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Just a thought I'd like to throw out:
The MPAA ratings system is, by its own definition, a tool for parents to
determine what films they feel are suitable for their children. It is not,
according to their own rhetoric, meant to be prohibitive - though it
obviously is.
(it's also a de facto form of censorship, but I won't get into that now.)
By those standards, is there any reason why educators should pay any
attention to film ratings? I'd hate to think that we are assuming roles of
surrogate parents when we prepare our classes..
But to take another approach, just as a parent presumably should be using the
rating system to determine what their children see, rather than accepting it
as an authoritative value judgment,  don't we, as educators, make that same
decision when we decide that there is some value in exposing our students to
"A Clockwork Orange" or "Psycho"AA Clockwork Orange". ?
Some of the recent comments on this have compared this issue to other classes
in which a student may object to ideas which contradict their religious
beliefs (my wife recently took a class on "The Bible as Literature" in which
several students objected to reading the text as anything other than the Word
of God) or literature classes in which students may object to racist language
in "Huckleberry Finn". But only in film studies do we face the obstacle -
albeit a largely symbolic one - of  a pre-existent ratings system.
Personally, I think it's one we're better off ignoring.
What rating do you suppose "Un Chien Andalou" would get anyway????
Robert Hunt
Adjunct faculty
Webster University

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