Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Film & TV Ratings Too Complicated?

The LA Times reports that during a Senate Science, Technology, & Space

subcommittee hearing, Senator Brownback [Kansas] blasted the film & TV

rating system. He's quoted as saying, "Many [parents] find the current rating system overwhelming and confusing." Really. Well, I know plenty of parents who "get" it and go beyond ratings and are able to define the boundaries of "age-appropriateness." Then again, these are folks who actually know what their kids watch. Apparently, technology by ClearPlay is out there that allows content that is"encoded" as having violence, sex, and/or nudity to be skipped or muted on DVD players. A big issue for creative content producers (mainly film) is tailoring their work to get a specified rating (e.g., recutting to avoid R and the dreaded NC-17), so directors have a vested interest in revising the system with more gradations.

Nevertheless, the concern over indecency in the media has been heightened by the now infamous Janet Jackson wardrobe malfunction incident on the "all ages" rated Superbowl. Ringmaster, Jerry Springer, rated TV14, with blurred flashing and obviously appealing to the "prurient" interests, tiptoes under the FCC indecency radar. He's using a business model where more outrageous content can be bought via pay-per-view and guess this some cheesy basement operation akin to video streamed porn? Nope. It's big media, Universal, playing host to Jerry Springer Uncut 5 Raw & Original. This PPV model is not an isolated case as the racy Brazillian Big Brother can be viewed 24/7 (presumably uncut & unedited), circumventing regulatory scrutiny.

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