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Ratings same as MPAA ratings?


Shuvcat
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Hello, I had a question about the versions of films shown on TCM. I always understood that TV-MA meant basically the same as the MPAA's R rating, that nothing had been edited or censored and that the film ran in its full length. My partner tells me TV-MA films are still edited, just less so than full-length R rated films. If this is so wouldn't TCM post the disclaimer about editing for time or content? Thanks very much.

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One of the proud claims of TCM is that they show thier films unedited. From past discussions, it seems TCM gets prints of movies of varying lengths, indicating some editing. But that is something that already exists in the print, not anything TCM does. The ratings TCM posts, and which I do not know the definition of, are meant to inform the viewer of the content of the film so that they can decide whether they, or ones they have responsibility for (children, say), should watch them. MA probably means for Mature Audiences; V probably means violent content; L probably refers to language. I can't think of any others offhand.

 

You will see a link at the bottom of the page for TV Parental Guidelines, but that doesn't lead anywhere to a description of the ratings shown before TCM movies.

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First, things first. TCM's policy has always been not to edit films they show. TCM runs every film exactly as it comes in. Of course, it doesn't mean that from time to time they don't run a film that has been edited by somebody else. Most often, it's an error caused by a wrong version being sent to them, Other times it's because, for any number of reasons, the distributor could not provide an uncut version.

 

As for ratings. TV ratings are entirely different than movie ratings. Before a film is released theatrically, it has to be submitted to the MPAA for screening. It's the MPAA that assigns the rating. If a studio re-edits the film in any way, say for a director's cut or perhaps to get make an R into a PG-13, that version has to be resubmitted to the MPAA before it's original rating can be changed.

 

Unlike MPAA ratings,TV ratings are just a guideline and there isn't one governing body that assigns ratings. The TV system is totally voluntary and the ratings are given either by the studio, distributor or the individual network or station. So it's possible that a film could be shown on different channels with different ratings.

 

For example, lets say that TCM runs an uncut version of a film which the studio has given an TV-MA rating. Later on, another network shows the same film, but in a heavily edited version which the distributor has given a TV-G. Then, say HBO picks it up and runs it uncut, but they feels the film really doesn't need a TV-MA but a TV-G wouldn't be appropriate so they give it a TV-13. So here's a film that's run on three different networks and each time it had a different rating. Confusing, isn't it?

 

If you want to see what each rating means do a Google search for "TV parental guidelines"

 

 

 

 

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*"I always understood that TV-MA meant basically the same as the MPAA's R rating, that nothing had been edited or censored and that the film ran in its full length. My partner tells me TV-MA films are still edited, just less so than full-length R rated films."* - Shuvcat

 

If, in your description above, you and your partner are both referring to ratings of films when shown on TCM then you are "more" correct than your partner.

 

A viewer should always assume that TCM is showing a film (especially a post-1970 film) as it was seen in theaters when originally released. Editting for content is anathema to TCM's mission. The only concession the channel makes when showing "R-rated", adult-themed films is to schedule them to run after 9:00pm Pacific time.

 

TV-MA is the strongest television advisory rating available. But that designation can be assigned to films of various ratings from the MPAA. Films recently shown on TCM that were TV-rated "MA" include *The Graduate* (1993 reissue rating of PG), *Awakenings* (rated PG-13) and *Good Will Hunting* (rated R). None of these films were editted for content and all had much different reasons for being designated "TV-MA" on TCM.

 

I don't know if TCM selects the TV advisory rating for the films it shows. Perhaps they do as it would explain the disparity between films assigned a "TV-MA" designation on TCM. Because "coarse or vulgar language" is so uncommon on the channel, it may choose to be cautious and assign a "TV-MA" rating to all films with even the slightest amount of cursing in them.

 

As has been pointed out, TCM may be delivered an "editted version of a film" but the channel would never request it. Much to its embarassment, *Reds* was once shown with the langauge "cleaned up". Realizing the delivery "error", TCM rescheduled the film to run at a later date after it was sent the correct version with all those words intact.

 

It is my understanding that AMC edits most of their films. This allows that channel to show an "R-rated" film in the middle of the day. With input from Dennis Hopper, it even editted the violent ending of *Easy Rider*. TCM has always shown that film uncut.

 

I do know of one instance when TCM was forced to remove a film from the schedule because the content was too intense - even for showing late at night. *Zabriske Point* was taken off the schedule because the material was "too strong" for a basic cable channel. And TCM forgoed (forwent?) the showing rather than show an editted version.

 

So, on TCM "TV-MA" doesn't necessarily mean it is an "R-rated" movie. But an "R-rated" film shown on TCM will be complete and uncut. That is likely not true if the same film is being shown on another basic cable channel.

 

Kyle In Hollywood

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That's too bad to hear that about Zasbriske Point. While I realize we can't look forward to films like Up, by Russ Meyer, or even The Incredible Lightness of Being, an important film by one of the greatest directors certainly should merit broadcasting. After all, films like Deep End have been shown on TCM. I suppose we should also no bother to hope for Last Tango in Paris.

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*"That's too bad to hear that about Zasbriske Point."* - slatonf

 

Yeah. 'tcmprogrammr' wrote in here at the time that the Turner lawyers in "standards and practices" couldnt approve that film for showing uncut. There are limits to what a non-subscription cable television channel like TCM can show.

 

Strong Sexual Content and accompanying Nudity seem to be what determines if TCM can show certain R-rated (or formerly X-rated) films. I've not seen *Zabriske Point* but I hear that there is an **** in the film that is quite "eye-opening." But I doubt that *Midnight Cowboy* raised an eyebrow of the Turner "censors". That film isn't even "X-rated" any longer.

 

Films with Coarse or Vulgar Language will be OK-ed if shown late at night. That's the hour *The Exorcist* and its foul-mouthed 14 year-old appeared on TCM. And I freely admit that hearing some of the lines Mercedes McCambridge voiced for Linda Blair would still make me blush today.

 

Kyle In Hollywood

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>per hlywdkjk:

>I hear that there is an **** in the film that is quite "eye-opening."

 

I think it is meant more to be consciousness opening as opposed to eye-opening. It consists of young attractive couples making love in desert sand dunes. But I don't remember it well enough to recall how graphic the sequence is. If you have the chance to see it, do so. It's one of Antonioni's best. I don't want to give away the ending, but it's a blast.

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*"I think it is meant more to be consciousness opening as opposed to eye-opening. It consists of young attractive couples making love in desert sand dunes."* - slaytonf

 

I am sure you're remembering correctly. My "description" was only based on what was written by others here when the films was removed from the schedule. And in my memory of that time, "Couples making love on the sand dunes" morphs easily into "an **** in the desert". I fully admit that is likely an exagerration.

 

What is/was likely problematic for TCM was any visual depiction of **** - which is what sounds like was being shown. It doesn't sound like the scene(s) was just some "heavy make out session" going on in the desert.

 

Kyle In Hollywood

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Thank you everybody for the help. The film in question was the recent showing of Logan's Run. My guy said that it had been edited, I argued that TCM doesn't edit and the proof was the brief topless scene, but he insisted there were other topless scenes that had been cut. I guess the only failsafe way is to compare it with the DVD, but we don't have it. Thanks again everybody! :)

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I never understood why anybody in S & P would object to Zabriskie Point's so-called **** scene. It's stylized, not that lengthy, and doesn't reveal much at all other than a few behinds of both sexes and breasts. Nudity seemed almost subliminal in a number of shots. Those performers were actually professional dancers, and there was no sex at all. I think it is a matter of people inferring things from the brief, almost surrealistic imagery that just simply weren't there.

 

I'm surprised that they balked at that movie, when they have OK'd Ganja & Hess on TCM Underground with its lengthy slow-motion full-frontal male nudity near the end. Plus, Underground also showed Lucio Fulci's gorefest The Beyond a few times, which has wall-to-wall melting faces, eye impalements, etc.

 

I just feel that there are (and always will be) inconsistencies with the things they will or will not show, or even with their content ratings. How come Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? gets shown as both TV-14-L and TV-MA-L, for example? Does it depend on the time of day the films are shown?

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