Aug 2, 2006

Movie ratings protests work

The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), which assigns Hollywood's movie ratings, has issued a statement denying that it ever gave a PG rating to a movie for having an overt Christian message. That statement is in response to a huge protest by the public.

Click on this post's title to check out an article about this issue. After a report of ratings discrimination, many supporters of several groups e-mailed the MPAA in protest. For example, the "American Family Association Action Alert" of Aug. 2 says, "...we asked our supporters to email the Motion Picture Association of America to drop their practice of rating PG any movie which had an evangelical Christian message. A total of 143,184 of you did...Another victory!"

If e-mails can get moviemakers' attention, imagine how much more good would result if a certain Cardinal in Los Angeles would get together with his fellow bishops and reinstate the Legion of Decency and a motion picture production code.

From the early 1930s to the early 1960s, under the threat of boycott by Catholics, moviemakers did not make indecent movies. They obeyed the Hayes Code, which was prompted by Pope Pius XI and our U.S. bishops and which specified production standards. Simultaneously, millions of Catholics enlisted in the Legion of Decency and promised to boycott indecent films. Hollywood listened -- and complied!

The U.S. bishops weakened in the mid-1960s and lost the will to keep the Code and the Legion going. A sewage spill of evil movies erupted almost immediately and still continues.

In 1992, moviemakers seemed ready to relent. But Cardinal Mahony said he did not want a production code. Incredibly, he said we should rely on moviemakers' "conscience."

We need to remind the Cardinal that it is long past time for him to restore the movie code and the Legion of Decency. No wonder the moviemakers make so many anti-Catholic, sacrilegious movies -- they see the Church as toothless and unwilling to use its power.


Blogger Jared said...

On the subject of the cardinal, have you seen this, Q?

4:30 PM  
Anonymous Father G said...

Your history of the Hayes Office and Motion Picture Production Code is somewhat inaccurate. Allow me refer you to "Hollywood vs. America" by Michael Medved who explains the genesis of the Hayes Code and its demise contemperaneous with the collapse of the studio system. Quite frankly, I doubt major movie moguls could change the present system, much less the U.S. Catholic Bishops. Catholics need to make adult decisions about which movies to see and the ratings offered by the USCCB Office for Film certainly help in that endeavor.

12:25 AM  
Anonymous Kenneth Fisher, Founder & Chrm. CRCOA said...

Father G,

Re: "ratings offered by the USCCB Office for Film certainly help in that endeavor." I seem to remember the USCCB Office at first recommending "Broke Back Mountain"!

So much for that outfit being a moral guide!

Kenneth M. Fisher

12:40 AM  
Anonymous Father G said...

In the only review for "Brokeback Mountain" that I saw from the USCCB Office for Film, it was given an "O: Morally Offensive For All" rating despite the review's acknowledgment that the film had some wothwhile elements too.

1:24 PM  
Anonymous Kenneth Fisher, Founder & Chrm. CRCOA said...

father g,

I do believe that the USCCB, after being taken to task for the first rating, did eventually give it an "O Morally Offensive" but not at first.

Does anyone else remember this, I don't have the time to research it, I only going on what I remember.

By the way, my friends in England tell me that most of their Bishops are fully complying with "Ecclesia Dei" and allowing any priest who so desires to celebrate the Tridentine Mass!

Kenneth Fisher

9:30 PM  
Blogger Jared said...


You are correct. I'll try to bring up the pertinent data but, yes, the movie reviewer initially gave it an L rating and a reasonably positive review. But that office does this kind of thing all of the time, on both sides of the issue, offering up negative reviews and O ratings for things which they probably should not AND recommending other movies which are patently offensive to Catholic sensibilities.

12:48 PM  
Blogger Jared said...

Father g and Kenneth:

Here's a reference on the Bishops Office Movie Review for Brokeback Mountain. Please note that it only changed to "O" due to protests.

Maybe we need new reviewers there.

1:00 PM  
Anonymous Kenneth Fisher, Founder & Chrm. CRCOA said...

Jared ol buddy,

Thanks for coming through for me and Fr. G.

Kenneth M. Fisher

2:03 PM  
Anonymous Father G said...

I was unable to access the page whose URL you posted, but I will take your word. Neither your nor Kenneth's posts negate what I said in mine--that Catholics must make adult decisions about which films to see and which to avoid seeing. There will be no return to the Hayes Code.

2:32 PM  
Blogger Jared said...

Sorry 'bout that. This is the actual link.

Fr. g: All I'm saying is A)the bishops reviewer(s) is (are) out-of-touch with Catholic morality and B) Cardinal Mahony isn't helping the situation by kowtowing to Hollywood and the politicians the way he does.

As a Catholic in the entertainment industry, I still submit to you that, were a stronger, more orthodox bishop shepherding the area that encompasses Hollyweird, we'd see SOME changes within the industry. Those changes would take on worldwide signifigance considering the impact of entertainment and the fact that it is our largest export.

Yes, Catholics need to take personal responsibility. But bishops also need to lead. I could be wrong but I've not seen Mahony doing that in this particular realm.

I'm not trying to be confrontational. I just got home from a long day, so please forgive me if it seems that way. It's just my opinion. I'm trying to take personal responsibility and do my part to get the truth out.

12:44 AM  
Anonymous Father G said...

Dear Jared,
I don't think you're being confrontational at all; you're making your case, a case with which I happen to disagree. If you'll read Cardinal Mahony's pastoral letter on film makers and film goers, you'll see that he has chosen the more viable path of encouragement in the spirit of Pope John Paul II's address to the entertainment industry in September, 1987, rather than the way of condemntion. (Look at how far Ted Baehr and his Christian Film and Television Commission gets with that attitude: nowhere.)

Again I reference Michael Medved's book, "Hollywood vs. America" in which he questions why the industry makes so many "R" films when "G" and "PG" films do so much better at the box office (after all, movies that can be seen by families translate into more tickets sold.) His answer is that many in Hollywood are obsessed with producing "art" even if that "art" dies at the box office.

Encouraging good films through such groups as Catholics in Media and the Humanitas Awards offers more promise than negative codemnations that fall on deaf ears any way.

5:19 AM  
Anonymous Father G said...

Dear Kenneth,
Thanks to Jared, I was able to see that you are, indeed, correct that the original "L" rating given by the USCCB to "Brokeback Mountain" was changed, under pressure, to an "O". Nowhere, however, does the review recommend "Brokeback Mountain". Rather, it points out positive elements in the film but falls short of recommending it.

5:37 AM  
Blogger Quintero said...

Dear Jared,

Thanks very much for this link. As you probably have seen by now, I have posted about it, repeated the link and thanked you for it.

It seems to prove that people can make headway in Rome by making their petitions AS MEMORABLE and AS EASY AS POSSIBLE for officials in the Vatican to use and share.

12:42 PM  
Blogger Quintero said...

Reverend and Dear Father G,

Thank you for writing. I do believe it is entirely fair and accurate to say that our bishops lost the will to continue the Code and the Legion of Decency.

If the Code had to go, why did the Legion of Decency have to go, too? Our bishops could have kept it going, both as a way to make the major studios feel the heat and as a way to remind Catholics to turn every thought to Christ, to offer their entertainment use to Him and to learn and remember that it is a big sin to view evil.

There are big problems with saying that Catholics need to make "adult decisions" about films to see.

The first problem is that it seems to contradict Pope Pius XI's instructions to the Church in his encyclical on motion pictures. I know you are sincere, but Pope Pius XI and other Popes have supplied guidance for us and we should take advantage of that.

The second problem is that the absence of the Production Code lets moviemakers make evil movies and thus tempt people, including Catholics, to sin. The Code PREVENTED the making of evil movies in the first place.

The third problem is that letting today's Catholics with ill-formed consciences make "adult decisions" about movies is as much doomed as is telling them to make up their own minds about anything else, such as contraception, abortion, homosexual sins, etc.

The fourth problem is that many moviegoers are NOT ADULTS. They are teenagers and younger. They CANNOT make "adult decisions." Studies show that kids often get into R movies in theaters -- and we need to remember that even more kids see R and worse movies at home on video and DVD. The Code prevented the making of those films in the first place.

Fifth, it is the considered opinion of many Catholics that, unfortunately, the USCCB film office reviews provide utterly inadequate guidance.

Next: Saying the Church should encourage moviemakers, not condemn, ignores several things.

First, again, it appears to contradict Pope Pius XI's instructions in his encyclical on motion pictures.

Second, there is virtually NO effort to "encourage" moviemakers.

Third, many people in the movie industry believe that Ted Baehr has made a lot of difference.

Fourth, moviemakers continue to subject the Church to one anti-Catholic film after the other. They do not respect the Church and they will not accept encouragement from someone they see as weak.

Fifth, Cardinal Mahony's pastoral does not rely on the Popes, yet he admitted that in writing it he consulted movie industry bigwigs.

Sixth, the reality is that ONLY the Code and the Legion have worked; nothing else has. Before them, and even more so after them, moviemakers made many evil films; during them, they did not.

Thank you again for writing, Father, and please keep doing so. I know how sincere you are. God bless you, and may He always prosper your priestly ministry.

1:32 PM  
Anonymous Father G said...

Dear Quintero,
Indeed, I shall continue to write even when, or maybe because, I disagree with you. I shall drop this issue here, giving you the last word, since we obviously are not going to come any agreement. I would only say two things in conclusion: that the culture that gave us the Hayes Code and the Legion of Decency no longer exists...we may mourn their passing but we have to deal with today's culture. Merely trying to resurrect the past is no solution.

Second, the cardinal's pastoral letter was very much in keeping with the teaching of the late Pope John Paul II. (That 1997 pastoral letter marked the tenth anniversary of, and drew upon, the Holy Father's address to the entertainment industry leaders gathered in Universal City, so it is fair to say that the cardinal's teaching was in keeping with contemporary papal teaching, Pope Pius XI having been dead since 1939.)

2:16 PM  
Anonymous Kenneth Fisher, Founder & Chrm. CRCOA said...

Dear Father G.

Cardinal Mahony speaks out of both side of his mouth, a characteristic commonly found in politicians, not in true Shepherds.

When Mahony first came to L.A., he made a big deal about hiring Dr. Dennis Jarrard, Ph.D. to head up his office that was supposed to deal with the growing filth in the industry. However; when Dr. Jarrard proved too successful and Mahony's hell-y-wood many friends complained, Mahony promptly dismissed Dennis.

He did the same with Dr. Nicolosi when he proved too effective in getting somodomites to leave the so called life style.

I or Quintero can get you in touch with Dennis if you would like, he will give you an earful and more about the Cardinal and his duplicities.

God bless, yours in Their Hearts,
Kenneth M. Fisher

3:17 PM  
Anonymous Kenneth Fisher, Founder & Chrm. CRCOA said...

Fr. G.

What positive elements are there in "Brokeback Mountain", a movie I beleive condemned by the Vatican.

Kenneth M. Fisher

3:21 PM  
Blogger Quintero said...

Reverend and Dear Father G,

Thank you again for writing.

A big part of the culture that gave us the Movie Production Code and the Legion of Decency was a strong U.S. Catholic Church deeply obedient to the Holy Father.

If that culture no longer exists, one big reason is that the U.S. Church gave up on the Production Code and on the Legion of Decency.

Does dealing with our current anti-Catholic and indecent culture mean the Church may no longer publicly oppose the making of evil films?

It does not matter that Pope Pius XI died in 1939. Pope John XXIII died back in 1963; do we therefore discount his encyclicals?

In any case, the Popes since him have blasted evil movies, too, and the Catechism certainly condemns evil entertainment.

But how do we strengthen and restore the Church? Isn't boldly proclaiming Catholic truth -- the Popes, the Commandments, the Catechism -- the only way?

Do we give the appearance of being silent about evil, and glossing it over, and being accommodating to the Church's opponents and trying to ingratiate ourselves with them?

The Church can do nothing right, in the minds of her enemies, unless She goes the sad way of the Episcopalians and Unitarians -- so what have we got to lose by boldly proclaiming Catholic truth and boldly naming sin and warning Catholics to avoid it?

10:38 PM  

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