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I am writing about your [Joseph Farah's] comments on the evolving MPAA rating system as well as your comments about old classics such as John Wayne movies receiving a rating of R.

First, there are three major categories that are looked at to rate movies: violence, nudity-sex, and language.

Violence

Historically when movies were rated based on aggressive or violent behavior, we took into account the context. First, if the aggressive or violent behavior was positive, we considered it acceptable viewing material for children, and if the aggressive or violent behavior was negative, we considered it unacceptable for children. For example, if John Wayne or anyone one else were to shoot a killer to save lives, that would be positive. If a man were to shoot another man who was trying to rape his wife, that would be positive. If the film were about World War II and a U.S. soldier shot a Nazi soldier, that would be positive.

On the other hand, if Freddy Kruger were to commit mass, violent killings, that would be negative and not suitable for children. Or if a bad guy were shown raping or violently killing innocent people, that would be negative and not suitable as well. However, as society has changed and as the “make love not war” crowd has taken over Hollywood, we now have a different standard. The new standard is that any depiction of aggressive or violent behavior is unsuitable for children. We no longer make distinctions based on the context in which the aggressive or violent behavior occurs. Therefore, John Wayne movies are all rated R for violence, as are most westerns and old movies. Even cartoons like “Tom & Jerry” or “Bugs Bunny” would get an R rating under today’s standard.

To better understand this, just keep in mind that the people who rate movies are more often than not people who would characterize Israeli retaliation against terrorism as perpetuating a “cycle of violence.”

Nudity-Sex

Historically when movies were rated, the standard was that any nudity or explicit discussion of sex was not suitable for children and thus received an R rating or worse. However, now that secular humanists are rating movies, we now make a distinction between non-sexual nudity and sexual nudity. Furthermore, distinctions are made between explicit depictions of sex and general discussions (non-explicit depictions) of sex.

With nudity now acceptable in PG13-rated movies, as long as it is said to be non-sexual in nature, filmmakers are now free to show men or women totally nude from behind running around doing whatever as long as it is not in a sexual context. Even PG-rated movies allow for “comedic nudity” or “brief nudity.” Furthermore, explicit discussions about sex are permissible in PG13-rated films. Filmmakers are not limited to just showing total rear nudity in PG13-rated movies (however I am not sure that any further nudity has been permitted in PG13-rated movies yet, but I am sure it is only a matter of time).

You may not be aware of this, but the television show “ER” filmed an episode where a 70-year-old women showed her breasts in a scene and it was set to broadcast last year, but after the Janet Jackson situation, the scene was cut. “ER” producers argued that it was acceptable because it was non-sexual nudity.

You may or may not know that, as of about 1998, it is now permissible to show a man’s penis or a woman’s vagina in R-rated movies as long as it is non-sexual in nature. There have only been a handful of movies that have shown this type of explicit nudity to this point, but I am sure more are to follow. It is also only a matter of time before it will be permissible to show a woman’s breasts in PG13-rated movies, and I believe this has only been slowed because of the Janet Jackson situation.

Therefore, yesterday’s X-rated movies that showed graphic nudity and fairly explicit simulated sex are today’s R-rated movies. Yesterday’s R-movies that showed graphic discussions about sex and full rear nudity are today’s PG13-rated movies. Yesterday’s XXX-rated movies that showed graphic visual depictions of actual sex are today’s NC17 or X-rated movies. Hardcore pornography is now said to be bestiality, S&M and other forms of alternative sex.

Language

Historically we considered any use of foul language to be unacceptable for children and thus warranting an R-rating. However, now we are considering the context in which words are used. For example when the singer Bono used the F-word on television, it was said to be acceptable because he used it as an adjective and not to describe a sex act. Furthermore, when “Saving Private Ryan” was on television and the F-word was used, it was again said to be OK because of the context. Due to this new way of looking at curse words, we are sure to see more curse words in PG13-rated movies.

Finally, to summarize, if good guys kill bad guys in movies that is violence and deserving of an R rating. If a guy gets locked out of his house naked, it is OK to show, because that is non-sexual nudity or comedic nudity, or if a woman is shown totally nude from behind while changing clothes, that is again non-sexual nudity and OK.

Therefore, if John Wayne were shown peeking into women’s bathrooms to see their naked rear end in the shower, that would be much more acceptable under today’s guidelines than if he shot a rapist.

When one asks the question of how did we get to the point were showing someone totally naked from behind is seen as less offensive than depicting fighting in war, I believe part of the answer comes from Christians no longer standing up for Christian values.

There are moral absolutes and we should not be afraid to say so. Casual or public nudity is simply always wrong, cross-gender nudity is always wrong unless necessary in an emergency situation or out of general medical necessity with your spouse’s approval. Explicit discussions of sex with anyone other than your spouse or your children (for teaching purposes) are always wrong except where necessary for medical purposes.

I can’t understand why Christians don’t just stand up and say what is right and wrong. Sure Christians may complain about pornography and strip clubs, but when was the last time a Christian leader stood up and talked about the immorality of nude art classes, nude camps or group physicals? Strip clubs and art classes are basically the same thing. While one may place may contain overtly sexual nudity and the other covertly sexual nudity, both situations are equally immoral and both are in fact sexual in nature.

Furthermore, where are the Christian leaders talking about the immoral practice of using male guards in female prisons or female guards in male prisons or allowing female reporters to enter a men’s locker room to conduct interviews in professional sports?

Christians are asking for moral problems by not standing up for moral absolutes. The Bible is clear on these issues and we should not be afraid to say so. The Bible does not say that nudity is OK as long as it is not sexual in nature. In fact, the Bible makes it clear that unnecessary nudity is wrong and that all nudity between people of the opposite sex is sexual in nature and must be limited to prevent lusting and immorality.

And when Moses saw that the people were naked (for Aaron had made them naked unto their shame among their enemies), And it came to pass on the next day, that Moses said unto the people, Ye have sinned a great sin: and now I will go up unto the Lord; I shall make an atonement for your sin.

– Exodus 32: 25 and 30


The eye cannot say to the hand. “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet. “I don’t need you! On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty.

– I Corinthians 12:21-23

We wonder why interrogators in Afghanistan and Iraq thought that it was acceptable to strip prisoners in front of female interrogators who would make fun of their genitals? Such gross immorality is clearly an abomination before God and not consistent with our country’s values. But, on the other hand, how would they know that if they simply watched a lot of PG13-rated movies?

Richard

P.S. A good website to check out that will give you a detailed description on the ratings on individual movies is www.screenit.com.

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