Re: [Videolib] Not Rated Films

Scott Lehman (
Mon, 31 Mar 2003 17:59:01 -0600

The "unrated" or "not rated" problem has come up time and time again for us
as well. Our public library also makes an attempt to not order anything
with a current "X" or "NC-17" rating (with few exceptions). In one or two
cases, after an unrated film was added to the collection, patrons have
complained, I subsequently looked at the film, and did determine it to be
beyond the acceptable norms of our community. So I have pulled and
withdrawn only a couple of items. And we usually try to get the edited,
R-rated version of films like "Crash."

Anyway, here are some other reasons things might be unrated:

-Most things made-for-television will be unrated. This includes things made
for cable, so you never know. Many TV shows now have ratings like "TV-MA"
or "TV-Y."
-Obviously, most foreign films will be unrated, since the MPAA is in the
USA. And again, foreign films could be anywhere from G to NC-17.
-There are fees associated with getting your movie rated, enough that many
independent films might not even have the budget to submit a movie to be
rated. I'm not sure what the fees are, but I believe it is at least a few
thousand dollars.
-Of course, as mentioned in the last message, any films released prior to
1968 won't be rated.
-And, as mentioned below, if a filmmaker doesn't like the rating he or she
has been given, it might be released unrated.

Hope some of this helps. And if I'm wrong about any of this, someone can
correct me. Some of the things I've mentioned above are reasons why we tell
our patrons that we can't keep juveniles from checking out certain films--
ratings are at times haphazard, and can change over time. And so many are

Scott Lehman
Audio Visual Services
Evansville Vanderburgh Public Library

At 02:51 PM 3/31/2003 -0600, you wrote:
>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
>Videolib mailing list


Videolib mailing list