Universalis, your very own breviary in pixels...

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Movie Ratings, Movie Advertizing, Movie Messages

I was watching some bits of the last Pirates of the Caribbean movie, (get that condescending, disapproving grimace off your face this instant! it was purely for research. Honest! For a project. Honest!)
Anyway, may I just say, that it is disgusting?
The grim ugliness of the opening, including that child being hanged is simply appalling, and it goes downhill from there.
I believe the rating was PG 14; but if I had a fourteen year old, I don't think I would want him watching it.
The first in the series was also sort of awful, but from what I can recall, (I never saw all of it, only the parts I needed for my research, YES, research...,) I would not have judged it offensive to the sensibilities or innocence of a fourteen year old.
I'm assuming it had the same rating, but whether it did or not -- I should think the expectations of anyone who saw the first, or read the first of such a series might be that the others would be appropriate for an audience of the same level of maturity.

And I don't think that is unreasonable.

But unfortunately it is no longer true -- if it ever was.
Now that I think of it, the second Indiana Jones movie was full of gore and nastiness that the first would not have led one to expect.

And not a series, per se, but I'm sure that more than one parent had to deal with a traumatized child after the Disney Hunchback, despite having been charmed by B&tB, or Little Mermaid.

Now, certainly authors or film-makers are entitled to change direction/genre/style/target audience.
(IIRC, Judy Blume took some unwarranted criticism for daring to write a novel aimed at adults.)

My problem is more a lack of truth in advertizing.

I think it is reprehensible to make your product look like something it is not, in the hopes of luring those who not only would not otherwise have given it a shot, but will almost certainly hate it when they are drawn in, (and perhaps hate you, for tricking them.)

This seems to happen far too often with movies, and films, in pursuit of "the Big Opening Weekend."
Advertizing, PR, hype, can accomplish their purpose very nicely, very deceitfully if you don't give a tinker's dam about the subsequent word of mouth.

I went to see Despereaux over the holidays. It is the first movie I have paid to see since the the final Indiana Jones installment, (ah, the joys of SAG membership! although I didn't actually pay for Despereaux, either, I was given a gift certificate.)

The ad campaign, regardless of the fact that the book on which it was base, (which I hadn't read,) was aimed at ten to twelve year olds, made it look cute, cuddly, uplifting; and enjoyable and safe for much younger children, even toddlers.
There were enough mothers with small children in the theater to show that I was not the only one thus fooled.
I talked with some afterwards, and they were justifiably angry.

The ugliness, and even hints of sadism in the violence, whether depicted, threatened or indicated to be happening off-screen, was pretty startling.

Having complained about all that, I should add that I, a middle-aged person, enjoyed it quite a bit -- the art direction was fabulous, the animation quite lovely, the references to classic art beautiful, the references to classic movies by turns witty charming and ironic, (I loved the Alexander Nevsky figures when the characters in a book came to life,) and the voice characterizations almost uniformly excellent.

My biggest non-age related complaint, and now that I think of it, this is age-related too -- the incredibly heavy-handed polemic masquerading as narration.
What happens when you make something illegal that is just a natural part of the world?
(Hmmmm... natural part of the world...mind-altering substances? homosexuality? killing of other members of ones own species? what did you have in mind?)

I don't think it was accidental.

An adult could ignore it, or take it, for good or ill, for what it was, but I can't help thinking it was intended to stealthily talk children into a point of view that would be far from universally held by their parents.
We're not talking about who-can-argue-with-that? messages like love your neighbor, obey your parents, clean your plate.

(And now that I think of it, that may be why it was advertized skewing to smaller viewers than it should have been. Get'em while they're young.)

I can't be the only one who thought there was some kind of dig at organized religion in the close-minded cowardly council of mice. (And why shouldn't Soup Day be "bigger than Christmas," especially since they're both fabricated, basically secular holidays, huh?)

And it wasn't even honest to its principles within it's "tolerance is the ultimate virtue" and "beauty is only skin deep" parameters.

Because rats did turn out to be villainous as a group, (as a race? as a lifestyle?)

And homely people did turn to be meant to spend their lives.... with pigs.

No comments: