In response to Jo Granch of Huntington Beach (Calendar Letters, Jan. 5): Why do you think the American public is being fooled by the NC-17 rating? The ones being fooled are those who are so naive and poorly informed about what is actually occuring with the ratings system, and the parents who neglect it.
When the Motion Picture Assn. of America started the ratings system in 1968, the X rating was never registered through copyright laws. Because of this error on their part, producers of true hard-core pornography exploited the X rating with XX, XXX and Super X ratings on their films. The stigma settled on the rating, completely overlooking that it was created for films with strict adult themes (more than just sex).
The NC-17 rating allows film makers to produce works in their entirety without the risk of censorship and to (promote them for) adult audiences, where--like it or not, Jo--there is a market for this type of film. This type of film does not have to play in "seedy parts of town," as you suggest. There are individuals, from all classes, who would like more films such as these. They are tired of the film market being dictated by youth (the 17-25 audience from the USA Today survey you cited) and dollars.
So where does the responsibility lie? Two areas. First, theater owners must work toward assisting in implementing the ratings system to serve all their patrons. Nothing is more annoying than sitting through an R-rated film with unsupervised children around.
Second, and most important, parents have to accept more responsibility for what the kids see. The ratings system is a guideline for film content--not a law--for them to follow. Children are not going into R-rated films like "Reversal of Fortune" or "GoodFellas." These films do not interest them. It's science-fiction or action films like the Freddy Krueger films, "RoboCop 2" and "Predator 2." It's amazing that a film like "Total Recall," with more than 100 acts of violence, can dodge the X-rating bullet (which it did) by cutting less than 10 seconds. These are the films kids are going to see and rent at the video stores.
Jo, you impress upon all of us the seriousness of the issue. I think the serious issue here is the real content of what our children are being allowed to see and why parents are not making a greater effort (to monitor) what they see. Art only imitates society's actions; it does not create them. If it were the other way around, I subscribe to what George Carlin once said: I would rather have my children see two people making love than two people killing each other.
More letters: F5