The King's Filthy, Filthy Speech

Since having a kid around two and a half years ago, I do not get many opportunities to go to the movies. But I found the opportunity yesterday to see The King’s Speech. Before going into detail, lets just say I recommend it. It was a really good movie.

Walking in I noticed it had been Rated R, which surprised me. This is, after all, a movie about British Royalty in the 1930s. I doubted that there would be any steamy sex scenes and I knew enough about the story to know that there would be little chance of graphic violence.### Here Be No Major Spoilers

I will not give too much away. But let’s just say (in case you don’t know) that Prince Albert—later to be King George VI—had a speech impediment. He stammered, which is no good for one whose job description requires a great deal of public speaking. The plot of the movie deals with Albert’s relationship with his speech therapist.

Halfway through the movie a humorous incident takes place: During a speech therapy session Albert in encouraged to curse. Mostly because he seems to speak clearly when riled up. The prince lets loose in frustration (or possibly in triumph). According the IMDB he says the “F Word” 19 times.

He essentially simply repeats it over and over again in order to conquer his stammering. I didn’t have a stopwatch handy but if I were to take a guess I would say the scene is around thirty seconds long.

Nineteen F Words: Rated R. Omit the scene and you would have a movie that would probably be Rated PG. There’s no sex. There’s not a hint of violence. There’s no bawdy talk.### Okay Skip to the Point

By contrast, The Dark Knight, for example, shows an explosive device embedded in a person’s abdomen exploding. The Joker drives a pencil into the skull of an enemy (killing him instantly) and Two Face holds his gun to a man’s head in full view of the man’s young son and tells the man to “lie to his son” and say everything will be okay. It is pretty gritty, dark stuff.

The Dark Knight was rated PG-13. And as the MPAA puts it:

A PG-13 rating is a sterner warning by the Rating Board to parents to determine whether their children under age 13 should view the motion picture, as some material might not be suited for them.

In the United States, the MPAA rates nearly every motion picture. According to its website:

Parents decide the ratings. An independent board of parents rates each film. Their job is not to determine if a movie is “good” or “bad,” but to rate each film as they believe a majority of their fellow parents would rate the film.

As a parent I find it odd that this film was Rated R. I find it even stranger that the parents who “decided the rating” believe a “majority of their fellow parents” would say that hearing the The King’s Speech is not suitable for a 13 year old, while The Dark Knight is.### Okay You’ve Made Your Point… Um Can You Clarify It? I liked The Dark Knight. The art direction was excellent. The story telling was great. The bad guy was appropriately bad. And it was just fun. I’m not here to condemn it.

But we have a large tolerance for violence. These are images that go in our heads, and often stick with us. It’s odd (and irresponsible) for the MPAA to say that these violent images “might not be suited for” children under 13, yet one 30 second or so scene which used the “F Word” should not be viewed by “children under 17” unless accompanied by an adult.

It should be noted that the harsh language in The King’s Speech was presented in not an angry or hate-filled meltdown, but rather in a humorous tone (context counts).

I don’t wish to say to any parent that it’s okay to use the “F Word” in front of children. I just find it odd that the MPAA (and our society in general) will accept a great deal of violence as suitable for younger audiences rather than the use of a simple word.

Actually I don’t find it odd, I find it offensive.