Monday, January 31, 2011

"The King's Speech" Controversy

"What the fuh-fuh-FUCK do I have to suh-say to guh-get a puh-puh-PG-13?"
Harvey Weinstein, president of the Weinstein Company, recently stated that his company may re-release their Oscar-nominated film The King’s Speech as a PG-13 film with one profanity-laced scene re-cut. The film, an inspiring British tale about King George VI’s famous stutter, features a scene in which the future king is incited by his speech therapist to curse profusely because no one ever stutters when they curse. This scene, which has several “f-words,” is the reason the MPAA gave it an R rating.

The film’s director, Tom Hooper, told Entertainment Weekly, “I wouldn’t support cutting the film in any way. I think we looked at whether it’s possible to bleep out the f—s and stuff, but I’m not going to actually cut that part.” Helena Bonham Carter, who plays King George’s supportive wife, added, “I don’t think it needs to be cut down. I think every 13-year-old knows [the words], I think every 8-year-old [does].”

There is no doubt a PG-13 rating brings with it the opportunity for a wider general audience. Even with its current R rating, The King’s Speech is an overwhelming success, earning over $60 million in the box office. Weinstein’s reasoning makes sense, though. More people will likely go, bringing their younger kids, if the film has a softer rating.

This begs the question: as parents, should we care about ratings? Would a reduced rating for The King’s Speech make parents feel safer taking their kids?

The King’s Speech is an inspiring movie. It has no sexual content, very little – if any – violence. It is only rated R because of foul language in one specific scene. Basically, it’s a PG film with an R rated mouth. This is the sort of film parents should be taking their children to see in order to open a discussion about overcoming obstacles in life.

Whether the movie is re-cut or not, take your children to see it. Talk to them about King George’s dilemma. Ask them about whether or not it was his pride or his stammer that was his real obstacle. Use the film as a chance to discuss the friendship between the King and his therapist and emphasize the importance of having a strong support system in your life. Censorship may be a solution to making more money at the box office, but it is never a solution in making more conversations with our kids.

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