I genuinely believe that the hype around the PG rating given Facing the Giants is just that -- hype meant to promote the film and get butts in seats -- not a decision by the MPAA to give this film a PG rating because of it's overtly Christian content as opposed to its hard hits during football game scenes and some delicate discussion in the film about sterility.
POINT: HYPE over this "warn the public about Christianity" rating accusation is getting this Indy film noticed. HYPE may get butts in seats and HYPE has resulted in over 15,000 email complaints to the MPAA.
So, I have to ask -- anti Christian discrimination or clever marketing at work?
"What the MPAA said is that the movie contained strong 'thematic elements' that might disturb some parents," said Kris Fuhr, vice president for marketing at Provident Films, which is owned by Sony Pictures.
Okay, now see, that wasn't very smart. But what does the other side say?
Joan Graves, chairman of the MPAA ratings board, contacted the Catholic League, admitting that she was the MPAA official who originally spoke to Fuhr. According to Graves, she told Fuhr that the PG rating was given to the movie, not for being overtly religious, but because of mature issues, e.g., depression, matters relating to pregnancy and sports-related violence.
In a statement Graves indicated the MPAA "has a long-standing policy not to comment to the press about individual films other than to give the rating and the rating reasons", but owing to the "misunderstanding that this film received a PG rating for its religious viewpoint", she felt obliged to respond. She added, "This film has a mature discussion about pregnancy, for example, as well as other elements that parents might want to be aware of. There are many religious films that have been submitted for rating, and they have garnered ratings from G to R, depending on the graphics and intensity of various elements in the film."
****BUT WHAT IF?**
. . . the MPAA really did give Facing the Giants a PG rating solely religious religious content?
(cue Gomer Pyle) Shame. Shame. Shame.
Doctrine has no place in rating systems. If it did, where would it stop? Would it stop at rating a film like Bend it Like Beckam for having strong orthodox Sikh principles or would we also warn people that Mulan prays to ancestors, Hercules resurrects a dead woman, and Pocahontas thinks rocks have spirits?
Do we even stop at religion? After all, certain races and nationalities have beliefs, customs, and superstitions that may conflict with my religion. Maybe the MPAA should warn me that the poor black family in the film believes a baby's hernia came from allowing a woman on her menstrual cycle to hold that baby. And, since many people's political views are connected to their faith, maybe we should have ratings for films that express strong political views in opposition to mine, too?
Ain't gonna happen. Shouldn't. Wouldn't. Won't.
The whole rating "because of religion" thing is just silly which is why I don't believe the MPAA based the PG rating on Christian content. I have no doubt religious bias exists. I see it, hear it, and receive it.
Maybe my cockeyed optimism is in overdrive or I'm just overly naive. But why would the MPAA suddenly feel responsible for shielding us from religious diversity? If so, they would create the task of rating all films based on strong agnostic, Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, Scientologist and Christian (among others too numerous to list) content in every film. That is an enormous self imposed task and I really doubt it's a giant that the MPAA wants to face.
But, I don't know anything.