MPAA ratings

Mike Tribby (
Wed, 8 Dec 1999 11:05:43 -0800 (PST)

Not only is placing a label with the MPAA rating on a video or its
packaging a tacit endorsement of the rating, depending on the video it may
not even be accurate. Occasionally the MPAA changes ratings over time. I
think Midnight Cowboy is one such title. Not only that, but the
appropriateness of the ratings can erode over time--if they were ever truly
appropriate in the first place. Wasn't I am Curious Yellow rated X when it
came out? Would that be a valid rating today, even in the twisted world of
Jack Valenti? And what about different versions of films with different
ratings? Crimes of Passion has two distinct versions, one rated R, the
other not rated. If you slap an R on the unrated one, chances are patrons
will be in for a surprise or two. And then there's the R rating conundrum.
I don't like particularly gory fare, so I'm constantly appalled when brief
nudity and rough language get a film an R, but wholesale exploding skulls
and rivers of blood merit the same. I wouldn't remove the rating if it
appears on the packaging for a video, but I certainly wouldn't put any
effort into adding an MPAA rating. It just doesn't constitute reliable
information to me.

Mike Tribby
Senior Cataloger
Quality Books Inc.