Thursday, May 20, 2010

Teen TV and Movies

I recently watched some Molly Ringwald 80's teen movies (that I watched as an 80's teen). I was a little shocked. Actually a few books that I've read lately showed that drug and alcohol use in the early 80's was very high, and then lowered a good bit. I think that "just say 'no'" actually worked -- thank you, Nancy Reagan.

Anyway, we were discussing over dinner how explicit 16 Candles was (in parent-code, which probably isn't so secret) for a PG movie especially.

This must have been PG in the pre-PG-13 era. This movie had full front female nudity and many swear words, and of course all the sexual talk you might expect in a teen drama.

When Terry and I were talking about it at the dinner table, Kyle asked, "What's PG-13?" and the 11 1/2-year-old expert jumped in and said, "Those are movies that you can't see until you are 13."

I said, "Just so you know, you probably won't be seeing many PG-13 movies when you are 13," knowing that over the years PG-13's have moved even closer to the R spectrum.

Terry and I were in agreement without having talked about it specifically, "That will give you something to worry and complain about for the next year and a half," he added.

Pretty in Pink actually is rated PG-13, but didn't have any nudity and not nearly as many swear words.

Personally I like the Disney version of teendom. Zack and Cody get close to kissing the girl, but they never show it on screen. The issue of Lily and Oliver "coupling" has never come up on Hannah Montana. I know that's because these shows, while featuring teenagers, are really aimed at a tween audience (and watched by 6-year-olds, including -- ahem -- mine). But why can't movies show the clean side of being a teen? It is out there. In fact, a friend of mine was just saying that her high school senior was upset because so many people were drinking at Prom. She doesn't, and she doesn't associate with those who do. It's her choice, and there are many who make that choice.

My teen life was also more Disney-fied than John Hughesesque, but I still enjoyed watching the old Molly Ringwald movies (back then, and now). Check out my reviews at 5 Minutes for Books, and then read my Molly Ringwald interview at 5 Minutes for Mom and enter to win a copy of her new book Getting the Pretty Back.

What about you? Do movie ratings help you? Do you think that teen movies accurately portray teen behavior or provide a platform for discussing the issues that teens face? Do you/will you let your kids watch them?


Melissa @ Breath of Life said...

There's really not a lot of wholesome teen TV or movies anymore. Makes me glad my girl watches Food Network & Disney.

I never realized MR's movies weren't R. Surprising for that time, really.

Shelley said...

We've learned to be a little careful when sharing with our kids movies that were PG in the 80's. I've been talking about watching Sixteen Candles with my daughter, but I guess I've forgotten about a few things! I'll rethink that plan!

Fonda said...

I will never forget going to the video store and renting two movies for a rainy weekend when all the kids were still living at rated 'PG' and the other rated 'R'. The family watched the 'PG' movie together and I was surprised by some of the storyline and how much innuendo the movie contained. After putting all the kids to bed, my husband and I watched the rated 'R' action/thriller. Afterwards, I commented that I wish we had watched the 'R' rated movie as a family instead of the "how far can we push it" rated 'PG' video. The R rating was there because of one or two intense scenes...but the overall story of good versus evil was much 'cleaner' in my opinion.

I learned to look at content and not just ratings. Great conversation for today, Jennifer.

Katrina @ Callapidder Days said...

We rarely watch anything over PG these days, specifically because of all the "junk" the stricter ratings tend to include. My tween knows that most PG-13 movies will still be off-limits when he turns 13. I think it's possible for movies to "accurately portray" teen behavior without being as explicit as they usually are. If movie-makers would do that -- leave out the explicit garbage, I'd be far more likely to use movies to discuss things with kids.

planetnomad said...

We pay attention to ratings, and have a rule that they can't watch PG-13 movies at friend's houses unless they call first (or unless it's pre-approved). My 13 y/o still likes Hannah Montana. I didn't let her start watching it till she was about 11, because I felt the themes (liking boys, dating, going to dances, etc) were too old for her until about then. I guess I'm hopelessly old-fashioned.

Amy said...

I've been thinking the same thing about YA novels, actually. It's somewhat unusual these days to read a recently-published novel without s** in it or lots of profanity. I truly don't get it because I know LOTS of teens whose behavior is different from that portrayed in these novels.

This is off topic, I know, but it's on my mind. :-)