Until we all turn 13 here at Indiana Wesleyan University, we cannot go to the movie theater without parental guidance. Recently, the Globe Theatre unveiled its schedule for the fall. All but one movie rates PG — and it’s G. This seems like a recurring theme for the Globe. These are mainly children’s movies presented to college students and faculty. When will a movie’s overall content trump ratings?
According to Jim Taylor, Student Center manager, the Globe’s mission is to feature educational and entertaining films that engage students in cultural awareness, provocative stories and media analysis and appreciation. This year, Taylor hopes more provocative stories will come to the Globe. I feel like they still have much to change until such films arise.
Movies accepted from student staff of the Globe and other IWU students are screened through different websites such as Screenit and Pluggedin Online to determine language, suggestive scenes, etc. Taylor encourages students to send in their ideas for movies, but it seems the reviewing process does not favor students.
Taylor does not want the movies to conflict with the university’s “Christ-like” vision. I understand why the university thinks this way, but I think that completely disregarding any PG-13 movie with a mild amount of profanity does not reflect reality.
According to the Motion Picture Association of America, “Raters feel that most American parents would believe that a PG-13 rating is appropriate because of the context or manner in which the words are used or because the use of those words in the motion picture is inconspicuous.” If most of our parents allowed us to watch PG-13 movies at home, why does it differ here?
After the Globe staff comes up with a line up of movies, student development checks again and reveals the final list. What ultimately determines the acceptance of movies?
“They lean more towards the language and some of the scenes that might be in the movie,” Taylor said. “They want to see the cultural enrichment and the media analysis tools being used, it’s just that the other side is looked at heavily, definitely because we want to stay with being Christ-like at the university.”
Taylor hopes to show PG-13 movies that have mild language through software programs. He hopes to get one that eliminates the language but keeps the overall provocative story. I feel like this would harm the overall content because of the censorship of words and disruption of the flow of the film.
According to Taylor, some of the rejected movies this year were “Thor,” “Captain America” and “The Help,” all PG-13. Of the three, “The Help” most recently came to theaters. It explained the viewpoint of African-American maids during the civil rights movement, which I had never seen nor heard before. I believe this movie fits the Globe’s mission as an educational film of the history of civil rights by promoting the culture of African Americans, and provoking thought in a way that viewers can appreciate. However, language has once again prevented student viewing.
According to the Pluggedin Online review of “The Help”: “The only fly in the shoofly pie is that there’s just enough profanity, including s-words and harsh misuses of God’s name, to put off viewers who might be interested in engaging with this powerful, inspiring story.”
I do respect Focus on the Family, owner of Pluggedin, very much, since I started listening to “Adventures in Odyssey” as a young child, but it seems like it overgeneralizes its Christian audience. Do we have to agree with everything that the so-called “Christian culture” tells us?
Other than the Globe, Film Society serves as an alternative way to view movies throughout the year. It shows critical-thinking movies that fall into the ratings of PG-13 as well as R. Last year it showed “Gran Torino” (R), and this year “The Tree of Life” (PG-13), among others. Afterward, Film Society leads discussions to make the presentation more interactive and thought-provoking.
I would like to say that I do love IWU and what it stands for as a university, but as a student I am obligated to offer constructive criticism when I feel like something should change. As a movie fanatic, I would appreciate if for once content can overshadow language someday here because filtering out aspects of society like language won’t necessarily allow us to grow as Christians loving the world around us.