for everyone else? And their kids?
  • You might, but DVD players can't read CDRs. Guess you're stuck watching movies on your monitor. Break out the comfy chair...


  • They're the ones most directly affected by it!

    How many pot smokers are in favor of keeping pot illegal? How many people in favor of keeping pot illegal smoke it?

    This isn't rocket science, geez.


  • Woah there, Steve, didn't mean to ruffle anything, only point out that the people that are most directly affected by a particular type of prohibition are also the ones most likely to be opposed to it.

    If I wish to do activity A, but there is a law prohibiting me from doing activity A, it only makes sense that I will be opposed to that law.

    However, if I am in favor of the prohibition that keeps activity A illegal, I am very UNLIKELY to be someone that participates in this activity.

    I didn't say anything anywhere about people that feel it should be an individual's choice - yet choose not to participate themselves (which is where you stand, it sounds like).

    Sorry for not being more clear on this one...

  • And they listen to Limp Bizkit. Blah. If that's not brainwashed, I don't know what is.
  • Yeah, CorpGovLLC are hasseling us at the ticket booth so we'll stay home, no mass get togethers. Digital home theater will allow them to track your every movement. The last thing they want today is for people to get together somewhere, unplugged and actually starting to talk to one another out of earshot of those in control. Once Hollywood starts beaming first run movies into your cave, they'll collect bit after bit of information on you. All while making more money than ever before. Modulate the signal, get jamming.
  • "This motion picture has been rated R by the MPAA." The MPAA stands for Motion Picture Association(sp?) of America. In short, there is no law saying kids can't see R-rated movies, period.
  • I was recently going off to see The Blair Witch Project, seeing as it was the second day of release I expected the lines to be incredibly long and possibly sold out. So, being the cunning eighteen year old lad that I am I went off at 3 that afternoon to buy tickets. Now I didn't expect any problems, me and my $9 got me two student tickets, one for me and my date later that night. But what did I find when I got to the box office? They refused to sell me two tickets since I wasn't 21. Even though I was over 17 they would only sell me one ticket. Even after pleading with the theater and using all known forms of logic they refused to relent. Not wanting to show up for my date without the tickets I was eventually able to get my parents to buy me the tickets.

    The thing amazing me most of all though, was why Blair was rated anything over PG13 (although it would probably only actually scare a PG audience). The only reason I was sent through the gauntlet of this theater twice? The characters utter the "dreaded" f-word! OH MY! That I, at 18 might allow an impressionable 16 year old (hell, my date was older than me!) to hear words they use on a regular basis.

    The only reason the theater chains continue these practices is because people don't complain. Until the mainstream media bothers to get around to this injustice nothing will get done.
  • Dead wrong? How is speaking out againsts the removal of freedom dead wrong?
  • First, I would like to make a disclaimer. What I say may offend you if you are a hardcore religious person-- READ NO FARTHER, that is if you are not a logical person. I enjoy and for the most part agree with Jon Katz's work, this and the hellmouth article I particularily agree with. There are two main reasons behind censoring. Those two main reasons are Security and Religion.
    • Security: People are afraid of death and or pain in general, and with good reason: pain is unpleasant and death is a complete unknown to everyone who is living. In response to this primal fear of death, our race has invented the 'Sanctity of life' Thats right, we made it up. To quote George Carlin, "If everything that was alive is now dead, and everything thats alive now is going to die, wheres the sacred part?" People feel that since they cannot stave off the the inevitable hand of time, they can at least live their life as long as possible. There is nothing wrong with this. The problem arises when certain people, usually middle class, church going people feel the need to restrict others so they and their children can remain safe. The tradeoff of freedom/security is usually not a very good thing. My question: Who are you to say what I can and cannot do, as long as I don't infringe upon your rights to do what you want to? The rights of one individual stop where the rights of the next individual start. If I want to watch a movie, I want to watch a movie, you have ABSOLUTELY NO right to say which movies I can and cannot watch based upon their content. This goes for anything else I want to do which harms no-one. If I want to take a hit off the bong or jack up until I bleed, who cares? Most certainly you don't you just want me to not become violent and kill or hurt you. You say they will make me a violent person? What are the chances of that? If everyone who ever took a hit, watched an action movie or a porno even SLAPPED someone for every movie they watched, or every toke they took, we would have cadavers stacked higher than the empire state building and the stench alone would make people worry about more important things (what are we going to do with all these stiffs?). How is it that you know me better than my parents? How is it that you know me better than I know myself?
    • Religion: Where in this hell did this beast even come from? I'll tell you, religion came from the need to know what was going to happen after death. We most certainly have a primal fear of death (of course, if we're dead, how can we pass our genes on, if an organism isn't scared of death, then he has a pretty bad chance of passing his mutant genes on to his offspring) Since we were scared of it, we needed something to explain and protect it from its harsh reality. To date, as far as we know, there is NOTHING after death. There is also NOTHING to disprove life-after-death as well, so simply stated, WE DON'T KNOW!! People flocked to a religion because most of them promised everything, and followed the very bad saying, "Never look a gift horse in the mouth" Generally, if something is too good to be true, it is. Certain people in higher ups in these religions (When I about religion, I talk about christianity, all the way from catholics to primitive baptists, they are all in the same boat, as far as I'm concerned, the rest of religions with only a few exceptions, are not a bad thing) decided that sex was a sin. They did this because they wanted to fuck the women and remove the peasants from the competition!! Instantly, everything that felt good, was a sin. Today, the end result of this rather good idea (hey! who doesn't want to get laid?) is the taboo on anything sexual. It'll spoil our kids they say, bullshit, if ANYTHING, it'll educate them. I see absolutely nothing wrong with my kids watching porno's because I would much rather them be sexually proficient, to be able to return the favor (from American Pie) than just hear about it, want to do it and care not about who/what they do it with or about them. Besides, if they are more profficent, they now have a better chance of passing on MY genes to the next generation and continuing my silent legacy, recorded in my desendents DNA. There is nothing wrong with the human body, it is a good example of how evolution works. In my opinion, its also a very appealing thing to look at. (some views may differ, some people like horses better, oh well, whatever floats their boat)

    The whole thing makes me sick to my stomach, but it IS a result of evolution. What we must do now, our risk extinction as a species, is to evolve to the next step-- enlightened self-intrest. An it harm none, do what thou wilt. Throw out this religious crap and THINK for yourselves instead of letting someone else think for you. Its not that difficult, in fact, it feels rather good (another sin?).



  • Of course I thought about it. I fucking said and I said that it needs change now. Apparently you did not read what I wrote. What makes me a hypocrite. I fucking practive what I preach! (well, I don't get laid enough, but thats beside the point). TV? OBVIOUSLY you didn't read my post. How would you know what TV I watch? Well, even thought it is beside the point, I will tell you how much TV I watch: NONE! I hate the TV, its a religiously biased, intellectually insulting piece of dogshit. Your simply pissed because I'm insulting your beliefs. I told you at the top of the article that if you were a religiously biased person, don't read this. You obviously didn't read that either... -deimos-
  • I've read Jon Katz's articles, and I've seen them be good, bad, horrible... and I gotta say, this last one is probably the least thought out one I've ever seen. Yes, kids are going to whine about going to movies. Yes, some adults think that the kids should be allowed to see whatever they want.

    Some adults also believe that their kids can't decide what movies to watch without their permission, and HOPE that the theater will help them enforce this decision by not letting their underage kids into any movie they want to go to.

    I like Jon, I've liked a lot of his articles... but this one is crazy. If he wants to post something, why can't he have someone involved in real life (read CmdrTaco or Hemos) check it out first?
  • After the age of 13, any child in the united states can legally seek to be removed from their parents custody. A judge will decide if they are responsible enough to be on their own. So even if they are on their own, they still have to have someone older (Judges have to be above 25, afaik...) and hopefully wiser to help them along the way.

    I strongly believe in the first amendment, and I agree that free speech is good... but if you wanna argue constitutionality....

    The constitution was designed by people in the 1700's. They designed it as a document to guide people that were capable of rational, common sense, thought. They didn't design it for a culture where people have no idea if stepping in front of a train is a good or bad idea, and people who think that putting their hand in a fire won't get them burned.

    Let the flambe begin.
  • Well, my parents raised me to be "sensible, good-natured, and morally secure", and so did the parents of many of the people that I no longer consider my friends.

    The same "sensible, good-natured, and morally secure" people are the ones that snuck into theaters, got people they knew to buy them alcohol, and got in street fights in the neighboring cities.
  • >Why should parents be required to stay with their children in an adult movie? Because if a parent intends >to allow their child to be exposed to such material, he/she should be there to see exactly what the child is seeing

    This overlooks a couple of possibilities. Perhaps the parent already has enough knowlege about the film that it is not necessary to experience all of the movie. Of course, it is to the theatre's gain to make the parent spend another $6.00-9.00 just to accompany their child. Another possibility is that the parent has already seen the movie and directs eir child to watch.

    --Hunter Pankey
  • >Its much more comfortable to watch a movie while laying on the couch then it is sitting at my computer desk. You ought to put the Lay-Z-Boy in front of the computer. You're close enough to the screen when reclined that the perspective is the same size as the TV from across the room. --Hunter Pankey
  • >You want an example? Teenage males are the worst drivers according to insurance records. They >make stupid decisions. Even when they've been trained on the correct actions (read safe). Well, teenage drivers have had somewhere from 0 to 3 years experience. Teenage lifers have had somewhere from 13 to 18 years experience. Getting in a car accident on my 16th birthday is like getting myself killed on the day I was born. It is not like getting myself killed on my 16th birthday. Vague, eh? --Hunter Pankey
  • >You want an example? Teenage males are the worst drivers according to insurance records. They make >stupid decisions. Even when they've been trained on the correct actions (read safe).

    Well, teenage drivers have had somewhere from 0 to 3 years experience. Teenage lifers have had somewhere from 13 to 18 years experience.

    Getting in a car accident on my 16th birthday is like getting myself killed on the day I was born. It is not like getting myself killed on my 16th birthday. Vague, eh?

    --Hunter Pankey
  • You know this movie nonsense has totally flipped me around on Katz.

    It's clear to me now that he's just a wind sock blowing in the most convenient direction to stir up some sort of "rally the geeks" battle cry on some sort of preceived injustice, conveniently centered around some sort of recent media event.

    Is the world really a crappier place becasue kids cant get in to see movies? Are you really saving the world, John? Who are you really defending, the good kids or the kids that go out and do the bad stuff? You're the one telling them to disobey the rules. You're the one blowing this stupid subject way out of proportion (Jeepers man it's a MOVIE!!). You're the one filling these kids with this perception of how bad they have it and how terribly unfair it is they cant see a movie. If one of them goes out and blows away an usher at a theater I suppose it's not your fault right? All teenagers are ticked off at authority, Ever think it's morons like you sending these confusing messages that's goofing them all up?

    Someone needs to tell these kids the same thing my parents told me:

    "Get over it. In the overall picture of life this means nothing"

  • Get out of here Katz. You're the problem with kids today. It's poeple like you who are confusing them so much. We're talking about a movie here you dolt. Not selective service, not drugs, not sexually transmitted diseases, not guns in schools, not any other host of IMPORTANT issues that teens need to deal with. Get a grip.

  • Please...

    None of this is about censorship. These movies are not censored. Anyone can see them WITH AN ADULT. That's not censorship it's social responsiblity.

    Katz is just using the concept of free speech and censorship to rile people up about something that really doesn't matter.

    It's a MOVIE for crying out loud. You didn't get to break the rules this weekend and sneak in? BFD. Life is hard.

  • What issue is that? You attack me but dont even make a point.

    Are you trying to say that not being able to sneak into movies anymore is indicative of a larger social problem?

    Are you trying to say that putting forth an honest attempt to sheild kids from something questionable is bad?

    Actually. Wait. You're right. It is indicative of a larger problem. It is indicative of all the whiners who weild vast teams of lawyers on some quest for personal freedom when all they are really doing is wasting time and money. It's indicative of kids who think they're entitled to things just because they think they should have them. It's indicative of all the spoiled little brats who ruin it for everyone else.

    If you're trying to say that this is a symptom of kids being treated unfairly, you're right. Kids are treated unfairly. So are adults. So is everyone. If you're going to fight unfair treatment you have to pick your battles, and a stupid movie that no one will even remember in a few years just doesn't seem like a very good one to me. There's too many other bad things going on to make this much of a deal over a movie that is legal in all 50 states for people over 17.

  • First of all, many of these theaters are not allowing any people under the age of 18 in PERIOD. Not with an adult, not with a parent, not at all

    Boo Hoo. It's a movie. Get on with life. These kids will see it sooner or later, one way or another if they really want to.

    The only form of censorship which is even remotely defendable is that of the parent.

    I cant agree with that more. I hope every single kid who got kicked out gets their parents to rent it for them if they really want to see it (when it comes out of course)

    The only thing I'm saying is we're not talking about burning books or anything here. If you dont like the theater's policy dont go. If yout dont want the rule around, write the MPAA. Just dont try to pass this off as some horrible injustice to the kids of today, they have way bigger problems.

  • Either you've got a really novel notion of what constitutes deranged or you've never been out of your American hole.

    Japan is numero uno for child porn because Japanese males have an unrestrained passion for naked pictures of pubescent girls. They show up most often in the states as 'Lolitas.' The practice is winked at in Japan, but is common and public, available at every newsstand. Does it surprise you coming from a country that is still 100 years behind in it's valuation of women?

    Re: Puritanical Beliefs. I swear, you and Katz have been smoking the same DOPE. Read Ian Buruma's `Wages of Guilt' for starters if you want an inside take on the screwed up social cesspool that is modern Japan. I think both of you (and a large number of the flubber-mouthed anti-establishment knitwits on Slashdot) need to learn that Puritans and 'Puritanical beliefs' (in it's popular usage) are not the same thing. The racket about the persisting influence of 'Puritanism' gets really old, because most of the fools stupid enough to incautiously lambaste it only know of it from having seen 'The Crucible', written in 1953 as a thinly veiled jab at McCarthy's 'witchhunt' for communists.

    Change Gears: Scandinavia? You've got to be kidding me! Consider: it is legal to own or produce child porn...just as long as you don't sell it. This is healthy?

    BTW Scandinavian countries, while having differing attitudes on sex, consider lots of things that are taken for granted by Americans to be pure horrors. And they're not of one mind about the issue: Sweden on the conservative side and Denmark on the liberal side with the other countries more or less conservative based on the issue. Consider what IS prohibited: Gay or Lesbian couples adopting children and most forms of drugs. Consider what is HEAVILY REGULATED: Alcohol and nicotine cannot be advertised, are HEAVILY taxed, and are severely restricted concerning the places where they may used or purchased.

    Since the subject of your post was movie ratings consider this: ALL Scandinavian countries have movie ratings systems. They work somewhat differently than the American system in the type of content they seek to screen (mostly the Uber-Violence that characterizes Hollywood today) from children. But a significant fact is here if you can stomach it: AGE is still the benchmark, and it is the STATE who makes the decisions.

    CiXeL, I don't think the porn you downloaded (and are apparently still downloading) has made you 'mentally deranged.' Morally deranged, yes. And mentally stupid, if you think humans have become smart enough to not do things to themselves or others that are harmful. Laws decided on by the community for the community's own good are the cornerstone of self government and hence democracy. Like a man says, "It ain't perfect, but it's better than everything else." In keeping with wildman Katz' loopy anarchism, you're supporting a principle of thought that isn't a system. It's chaos, and no basis for governance.

    Yeah, I can imagine you're pissed at me right now for sounding off on you. Maybe if you slowed down long enuf du korekt UR spellign you might have to consider the content of your thoughts before you inflict them on the rest of us.

  • I am really, really old. Born in (gasp! wheeze!) the Kennedy Administration. When I was sixteenish I was denied legal entry to see 'Serpico' and was really pissed about it. Same with 'Last Tango in Paris' (wow....butter!) the year before, and others, more than I care to remember. Point is, I survived to see them, and many others; I also swore that I would support kids who want to see movies of their choice when I got 'old.' So, here I am, agreeing with the overall Katzian theme that the kids are alright, BUT must we really devote so much bandwidth to this? Yes, I know that I am contributing to the problem rite now, but....gosh!

    ps: 'affect' should have been 'effect'.....just to show I was paying attention
  • Bottom line - it's not the theater's decision what our children see. It's the parents' decision. As Katz says, violent crime among young people has been dropping, not rising. Who decided that movies have anything to do with this? Why is it OK to see graphic violence on cable or the internet but teenagers can't see movies that are about people their age, such as American Pie?

    Your point about mature children makes no sense - it's nobody's decision but the parents' whether a child is mature enough to see a movie with some sexual humor and a little nudity. Katz is definitely advocating responsible parenting - what he's NOT advocating is the hands-off parenting that's all too common, letting internet filtering software and MPAA ratings have the final say in what their children see.
  • What are the theaters attempting to gain by this censorship? Why is it evil for american kids to watch a movie that might be just a little violent? I saw "Blair Witch Project" last night, and I found it extremely entertaining. Even though it had an R rating, and I'm 15, it wasn't anything I couldn't handle. Why don't they allow parents to make the decisions for their children, and not put it up to the theaters, who are ran by huge companies that are always afraid of being sued?
  • Hes talking about e-mails sent directly to him, not AC comments on /. Beleive it or not /. comments are not a representitive sample of the population!
  • Here is the very first sentance of Katz's post, as you obviously have trouble with the English language I have emphasied the relevant part

    "Columns last week on Ticket Booth Tyranny drew well over a thousand e-mail messages, mostly from kids (including many of those ushers) enraged at theater chain restrictions, posturing and hypocrisy, and scrambling to buy DVD's and build home theaters.
  • Katz, this is really stupid. You're trying to defend kids' inalienable rights to see crappy movies?

    I think American Pie is a bad example to use here, because the crappiness of the movie gets in the way of a more important point. Remember, these restrictions prevent kids from seeing any R-rated movie by themselves.

    Any R-rated movie.

    What does that include? An awful lot. I pulled some videos from my shelf and came up with a short list of thoughtful and well-made movies that earned an R rating:

    • The Color of Money. This movie contains strong language and very brief situations with drugs and nudity (probably ten or fifteen seconds total).
    • Bull Durham. This movie contains strong language and quite a lot of "sexual situations" (usually defined as frank discussions of sex, or implied sex onscreen without nudity, such as sex under the covers). No nudity except for Tim Robbins' butt.
    • Boogie Nights. The movie is all about sex, but the only nudity are a few nipples and one incredibly fake penis. A lot of strong language, some violence.
    • The Big Lebowski. This movie contains strong language and one or two very brief "sexual situations," but no nudity.
    • The Fabulous Baker Boys. A lot of strong language and sexual situations, no nudity.
    • Witness. No strong language; some violence, very brief nudity.
    • Rain Man. Some strong language, one or two sexual situations, no nudity, no violence.
    • Secrets and Lies. I cannot possibly fathom how this movie earned an R rating. It contains nothing that is traditionally found objectionable by the morality police. I don't think anyone even says "fuck."
    • Drugstore Cowboy. Strong language, a lot of drug use, a little violence.
    • To Die For. Strong language, some sexual situations, a little violence, no nudity.
    • Kiss of the Spider Woman. Strong language and violence, one sexual situation, though it is between two men, which is probably the chief reason this got an R.
    • Wag the Dog. This movie contains strong language, a few sexual situations (people discussing the President's molestation of an underage girl), a little implied violence.
    • Network. Strong language, one or two sexual situations, a little violence.

    The point is that while these movies are not exactly children's fare, neither are they slasherfests, pornos or aimless sex comedies. None of them use violence, sex or language to be gratuitous; without exception they are thoughtful, well-crafted and provoking.

    The problem is not that kids are being prevented from seeing crappy movies. The problem is that almost no films worth seeing receive a rating less than an R. Any movie which is sufficiently mature to be interesting winds up getting an R rating. A policy which refuses to allow children under 17 to see movies like these (is it really 18 now?) is a policy which declares children only fit for pabulum. I'm not surprised that kids resent being treated this way.
  • : Is being treated differently because you are
    : younger than 18 discriminatory? Hell yes, but it
    : is also the point at which the LAW determines
    : whether or not you're an adult. As arbitrary as
    : it sounds, the law says the day before you turn
    : 18 is different than your birthday.

    Well, actually, in most if not all states, you are
    considered to have reached the age of majority on
    the day before your 18th birthday. Therefore the
    day before and the day of are the same, but two
    days before would be different :)

    Sorry, just had to point that out, it'll never
    happen again. Honest!

    Tim Wilde
    Sysadmin, Dynamic DNS Network Services
  • Here he goes again! For someone who claimed he's on the verge of joining the libertarians, Katz doesn't have clue as to what liberty even means.

    If the government were passing laws telling who theaters could and could not admit, then he would have a valid point. But theaters are privately owned businesses. If they don't want to admit children to certain movies, then that is their business. Freedom is not about one group of people telling another group how to conduct their day-to-day affairs.

    If you feel so strongly about this, why don't you just go open up your own theatre? It's certainly much more productive than whining.
  • The phrase "good journalist", to me, implies that we're comparing him with other journalists. By that standard, he is indeed a "good journalist".

    Of course, that doesn't make him a good writer. Just less lousy than a lot of people who pass for journalists in the rest of the media. (Off-topic: Am I the only one who finds the phrase "New Media" to be absurdly pretentious? Of course, that's partly an argument against Katz, also...)
  • Arrgh, sorry the formatting sucks. Forgot I was in HTML mode.
  • As soon as this article appeared, I thought "Great merciful crap, he's at it again, time to filter JonKatz"... but then I read it. Surprisingly free of the usual grammatical/spelling errors, this article was also written in a much more rational tone than some of your previous work. Of course, I might think this just because I completely agree with you or because I haven't slept enough lately. ;) The cheap trick of using "innocent children" as a ploy to pass censorship legislation is as disgusting as it is unAmerican. It's not just in the Linux community that information wants to be free; more info = better choices not just in operating systems but in all aspects of our lives. Arbitrarily preventing children from watching movies is not going to have any positive effect - all it does is try and cut people off from some aspect of human experience. No one is born with morals - they must be learned, by seeing what goes on in the world and being taught, and deciding for yourself, what's right and what's wrong. Two relevant urls: _The Parking Lot is Full_ on 'protecting' children [] Salon article on teens using the internet to make informed decisions about sex []
  • AC, you just don't get it, do you?

    I'm 16. I'm a CHILD. I can't wait until I turn 18 and have this huge revelation that will turn me into an ADULT. Which is quite strange, since you would think that by taking college biology I would have heard at least a little about this instantaneous intellectual maturation that occurs at the same time in all human beings.

    You want an example? Insurance companies treat male drivers under 18 and male drivers 18-25 as being in the same age category. Maybe they know something you don't. Stupid people, no matter what their age, make stupid decisions. And funny, I haven't heard of anyone in their early twenties being refused a ticket to "Eyes Wide Shut."

    Of course we're going to support his position to have more freedom. Look back through history. Anyone under unjust restriction has supported the removal of those restrictions. I might point you to a document titled "The Bill of Rights." Particularly note the section entitled "Amendment I." Note that nowhere does it state that this right is dependent upon age.

    And regarding Nicole Kidman's butt, I seem to recall seeing that entire scene in the movie trailer, just before Star Wars. I'm sure all of those little kids were deeply scarred by seeing this scene.

    Now, I'm not saying that 8-year old kids should be allowed into "Eyes Wide Shut" without a parent or someone responsible for them. But just how many 8 year olds do you see going to the theatre by themselves? I can't say I see many. Most of the CHILDREN I see being denied tickets for "South Park" and "Eyes Wide Shut" are teenagers -- many of which have done things themselves that are more explicit than anything shown in the censored American version of the movie.

    Get a "k"lue.
  • A Clockwork Orange was rereleased either last year or the year before. Tragically, it got very little notice.
    The only place around me that showed it was the theater that plays, virtually exclusively, art films that have no popular interest. Unfortunately, that particular theater is not exactly in a nice part of the city, so i generally wait for video release.
    BTW it was reviewed by the MPAA and the rating WAS bumped up to an NC-17 for the rerelease.
  • Me too? Hell no. Just register and filter him out if you can't stand it anymore. I agree with your comments, I used to like him but now he's off his rocker. But know what? Some of the most interesting discussions take place beneath his rocker-less rantings. Cripes, this is what makes ./ so much fun. Keep him around for target practice.

  • I think people are missing his point. His key example was a mother who even though she had no objection to her children seeing the movie had the right to decide taken away from her by the theater. What that is, is people right being arbitrarily taken away at whim because of basically powerful lobbying groups. If people could get read what he is saying, although a bit verbosely is, this is not a singular event and nothing prevents other rights from being taken away virtually by these powerful lobbying groups. Unfortunatlly we really don't live in a free country are rights are seemingly control not by the constitution but by the powerful and even worse in many times a whimsical fashion. In the end it is the non powerful people (read: us) suffer and have to deal with this. What, just because in this instance it is children it is not as important? In most cases these children are going to see these movies with the full permission of their guardians who are in the end who are responsible for them, mainly since they realize that what they are seeing in the movies, well is nothing new to them, any parents that believe otherwise should open their eyes. Yeah children are going to be upset, this is arbitrary and silly if if you bothered to read what many of them wrote they made pretty damn mature points, but it seems so many of you just want to see them as whinning children. It is sad that people wish delegate their rights to whatever powerful lobbying groups wish to control them. This is supposedly a country for the people by the people but in reality it is a country of many controlled by the few. If none of you can see that was mainly his point then you are sadly blind to the world around you. Instead of seeing his point, people have choosen to take the common media presentation of this subject, that the people that are complaining are children that are just upset they can't see the movies, this is a capatilistic free soceity and if you don't like it don't go to the movies and of course since the movie business is not going out of business from people not going then these people complaining are radicals or bratty kids. How can argue with that logic? But this is not simply a text book capatilistic or even a free soceity so the basic premise is already false. For more information read Noam Chomsky [], although he does not really talk about issues like this he does talk about how the US soceity really works.
  • You have a point. A limited, but valid, point. As always, when applying a generality to a population, there are people caught under a broad stroke of generality that really don't belong there. In this case, you make a claim that the e-mails Katz recieved from kids (16-17 year old kids) should be discounted because they are not adults on the basis that adults always see the whole picture when kids do not. First off, in my experiance with adults, the statement that they all see the whole picture is absolutly absurd. I'm sure we can all think of examples of adults that haven't a clue. I'm also sure that we can all think of some kids (again, talking the 16-17 year old range, right before they make the magic jump to 18) who really handle themselves well and are mature as any normal adult. (I do conceed that on average, adults have experienced more and are much more mature. Just don't blanket the entire group - either one)

    Unfortunatly, parenting has been shifted off of the parents shoulders, and this movie junk is just another symptom of that. For instance, the high school I graduated from felt that kids were not being taught to be community minded by their parents, hence they required each student to perform 80 hours of "volunteer" work to graduate. Last I checked, schools taught academics and parents taught social lifestyle and morality. This is changing, and now movie theatres are trying to teach morality also. And my word is something lost in the generality from parent-child to institution-children. Reminds me of an aformentioned generality.

    Anyway, this post is long enough.

    Penrif - An 18 year old college Junior whos 4th grade teacher wanted to be his parent and hold him back because he wasn't social enough and thought he should be with kids his own age.

    (I know my mother won't read this, but thank you mom for standing up to her!)
  • by SirSlud ( 67381 ) on Wednesday August 04, 1999 @11:54AM (#1765734) Homepage
    The recent talks on censorship have simply gone to show how we've become a lowest common denominator society.

    a) We'll gladly deny millions of kids the responsibility of enjoying a movie to ensure that a handful don't use it as a source of twisted inspiration and do anything bad with it.

    b) Making something available to the public is far harder than making something unavailable. Ie, the group that /doesn't/ want something will almost invariably win over the (generally larger) group that /does/ want something. This is the lowest common denominator - we seem to be pulling back art, media, culture as fast as we can find slices of the population that have a problem with it.

    If you buy into the law of conservation of badness, you can suggest that censoring an experience will cause 10 children to go out and do it themselves out of curiosity, while making the experience avaiable will cause 10 different children to go out and do it themselves out of imitation. To put it more simply, some kids start smoking cause someone lets them try it, others start cause their parents pretented like smoking didn't exist.

    Those in favour of censorship are often some of the most hypocritical of the bunch. Ei, a group of judges that would coil in horror when called to judge upon their own private interests.

    The other thing that irks me is the complete lack of focus on the responsibility of the artist. To get right to the point we shouldn't /need/ censorship because an artist should create his work with a clear intention to present his or her values. The thing many people can't grasp is that you can support positive moral views by presenting subversive ones. It is up to the consumer to distinguish what is being presented in a 'dont do this' light and what is not. I firmly believe (I'm 21) that kids are able to do this if their parents havn't twisted their minds already with the "monkey see, monkey do" and "see no evil, hear no evil" mentality.


God made the integers; all else is the work of Man. -- Kronecker