Re: [Videolib] Not Rated Films

John Holland (
Mon, 31 Mar 2003 14:51:36 -0600

We don't pay much attention to ratings in our decisions, relying instead on
reviews, name recognition, "significance" of the film, and/or personal
knowledge. Ratings are an issue for the patron to decide, and in most cases
we get thanks for carrying things which Blockbuster won't touch. There was
however a scene recently about a PG rated movie called "Bingo", described in
several sources as a childrens/family film. We put genre labels on our
features to help steer people in the appropraite direction, and this video was
labelled "Children's". Someone checked it out and proceeded to raise a ruckus
over the Children's designation because the film has some "swearing" and "THE
FINGER" in it. Apparently none of this was bad enough to get it a PG-13 rating
(and even "Stuart Little" is rated PG), so in spite of people like Leonard
Maltin saying it is suitable for kids, this woman went to straight to the top,
and received support from the head of children's services! The moral is: don't
assume ratings are self-explanatory or a guarantee that someone won't find
something to get upset about (I won't even start on the one about the patron
who had a fit because "The Ruling Class" had a comedy label on it!).
As far as the decision whether to rate or not, I understand that some
newspapers won't advertise films with an NC-17 rating, so some filmmakers
choose to stick with no rating rather than be damned as "near-porn"or to cut
the film to get it rated R. And of course, any films made before the ratings
system came into being about 40 years ago were all unrated. I suppose in some
people's minds that means "Casablanca" must be similar to "Crash" in content!

Holly Sammons wrote:

> I find that more frequently I am coming across 'not rated' films that I
> either purchase directly or get donated to my library that I take home to
> watch, mostly out of fear from the cover presentation that they may not be
> appropriate for a public library - mine specifically. My library's
> collection policy for films, specifically says we will buy nothing beyond
> an "R" rating. Needless to say, I buy too many films each year to watch
> them all! I rely on the ratings greatly so when a film is 'not rated' I
> get worried. I have found that sometimes these films would qualify a "G"
> rating and others an NC-17. I guess I have two questions, how do other
> libraries deal with this? (I'm assuming this is only an issue in public
> libraries) and secondly, why do films not get rated? or maybe my question
> should be, what are the benefits of bypassing the rating scheme?
> --
> Holly Sammons, Librarian
> Onondaga County Public Library
> 447 So Salina St
> Syracuse NY 13202
> 315-435-1894
> _______________________________________________
> Videolib mailing list

John Holland
Librarian,  Media Express
Chicago Public Library
Harold Washington Library Center
(312) 747-4113

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