aNewDomain — When I watch a movie on cable, the channel tells me all about it. HBO and Showtime and most of the basic movie channels do ratings, and everything on-demand does, too.
Rated G, no subtext.
Rated PG for some violence or adult situations.
Rated R for strong sexuality, nudity, language or violence.
This rating system leaves out some important stuff. Like a basic consideration of how racist the movie is.
Why bother? Well, because we know our movies are going to be violent – seems like we like them that way. And as long as they’re already rated R, the producers also try to cater to your baser instincts with some good female nudity. We don’t need to know any more about these things. We’ve decided already.
What we need to know is, what kind of culture do we want to live in?
I suggest the following ratings.
OW for the Overrepresentation of White People.
VW for Violence Against Women.
James Bond movies of yore would definitely get a VW rating. Double 0 seven seems to be always popping some woman in the mouth. Here to accept tonight’s award for casual misogyny for all the actors who ever played James Bond is Sean Connery’s fist. Check out the clip below.
Here to accept tonight’s award for casual misogyny for all the actors who ever played James Bond is Sean Connery’s fist.
WW: for Whitewashing History
Any time a movie removes women or minorities from the story and writes in white men instead, the movie should get a WW. Case in point? The movie “Extraordinary Measures.”
RB: For Racebending
A film gets an RB rating for using white people to portray people of other races. Two words illustrate this best. Yul Brynner.
SO for Portraying Women Only As Sex Objects
You get this one if every woman in your screenplay eventually takes off her shirt or the only roles for women are love interests for the men.
ST for Stereotyping
Oh, Disney, your stereotypes are so cute and condescending. Here’s the Siamese Cat Song (Peggy Lee and Sonny Burke), as featured in Disney’s “Lady and the Tramp.”
And finally, SR for straight-up racism
We must look no further than “Gone with the Wind.”
And I get it. I know. This is many people’s favorite movie. But it’s about the most racist thing ever committed to film, short of the stuff that meant to be racist.
The background of the movie is the South collapsing, all the good things about it evaporating overnight with the end of slavery.
Which really was something folks were frightened of. Slavery built the South. The really racist part is that all the black folk are just as worried as the white ones. Without masters to boss them around, they wander listlessly around the countryside, depressed and maudlin, as nostalgic for slavery as the masters.
Seriously, watch it some time.
Could ratings like these backfire?
Sure. Such a rating system definitely could backfire. It could help us preselect the whitest, most sexist fare on offer, just like so many of us preselect our movies for violence and nudity now.
Indeed, some movies use their R rating as a selling point. The comedy central version of the Unfinished Business trailer, for example, proudly lists the nudity, language and drug-use in their show.
People who prefer not to experience and diversity in their viewing — and that seems to be most of us — can help diversity-friendly films bomb at the box office by refusing to see them.
Latino/a people are the least represented at the box office today. And this is the fastest-growing market share in the country. The free market is never going to work this out so long as white people are the biggest market. But that might not be forever.