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the film criticism aspect of cyber | by maryann johanson

because insects under the influence will only corrupt the kiddies

Didja notice the MPAA rating on Alice in Wonderland?

rated PG for fantasy action/violence involving scary images and situations, and for a smoking caterpillar

Not just for smoking, which is a warning we see often enough these days. Alice doesn’t bother the MPAA merely for the fact that it contains smoking. It bothers the MPAA because it features a smoking caterpillar. Because there’s something especially insidious and depraved and offensive about a cartoon bug smoking. Because, perhaps, every time your third-grader sees a caterpillar from now on, she will be gripped with the irresistible urge to light up.

This has been your WTF Thought for the Day.



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  • Oh no – I think we’re going to have to gear up for a huge rise in underage caterpillar smoking. How will they ever pupate and become butterflies if the tobacco stunts their growth? Won’t someone please think of the larvae?!

  • Keith

    Because kids will not only have the uncontrollable urge to light up, but also to cocoon themselves and metamophosize into something else. After all, kids shouldn’t grow up. They should stay the same forever…and also be named Gregor.

  • Jim Mann

    Shortly after Alien came out, I listened to Dan O’Bannon give a talk on the movie. Someone asked him if he thought Alien would inspire violence by kids. He responded that he doubted any kids were going to jump down other kids’ throats and burst out of their chests.

  • Orangutan

    There’s some anti-smoking group up here in the Hudson Valley that’s started running radio ads promoting their idea that any movie that features any kind of smoking at all should automatically get an R rating. And it is, once again, one of those kinds of anti-smoking ads that’s so obnoxious it kinda makes me want to start just to piss them off. I wouldn’t, of course, but hearing ads like it irks me just enough to create the urge. Has anyone else experienced that reaction?

  • Eric

    I know exactly what you mean. The anti-smoking hysteria crusade annoys me as well. I’m not a smoker and have never seen the point in it, but I don’t think people who do smoke should be persecuted by a bunch of obnoxious self-righteous health zealots, either. If these people had their way, they’d go back and give an R rating to any moving that depicts smoking in any way, shape, or form, which would mean that pretty much any film featuring Humphrey Bogart would be off-limits to the under-17 crowd. Frankly, I don’t want to live in a world where a teenager can’t see Casablanca because some self-appointed moral guardian took it upon himself to decide what’s good for America’s children.

    The “smoking caterpillar” part of the MPAA ratings description is pretty hilarious, although it has nothing on the absolute ridiculousness of the description of Twister, which was rated PG-13 for “intense depictions of very bad weather”.

  • e

    I personally began smoking after seeing Woody light up in Toy Story, but switched to cigars after Buzz Lightyear advocated lifting the embargo on Cuba.

    I don’t smoke but I find the increasingly descriptive MPAA ratings hilarious. I guess it helps parents prepare after movie speeches in advance.

  • Daniel

    Well, the MPAA rating is silly on several different levels, as are most MPAA ratings. My favorite said the movie contained “language and brief sexuality,” which kind of describes my life.

    On the other hand, if the caterpillar had been making sexist comments about women, instead of smoking, would you have said, “He’s just a caterpillar. We can’t take anything he says seriously”? Or would you say, “This is another example of how misogynistic our society is today”?

  • Brian

    Don’t smoke a hookah, kids! He may have started out as a caterpillar, but he turned into this guy!

  • Jim

    The following preview has been approved for “Appropriate” audiences. Huh? Cracks me up when I see that. Even better, the MPAA rating warning that the film contains “pervasive language”. I certainly hope there’s lots of language, preferably English (unless it’s a foreign film). How about the ratings rationale given for “Million Dollar Baby”? Sure glad I saw the movie before reading that; it’s a major spoiler.

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