Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

The MPAA: Helping Movies Become PSAs

That wave of teenage shrieks emanating from our nation's Hot Topics and multiplexes can only mean one thing: The hottest, most-anticipated, tween sensation since New Moon is poised to hit theaters very soon. I'm talking, of course, about It's Complicated.

OMG! Are you Team Alec or Team Steve? Better pick a side before December 25th or risk getting trampled in the ensuing tweenage chaos that's sure to accompany every screening of this film.


But according to an article in today's LA Times, the MPAA is doing all it can to prevent the soft, silly-putty brains of 13-16 year-olds (clearly the target audience of It's Complicated) from seeing their two fave middle-aged heartthrobs battle it out for the middle-aged divorcee they most identify with, Meryl Streep. Why? Apparently because It's Complicated wants to be a movie instead of a PSA about the dangers of marijuana usage. Seriously.

The [MPAA's] Classification and Ratings Appeals Board on Wednesday denied the studio's appeal of an R rating for its new Nancy Meyers romantic comedy "It's Complicated," throwing a potential marketing hurdle in the film's path.

The MPAA's ruling cited "some drug content and sexuality" for the film about a love triangle among upper-middle-class suburbanites. Those familiar with the board hearing said the inclusion of a scene featuring "pot-smoking with no bad consequences" was key to the decision.

The comedy, set to be released Christmas Day, features a comic scene in which characters played by Steve Martin and Meryl Streep smoke pot for the first time in several decades. The studio has decided not to cut the scene — it is, incidentally, one of Martin's few showcase scenes — and will release the film with an R rating.


Middle-aged people giggling—that's definitely something we should shield our 13-16-year-olds from. Obviously, Nancy Meyers should have had Meryl Streep and Steve Martin jump out of a window, or stab each other with forks because they're hallucinating that they're both salads, or gain 5 pounds from eating a gallon of ice cream, or tell the same boring story three times in a row—you know, bad things that happen everytime anyone smokes pot.

Sure, it may seem thoroughly arbitrary to give an R rating to a light, middle-age divorce comedy because in it two people smoke a joint without falling down the gateway drug rabbit hole eventually turning to petty theft to support their crack habits, while an arguably more objectionable  movie like New Moon somehow gets a PG-13. But what the MPAA understands better than anyone is that movies aren't just entertainment—they're our teachers. Every movie has one (and only one) lesson to impart to its impressionable viewers. The overall lesson of It's Complicated isn't "Love is crazy!" or "Old people: still doin it!" or "Zanytime!," it's "Smoking weed has absolutely no bad consequences ever." That's a dangerous lesson that kids must be kept away from. New Moon's overall lesson, however, seems to be "Emotional abuse is fine if it's true love! Also, dudes can't be responsible for their anger—that's just the beast in them!"—which is a great message for everyone between the ages of 13-16, and should probably be taught in schools, not just in movie theaters (which are a kind of school, you know?)


So, thank you, MPAA, for keeping our kids safe. Nevermind the fact that, regardless of the rating, the only way a 13-16-year-old kid would ever see It's Complicated is in the company of a parent or guardian—you're really making a statement here by insuring that that happens. That statement, of course, is "Duh."   

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