In the past thirty years we have become far more permissive of our teenagers seeing violence while natural bodies remain strictly forbidden. I recently saw Skyfall, rated PG13, and I left the theatre scratching my head:
- Breasts are off limits to a 13-year-old
- A man can shoot a tied down woman in cold blood and somehow that’s okay for a 13-year-old
- You pictured a 13-year-old boy when you read the above two points because that is the demographic to which we aim violence and misogyny
Now, I’m a huge James Bond fan but I’ve grown uncomfortable as these movies have become more grisly in the past few years. Take the movie Beverly Hills Cop from about 30 years ago and compare it to Skyfall. Skyfall had a higher body count, violence that was far more graphically depicted and hints of sex and earned a PG13 rating. Beverly Hills Cop was far less violent, it did have hints of sex, it was about as misogynistic as Skyfall, but it also had the briefest view of women’s breasts and thus earned an R rating (Restricted to those over 17).
If you don’t believe my thesis that we have become more permissive of violence, then think about how people reacted when Michael Keaton’s first Batman movie earned a PG13 rating. Parents complained that their children could not see a movie, based upon kids’ comics. Fast-forward about twenty years and no one batted an eye when Christian Bale’s Batman Begins was far more violent than Keaton’s. But the movie didn’t show any breasts, so it was okay for 13-year-old’s.
We are blatantly sending the message to teenagers that violence is more acceptable than the human form. I’m not saying violent movies should not be made nor am I saying that movies should have more nudity. Free speech and the market can decide that. I do think, however, that we need to reëvaluate the standards as to what we guide adolescents toward and away from. In the end, this is left up to the parents but I guarantee you, if I had a teenager, I would prefer them seeing Beverly Hills Cop over Skyfall despite some flash of the human form in the background.
CORRECTION: After writing this post, I went back and watched Beverly Hills Cop. It had one cold-blooded murder at the beginning and several other deaths that I feel were on par with Skyfall. Far fewer innocent people or “good guys” were killed in BHC. It had two topless women in a scene in a strip club. It had far more profanity than Skyfall. I believe the rating society gives this movie an R for the profanity and the topless women. I, personally, would still prefer a teenager see BHC over Skyfall although I do feel they are about even and Skyfall should have received an R rating.