...where did the AA rating go?
by J.A. Hamilton
Perhaps the same cannot be said everywhere, but where I live (in the barren wilderness known as Canada) a curious transition occurred sometime after 2004 which was subtle at first but has become quite obvious to me over the past year. When the debate over violence got too loud to ignore, we lost our film rating middle ground. With the exception of G rated films (and the rare PG), weíve been left with PG-13 and R. The AA rating (Adult Accompaniment) used to bridge the gap between the two, giving directors and producers a little more leeway to work with, without having the MPAA constantly breathing down their necks. And now, itís gone.
"And THIS is what happens to smart asses who piss me off!"
The AA rating was arguably a bit of a loophole, as many films that should have hit theaters rated R (like STARSHIP TROOPERS and RESIDENT EVIL APOCALYPSE) for containing explicit violence, nudity and language, squeezed in rated AA. The debate over content, and/or whether or not children should be able to see it is totally irrelevant in my mind as far as the rating of the film is concerned. Iíve been getting into R rated flicks since I was twelve, my mother (who shrieks in terror at the mere mention of blood) would never have dreamed of taking me to one, instead she dropped me and some friends off at the theater (countless times) and asked another adult to get us in. Worked like a charm.
Will CLASH OF THE TITANS be the next 300?
So with this in mind, Iíve always laughed when studios blame the need for PG-13 ratings on money, saying that if itís rated R it wonít turn as big a profit because kids wonít be able to go see it. Wrong. If itís a good flick, kids will not only want to see it but WILL find a way in, I guarantee it. 300 wouldnít have made more money if it was rated PG-13, the fact that it was a hard R action extravaganza is what made it popular, which to me contradicts the idea that a film will make more money if itís rated PG-13 simply because a younger audience is able to view it in theaters. Make a great movie and itíll make money, period. Donít blame a dud on the rating, blame the writers.
Justin Long stole the show for me
With money and violence out of the way, the only other logical reason I could come up with goes back to the idea of AA being a loophole, and that directors and producers were starting to push the envelope a little too far and the MPAA got fed up. Take Kevin Smith for example and his debacle over ZACK AND MIRI MAKE A PORNO. I love the guy, I truly do, but he had to expect a couple red flags to go up when he decided to put the word ďpornoĒ in the title. I loved that film, and thought it was nowhere near as sadistic, raunchy or downright evil as the MPAA were making it out to be. Smith was made an example of, and Iím sure he wasnít the only one.
I'm still not completely sold on this flick
The fact remains that no matter what the reason for the disappearance of our middle ground rating, the damage and frustration itís causing in Hollywood has become painstakingly evident. Case in point, we ran a story revolving around the fact that THE WOLFMAN will be rated R. Should this be big news? Not really, but it is simply because it was going to be either R or PG-13 and nobody wanted to see the latter. The ratings issue is a broad one, with many sharp corners (this being only one of them) and in my opinion, there should ALWAYS be a middle ground in everything, especially movies. The AA rating is sorely missed, and I for one, would love to see it return.