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Fear Through Ignorance

by Lara Sköld

Original Editorial: Censorship Through Extortion

[This being my first editorial submission I have no idea whether I should place the editorial in the body of this e-mail or simply attach it as a .txt file. If there are any problems with my preferred method please notify me to prevent future embarassment. ^_^]

This text is a rather necessary rebuttal to Mitchell Gyde's misunderstanding of the necessity for our current ratings systems. Personally I believe that ratings systems are rather useless as most parents seem to ignore them anyway. The few parents that do pay attention to whether Little Mikey is playing a game rated as Mature are also the reasons why this system is worth defending to some degree.

Beginning with films one wonders why not just take every film away from the MPAA and go with a rating of NR? Simply put not many people trust a rating of NR which is the sad point our society has fallen to. We either do not think that the maturity level required to truly understand a film has been achieved by our movie-hungry children or we just do not want Johnny seeing zombies molest a mutant wombat. The whole reason for instituting a ratings system for films is because some idiots decided that producing cinema full of mindless violence with no plot at all would be good for business. Not everyone enjoys a mature storyline, not everyone enjoys a film full of happy forest creatures and not everyone wants to watch another movie with Arnold Schwarzenegger blowing up large buildings and spouting trite dialogue.

Yes, there is a point to the previous rambling paragraph. The quality of a film is completely separate from the material that is rated in it, but our society has come to believe that certain film ratings immediately imply the film is awful simply because its content was subversive enough (regardless of whether it is a necessary plot device or braindead entertainment) to deserve a more mature rating. A high-quality storyline could be shot down in the box office due to an NC-17 rating stemming from several explicit sexual scenes (I have yet to see this extreme case occur, but it could or probably has and I missed it). There is nothing wrong with the ratings system itself, but instead the ideas that we as a society have allowed to linger in the public eye.

This same system is true of video games except no video game currently in production in the United States carries a rating of Adults Only so I could not say what would push a game from Mature to Adults Only. The idea with video games is basically the same as that with films as a video game with an excellent story could be seen as nothing more than a gorefest because of a Mature rating. I may be mistaken, but video games are also viewed in the public eye as pure entertainment rather than as a mix of entertainment and good storyline as most films are seen. Anyone who has ever played Xenogears, Final Fantasy VII (or any Final Fantasy for that matter [with the possible exception of Mystic Quest]), etc. would know that video games are much more than pure entertainment however. [Oh, and a side note: Entertainment here is being defined as something that is not challenging to the mind and that does not cause one to think of complex issues. Entertainment in this text is defined as testosterone candy.]

As Gyde's editorial pointed out some sadistic ESBA or MPAA rater could simply mark a product as Mature or NC-17 just to keep it from going anywhere in the market. This is rather unlikely unless there is great controversy over said product and if the controversy is great enough to convince someone to do this then, knowing our society, the information about the product would have been widely debated and publicised long before the rating ever came into play. This may have a positive effect or it may have a negative effect depending on how the public receives the information. In conclusion, I would rather watch Cid spout off miles of foul language if it adds to his character and makes me understand him better then watch Jean-Claude Van Damme do the same if he is rampaging through enemy barracks with a chaingun at the same time.

[Editor's Notes: Humour, examples, and consistent follow-through. Don't ask me why I included the first little paragraph. I'm half tempted to tell you all to ridicule her for getting the format right, and half tempted to tell you all to give her good feedback, but then I realize that I'm the only person in the whole editorial equation who doesn't get feedback. That's a plug for you to send me feedback. This editorial is excellent, and there's still much more to come, so take a break, write me a response, and then keep on reading!]

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