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Voices From The Movie Line

JonKatz posted about 15 years ago | from the Banned-Kids-to-Theater-Owners:-Be-Very-Afraid dept.

Movies 327

Columns last week on Ticket Booth Tyranny drew well over a thousand e-mail messages, mostly from kids (including many of those ushers) enraged at theater chain restrictions, posturing and hypocrisy, and scrambling to buy DVD's and build home theaters. The entertainment industry seems not to grasp the strong message that digital technologies give kids lots of choices. They can't wait to make them.

For centuries, technology was of little interest to anyone outside its own developers and users. These days, technology seems to be pushing the country towards a cultural and moral meltdown. Technnics aren't simply a source of wonder and surprise, but of fear, resentment and widespread puzzlement.

The flashpoint of much of this unease -- perhaps a metaphor for it -- is the place where kids, culture and technology converge -- the Net, the Web, music, TV and, lately, movie theaters.

Pop culture been much more than entertainment for kids ever since rock and roll. One of the few enduring legacies of the Boomers was to elevate popular culture to a central place in American life. That evolution has only deepened. For kids today, culture is a primary recreation, but movies, TV shows and music are also something else -- a universal language and common interest, almost a shared ideology.

Many people define themselves by the shows, CDs, Websites, computers and movies they like. Culture isn't just something that's fun for the young, but more and more something that defines who they are. Liking "South Park" isn't just an expression of what's fun. It's a statement of individual identity. Technology has heated up this process by delivering more culture in faster, more graphic, more explicit and less censorable forms.

That's why the growing tendency to blame techno-driven culture for violence and other social problems is so pressing an issue for kids, who have no political voice or spokespeople, and who are presumed to have no rights beyond those which parents and politicians grant them. In fact, morality and the young has become a cheap, sure-fire political issue all over the country.

The massacre in Atlanta this week tragically underscores the irrationality of America's approach to violence, kids and culture. Would the killings have been prevented if the killer had been kept out of violent movies? Should adult access to e-trading sites now be restricted? Outrageous responses like that would never be considered for adults. They shouldn't be for kids either.

The giant conglomerates that control much of American pop culture are happy to go along with these prevailing winds, yet seem strangely ignorant of the technologies they are acquiring and developing and the ways in which so-called "children" use it. This is going to prove a monumental mistake.

The music industry, greedily confusing freedom and piracy, has driven an entire generation towards the now entrenched habit of acquiring music for free. The movie industry and the theater chains are now embracing this generation-alienating philosophy in their embrace of faux morality. They adopt the pretense that kids will be safer if they see only violence, but not sex . But by pandering to so-called moral guardians, adopting useless and quixotic rating systems, imposing ticket booth interrogations of kids and parents, the people running Hollywood seem not to grasp the growing power of the young to access and control their own cultural lives, and make their own choices about what they watch or see, thanks mostly to technology.

Earlier this week, I received more than 1,000 e-mail messages (second only to the "Hellmouth" series) in response to a two-part series called "Ticket Booth Tyranny," which talked about the sudden post-Columbine ticket booth harassment of teenagers trying to see movies with profane language or sexual imagery.

The movie industry may be mollifying some fuddled parents and scoring some points with the moral guardians in Congress, but if the e-mail I got is any indication, this is one of the most profoundly short-sighted trade-offs in entertainment industry history.

These messages were angry. They saw clearly through the posturing and pretense. They spoke directly to the lunacy that occurs when corporatism, technology, politics, morality and culture get tangled up with one another.

"I'm 17," wrote Sean, who's entering the University of Michigan in a few weeks. "I'll be eighteen in September. I drove last weekend with my date to see 'Eyes Wide Shut.' They carded me, and wouldn't let me in. The chain decided that they were enforcing an '18-year-old only' policy for this movie. It was humiliating. All summer I've worked as a counselor helping retarded kids, but I can't see Nicole Kidman's butt? I've got a DVD player, of course, and will see this movie soon enough. But I'm never going back to that theater. I might not go back to any theater."

Matthew works for a multiplex in Maryland. He's also 17. "I'll turn away sometimes 10 or 20 people a night, not because I can, but because my job is on the line. Before we obtained 'South Park & American Pie,' anyone who would sell tickets, or usher, had to sign a paper stating that they would enforce the regulations or face dismissal if underage people got in under their watch. The policy posted at the box office states that anyone that looks underage to the ticket seller is to be carded. Again, sometimes people are carded walking into the movie by an usher. One night, an usher kicked 30 people out. First night of 'American Pie,' the theater did over $1,000 in refunds to underage kids."

It's hard to be rational about this idiocy. "American Pie" is an often hilarious spoof of teenaged sexuality that features four horny high school kids plotting to get laid. Without exception, the four are thoughtful, sensitive and good-hearted, both to their friends and their girlfriends.

There is nothing even remotely as vulgar or disturbing in this movie as much of what's on any local newscast almost every single night. Or a score of cable channels or accessible websites. "American Pie" could safely be shown in high school classrooms as a guide to sensitivity in sexual relations. The idea that a 16-year-old kid could see this movie and turn violent or otherwise be morally damaged is amazing in the 20th century, sure to be remembered for monumental advances in technology.

Matthew said he's also instructed to make sure that "children" under the age of 17 are accompanied by their parents into any "R" rated movie. "I think along the same lines you stated in your article - if the parent wants the kid to see the film, and they're there buying the tickets at the box office, the kids should be let into the film. That is the ratings system in action - advising parents, instead of forcing moral values on their kids."

Matthew and many of his fellow usher e-mailers made it clear that they have no desire to be in charge of enforcing and defining moral values for other people.

At least a dozen other ushers wrote in to say vigilance varies according to:

- Whether the manager's on duty or nearby. -
- Whether the ushers know the kids trying to get in. -
- Whether the usher is about to quit for another, better-paying job and doesn't care who gets in. -
- Whether the usher is in a good mood or not. -
- Whether the lines are long. -
- The gender and attractiveness of the ticket-buyer. -
- The pressure from the parent company. -

Several of the ushers wrote in to suggest seeing restricted movies close to Labor Day when many movie chain workers are about to go back to high school or college and don't care if they get fired or not. Employers are also desperate for help, and less likely to toss benevolent workers out.

Jon Winters messaged to say he and his wife recently built a home theater in their house. "We prefer to wait until movies come out on DVD and watch them in the comfort of our home." He and his wife went to see "Eyes Wide Shut" but wished they'd waited to see the movie at home. The projector was out of focus, and the sound from an adjacent screening room was bleeding through the walls.

"In the future we will wait for the DVD no matter how badly we want to see the movie. At least I can control the technical merits of my home theater."

Jon's message is significant. Among other things, the Net and other digital technologies offer precisely that kind of choice and control. His sentiments were repeated by hundreds of other people restless about their movie-going experiences even without being hassled at the ticket booth. Jon said he's building a home theater. The best high definition projectors will function as computer monitors, he said. "My friends freak when I pull up GNOME on my 72" HD projector. I can surf the Web and check e-mail during TV commercials. Lots of fun."

Almost as much as getting booted out of a movie theater because you haven't passed some arbitrary biological morality benchmark.

Many other e-mailers said they were also eager to find alternatives to theater going. They cited crying babies, people talking, high prices, out-of-focus projectors (this generation is especially used to clarity in images), sound "bleed-thru;" high prices for bad snacks; the absence of "Pause" buttons, and the movie industry's self-imposed censorship ratings.

Movie theater operators may have much bigger problems to worry about than the oral sex discussions in "American Pie."

"This ratings bullshit is the last straw for me," wrote JimB. "I am going DVD. These people are so gutless. I have the right to see what I want. I don't believe for one micro-second they are worried about my morality or well-being. They are just trying to keep the religious crazies off their back. I'm old enough to be a camp counselor, but I can't watch a friggin' movie like American Pie. I've given these a-holes countless dollars over the last few years. No more." JimB is 16.

Many of the messages had this familiar themse: the Net and the Web provide an alternative to moralistic restrictions like those going on in movie theaters. And adults are clueless when it comes to the nature of kids lives during this time of technological change. "I've been seeing violence and sex all my life," wrote Don from Portland, Oregon. "I remember seeing the LA Freeway shootings, and cable shows and magazines and radio and all sorts of other stuff. Do they think by keeping us out of movies that we will not be exposed to stuff like this. Some of the stuff I've seen is graphic, but I can't say it's hurt me. I'm a straight A student and looking forward to college. I've never broken any laws. These people are just outrageous." Like many of the others, he was saving for a DVD player.

Adam, who's also 16, was denied permission to see three movies last weekend "South Park," "American Pie," and "Eyes Wide Shut," even though his parents said it was fine for him to go and sent him a note to that affect, which included a number for the theater to call if necessary.

He was escorted from the lobby.

A middle-aged couple offered to take him and his friends into "South Park" but backed out when the theater manager said they had to stay inside with them for the entire movie.

Adam said he and his friends were furious. "And I can turn on HBO anytime late at night and see people having sex. Just how is South Park supposed to hurt me? Or American Pie? I want to study film when I go to college. Are these movies supposed to damage me? Undo my parents teachings? Turn me into a murderer? I ama a kid who actually likes going to Church! I don't need moral lessons from ushers. Are they supposed to keep some kid from grabbing a machine gun and shooting me in school? Or keep me from doing that? Don't these yahoos know that I can stuff on TV or online that's a million times more violent or sexy than this anytime I want. Screw these theaters. As soon as I get the money for a DVD player, I'll get what I want on the Net and I'll never go back. I don't have to spend that money for overpriced popcorn and humiliation."

Cathy wrote that her father listens to Howard Stern every morning when he drives her to school. "He says stuff all the time that is sexual and vulgar. He talks about women's vaginas. I can listen to him but I can't go see 'American Pie'?"

In fact, the restrictions on "American Pie" in particular -- a movie directly about the lives of many of the kids forbidden to see it -- had hundreds of e-mailers in a fury.

MReynolds messaged that he believes the current epidemic of ticket booth moralizing is part of a larger pattern. "There seems to be a large segment of the population that welcomes regulation of everything from cryptography, to television, to the Internet. And almost all these campaigns to regulate our freedoms (I consider the ability to encrypt my porn a freedom) are encapsulated behind the banner of 'we must save the children from these evil things!'"

MR may be more correct than he even knows. Technological historians like Langdon Winner have written about the outbreaks of moral outrage that often accompany periods of great advances in technology -- the Renaissance, the Industrial Revolution, the development of the Net and the Web.

They are, he says, almost akin to religious upheavals.

"The writers who have isolated technology as an issue have repeatedly stressed that what is involved is not merely a problem of values or faith," he writes in Autonomous Technology, "but, more importantly, a problem in our understanding of things. There is, they assert, something wrong in the way we view technology and man's relationship to it."

There sure is. Thus most Americans blame technology for teenaged violence, even though there is little to link the two, and violent crime among younger Americans has been dropping sharply for years despite enormous increases in the availability of techno-driven pop culture, violence and sexual imagery.

The Internet has altered the very context in which kids, morality and technology interact. It makes censoring the cultural lives of the young, or bovine symbolic gestures like the theater operators are now making, ludicrous. They young don't become more moral, just more cynical.

Technologically-inspired ratings systems, V-Chips and filtering programs don't work. They can't raise moral children, or get lazy and irresponsible parents where they want to be -- off the hook.

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Katz Revisionism (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1765438)

Thousands of people voicing support???

Hmm, funny, but most of the reponses I saw seemed to indicate that you had completely lost it.

Go away Katz (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1765439)

Go away Katz

Fourth post

[Sound of air raid siren] (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1765440)

Attention, please. The National Slashdot Service is issuing a JonKatz alert effective immediately!

Slashdot Service radar has positively identified a JonKatz article. Radar signature was verified by the following phrase:

"For centuries, technology was of little interest to anyone outside its own developers and users...."

This statement has been verified as an unproven assertion, possibly meaningless in nature.

The National Slashdot Service also has received reports of highly windy prose coupled with dubious assertions and questionable assumptions.

Readers are advised to take cover immediately. Please, please stay clear of this area. Resist the urge to post.

This concludes this Slashdot Service warning. I promise this is the last time I'll use this joke. We now return you to your regular site.

Previous poster's magic powers. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1765441)

You saw the *e-mails*, which is what Katz refers to? Wow. All I saw was the postings to /. How did you get to see the mail? What magic powers do you have?

Katz doesn't read Slashdot! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1765442)

Hmmm, he gets thousands of messages from kids upset that they cannot break the law, but hundreds of publicly posted messages here decrying his lawbreaking antics as socially irresponsible and childish are conveniently overlooked?

What else can we conclude, but that Katz doesn't read Slashdot!?

I used to like Katz, but he's gone off the deep end.

I'd post a message for the man, but why bother? He won't ever read it.

Rob might though. Hey Malda! Time for another "Dump Katz" poll. My vote has changed since the last one.

(Might I suggest those who feel the same as I post a "Me Too!" comment? Perhaps we can get Rob's attention.)

Right, we are all just mindless consumers. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1765443)

Many people define themselves by the shows, CDs, Websites, computers and movies they like. Culture isn't just something that's fun for the young, but more and more something that defines who they are. Liking "South Park" isn't just an expression of what's fun. It's a statement of individual identity.

"our miserable individuality is screwed to the back of our cars in the form of personalized license plates", Alfie Kohn


Michael Chisari (Forgot my password)

dvd players... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1765444)

What's next, carded to purchase an "r" rated movie?

SHADDUP!!!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1765445)

you damn poser!!

Ain't that the truth! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1765446)

Funny how Katz publishes examples - written by children - that support his purile opinion, but yet chooses to ignore hundreds of publicly posted comments - most of which I saw were from adults - that did not.

John Katz is dead wrong on this issue, and his stubborn refusal to admit it is just as wrong.

Klueless (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1765447)

Jon, you just don't get it, do you?

It doesn't matter how many thousands of emails you got from CHILDREN. They are still children. They are still the responsibility of their parents. They are NOT adults nor have the achieved the maturity necessary for the decisions on what is good or bad for them.

You want an example? Teenage males are the worst drivers according to insurance records. They make stupid decisions. Even when they've been trained on the correct actions (read safe).

Of course they are going to support your position that they have more freedom. Big deal. They can support you all you want but they don't have any authority.

Look to your example letters. What does helping retarded children have to do with watching erotica (Kidman's butt)?

Get a clue.

Um... okay. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1765448)

So the kids who are turned out by the theaters get ticked and vow never to return. Many adults hate the theatre's service, and also decide not to go back.

Um... so?

Sounds like capitalism in action to me. People don't like one product/service, so they use another. I just don't see a story here.

Katz is getting lazy, I guess.

Flogging a dead horse (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1765449)

Jon, I agree that the new hyperactive ratings enforcement is moronic and backwards, but how can you write a series of articles that treats the issue with such importance? Nobody's being forced off a lunch counter or made to give up their bus seat. I simply cannot muster much outrage about a 12-year-old's inability to see titties. Give it a rest.

I hope so. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1765450)

The movie rating system is A Good Thing, and requiring parents to actually sit with their kids in the movie if they wish them to be allowed to watch it is an Even Better Thing.

One would hope that DVD stores would not sell R rated movies to minors.

I refuse to hold any opinion (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1765451)

that cannot be summarized and printed on a bumpersticker.


Age restrictions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1765452)

Regardless of what people think of DrKatz, I think most people agree with him. I was able to work in a position that required me to screen for aviation terrorism, granted me free access to/fro U.S. Customs areas, and required me to pass many background checks, and I'm not allowed to drink a beer.

Age restrictions are useless. Really. Think about it. How many teenage males HAVEN'T gotten ahold of pornography by the time they turned 18?

Kids are not the same as adults (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1765453)

Your whole article seems to infer that children are the same as adults and have the same capacity for understanding as adults and so should be able to see whatever adults do. This is not the case, younger people are much more influenced by what they see. They also have less experience to be able to process what they see and put it in prospective. I am old enough to know that I didn't really know what was good for me when I was a kid, but young enough to remember what it was like.

The unfortunate part is that everybody matures at a different rate but society has to impose an age that you can see these movies. It's easy to say the parents should have the final say, but in this era of absentee parents that is not always the answer. I don't want to see my access, as an adult, to these kinds of movies to be restricted but at the same time I don't want to see kids seeing material that they aren't ready to absorb.

On a side note, for some DVD might not be the answer because if I remember correctly many places that sell/rent movies like Wal-Mart and Blockbuster only stock certian versions of the product, thus imposing their morality on you.

This is Disgusting (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1765454)

After the MASSIVE outpouring of disagreement to posted here after Katz's last article on this topic, I was expecting his next to be a frank admission that he'd gotten it all wrong.

Suprise! Expected too much of him, I guess. Instead, we get treated to the blindingly obvious observation that underaged kiddies don't like it when they get kicked out of movies, and have it paraded in front of us as vindication.

Horseshit. The man has either lost it, or he's so full of his own messiah complex that he's ignoring common sense and the Slashdot readership.

Either way, he sucks. Toss the bum out!

Re:Flogging a dead horse (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1765455)

"First they came for the children, and I did not speak up because I was not a child...."

Pretty soon YOU may not be able to see titties either.

Re:Kids are not the same as adults (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1765456)

Did any of your bad childhood decisions do any harm to you? Or are bad decisions part of learning how to make good decisions?

Your country isn't the world (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1765457)

Not everyone lives in the US

Re:*sigh* (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1765458)

I honestly think most kids would benefit from not seeing the crap in the theaters right now. They would be better off going for a walk, hanging out at a coffee house, or reading the newspaper.

Nah, if they can't get into the movies they usually just go home and screw.

Reduce the abortion rate! Let the kids see the movies!

Re:DVDs off the net (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1765459)

It's a little fuzzy as to what he means, especially since a lot of retailers (amazon, reel, etc) sell DVDs online.

So, U support pornography 4 minors w/o parental? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1765460)

You must still be asleep. If "censorship" cuts children off from "some aspect of human experience", and you don't want to do that, then porn must be okay.

Isn't sex an aspect of human experience?

Do you have children?

Maybe little girls?


Don't worry, I'll make sure they have access to all aspects of human experience.

After all, it isn't your decision as a parent as to what you consider your children ready for, is it?

Why don't you try posting again when you've gained some experience with raising children?

Bad Decisions == Better Future Decisions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1765461)

Has anyone considered that "children" become adults, and adults that have made a few bad decisions (or seen a few bad movies) are better prepared to make good decisions in the future?

I know, instead of letting our children grow up, we'll legislate their every move into the ground, because we know what's best. And every parent must realize that they have to make all of the decisions for their child, or who knows WHAT might happen? They might learn how to decide on their own.

Where were your parents? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1765462)

Were they there with you during the movie?

If they were not, why were you there?

What gives you the right to decide what laws and policies you choose to obey? Will tomorrow you decide to not obey the laws against theft? Against murder?

If you cannot be trusted with minor responsibilities like not seeing a restricted movie, why should you be trusted with adult things?

Re:Kids know all? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1765463)

If you find those unjaded, openminded kids, let me know. At least on the planet where I grew up, kids could be some of the most cliqueish [] , closedminded [] bastards you could possibly imagine.

Re:Bravo... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1765464)

How does the world expect children to become mature if they're never allowed to make their own decesions?

The people in favor of controlling what children see don't WANT them to make their own decisions. The controllers want the kids to do, think, and feel as the controllers wish them to.

They are anti-freedom. That's the whole point.


Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1765465)

Get out, you dumb son of a bitch! Fuck off! Get out of slashdot! You are a clueless moron!

Re:Klueless (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1765466)

i could not agree more.

children are children - no matter how many emails they send. rebellion is a part of growing up and the adults have to protect the children from themselves as well as from adults that want to behave irresponsibly (like children).

perhaps katz does not know how to look up the definition of 'child'?

I care about my kids... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1765467)

..enough to not only place limits on their behaviour, but to see those limits enforced.

Just because you *think* your rules are arbitrary doesn't mean they *are* arbitrary. When you grow up, maybe you'll understand that.

Why shouldn't they be able to see restricted movies in a theatre? Because the movies that are restricted are intended for adults, and have adult themes. Why should parents be required to stay with their children in an adult movie? Because if a parent intends to allow their child to be exposed to such material, he/she should be there to see exactly what the child is seeing, either to provide guidence after the film, or to remove the child from the film if the parent judges the experience too intense.

They are good, well-founded rules. I expect the theatres to enforce them, and I decry Katz as irresponsible and infantile for his advocating that children attempt to circumvent them.

That constructive enough for you, sonny?

Re:Katz doesn't read Slashdot! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1765468)

AFAIK the ratings system is not a "law", it is
voluntarily enforced by the theater industry.
Therefore Katz isn't "breaking the law and
encouraging others to do the same". I think
you're missing most of the point of the article-
that arbitrarily enforcing a rating on the
grounds of "protecting the children" is not only
missing the mark, it is making the problem(s)
of "teen violence" worse by creating a false
sense of security that "something is being
done" to countervent said violence.

As for the spelling flame- get a life! :> Despite
claims otherwise, spelling, reading, and "creative" skills are probably the least well
taught and least emphasized segment of any public
schools program.

Welcome to the 90's.

My Goodness (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1765469)

Are you people forgetting what its like to be sixteen years old?

Jon is not stating that 5 and 6 year old children should be freely admitted to movies such as "South Park" or "Eyes Wide Shut." But for a 14, 15, 16, 17 year old teenager to be denied from seeing a movie which is clearly no worse than ANYTHING seen or heard in the school systems today is totally absurd.

Put yourself back in the shoes of these teenagers. Do you think your life would have been dramatically altered at sixteen years old if you had gone and seen "South Park?" Of course not. No one's moral views change simply because of one movie. It is the responsibility of the parent to teach us that killing is wrong, violence is wrong, and that what we see on television or in the movies is simply entertainment and not meant to be carried out in real life. If the parent feels the child is not mature enough to see a movie, that is the parents decision. But for a movie theater to act as a parent?

Most fifteen, sixteen, seventeen year olds have enough wisdom and maturity to handle seeing a movie with a some sex and violence. Maybe more-so than some "adults" in today's society.

I'm providing free clues, here's one for you. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1765470)

It isn't the government or the movie theatre telling you what you can or cannot watch.

The movies are rated by an independant board.
The theatres abide by the recommendations of this board.

BOTH can be overridden by the simple expediance of having your parent or guardian present during the show.

Now, let's put this into "perspective", okay?

China has "censorship". You cannot get non-approved news (unless you break the law and have your radio tuned to Radio Free America). You cannot get this news even if your mommy is listening with you. You cannot get this news even if you daddy is listening with you. You cannot get this news even if both your parents AND your grandparents will sit with you and listen.

The theatre says you CAN see this movie BUT only if you can convince one of your parents or your guardian to sit with you.

Shall we try this again?

Iraq has "censorship". (yadda yadda yadda)......

Now, are we all clear on what "censorship" is?

Are we all clear on why you need your mommy to watch movies with "bad" words or "naughty" body parts showing or "adult" situations?

Yep, it might not be as funny watching American Pie with you MOTHER sitting next to you.

But if you can't deal with THAT, then you ARE too immature to deal with the MOVIE.

Grim fact.

U.S. vs. Europe, Japan (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1765535)

The Religious Right (note: not all religious americans, or even a majority) thinks that the prevalence of sex in movies and culture is the driving force behind everything from teen pregnancy to mass murders. However, sex and erotica are far more prevalent in Europe and Japan than they are in the U.S., and these countries have far lower rates of violent crime and teen pregnancies. Also, this attitude allows a variety of expressions of sex to be shown. Sure, there will be pornography, but there will also be adult discussions of sex, its place in society, and gender relations.

Japanese anime, for instance, is infamous for its gratuitous sexual scenes, especially when females are concerned. This is not seen as a bad thing in society, and there are plenty of anime that take a more serious tack on issues. Also, few members of the Religious Right (or anyone else) would question the sexual morality of the children and adults exposed to these images.

Jon Katz is right on this one. The movie code is meaningless, and also does not allow for differences between American Pie and Eyes Wide Shut, or take into account the social comentary and artistry of these movies. It should be downgraded to merely "advisory" status, to allow parents to make these decisions, and also to allow kids to be raised to critically look at the messages (positive and negative) that their culture is sending them.

Hypocrites (1)

Zack (44) | about 15 years ago | (#1765539)

There seems to a lot of readers here who disagree with this article simple because of it's author. They rant "can't he read? Last time he posted this I said that he was wrong!" Well guess what, bucko, I thought he was dead on. Christ, you aren't listening to what anyone has to say. You flame Katz for writing an article that is pro-freedom because of the group that he's writing for. These are the same people who are scared of Echlon! Make up your damn minds.

Now that that's out of the way, why don't we actually talk about this instead of flame? Okay...

People here have posted that they don't believe that children should not be allowed to see movies because they are children. This is where I start to get confused already. I watched plenty of R movies when I was young... Did they make me go out and kill people? Uhh.. lemme think... no.

Then people say that it's okay if the parents go in with them. Wait. So the fact that their parents are there change the movie somehow? Uhh.. lemme think... no. The movie is the exact same movie. How is it different if the parents BUY the tickets? wait.. that's right.. it's not.

Then you claim that the theatres can turn away whoever they want. Yeah, right. You guys would be up in arms in a second if a movie theatre decided to not let black in. Or refused to sell tickets to Jews. How is that any different from refusing a 16 year old and letting in his 17 year old friend?

The point is that this is baseless age discrimination and enforcement of someone elses morals.

I went to see American Pie last night... I didn't get carded... In the movie there were plenty of 15 year olds, a few 6 year olds, and a couple of (crying, sigh) infants. Only the infants were with parents.

I don't remember any of those kids raping anyone on the way to the parking lot...

Movies (2)

drwiii (434) | about 15 years ago | (#1765543)

One thing Katz [] misses on is that the theater restrictions are still being implemented on a voluntary basis. I can see what the fuss would be if this were a law of some sort, but it's simply a suggestion that some businesses are choosing to follow.

I was in a local theater this past weekend to see Deep Blue Sea [] , which was an average movie, but was also rated R. Looking around the theater I could see quite a few unaccompanied under-17 persons attending the showing. So much for the big "we honor age restriction guidelines" banner hanging out front, eh? Theaters just want your money. That's the bottom line.

Just remember, if they ever put Schindler's List back in the theaters, your kids won't be allowed to see it because it's rated R, and they're under 17. So much for learning from the past.

Kids know enough (1)

Have Blue (616) | about 15 years ago | (#1765549)

Kids are the people most affected by these regulations. Kids are the people who directly experiences the effects (if any) of the movies in question. The testimony of the kids themselves is the most important and most overlooked part of this debate, and the point of the thousand E-mails is that the kids unanimously disagree with the moral guardians.

Ratings are way off (1)

MadCat (796) | about 15 years ago | (#1765552)

Movie ratings these days are *way* off the
scale these days. As are the ludicrous attempts
at censoring movies, denying people access
and more of that fun stuff.

Practical example. This weekend I went to see
SouthPark with my girlfriend and her two kids,
aged 11 and 6. We got in but only after we
created a scene. The usher and manager told *us*
what was best for *our* kids. Fuck that, they
wanted to see SouthPark, they got to see it.

Did they swear after the movie? No. Did they
pull out guns and mow down the lobby? No. Did
anything change? Not at all.

After that we decided that we wanted to see
another movie and the kids went to watch
Tarzan and my girlfriend and me went to see
the Haunting. The strange part here...

SouthPark is rated R. SouthPark is animated
and is so clearly an animation that you can't
really get around it. the Haunting is rated
PG-13, yet the images displayed in the movie
were rather disturbing, now I'm not really
in to horror movies but it sure as hell wasn't
going to do a 13 year old any good.

Moral of the story -- I'm saving for a DVD player
and the theatres can collectively decide where
they want my business to go. I know for a fact
that if I get trouble one more time I will never
ever visit a theatre again. The only reason
I do is because it's a night out, but if I have
to, I'll make it a night out at home where
I can decide what my family and me watch and
where nobody can decide what's best for my girlfriend, her kids and me. We're all perfectly
able to decide for ourselves.

(Just a sidenote -- the kids initially wanted
to see the Haunting as well, but we told them
that it was a rather scary movie and that we'd
see it first and if we thought it was okay,
we'd let them watch it next week. They're not
going to see it though, and I'm pretty glad
that it's my gf's and my decision and not some
lame ushers' or managers' decision).

Of course, kids! (2)

pb (1020) | about 15 years ago | (#1765553)

Is anyone surprised that the very people who are being censored are complaining? Gee, when the Nazis were killing Jews, why didn't the German soldiers complain? Maybe because they weren't next...

If a movie is rated R, there's no reason for a theater to deny people who are 17. If they do that, then they should (a) have rated the movie NC-17 or X, or (b) prepare for angry phone calls, letters, and lawsuits, and people talking about freedom of speech.

Any arguments?

Incidentally, I'm 21, I saw Eyes Wide Shut, and I thought it should have been (a) uncensored and (b) rated X for nudity and adult situations. I don't think they'd show A Clockwork Orange in theaters today either, and I don't think Southpark or American Pie are even in the same category... if Eyes Wide Shut is rated R, they should be rated PG or PG-13.

Re:Of course, kids! (2)

pb (1020) | about 15 years ago | (#1765554)

Oh, so it's popular, so we don't need to rate it on content?

I understand your argument, and I think you're right, but I don't think it would hold up to any serious legal test. (Fortunately. :)

Boomer Parents Abdicate Responsibility and Whines (1)

David Jensen (1987) | about 15 years ago | (#1765563)

Children don't like restrictions and boomer parents don't want to be bothered to go through the effort needed to raise their kids right. This is news?

Hollywood has installed a totally incompetent rating system that only Jack Valenti could love. Jack's last reform was to call X ratings NC-17. Nothing happened. Still no news.

Some day, these outraged teens and kids will look back at their outrage and wonder why. They will understand completely what motivated this "protection" that Hollywood was offering them. I hope they will see that what is happening is merely silly, not an outrage.

The truly sad part is to watch kids who are officially too young to see the movies without their parents tell other kids that they can't see it either. If the movie chains want to enforce the rules, the cineplex managers should be the ones doing the carding, not the hapless ticket sellers.

As a practical matter, I think that we as parents and as a society tend to treat teenagers as if they are younger and less mature than we ought, but it is still the responsibility of the parents to make the decisions for their kids and know when to delegate that decision-making to the kids. This is a responsibility that we cannot delegate to others. It's a responsibilty that we should not want to delegate.

At one time societies had rituals for children who were becoming teens. These could be as simple as eighth grade graduation or religious ceremonies which brought the child into an official state of (nearly) adult. Now, the big statements of growing up are the driver's license and going off to college, rituals that come far too late in adolescence to be useful.

When are kids old enough to see movies about sex, drugs, or evil behavior? Clearly, the absurd result of R ratings for movies that have a target audience that is younger than the rating "allows" in the door is no good. I'm hard pressed to think of any 15-year-old that I've met who could not handle South Park or any of the Halloweens or similar movies. Being scared is fun. Handling being scared is better. Being scared at the movies is a safe scare. Let the kids do it.

The R and totally dead, NC-17 ratings have to go. I think it needs to be replaced with an R-14 (about 80% of the R movies of today) and an A-18 (adult movies, teens allowed with parents only) rating that better reflect the desires of movie goers and still give parents a chance to help their children decide what to see. Still, if parents hadn't been willing to give up their responsibility for raising their kids, Hollywood and the chains would never have felt that they had the right to tell children (and by extension their parents) what they can see.

DVD home theater is in my future, too (2)

timur (2029) | about 15 years ago | (#1765564)

I agree completely with Jon Winters - I am tired of movie theaters. In my neighborhood, there are FOUR mulitplex theaters, and they all show the same movies (more or less). I spoke with one of the representatives, and he said that they will all charge the same for movies, but they'll distinguish themselves by service. Well, that appears to be a load of BS. The service is no better in one place than another. In one particular theater, there is a row of bright lights in the aisle along the bottom of the screen - it's so damn bright I can read a book! I complained THREE TIMES to the manager, and they haven't done anything.

The sound systems in theaters is also overrated. Anyone who has seen True Lies on a 60" screen with a Dolby Digital (aka AC-3) sound system at home knows what I'm talking about. It's a whole new experience when you can hear every single bullet as the jet fighter sprays the building floor.

I can't wait until I get enough money and space to buy a home theater like some of my friends have. Once that happens, I will NEVER go to a movie theater again.
Timur Tabi
Remove "nospam_" from email address

Re:Theatres have the right.. (1)

Phillip Birmingham (2066) | about 15 years ago | (#1765565)

Oh, that's right, freedom is a bad thing for corporations, but is good for individuals.

Corporate freedom is not bad, just less important than individual freedom.

Movies in trouble? Right. (1)

Watts Martin (3616) | about 15 years ago | (#1765570)

Yes, some movie theatres are actually making an effort to enforce the ratings now. Yes, that'll probably piss people off. Yes, ramping up the enforcement because of skitterishness over school violence is silly. But none of those things present a convincing argument for abolishing the MPAA ratings system, and they're not even particularly convincing of the apparent argument that children should be let into R-rated movies. Sorry, I just don't think the right to free speech is endangered by telling a 13-year-old he can't go see someone masturbate into a pastry.

As for the argument that Mr. Winter's DVD home theatre with the GNOME interface is the harbinger of doom for the movie industry, sorry again, Jon. Last weekend was the biggest box office weekend in history in America. People are not failing to go to the movies, and it seems that those teenagers being turned away from The Blair Witch Project aren't significant enough to affect the bottom line.

I can't address the argument that liking "South Park" is a form of asserting one's individuality without collapsing into giggle fits, so I won't try.

Voices from the Reality Line (1)

nadador (3747) | about 15 years ago | (#1765572)

YAKC -- Yet Another Katz Complaint. Let's see, do we have the prerequisite reference to censorship? Yes. Letters from disgruntled teenagers? Yes. Abundant references to Nazi Germany or Stalinist USSR in the comments? Yes. Reduction of religious people to blathering buffoons for thinking softcore porn isn't a fundamental right? Yes.

The more of these Voices from the whatever there are, the more that they show their true character. Is it irritating that some people were denied entrace to the movie? Certainly. Have they been denied some sort of fundamental right? No.

The response to this is totally out of proportion to the severity of the situation. Being denied or inconvenienced in viewing movies that are at best mildly entertaining soft core pornography or full of racial humor is not so great an evil that the nerd community should rally around the so called "oppressed." To other commenters, its not Nazi Germany. Get over yourselves.

Andrew Gardner

DVDs off the net (2)

cpt kangarooski (3773) | about 15 years ago | (#1765573)

I liked the kid who was confusing VCDs with DVDs. VCD movies are already insanely large downloads for anyone using a modem (poor me, I guess; no good DSL or cable modems here). DVDs are what - like 4-18GB?

If he's got a computer, he should just get a DVD player for it; much cheaper, even if you have to use one of those obscure non-Linux OSes.

Re:DVDs off the net (2)

cpt kangarooski (3773) | about 15 years ago | (#1765574)

Okay, fair enough. I had interpreted it as meaning that he planned to dl the movie, but maybe he was talking about ordering. (I would like to, but since I'm the amazing creditless boy, it's more trouble than it's worth)

Re:I hope so. (1)

kneeo (10487) | about 15 years ago | (#1765590)

I like going to r-rated movies. That way your *almost* sure that the snot-nosed, noisey kids wont be there to disrupt my movie going experience.

Of course kids are opposed to this regulation.. (1)

Loligo (12021) | about 15 years ago | (#1765596)

They're the ones most directly affected by it!

How many pot smokers are in favor of keeping pot illegal? How many people in favor of keeping pot illegal smoke it?

This isn't rocket science, geez.


Re:Your country isn't the world (1)

dirty (13560) | about 15 years ago | (#1765600)

"This motion picture has been rated R by the MPAA." The MPAA stands for Motion Picture Association(sp?) of America. In short, there is no law saying kids can't see R-rated movies, period.

Blinding Flash of the Obvious (1)

Karth (14680) | about 15 years ago | (#1765605)

I've read Jon Katz's articles, and I've seen them be good, bad, horrible... and I gotta say, this last one is probably the least thought out one I've ever seen. Yes, kids are going to whine about going to movies. Yes, some adults think that the kids should be allowed to see whatever they want.

Some adults also believe that their kids can't decide what movies to watch without their permission, and HOPE that the theater will help them enforce this decision by not letting their underage kids into any movie they want to go to.

I like Jon, I've liked a lot of his articles... but this one is crazy. If he wants to post something, why can't he have someone involved in real life (read CmdrTaco or Hemos) check it out first?

Re:Is it that tough for you to figure it out? (1)

Karth (14680) | about 15 years ago | (#1765606)

After the age of 13, any child in the united states can legally seek to be removed from their parents custody. A judge will decide if they are responsible enough to be on their own. So even if they are on their own, they still have to have someone older (Judges have to be above 25, afaik...) and hopefully wiser to help them along the way.

I strongly believe in the first amendment, and I agree that free speech is good... but if you wanna argue constitutionality....

The constitution was designed by people in the 1700's. They designed it as a document to guide people that were capable of rational, common sense, thought. They didn't design it for a culture where people have no idea if stepping in front of a train is a good or bad idea, and people who think that putting their hand in a fire won't get them burned.

Let the flambe begin.

Re: Blind Faith of the Oblivious (1)

Karth (14680) | about 15 years ago | (#1765607)

Well, my parents raised me to be "sensible, good-natured, and morally secure", and so did the parents of many of the people that I no longer consider my friends.

The same "sensible, good-natured, and morally secure" people are the ones that snuck into theaters, got people they knew to buy them alcohol, and got in street fights in the neighboring cities.

Re:Katz doesn't read Slashdot! (1)

richnut (15117) | about 15 years ago | (#1765612)

You know this movie nonsense has totally flipped me around on Katz.

It's clear to me now that he's just a wind sock blowing in the most convenient direction to stir up some sort of "rally the geeks" battle cry on some sort of preceived injustice, conveniently centered around some sort of recent media event.

Is the world really a crappier place becasue kids cant get in to see movies? Are you really saving the world, John? Who are you really defending, the good kids or the kids that go out and do the bad stuff? You're the one telling them to disobey the rules. You're the one blowing this stupid subject way out of proportion (Jeepers man it's a MOVIE!!). You're the one filling these kids with this perception of how bad they have it and how terribly unfair it is they cant see a movie. If one of them goes out and blows away an usher at a theater I suppose it's not your fault right? All teenagers are ticked off at authority, Ever think it's morons like you sending these confusing messages that's goofing them all up?

Someone needs to tell these kids the same thing my parents told me:

"Get over it. In the overall picture of life this means nothing"


everything old is new again (1)

grrrreg (16026) | about 15 years ago | (#1765618)

I am really, really old. Born in (gasp! wheeze!) the Kennedy Administration. When I was sixteenish I was denied legal entry to see 'Serpico' and was really pissed about it. Same with 'Last Tango in Paris' (wow....butter!) the year before, and others, more than I care to remember. Point is, I survived to see them, and many others; I also swore that I would support kids who want to see movies of their choice when I got 'old.' So, here I am, agreeing with the overall Katzian theme that the kids are alright, BUT must we really devote so much bandwidth to this? Yes, I know that I am contributing to the problem rite now, but....gosh!

ps: 'affect' should have been 'effect'.....just to show I was paying attention

What are they trying to do? (1)

Kerosene (18371) | about 15 years ago | (#1765620)

What are the theaters attempting to gain by this censorship? Why is it evil for american kids to watch a movie that might be just a little violent? I saw "Blair Witch Project" last night, and I found it extremely entertaining. Even though it had an R rating, and I'm 15, it wasn't anything I couldn't handle. Why don't they allow parents to make the decisions for their children, and not put it up to the theaters, who are ran by huge companies that are always afraid of being sued?

Re:Katz Revisionism (1)

BugMaster ChuckyD (18439) | about 15 years ago | (#1765621)

Hes talking about e-mails sent directly to him, not AC comments on /. Beleive it or not /. comments are not a representitive sample of the population!

Read, Understand, then post (1)

BugMaster ChuckyD (18439) | about 15 years ago | (#1765622)

Here is the very first sentance of Katz's post, as you obviously have trouble with the English language I have emphasied the relevant part

"Columns last week on Ticket Booth Tyranny drew well over a thousand e-mail messages, mostly from kids (including many of those ushers) enraged at theater chain restrictions, posturing and hypocrisy, and scrambling to buy DVD's and build home theaters.

Re:JonKatz, I'm impressed for once (1)

Jim Morash (20750) | about 15 years ago | (#1765627)

Arrgh, sorry the formatting sucks. Forgot I was in HTML mode.

JonKatz, I'm impressed for once (2)

Jim Morash (20750) | about 15 years ago | (#1765628)

As soon as this article appeared, I thought "Great merciful crap, he's at it again, time to filter JonKatz"... but then I read it. Surprisingly free of the usual grammatical/spelling errors, this article was also written in a much more rational tone than some of your previous work. Of course, I might think this just because I completely agree with you or because I haven't slept enough lately. ;) The cheap trick of using "innocent children" as a ploy to pass censorship legislation is as disgusting as it is unAmerican. It's not just in the Linux community that information wants to be free; more info = better choices not just in operating systems but in all aspects of our lives. Arbitrarily preventing children from watching movies is not going to have any positive effect - all it does is try and cut people off from some aspect of human experience. No one is born with morals - they must be learned, by seeing what goes on in the world and being taught, and deciding for yourself, what's right and what's wrong. Two relevant urls: _The Parking Lot is Full_ on 'protecting' children [] Salon article on teens using the internet to make informed decisions about sex []

*sigh* (1)

Coda (22101) | about 15 years ago | (#1765632)

Katz, this is really stupid. You're trying to defend kids' inalienable rights to see crappy movies?

I honestly think most kids would benefit from not seeing the crap in the theaters right now. They would be better off going for a walk, hanging out at a coffee house, or reading the newspaper.

You're protesting the petty abuses of middle management, when the real damage is being done on a much grander scale. Are people really better off for seeing Eyes Wide Shut? Should people be complaining about being left out of the entertainment complex?

"Oh damn, I didn't see some trite piece of cinematic crap that I'd have to pay $10 for, which is approximately the price of a book. Bloody hell!"

Instead of sneaking in, how about not seeing movies at all? That would really show the big guys what's up. And think about it: if only a minority of kids saw the crap on screen these days, politicians couldn't attack violent/profane/sexual movies as the cause of all teenage instability.

Kids! Unite! See only independent movies at independent movie theaters! Fight the man!

Theatres have the right.. (1)

Rombuu (22914) | about 15 years ago | (#1765633) let whoever they feel like in, and should be able to keep out whoever they want for whatever reason they want. What's the problem with this? Oh, that's right, freedom is a bad thing for corporations, but is good for individuals.

Re:Katz doesn't read Slashdot! (2)

Jburkholder (28127) | about 15 years ago | (#1765639)

Me too? Hell no. Just register and filter him out if you can't stand it anymore. I agree with your comments, I used to like him but now he's off his rocker. But know what? Some of the most interesting discussions take place beneath his rocker-less rantings. Cripes, this is what makes ./ so much fun. Keep him around for target practice.

Re: Blind Faith of the Oblivious (1)

RomulusNR (29439) | about 15 years ago | (#1765641)

Some adults also believe that their kids can't decide what movies to watch without their permission, and HOPE that the theater will help them enforce this decision

Yes, "Passing the buck" is the parenting style of the 90's, isn't it?

On the other hand, some parents have faith in their ability to raise their children to be sensible, good-natured, and morally secure, and able to grow intellectually as a mentally balanced individual. (Mine did.) They HOPE that other people, including movie theaters, will help them enforce this decision by letting their children do what they have allowed them to do.


I couldn't agree more (1)

SendBot (29932) | about 15 years ago | (#1765642)

I went to see the blair witch project yesterday, and I got carded! I mean, it wasn't even scary, and I've seen potty mouths worse than the people in the movie who wouldn't be able to go see it alone. I'm tempted to walk away from any ticket counter that asks for my id and wait for the dvd. I got more pissed and violent at the ticket counter than I did at the movie. It was boring enough to sedate me into a waking sleep :) I love your work, jonkatz. keep it up!

Shameless plug! -- []

Shut up Katz! (0)

Skorzeny (31292) | about 15 years ago | (#1765647)

Shut up!! Shut up!!

Re:Kids know all? (2)

Penrif (33473) | about 15 years ago | (#1765650)

You have a point. A limited, but valid, point. As always, when applying a generality to a population, there are people caught under a broad stroke of generality that really don't belong there. In this case, you make a claim that the e-mails Katz recieved from kids (16-17 year old kids) should be discounted because they are not adults on the basis that adults always see the whole picture when kids do not. First off, in my experiance with adults, the statement that they all see the whole picture is absolutly absurd. I'm sure we can all think of examples of adults that haven't a clue. I'm also sure that we can all think of some kids (again, talking the 16-17 year old range, right before they make the magic jump to 18) who really handle themselves well and are mature as any normal adult. (I do conceed that on average, adults have experienced more and are much more mature. Just don't blanket the entire group - either one)

Unfortunatly, parenting has been shifted off of the parents shoulders, and this movie junk is just another symptom of that. For instance, the high school I graduated from felt that kids were not being taught to be community minded by their parents, hence they required each student to perform 80 hours of "volunteer" work to graduate. Last I checked, schools taught academics and parents taught social lifestyle and morality. This is changing, and now movie theatres are trying to teach morality also. And my word is something lost in the generality from parent-child to institution-children. Reminds me of an aformentioned generality.

Anyway, this post is long enough.

Penrif - An 18 year old college Junior whos 4th grade teacher wanted to be his parent and hold him back because he wasn't social enough and thought he should be with kids his own age.

(I know my mother won't read this, but thank you mom for standing up to her!)

Re:No, why don't YOU go away, anonymous coward? (1)

Betelgeuse (35904) | about 15 years ago | (#1765656)

Katz!?!?! "a good journalist"?!?!? Don't make me laugh. I actually am someone who agrees with Katz sometimes (although, not this time) and generally find that what he says has some merit. But he is most definately not a good journalist. Have you even taken the time to read what he writes? His writing style is dismal.

Re:Kids know all? (1)

Inspector (38755) | about 15 years ago | (#1765657)

Exactly, mostly kids. As an adult, you should know that kids don't always see the whole picture. You, however should be able to.

What? You're telling me that unjaded, openminded kids are more narrowminded than some ancient, money grubbing, political minded, business man/politician, who is so set in their ways and fears change to the point that they feel they have to strangle anything new or different? Whatever.

Besides, no one sees "the whole picture". Everyone has their own point of view.

Dismal huh? (1)

Inspector (38755) | about 15 years ago | (#1765658)

And I suppose your prose is a much better candidate for public consumption? Anyway, who are you to judge another's writing skills anyway?

Hee hee... (1)

Inspector (38755) | about 15 years ago | (#1765659)

Wow, hypocrisy in a single line: The National Slashdot Service also has received reports of highly windy prose coupled with dubious assertions and questionable assumptions.

Just a few UKish points... (1)

Xugumad (39311) | about 15 years ago | (#1765666)

Just for comparison; I take it that the ratings are just recommendations in the USA?

It's just that here in the UK, films are rated U, PG, 12, 15 or 18, and the ones that are ages, it is actually illegal to sell to anyone below that age.

Another incredibly obvious assertation (1)

El Volio (40489) | about 15 years ago | (#1765668)

...the 20th century, sure to be remembered for monumental advances in technology.
Great, thanks for something we didn't already know.

Why is it, I wonder, that Katz seems totally unable to at least articulate his opponents' viewpoints? Not just the theaters and studios, but the common man? After all, wouldn't that be the best way to refute them?

Wait, I forgot, that only works if your viewpoint is logical...

No, why don't YOU go away, anonymous coward? (1)

Analogue Kid (54269) | about 15 years ago | (#1765687)

That would be more constructive than whining about a good journalist just because you disagree with him.

Is it that tough for you to figure it out? (1)

Analogue Kid (54269) | about 15 years ago | (#1765688)

Some of us actually want everyone to have first ammendment rights.

Gentiles couldn't muster much outrage at holocaust (1)

Analogue Kid (54269) | about 15 years ago | (#1765689)

...until long after WW2. Obviously this restriction of religious and intellectual freedoms isn't nearly so appalling, but don't you think you should at least consult those it affects -- those under 17?

Parents know all?! (1)

Spyky (58290) | about 15 years ago | (#1765707)

Exactly, mostly kids. As an adult, you should know that kids don't always see the whole picture. You, however should be able to.

Adults like you certainly don't see the whole picture either. Who are you to say no if some parent wants their 14 year old to be able to see R rated movies. Surely you admit that they will anyway when it arrives on VHS or DVD. Why shouldn't they be able to see it in a theater? Why should their parents have to be with them? They might not be when they bring home the same movie on video. As an adult, if you try to place arbitrary (little regard to actual "dangerous" content or maturity of viewer) rules on a teenager, you are more likely to incite him/her to rebel, rather then obey. If they are determined to do something, they will do it, with or without your approval. Sure kids don't know everything, and they certainly don't see the whole picture, but neither do adults. I find your point particuarly worthless, say something constructive.


Go John Katz!

Re:Klueless (1)

Spyky (58290) | about 15 years ago | (#1765708)

It doesn't matter how many thousands of emails you got from CHILDREN. They are still children. They are still the responsibility of their parents. They are NOT adults nor have the achieved the maturity necessary for the decisions on what is good or bad for them. What is a child? Is it 14? 16? 17? At exactly what age do children have the maturity to make decisions about what is good for them. Is it the magical age of 17, or 18, or 21? Seems to me there is increasing responsibility with age. A mature 14 year old can handle a movie like American Pie or even Eyes Wide Shut, maybe an immature 25 year old can't. Who are you to judge? Isn't that a parents job? You want an example? Teenage males are the worst drivers according to insurance records. They make stupid decisions. Even when they've been trained on the correct actions (read safe). Teenage males and females are both "bad" drivers according to insurance records. For a few (this applies to adults too) it is because of agressive behavior. For most, it is due to inexperience, leading to minor fender benders, waiting too long to brake on a wet surface, etc. Would waiting until they are 21 change this, probably not they still, at the age of 21, would have the same lack of experience. Of course they are going to support your position that they have more freedom. Big deal. They can support you all you want but they don't have any authority. No authority. So at that magical age of 18 this authority gets placed upon them. Gee, as a parent, that seems like a great idea, lets dump them out into the real world at 18 with all that responsibility and authority, and see how well they do. Children have authority and responsibility long before then. Look to your example letters. What does helping retarded children have to do with watching erotica (Kidman's butt)? What retarded children? What are you talking about. And is seeing Kidman's butt really going to hurt any 14 year old? A 16 year old? Get a clue. Get a life Spyky

Bravo... (1)

tssm0n (60524) | about 15 years ago | (#1765711)

I thought this was a damn good article, almost as well done as the last two. Its not just a bunch of children trying to see "grown up" movies, its blocking people's right to information. If the majority of the people feel that people should be kept from seeing movies based on how mature they are, maybe the theaters should be required to give a written exam to everyone who wants to see a movie. I've been an "adult" for several years now and I throw a fit whenever I get carded. Its the idea that these people want to restrict me from doing something just because I might not meet some random standard that some old farts who have no idea what the world is like set up to protect the children that parents should be spending time teaching values to rather then sitting them in front of the TV to learn everything on their own. How does the world expect children to become mature if they're never allowed to make their own decesions?

Re:Klueless (1)

tssm0n (60524) | about 15 years ago | (#1765712)

"You want an example? Teenage males are the worst drivers according to insurance records."

And older men are most likely to die of prostate cancer. Who cares? It has nothing to do with this topic. They have the worst driving records (BTW, I though it was teenage girls that were the worst) because they haven't been driving very long. If they learned to drive when they were 40, by the time they were 41 they'd be crappy drivers.

"hey can support
you all you want but they don't have any authority. "

Neither did blacks or women when this country was first founded. The world changes. People aren't worthless just because they haven't reached the magic age of 18 yet.

Theaters suck (1)

as6o (62436) | about 15 years ago | (#1765713)

Home theater is the way to go. My wife refuses to go to a movie theater since we got our home theater. The last one we went to was Eyes Wide Shut opening night. The bitch behind us would not shut up ("Nicole would look so much better in a choker", "What imagery..." at the mask on the pillow scene, "Great way to start the movie!!!" at the first nude scene, "I'm so happy to asked me out", other inane comments, etc), we had to shhh her at least 6 time but they never stuck. She was so bad her date was even getting embarrased (she was middle-aged and I think drunk). This has been happening more and more to us when we go. I really want to see Blair Witch but am afraid it will be ruined by some asshole setting behind us.

So to all you kids who can't get into movies - it sucks anyways because there are too many jerks out there to make it enjoyable. Of course it would be nice if you had the choice....

Go with DVD and a dish. Ask for them for Christmas. And if you do have to go to the movies, give a shhh! to the people behind you for me.

What a hypocrite! (0)

konstant (63560) | about 15 years ago | (#1765716)

God, here he goes, flogging the "oppressed children" horse into the ground again.


More importantly, why doesn't Slashdot? The people Katz purportedly despises, the cynical politicians who use "our children" as an excuse to pass their pet legislation, don't have a thing on Jonathan Katz.

This man has the power to POST his OWN messages on Slashdot indiscriminately. This is a power almost none of the loyal and enthusiastic readers of Slashdot possess. And how does he use this power? Why, to whip us all into a frenzy over the children of course!

I've said it before: Jon Katz clearly is using Slashdot for credibility. He sees what all of us see: that Slashdot is going to break into the big time very very soon now. And what would gratify his ego more than to be "Slashdot's JonKatz", spokesman for geeks everywhere, widely sought after for his sage opinions.

If I read another post whimpering about the poor children from Katz, I will filter him. But damn, I do wish that Slashdot had a more equitable means of deciding which posts are worthy of making it onto the board. Slashdot space is a valuable and limited resource. I for one do not want it wasted on self-aggradizement in the name of "the children".


Me too! (1)

konstant (63560) | about 15 years ago | (#1765717)

Please let's have another vote, Rob.


What if they announced a boycott and nobody came. (1)

konstant (63560) | about 15 years ago | (#1765718)

Of course Katz won't try to orchestrate a boycott. He'd have to announce it to the broader media for it to be effective, but nobody would pay the least attention to him. He'd be revealed as ineffective the nation over.



DrMaurer (64120) | about 15 years ago | (#1765720)

I'm sure Mr. Katz loves you comment. Please set your preferences to avoid articles by him in the future.

Can't? Oops, I guess being anonymous isn't a good thing.

Anyone can say anything they want, and so can I, so please, ignore what you don't like and move on, please?


Boring... (1)

AndersW (64204) | about 15 years ago | (#1765722)

Yada yada yada...
OK, he's done. Let's bash some Christians!

God damn, they gonna moderate me down for this one...

Oh well.


Re: Lowest common denominator. (1)

SirSlud (67381) | about 15 years ago | (#1765732)

Incidentally, if my comment didn't make it clear, I though Katz's article barely scratched the surface of the issue. (Which is why I elaborated with my own drivel.) I know where he's coming from, but his arguments are obvious, and mostly moot.

I tend to agree with most people here in that Katz material isn't really all that noteworthy, and probably not worth the space he's given.

Lowest common denominator. (3)

SirSlud (67381) | about 15 years ago | (#1765734)

The recent talks on censorship have simply gone to show how we've become a lowest common denominator society.

a) We'll gladly deny millions of kids the responsibility of enjoying a movie to ensure that a handful don't use it as a source of twisted inspiration and do anything bad with it.

b) Making something available to the public is far harder than making something unavailable. Ie, the group that /doesn't/ want something will almost invariably win over the (generally larger) group that /does/ want something. This is the lowest common denominator - we seem to be pulling back art, media, culture as fast as we can find slices of the population that have a problem with it.

If you buy into the law of conservation of badness, you can suggest that censoring an experience will cause 10 children to go out and do it themselves out of curiosity, while making the experience avaiable will cause 10 different children to go out and do it themselves out of imitation. To put it more simply, some kids start smoking cause someone lets them try it, others start cause their parents pretented like smoking didn't exist.

Those in favour of censorship are often some of the most hypocritical of the bunch. Ei, a group of judges that would coil in horror when called to judge upon their own private interests.

The other thing that irks me is the complete lack of focus on the responsibility of the artist. To get right to the point we shouldn't /need/ censorship because an artist should create his work with a clear intention to present his or her values. The thing many people can't grasp is that you can support positive moral views by presenting subversive ones. It is up to the consumer to distinguish what is being presented in a 'dont do this' light and what is not. I firmly believe (I'm 21) that kids are able to do this if their parents havn't twisted their minds already with the "monkey see, monkey do" and "see no evil, hear no evil" mentality.


Kids know all? (1)

-=albert (67747) | about 15 years ago | (#1765735)

Columns last week on Ticket Booth Tyranny drew well over a thousand e-mail
messages, mostly from kids (including many of those ushers) enraged at theater chain
restrictions, posturing and hypocrisy, and scrambling to buy DVD's and build home
theaters. The entertainment industry seems not to grasp the strong message that digital technologies
give kids lots of choices. They can't wait to make them.

Exactly, mostly kids. As an adult, you should know that kids don't always see the whole picture. You, however should be able to.

Kids and their parents money (1)

Head Louse (68482) | about 15 years ago | (#1765738)

I don't think the Movie industry is going to be shaking in it's boots over a few irate kids going out and buying DVD players. Since they are going to be purchasing or at least renting the movies anyway. And once they buy the DVD player and sound system they will go right out and buy some DVDs. They probably will buy a bunch that they normally would never have owned just so they could make there home theater system "worth the $". And since independant stuff doesn't appear on DVD the kids will be permenantly hooked on hollywoods media barrage of (mostly) shit.

Re:Klueless (1)

Head Louse (68482) | about 15 years ago | (#1765739)

>Teenage males are the worst drivers according to insurance records. They make stupid decisions.

People with above average IQs also tend to be worse drivers then people with average IQs - so maybe the decisions aren't so stupid?

>What does helping retarded children have to do with watching erotica (Kidman's butt)?

A camp counselor who helped mentally disabled would have the patience to sit though Cruise's pitiful acting ability.

Re:What are they trying to do? (1)

Stonehand (71085) | about 15 years ago | (#1765742)

* Probably, the theatres are attempting to save themselves from a) government legislation (my understanding is that it's all voluntary, now) and possibly b) lawsuits from irate parents. Given that there are many, many two-parent households who don't track their kids that well, it wouldn't surprise me if at least some would consider suing if a theatre let their 14- or 15- year-old in.

* Arguably, they could make the claim that if the parent isn't even going to show up, that they have no evidence of such permission. The requirement that the parent actually *stay* throughout the movie is a little odd, but it's not that big a leap.

This way, they are leaving the decision with the parents: show up with your kid and see the movie, or withhold your permission by not showing up. The theatre doesn't have to decide anything at all (such as whether a note of permission is real, or so forth); arguably, there should be a middle ground here (versus letting all kids in, and leaving yourselves open to liability) but I'm not sure if one exists.

not ALL movie theaters are bad! (1)

chocolatetrumpet (73058) | about 15 years ago | (#1765745)

Check out Regal. []

Home theater can get pretty good.. but it can never be quite the same as going out to see a movie. :-)

You need to announce a boycot (1)

TGmentor (73169) | about 15 years ago | (#1765747)

Unfortunately Katz ranting about movie theater tyranny isn't going to do much unless there is an official statement from a group that represents a large number of us.

Somebody needs to make a website that allows registration of individuals who wish to participate in a boycott. Then shoot off a press release to the major papers.

I think getting the movies on DVD is NOT a good idea. I think skipping the movies altogethor would send a SCREAMING message. Hit them in the pocket books... that's ALL the entertainment industry really understands.

Also... don't forget to vote! (if you can) If you can't then do political work for candidates who will give you the right to vote.

Guys, using (abusing) the system is the BEST way to get what you want.

Re:Katz doesn't read Slashdot! (1)

TGmentor (73169) | about 15 years ago | (#1765748)


There is -no- law against kids been in a movie Rated R. PERIOD. It doesn't matter if a movie theater goes out and GIVES tickets to two year olds! There's nothing that can legally be done about it.

Re:I hope so. (1)

TGmentor (73169) | about 15 years ago | (#1765749)

"The movie rating system is A Good Thing, and requiring parents to actually sit with their kids in the movie if they wish them to be allowed to watch it is an Even Better Thing."

Hey, does capitilizing stuff make it an official title?

That's Right! Ticket booths BREED violence! (1)

TGmentor (73169) | about 15 years ago | (#1765750)

That's right! Tickets booths BREED violence, not the movies!! haha. Perhaps we should outlaw ticket booths!

Re:Klueless (1)

TGmentor (73169) | about 15 years ago | (#1765751)

Kids do have the power to obtain rights in this country. All they need to do is provide free footwork for any candidate that would support equal rights for kids.

Imagine an army of kids handing out fliers to adults for a candidate that had many other agreeable stances, and just happens to have equal rights for kids as a small portion of his/her platform.

This country allows you to use the system to obtain the change you want. So use it, hell... abuse it!

Re:Of course, kids! (1)

kcsmiff (73562) | about 15 years ago | (#1765752)

Incidentally, I'm 21, I saw Eyes Wide Shut, and I thought it should have been (a) uncensored and (b) rated X for nudity and adult situations. I don't think they'd show A Clockwork Orange in theaters today either, and I don't think Southpark or American Pie are even in the same category... if Eyes Wide Shut is rated R, they should be rated PG or PG-13.

But where did you see Eyes Wide Shut? A cineplex odeon? A Royale theatre? Some other big chain? If Eyes Wide Shut had been rated X, I'm sure that it would have been much harder to find a theatre playing it.

I've been reading up on the MPAA and their various goins-on.. There's a movie called "Coming Soon" (which should be out soon I believe, I know i'm going to see it if I can) about four sexually active girls. IIRC, there is little to no nudity in the movie. The MPAA gave it an X, the director had a fit because American Pie got an R and yelled at the MPAA for having a double standard. One representative of the MPAA told her that "we are representative of parents across the US, and they would judge this movie by a double standard, therefore we have to."

From what I've read so far, there have been several movements to get a rating that is "more than R, but not a porno" and have all failed because people end up associating the rating with porn (what do *you* think of when you see "NC17"?).

The enemy is not the ushers whose jobs are on the line or the theatre owners who have to make a living and therefore have to please the MPAA.. Nor is the enemy Jon Katz. Seems like the enemy is the double standard that parents and other people across the US have.

Rated R movies and stuff (1)

DGregory (74435) | about 15 years ago | (#1765755)

When I was a teenager they didn't enforce the "no one under 17 admitted rule" and it was the parents who decided if their kid could go watch it or not. I don't know why they suddenly decided that my generation was so terrible that enforcing that rule is going to really change anything and make the world a better place. Besides, once kids reach the age of 15-16 years old, watching a dirty movie isn't going to suddenly make them axe murderers. Any kids that are going to try to set farts on fire (or whatever :) by that age would probably try to do it anyways, without the help from a movie. It shouldn't be the movie theater's job (or government's) to try to teach values to kids or shield them from Bad Things. It should be the parent who decides if the kid is mature enough to watch a rated R (or PG-13, or NC-17 -- which these days seems to have little difference from rated R) movie...

And, you can't really compare a theater experience to a home theater/DVD experience. Most theaters use actual film, whereas DVD is digital, so the bigger the image gets, the more pixellated it'll be. Until we get some HD-TV, the theater experience will always be superior. There's also fewer distractions in the theater (even with the babies and kids) so I tend to enjoy the movie there more because I'm able to concentrate on it 100% rather than having to answer the phone, stop halfway through to move laundry, etc. When I get really comfortable on the couch at home, I'll usually fall asleep during a movie whereas it's hard to get that comfortable in the theater. :)
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