I suppose the movie rating system has a purpose. If parents and ticket-takers pay attention, the ratings may well shield some youngsters from movies that contain aspects that are inappropriate.
But the movie rating system is a subjective measure. What you might consider inappropriate, I might not. It goes both ways.
Currently we rate movies for three key areas: violence, sexual content and language. The issue of language I'm sure was well-intended but television offers ample inappropriate language that is available to youngsters so the movie ratings in that category seem well-intended but somehow silly.
Now the politically-correct police want to add yet another aspect to how movies are rated. There is a movement under way that would place smoking among the aspects that come into play on how movies are rated for the public.
Those who oversee the movie ratings - citing smoking as an unacceptable social behavior - may soon place an R rating on movies that depict too much tobacco usage. The thinking is to keep the glamour of smoking out of the reach of younger audiences. I believe the thinking is flawed on several levels but it really doesn't matter to me.
If we're going to use the rating system to shield our youth against smoking, why stop there. Let's take another popular topic of mine - obesity - and suggest that this unacceptable social behavior as yet another criteria for ratings. Or how about alcohol? Or drugs?
You can currently have a drunken character who also uses drugs in a movie and the ratings will not be impacted if there is no violence, no sexual content or no foul language. If we actually want to have an impact, why would we not include booze as one of our measuring sticks? You could argue that obesity carries a deadly health message but you won't find that issue under consideration for rating a movie. So what gives?
If we include smoking in our new Hollywood rating system, we open the door to countless other negative aspects of society. And one day, virtually all functions of life could well be included to impact the ratings.
The day will come when feel-good cartoons are the only films available to our youth. I'm still not sure if that is good or bad. But I do know it's scary.