When you look at the kinds of films that get PG-13 ratings, you think of raunchy comedies aimed at teenagers or the sort of superhero movies which feature just enough violence to please the crowds but not enough of it to earn the R-rating kiss of death.
You don’t usually think about documentaries that revolve around censorship on college campuses, particularly when the filmmakers are aiming for a PG-13 rating.
Yet, that’s exactly what’s happening to Dennis Prager’s feature film about the phenomenon, titled “No Safe Spaces.”
The very title — and the people behind it — might give you a good idea about why it’s being given that designation.
The film, which Prager made with comedian Adam Carolla, focuses on “the ongoing debate over the First Amendment on college campuses across the country and how identity politics enables it,” Fox News reported.
Yet, despite repeatedly trying to get the Motion Picture Association of America to agree to a PG rating, they weren’t able to achieve it.
According to a statement that Prager issued to Fox News, the issue seemed to be quotes from both Prager and psychologist Jordan Peterson, as well as footage of a conservative student being assaulted.
He also compared the ruling from the MPAA as equivalent to the demonetization of some of his PragerU videos.
“Despite our best efforts to meet the MPAA more than halfway, they have continued to deny us the PG rating our film deserves,” Prager said in a statement.
“Jordan Peterson’s and my quotes will stay and we will not censor the real-life punching of a conservative student. The much more graphic films that regularly receive PG ratings only serve to illustrate what I have experienced with Google in their efforts to make PragerU videos hard to find: powerful forces in Silicon Valley and Hollywood have one standard for ideological allies and another for people like me,” he said.
A video released by Prager demonstrates the three clips in question.
In one, Prager jokes that one of his PragerU video on the Obama-era Iran nuclear deal was considered “restricted” material by YouTube, which he quipped made it the equivalent of “Debbie Does Dallas,” a 1978 pornographic film.
In another, Peterson jokes that life is a “sexually transmissible disease that’s 100 percent fatal.”
The final clip features an individual punching a Turning Point USA activist at the University of California, Berkeley.
“I will urge my friends and fans who only go to PG movies to ignore the MPAA’s fake PG-13 rating and go anyway. And please bring friends,” Prager said.
I have to say this much: It takes a lot of nerve to take a movie about censorship and then slap it with the same rating as “Avengers: Endgame” because it contains one scene that involves real-life footage of a punch and two mild jokes that pale in comparison to what gets shoved into other PG-rated movies.
When “No Safe Spaces” hits theaters on Oct. 25, it’s arguable how much it’s going to be hampered by the PG-13 rating.
At one level, you can see some parents who are familiar with Prager and Carolla seeing the rating and being dissuaded from seeing it. On the other hand, with most documentaries like this, it’s a rare thing that people wander into the movie theater not knowing what to expect.
Even if it is the latter case, that doesn’t mean this rating is remotely justified. If these were indeed the three things which the ratings board demanded be excised in order for the film to get a PG rating, it’s yet another sign both Hollywood and the MPAA are morally unmoored.
The great irony here is that this is exactly the same thing that happened to the PragerU videos. Google swore up and down there wasn’t some sort of double standard for conservative content on its platforms.
In that case, however, it was impossible to see every bit of content that’s been demonetized on YouTube and judge whether or not that was accurate.
On the other hand, we’ve all seen PG and PG-13 movies.
If these are the two jokes and the violence that got it a PG-13 rating, Prager — and conservatives — have every reason to be incensed.
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