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June 21, 2006

Christian Film PG Rating Update

An update to the story about the movie given a PG rating due to religious elements.

In the last week alone, the Motion Picture Assn. of America, which oversees the rating board, has been swamped with more than 15,000 e-mails arguing that "Facing the Giants" deserves a more family-friendly G rating. The complaints — the number of which may be 10 times the previous record for reaction to a ratings decision — say the movie is being unfairly targeted for its religious themes.

The filmmakers say they were told that those themes had prompted the PG rating. MPAA officials deny that was the reason.

Across the Internet and on talk radio, religious groups and conservative commentators have seized on the rating flap as evidence that Hollywood is anti-Christian. And the third-ranking House Republican has written to MPAA Chief Executive Dan Glickman demanding answers.

"This incident raises the disquieting possibility that MPAA considers exposure to Christian themes more dangerous for children than exposure to gratuitous sex and mindless violence," said Rep. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.).

The MPAA is denying they based the rating on the religious content.

Joan Graves, chairwoman of the MPAA's rating board, said Tuesday that the decision had nothing to do with Christianity but was based on football violence as well as the inclusion of mature topics such as depression and infertility.

In a rare interview granted in an attempt to defuse what she calls a controversy born of miscommunication, Graves said that although infertility and depression are involved in the coach's "crisis of faith," the religious story line itself did not raise a red flag.

"If we see somebody on the screen practicing their faith and indicating they have a faith, that's not something we PG," Graves said, adding that the board's goal is simply to alert parents to content in movies that they should research.

But the filmmakers stand by their original story.
A spokeswoman for the filmmakers, however, said they had expected a PG rating because of the infertility subject matter, but that's not the reason they were given.

"When we asked what the reason for the PG was, we were told it was the religious content," said Julie Fairchild, the spokeswoman. She added that the rating board representatives they spoke with "didn't even mention the infertility."

On the upside, some think the rating will be a draw for some demographics.
Ironically, some Christian groups believe the PG rating — not to mention the publicity — will attract more teenagers, who typically shun G-rated films.

"I think that a G for a lot of teenagers is the kiss of death," said Bob Waliszewski, a media specialist with Focus on the Family, a Christian group.

Waliszewski screened "Facing the Giants" and contends the PG rating isn't warranted. But, he said, "it's a case where unfairness will probably be a blessing in disguise."

Posted by Doug at June 21, 2006 07:32 PM

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You should definitely check out Roy Blunt on GMA today. I'm glad he's there making these points, and I'm glad the MSM is letting this issue on the air.

Posted by: I.F. Rock at June 22, 2006 10:32 AM

The "Facing the Giants" issue is absurd! How can they give this movie a rating like that when considering what is on television these days. I am trying to raise a child and have to be vigilant of what is on the "tube" at all times. Heck, even cartoons are absurd these days. Summer is here so how do I make sure that he is watdching the right things without being there 24/7 or throwing the television out all!

Posted by: Marty at June 26, 2006 01:17 PM

Shoot, I was hoping there was a way to get a Christian film an "R" rating (besides graphic violence like "The Passion". :))

Maybe if we're lucky, we can get some Christian films in the XXX section. :)

Posted by: Tony at June 27, 2006 11:07 AM

Would your reaction be different if the religious element were Muslim?

Posted by: Wasp Jerky at June 28, 2006 08:24 PM

Not really, unless the specific elements would've been given a PG rating on their own, outside of the religious context (e.g. violence, etc.).

Posted by: Doug Payton at June 28, 2006 11:17 PM

It is amazing how this fracas is bringing out a certain section of the population's moral outrage. People in the film industry have been saying for YEARS now that the MPAA ratings system is both arbitrary and vague. The whole process is shrouded in secrecy which gives the MPAA the latitude to basically rate anything as anything because they never tell anyone specifically what the criteria is or what they're even being judged on.

However, only now that it directly affects them, do certain Christians cry out about how unfair it is while congressmen currently under investigation for their ties to tobacco and inappropriate fund gathering demand the same explanations movie makers have been trying to get for years.

As a member of the Religious Society of Friends, it occurs to me that if we as Christians wait to decry a broken system until it directly infringes or affects us, then our voices lack strength and legitimacy. After all, a gun is a gun and if you let it be pointed at others, you have no right to act surprised or upset when it gets pointed at you.

Posted by: Jonathan at July 3, 2006 12:57 PM

I can understand why there is secrecy within the MPAA. Preventing them from being lobbied is, I think, a reasonable goal, even if I disagree with the ratings they hand out. And trust me, this ain't the first rating I've disagreed with. What passes for G these days pushes new envelopes all the time.

And I've heard Christians decry a broken Hollywood culture for decades. This is just the latest example of that culture. We've been pointing this out for a good long time, dude.

Posted by: Doug Payton at July 3, 2006 08:56 PM