Regular readers of our humble little rag quite naturally turn to this space expecting to find our thoughts on the latest in cinematic offerings. And, truth be told, I had planned on reviewing three films this issue, Back Beat, a tale of the early days of the Beatles; The Snapper, a charming Irish comedy from the makers of The Commitments and Spike Lee's latest offering, Crooklyn.Unfortunately, these three films share one distinct trait and so, instead, I've decided to discuss what I consider a disturbing trend in modern movie-making.
Much wringing of the hands occurs these days concerning the effect the profligate depiction of graphic violence in modern films may be having on our youth. This may strike some as a legitimate concern but I view this outcry as an orchestrated effort to provide a smoke screen, concealing a trend that poses a greater threat to our collective well-being and sense of public decency. I refer, of course, to the recent disturbing proliferation of graphic vomit scenes in movies. I feel the time has come for the movie industry to police itself and, if it will not, for the Federal Government to intervene on behalf of the American movie-going public, yes, even the worldwide community of film lovers.
Lest anyone decry my stance as pro-censorship, let me say that I support free expression for artists of every stripe. With freedom, however, also comes responsibility and it's time for the world's filmmakers to pay the piper. The effect of onscreen violence on the behavior of movie-goers is currently being hotly debated. Persuasive arguments can be constructed for both sides of this volatile issue, the faction that claims that cinematic violence encourages violent acts on the street and the opposing camp who opine that the viewing of violence in movie theatres provides a release for hostile impulses, thereby leading to a decline in potential real-life crime.
Surely no one can dispute, however, the visceral reaction we all experience when we witness the tossing of cookies graphically depicted on the big screen. Who among us doesn't get a bit queasy at such moments? Who doesn't feel at least the fleeting impulse toward the sort of copycat behavior that the naysayers of filmic violence warn against? I assure you it will only take one impressionable moviegoer, unable to control that all too natural gag reflex, to create a veritable flood of lost lunch. Can any of us pretend to be of such strong stock that a nearby fellow multiplex patron invoking the name of Ralph wouldn't bring up an equally strong reaction from us.
So, I propose, as a solution to this burgeoning crisis, an addition to the already existing canon of movie ratings. I have no wish to see created a specific code, reminiscent of the production code enforced by the Hayes office in 30's and 40's, that would cleanse tomorrow's films of all regurgitation. Instead, let us simply add a new sub-listing, V. This would be used in conjunction with the established ratings of G, PG, PG-13, R, NC-17 and X. Suppose, say, a new MacCauley Culkin film came out which contained no violence, no profanity, no nudity or adult situations but did contain a depiction of Hollywood's boy-king blowing chunks. This film would be assigned a G-V. This allows concerned parents to make informed decisions as to whether this film is suitable for their children and if, perhaps, a side trip to the drugstore to pick up some Pepto Bismal is called for.
On the other end of the spectrum, imagine that the script for Die Hard 7 calls for Bruce Willis's struggle against Latvian terrorists to be temporarily derailed by his ingesting a bad clam. The producers of that film could then count on an R-V rating, the R for the inevitable senseless slaughter of the aforementioned Latvians and dozens of innocent bystanders, the V for the tainted-clam purging scene.
The time has come, Hollywood. Heal thyself. Or, at the very least, hurl off-camera.
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