a whole bunch of posts about movie ratings – intro

I love movie bin diving. This is that pile of movies in a big bin that they’re selling for super cheap. While often they’re knock-off movies like “The Spurfs” or “Dinosaur Amusement Center 2” sometimes there are real finds. Today I was at a grocery store and they were selling movies for 1$. A dollar. And there were some good ones – I picked up Rocky II, for example. A gal rummaging through them across from me says, “they don’t have many movies for kids, do they?”
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I pointed out a couple, and she said, “No, those are too young for mine.” Then she found Fat Albert.
“This is good for kids, right?” she asked.
“I think it’s ok for kids, I don’t know if it’s beloved or not,” I said. I didn’t remember rave reviews for it (as it turns out they were mostly meh – clean but boring, the consensus. I think Bill Cosby has a hard time translating his gifts into film for some reason, unless they’re film of his stand-up).
“But it’s PG,” she said. Which meant, it was ok for kids. Discussion over, she went and got in line to check out.

Using ratings is a pretty good starting point. But I would hesitate to trust it as the ending point.

There are 6 problems with the ratings system that I can think of right now.
1. Ratings only focus on specific, agreed-upon negative content. They’re warning labels. It’s a limiting way to consume.
2. They’re too broad and too narrow at once, and are inconsistent.
3. They’re decided upon by an organization closely connected to the organization that makes money from movies. They’re largely subjective and who rates them changes every few years.
4. They charge money to rate films – which is the only way to get them into mainstream theaters – foreign and independent films are often not rated.
5. They are increasingly irrelevant. There are more videos on YouTube than have ever been in theaters or on video. How are those rated, besides page views and thumbs up and number of comments?

In the next series of posts I’m going to talk about each of these items in detail. I’m not against ratings, at all – but I find I use ratings less and less in deciding what to watch. I’ll talk more about what strategies I do use at the end.

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