I have always been vehemently opposed to parental warnings on music, books and television.
They seem like thinly veiled censorship to me, just another way for people to dictate how and what an artist creates.
Many people would say that I feel this way because I don’t have children. Nothing pisses me off more than someone suggesting that I can’t make a rational decision because I haven’t given birth.
I recognize that having a child changes the way you think about everything and live your life, but it doesn’t give you permission to treat people who have chosen to not have children with derision.
But that’s a rant for another day.
I remember back in the early nineties when Tipper Gore spearheaded the whole parental advisory sticker on music movement. I was appalled that stores decided not to carry music with the label. And I was even more horrified that someone could decide which music was “explicit” and wasn’t. Isn’t that an individual decision?
But the stickers are now commonplace. Like movie ratings, I’ve stopped noticing them completely.
And they’re on TV too. I usually fast forward right over them, but I know the stark, black and white TV-MAs, TV-14s and TV-PGs are there.
The ratings and advisories just don’t bother me anymore. Maybe it’s because I’m older. Or maybe it’s because I haven’t witnessed a spate of artists changing their content in order to get a “safer” rating and sell more. Or maybe it’s because they are so routinely used now.
I can understand a parent not wanting their six year old watching Californication. If they aren’t smart enough to figure it out from the name of the show and the ratings help, fine.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m still firmly in my mother’s camp when it comes to censoring what a kid is exposed to. If I came to her and said that I wanted to read a book that was written for an older reader, which I did because I read so much, she said yes, but told me to come to her if I had any questions. More parents should be like that.
In our society, we rate things and advise instead of having a conversation. Other people tell parents what they’re kids should and shouldn’t read, watch or listen to. So be it.
But if we’re going to warn people, I think we need to be more inclusive. There are a lot of other things out there besides violence, sex and bad language that I’d like to know about ahead of time.
I hate rats and mice. I can’t stand to even think about them. And they are on TV a lot. More than you’d think, actually. I’ve come to expect that every time I’m watching a crime show and they chase a “perp” into a tunnel, sewer or ally, there will be rats. I close my eyes just in case.
But sometimes they surprise you by popping a rat or two in someplace you don’t expect. Or they don’t show just one scurrying rat, they show dozens. And you can hear them. Or they show a corpse that has been eaten by rats.
If there are going to be rats on television, at least put an “R” under the rating so I’m prepared.
I’m not as scared of snakes as I am rats, but there are tons of people out there with snake phobias.
Sometimes you know there are going to be snakes, Snakes on a Plane, Anaconda, etc. But just like rats, they like to slip them in to make you jump.
And they don’t usually show little garden snakes, they use big ones. The kind that wrap around your body and squeeze you to death.
I bet that those snakes cause more nightmares and sleepless nights than seeing someone get shot or hearing a swear word.
They should add an “H” for snakes, because S is all ready used for sex and snakes hiss.
#3 Jerky Camera Movements
I’ve written before about getting motion sick in movies. I had to leave both Twister and Speed because they were mostly shot in moving vehicles. And I only survived Blair Witch Project thanks to Dramamine and my sheer will to scare myself to death.
I even got sick during the film of the last Broadway performance of Rent because they used handheld cameras.
Television shows are tending to be jerkier now too. I guess they think it’s artsy or edgy. I’ve had to close my eyes during episodes because of car chases, that circling camera thing they do where the person stands still and the camera moves in a full circle around them and overhead shots that swoop down.
This should probably have more than a letter associated to it because sometimes there is just a scene shot like that and sometimes it’s the whole movie or show. Maybe a combination of letters and numbers, like J (for jerky camera movements) 1, 2 or 3, with 3 being the whole show and 1 being just one or two scenes.
#4 Death of an Animal
This is probably covered by the violence tag, but I think pets deserve their own rating because it’s so much worse watching a pet die than it is watching a person get killed. But maybe that’s just me.
I’ve turned shows off because there’s a cat or dog that I just know is going to die. And I only watched that silly Robert Downey, Jr. movie Due Date after a co-worker swore up and down that nothing happened to Zach Galifianakis’s little dog.
So they should stick an “A” up there if something is going to happen to an animal. I would enjoy a lot more movies if I knew that the cat is going to make it to the end of the film.
So, what do you say? If we’re going to warn about content, shouldn’t we offer alerts about important things like rats and motion sickness too?