Now in our fifth calendar year!|
PCR #247. (Vol. 5, No. 51) This edition is for the week of December 13--19, 2004.
Hello, gang! Not a lot this week so let's get started. Shall we begin?
Ah, always great to share old memories (Re: Andy Replies To Letters in this week's Lettercol ---N). Yes, I do remember Butch Cassady's. My grandfather lived first on 12th street, by the water, then moved to Haines Road. I spent many summer and weekend days riding my bike from Tampa to St Pete across the Gandy Bridge. When I think of it now, it seems like a hundred miles but when I was 15-16 it wasn't a bad ride at all. I was pretty much familiar with every business on 4th street from my journeys. Thankfully, I eventually got my drivers license and made the trip over in Bruce, my great, white Delta 88 that I actually bought from my grandfather after he bought our next door neighbors' Mustang II. Yes, I still fondly recall the old General Cinema jingle. I believe I mentioned that AMC has incorporated it into it's on screen spots for their summer kids show program.
Happy to report that US, The Pretenders, Percy Sledge, Buddy Guy and The O'Jays will make up the Class of 2005 for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The 20th Annual induction ceremonies will be held on March 14th.
DID SOMEONE SAY 20 YEARS?
This week HBO has been showing back to back "Gremlins" and "Gremlins 2." While watching "Gremlins" it hit me that it has been 20 years since that film, and "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom" helped usher in the movie rating known as PG 13. May 23, 1984 saw the return of Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones. In this episode, he had to save a village of enslaved children who were under the spell of a cult. A part of the film showed a high priest reaching into, and pulling a heart out of, the chest of one of the faithful. Parents who remembered fondly the very PG adventures of "Raiders of the Lost Ark" were outraged. I personally was disappointed in the film when Indy said "Shit" on the rope bridge. Tom Bowles agreed with me that it was very out of character for him to curse. And don't even get me started on Short Round! Two weeks later, the very cutely advertised Joe Dante' film, "Gremlins" opened. While everyone loved the cute and furry Gizmo, they were shocked when one of the bad gremlins was shut into a microwave oven and cooked until exploding. While these events were surely not worthy of getting the films an "R" rating, they did seem to be pushing the limit of the very family friendly "PG." What to do? Steven Spielberg, the director of "Temple of Doom" and a producer of "Gremlins" has said that, since he helped create the problem, he came up with the solution. Spielberg phoned MPAA head Jack Valenti and proposed a middle-ground rating, saying that the age of 13 was when kids had the ability to make the distinction between reality and fantasy. And so was born the PG 13 rating. On August 10, 1984, two months after the release of "Gremlins," the film "Red Dawn" opened up with the new rating. But even then, some groups weren't happy. They complained that films that would have received an "R" rating were now slipping by with a PG 13. Suddenly bare breasts and the use of the word "fuck" no more then twice, and not in a sexual content, were acceptable material for the PG 13 crowd. But the battle with ratings and appearances is still going on. And for every step forward the powers that be seem to take two steps back. In 1976, the preview for the "Bad News Bears" included young shortstop Tanner Boyle uttering the following line: "All we got on this team are a buncha Jews, spics, niggers, pansies, and a booger-eatin' moron!" This was the PREVIEW, approved for all audiences. Can you imagine the outcry that would occur if it ran now? In the early 1970s, theatres displayed a series of 11" x 14" photos called lobby cards. Created in a set of 8, they gave a glimpse of some of the best scenes in the film. One card in the set for "The Godfather" showed James Caan's bullet riddled body outside the tollbooth. In the set for "Carrie," the shot of Piper Laurie, her body pierced by the various knives and kitchen implements her daughter willed towards her, was very prominent. Yet, in 1982, the lobby card sets for both "Poltergeist" and "An American Werewolf in London" were only issued with seven cards. The film company held back cards they thought would offend. In the case of "Poltergeist," a shot of JoBeth Williams surrounded by the skeletons that are uncovered. In "Werewolf" it was a shot of David Naughton talking to the mutilated body of Griffin Dunne in the movie theatre. This past year, much has been made of the various theatres that advertised they would not enforce the "R" rated policy for "The Passion of the Christ" or "Fahrenheit 9/11." Did you catch the key word there? POLICY. Having spent 20 years in the movie theatre biz, I can't tell you how many parents would call me and threaten to sue because their child somehow got into an "R" rated flick. 9 times out of 10 it turned out that an older brother or sister had purchased their ticket. But sometimes they got in. And the first thing I would say is that it's not a law, it's a RECOMENDATION! A group of people sitting in a dark theatre came out and decided that they didn't think you're 16 year old child should see this film alone. That's it. Nothing more. And what do you think is the deciding factor when these films are rated? As Trey Parker and Matt Stone have learned, and proven hilariously, you can have all the dirty words and dismembered bodies you want and keep an "R" rating. But add a little nudity (even puppet nudity) and you're looking at an "NC 17." The story goes that Parker and Stone submitted the subtitle "Bigger, Longer and Un-Cut" for the "South Park" movie to the MPAA with the story that it was meant to advertise the fact that this was a film based on their television show. After the title was approved, they made it known what they were really referring to was a large uncircumcised penis. Boy, those two are a hoot. Anyway, let's all wish a happy 20th birthday to PG 13. Thanks to you, America's youth can see boobies and hear the "f" word a lot earlier in life.
MEET THE BEATLES - PART 47
December 14, 1963. At a convention of the group's Southern Area Fan Club, the boys greet and sign autographs for all 3000 fans in attendance. Later, due to the large crowd, the band performs a short set behind a chicken wire barrier. The faces of the girls are pressed against the wire so tightly that John Lennon remarks "If you press any harder you'll come through as chips!"
Well, all for now. Have a great week. See ya!
"Mike's Rant" is ©2004 by Michael A. Smith. Webpage design and all graphics herein are creations of Nolan B. Canova. All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2004 by Nolan B. Canova.