Check out letters from those who agreed with us, and those who didn't

By EW Staff
December 16, 1994 at 05:00 AM EST

RATED ARRGH!

It was with some dismay that I read your report on the motion-picture rating system ( 250, Nov. 25). There is no evidence to confirm your conclusion that the rating system is not working. Nationwide public-opinion polls conducted every year by the Opinion Research Corp. continue to show that the system is working well for those it was designed to serve — American parents.
Barbara Dixon
Vice President, Public Affairs
Motion Picture Association of America
Washington, D.C.

I am a scarred veteran of the political and movie wars. I have been assaulted by experts in the bastinado and the riding crop. That goes with the territory for anyone who is even a semipublic figure. But what vexes me is that band of journalists who find a fact on the order of the plague and avoid it similarly. Cub reporters fresh out of journalism school understand that facts must be checked. Facts are real. Opinion, though, can be freely dispensed, because it doesn’t depend on facts. The former ought to be respected. The latter is epidemic. The mind-set of the EW editors confirms the old saw that when a person is determined to believe, the absurdity of the doctrine only serves to confirm his faith.
Jack Valenti
President and CEO
Motion Picture Association of America
Washington, D.C.

At least the title of your cover story — ”Sex, Violence, and Movie Ratings: Why the System Doesn’t Work” — is right on target for some people, anyway. The rating system really doesn’t work for those who don’t have moviegoing youngsters or aren’t concerned enough about those who do. Surely the system doesn’t work for those occasional moviemakers who find safety in and reap the benefits of film classification as a barrier to film censorship but who don’t want to exercise the personal restraint or demonstrate the professional responsibility that must go with it. Nor does it work for self-serving, self-promoting film people who insist upon squeezing the last dollar out of Hollywood’s youngest viewers and who rant and rave when they can’t have their way with ratings too.

In the months since I retired in June after 20 years as chairman of the Classification and Ratings Administration, I have spoken and corresponded with parents from all over the country. Polls have shown that over 70 percent of Americans with moviegoing youngsters find the ratings useful. The support comes despite both specious and would-be self-fulfilling proclamations of the system’s failure, such as your own.
Richard D. Heffner
]ITALIC “New York City”]

Correction: Our TV critic hit the fast-forward button while reviewing the second half of Abbott & Costello Meet Jerry Seinfeld (250) and thereby did a disservice to three excellent comedians. The show was criticized for only including an edited version of the comedy team’s classic ”Who’s on First” routine. While edited segments were shown early in the hour, the full-length version was also included, in all its glory. Our apologies to the late Bud and Lou and the exceedingly lively Jerry. The review did not prevent the Nov. 24 show from placing in the Nielsen top 10 for that week.

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