Addicted to novelty since 2001

Lemme In, I Gots My R-Card

The mercantile folks at GKC Theatres (268 screens) are bucking the generally-conservative cultural trend in the US by giving teens an R-Card. Here’s what they say to parents about this cardL

We believe it’s your choice as to when your child is allowed to view R rated films. That’s why we’ve created the R-CARD. This photo ID card will allow teens 16 years and younger to see R rated titles without an adult.

That should actually read: ‘We believe that we’ll get some decent PR and increase our sales for R-rated movies with this new offer.’ Nonetheless, as somebody who occasionally had to sneak into the movies I wanted to see, I approve. Not surprisingly, Jack Valenti, protector of all things status quo, is not impressed:

“To give a blanket card to a child to see any R film they want intrudes on what the rating system is about, which is parental approval of individual films,” says Mr. Valenti. “It’s not in the long-term best interest of parents unless they have a very casual regard for what movies their children are seeing.”

This is a rarity, but I kind of agree with Valenti. As a youth, my parents were happy to let me see sexual content, but weren’t keen on me watching violence. That’s fair enough, but with this card I could watch The Dreamers and Saving Private Ryan with impunity.

A compromise solution might be a secure Web interface that enables the parent (after signing up for the service with some proof that they’re actually a parent) to approve films on a case-by-case basis. When the kid shows up at the cinema, their names on the approved list. It wouldn’t be as efficient (and as cheap for GKC Theatres), but it would encourage more hands-on parenting.

6 Responses to “Lemme In, I Gots My R-Card”

  1. Ellewiz

    I like your pre-registering idea a lot. I buy my tickets for a particular theater chain on the web before I leave the house, then pick them up and print them at a kiosk at the theater. Why can’t the same system work for kids and R-rated movies?

    Of course, this requires more of a clue that most parents care to have. Remember the TV ratings system and the V-chip? Parents ended up not wanting to look at the ratings and then decide if their kid should watch the show. They just wanted to plop them down in front of the TV and let the TV set itself magically block anything offensive.

  2. Myron

    I understand Valenti’s and your concerns (and I, also, find myself astonished agreeing with him on anything). But, in my earlier years, I never actually knew anyone to be refused entrance to an ‘R’ rated movie because of being underage.

    In my tadpole years, a pack of my geek friends and I even travelled two hours to see Roman Polanski’s “Tess”, an R-rated adaptation of the Hardy novel, in a Winnipeg adult theatre (whose decor featured statues of naked Venus…ahem…flanking the screen)…without ‘parental’ accompaniment.

    And, am I the only person who sees an incredible inconsistency between the access kids are allowed to R movies in theatres and the access they have at video stores?

  3. Rantbert

    Totally aside from the debate whether or not kids should be allowed blanket access to R-rated movies, my big gripe has been what constitutes an R-rated movie.

    What passes these days for “PG-13” used to be well in to the “R” category; language, nudity, sexual situations and the like.

    On a totally different but related rant-tangent, why is it OK for kids to see films that portray violence, drugs and other antisocial behaviour, but people have kittens over a side-shot of a breast?

  4. Darren

    Interesting points. Myron, I’m not sure that I ever tried to rent an R-rated video when I was under-age. I’m not sure why that is, but I have no memory of worrying about it.

    In my local video store (an independent), there’s a small ‘R-rated’ section. Not to be confused with the adult section (which this store doesn’t happen to have), it definitely does not contain all of the R-rated movies on site. However, it appears to contain the NC-17 and nastier (or naughtier) R-rated films, and some of that ‘Red Shoe Diaries-esque’ softcore erotica (conspicuously on the top shelf). For example, while I could probably rent, say, any of the ‘Aliens’ movies from the general part of the store, ‘Baise Moi’ is in the R-rated section.

    So, I suspect if a kid tried to get a film from the R-rated section, they’d be out of luck. Otherwise, they’d be okay. It’s like this store has implemented it’s own rating system, which is only vaguely related to the MPAA’s system.

  5. Darren

    Rantbert: I believe it’s actually the kittens that are killed after the breast side-shot.

    Hope somebody got that one.

    While I agree that the ratings system is dubious, it’s no surprise how the ratings have slipped. After all, society’s morality changes. 100 years ago, it was unacceptable to show much more than your ankles. That morality shifts both ways, as well. Mainstream movies used to be generally more sexually-explicit than they are today, but we’re in a conservative era.

  6. Myron

    Interesting comments about your independent video store, Darren. I frequent the neighbourhood Rogers (I have yet to take advantage of the local independent, but I must take a look) which is actually stocked with a lot more than the usual ten walls of Ben Affleck’s latest cinematic foray.

    Suffice it to say, fifteen-year olds in our area who would like to sample all but the seriously adult videos would be presented with no obstacles.

    But then, this outlet is RUN by the fifteen-year olds. When did retail workers all get so young???

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