The Locker Room

March 25, 2004

Re: G sells, but so does R

Posted by Andrew Cline at 7:27 PM

The referenced study is one of many done over the years that have found the same thing again and again: On average, R movies don't draw nearly as large an audience as G or PG-13 films. This is simply a cinematic fact.

Where most of these studies, including this one, err is in concluding that Hollywood studios should stop making R-rated films. What Hollywood understands that a lot of Christian or family groups don't is that there are millions of theaters to be filled at any given moment, and a wide mix of film types is needed to maximize revenue and profit.

Think of it this way. Classic Coke sells tons more than Cherry Coke. The market for Classic Coke is much, much larger. But should Coca-Cola therefore stop selling Cherry Coke? Of course not. It's a niche product that adds to Coca-cola's revenues because there is a small but significant group (including me) that prefers Cherry Coke to Classic Coke. It's the same with films.

G-rated movies do have a far larger audience, but R-rated films provide an important revenue source for studios that need to draw cash from as many different audiences as possible. Some people will never see a "Finding Nemo," but will see a "Master and Commander" or a "Mystic River". Others will never see a "Mystic River" but will see a "Dawn of the Dead" or a "Booty Call". (By the way, almost every children's film -- from "Bambi" to "Stuart Little 2" to "Finding Nemo" -- contains some level of violence.)

As long as there is a market for non-family fare, Hollywood will produce non-family fare. And that's not a bad thing. Not all depictions of nudity or violence are socially destructive. The argument should not be: Hollywood must never put violence, nudity, or adult content into any movie. The argument should be: Hollywood should not market inappropriate material to minors, and it should take care to avoid gratuitous sex and violence that desensitizes people and debases the culture.

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G Sells, But So Does R

Posted by Paul Chesser at 5:20 PM

"An annual study of the moral content in Hollywood movies has found that films flaunting sex, nudity, violence, foul language and criminal behavior do not resonate in America. They simply don't sell."

"Clearly, sex does not sell as well as the mass media wants us to believe."

"Family product sells, and R-rated product does not."

Do you believe these statements, from a Washington Times report about a study by the Christian Film & Television Commission? I don't.

Among the organization's analyses are findings that "from 2000 to 2003, movies with 'no nudity' brought in an average $137.8 million across the nation" and "films that depicted 'full male and/or female nudity' in those same years brought in an average of $43 million." Also, "the 78 movies that contained 'no-sex' content averaged $37.6 million at the box office in 2003. Comparatively, the 95 movies with 'implied sex' averaged $32.1 million. Another 71 movies with 'briefly depicted sex' averaged $25 million; and 35 movies with 'extensive, excessive or graphic sex' averaged $17.1 million."

What do things findings mean? I don't think much, and they especially don't mean that R-rated films don't sell. First, did CFTVC do anything to consider how other factors affected the box office performance of the films it studied -- factors like marketing, star appeal, critical reviews, film budgets, etc.?

Secondly, what about the nearly omni-used PG-13 rating? Those films are often more offensive than the R-rated films. And if you're purely considering "full nudity" in R-rated films, you're looking at a lot of small, limited market arthouse films that are never going to draw the way big studio movies are. Those will drag down the R-rated revenue numbers.

Comparatively, few arthouse movies are rated G or PG. Studios produce family fare, mostly, when they feel like there will be a big payoff. You could say that's the point CFTVC is trying to make, but I'm guessing that these films do better because a lot of times they are big budget. Pixar and other animated films, for example, always come with a big budget and must do well or else the studios won't take a chance with them. It's easier to take off your clothes and get money for less cost, than to use animation or special effects and try to recover the cost you put into it.

As for R-raters not selling, you need look no further than last weekend, when "Dawn of the Dead" outdrew "The Passion." Granted, the zombie flick was in its first week and Gibson's film was in its fourth week, but there's still an appetite for gore.

And though it is considered "moral," does anyone doubt that "The Passion" would not have done as well if the flogging and crucifixion had been staged in a much more tame way? Sure, the graphic nature was part of the power of the film, but nevertheless was what caused the buzz. It was even promoted on some horror movie websites because of "the gore."

I believe there is a significant, vocal audience for wholesome entertainment that should not be ignored. But I also believe there is at least an equally sizable audience for graphic sex and violence. What that says about the culture as a whole is it is divided, just like the political makeup.

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UNCG lecturer angry at chancellor, public schools, "puritans," the whole schmeer

Posted by Jon Sanders at 5:10 PM

Poor Steven Sherman! The sociology lecturer's awful upset that UNC-Greensboro Chancellor Patricia Sullivan is distancing herself from invited UNCG lecturer and porn star Tristan Taormino. (Sullivan recently admitted, contrary to earlier backpedaling, that UNCG officials knew of her porn work before they invited her.)

Most upsetting to Sherman is that he thought the self-proclaimed "anal-sex queen" really could have addressed a sore lack in UNCG's students' public-school educations. Sherman writes that public schools rarely if ever discuss "masturbation, homosexuality, and sado-masochism" (thanks to his favorite bugaboo, "puritanical fanatics") and therefore "have to be addressed at the university level." He concludes, "I think a speaker with Taormino's history is well suited to do so. The only problem with her talk was that it was not publicized sufficiently."

Strange that it wasn't. It was after the fact when Mike Adams spoke (was that publicized?) on campus and happened across a copy of UNCG's Carolinian newspaper. Adams wrote about it in his column, propelling UNCG officials into spin mode. It seems the event wasn't publicized because UNCG officials expected the outcry that followed. Is that evidence of Sherman's puritans? Possibly — but not likely.

It's more likely the fact that it exposed UNCG's habit of "'candy' class" pandering to its students' loins rather than trying to stimulate their intellects. The effects of this aspect are on display weekly in the Carolinian, just as it was in the issue that grabbed Adams' attention.

This week's issue, for example, along with Sherman's letter carping about fanatics preventing children from learning about sado-masochism in public schools, also contains:

• A column beginning with the timeless debate over whether guys can actually lose their virginity since "there's nothing to pop" and concluding, "Since two women having sex with each other lack a penis (unless they buy one, which is a separate issue) they are not having penetrative sex, and their act is considered unnatural or even 'not counting.' Two gay men can have penetration, but the normative ideal forces them into masculinized and feminized roles where one is giving and one is receiving."

• A letter that begins "I love sex and, I admit, even love pornography, especially the 'exotic homosexual' kind" and that is written to address the propriety of using the word "F--k" in a newspaper headline

• a cartoon (indeed referencing Sherman's puritans!) about America's sexual "repression leading to oppression" and favoring a "European" approach to the issue

• a fellow whose "epiphany" is "Imagine how much less fun we would have if we were straight"

• hair-splitting over what constitutes porn stardom and the authoritative statement "If someone enjoys a particular fetish or activity, more then likely she has written a book on it after researching the subject out" (the writer exhibits the then/than confusion more "then" once)

• discussion of the events of Pride Week, which included a speaker who "described issues associated with transgendered people, transsexuals and sexual orientation," people referred to as "suspiciously heterosexual men," and a "drag show" (see below):

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They report, they decide

Posted by Jon Sanders at 1:55 PM

Duke released a study today about the welfare of children in America these days.

Here are the headlines from your local media:

Kids safer, sadder, fatter, study says

Kids fatter, poorer, safer

Obesity is biggest health problem for children, Duke report says

We know how the media sums up the results, but here is what the study's coordinator, Duke professor Kenneth Land, had to say:

"The overall message is, children are better off than they were 30 years ago."

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Governors Who Cut Spending Are Popular

Posted by Donna Martinez at 11:45 AM

Contrary to the fears of many politicans and the rhetoric of some pundits, current governors who have cut state spending to balance their budgets enjoy high approval ratings. Conversely, those who've raised taxes find their favorable ratings are dropping. Governor Easley and members of the General Assembly, take note: It can be done. You'll find details on who's done what and how they've faired in this excellent Heritage Foundation Backgrounder.

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Trade war's new front: the interstate battlefield

Posted by Donna Martinez at 11:10 AM

Sprint to close two N.C. call centers:
Decision could mean about 165 jobs lost

The Raleigh News & Observer chose the above headline even though the jobs are being shifted to other NC cities:

When the call centers close May 18, 65 employees at Sprint's campus on U.S. 1 in Wake Forest and 99 employees in Rocky Mount will lose their jobs or be offered transfers to another location...Sprint is boosting its work force at a call center in Tarboro by 45 and at a service dispatch center in Rocky Mount by 29 jobs.

So is cross-county free trade OK?

[T]he volume of the company's service calls has been falling as more customers use Sprint's Web site for service requests.

This is called JOB CREATION, unless one thinks that websites design and maintain themselves. And who is answering all of these quiries that customers are emailing?

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Re: Eco-fascism in Mecklenburg

Posted by Donna Martinez at 10:35 AM

From The Charlotte Observer article Roy highlighted on the county’s attempts to curb air pollution:

The chamber said incentives for voluntary steps by individuals and businesses could replace or be added to mandatory measures. Among several examples, it cited offering reduced or free bus fares on high-ozone days and using county property for free parking by car poolers.

(Have you ever been stuck behind a government bus? Do they really think that buses are really less pollutant than cars – especially if the bus is only replacing 5 cars on the rode by busing the average load of 5 riders a trip? As for car pooling, are they going to dictate which cars can be used for car pooling? After all, it is environmentally better to have two 2000 Honda Civics on the road than two people car pooling in a 1980 Crown Vic.)

Drive-through lanes at banks and fast food restaurants could be closed some hours of the day. Mandatory air-quality restrictions were among the recommendations the county's "Breathe" advisory committee made nearly two years ago. They're being considered now, in part, because attempts to persuade county residents to carpool or volunteer other anti-pollution steps haven't been widely embraced.

(No comment on the advisory committee's name. And pay attention to what's happening. They've asked nicely so now they are just going to force people to follow an erroneous public policy. So what's next? Keep reading!)

Bill Becker, executive director of the Association of Local Air Pollution Control Officials, said some California cities adopted similar rules in the late 1980s, such as banning the use of lighter fluid for barbecues. Such measures, he said, not only help reduce pollution but educate the public about the health of their air. "If I know I can't mow my lawn that day, or go through the McDonald's drive-through, it would also reinforce the notion that maybe I should carpool today or not take that extra trip," he said.

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Would you believe....gourmet grits?

Posted by George Leef at 09:17 AM

Now, as a northerner I'd probably be going way out on a limb if I commented on this story from the New York Times of all placesso I'll just let the rest of you (or y'all) grind away on it, so to speak.

Hey -- how about gourmet grits at Shaftesbury some Monday?

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Eco-fascism comes to Mecklenburg

Posted by Dr. Roy Cordato at 09:11 AM

According to today’s Charlotte Observer, the Mecklenburg County Commissioners are considering a new set of oppressive rules to curb ground level ozone formation on potentially high ozone days. These include restrictions on commuting to work, using the drive-through at fast food restaurants, and on the use of lawn mowers and construction equipment.

This is eco-fascism for its own sake. The ozone data coming out of Mecklenburg County cannot possibly justify these restrictions on individual liberty.

In 2003 Mecklenburg County, along with the rest of North Carolina, had the fewest number of high ozone days in over ten years. In addition, 2003 continued a five-year downward trend that began in 1998, interrupted only in the abnormally warm year of 2002.

From 1998 to 2003 the average number of high ozone days per ozone monitor in the state fell from 14.5 days to 2.4 days a year. In Charlotte the number of high ozone days went from a high of 25.4 days per ozone monitor in 1998 to 4 in 2003.

If Charlotte is truly concerned about lowering ozone in the future probably the best thing it can do is abandon their light rail project and build more roads. Automobiles pollute the most when they are stuck in traffic congestion. It is becoming increasingly clear that the cities that put the most money into light rail and the least into roads tend to have the worst traffic congestion. This is why cities like Las Vegas, Houston, and Orlando, that have forgone light rail and put their resources into new and improved roads, have the fewest traffic congestion problems in the country, while cities like Portland and L.A. consistently have the worst.

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A Tragic Story You Have to Read

Posted by John Hood at 08:14 AM

This story out of today’s Winston-Salem Journal simply cannot be justly summed up in a paragraph. You've got to read it, all the way down, to get the full force and funkiness of it. In brief, it’s about a fire at a Wilkes County newspaper, what was lost, mountain folk, determination, a fascinating life, the legendary Tom Dooley, neighbors helping neighbors, and a pardon request to Mike Easley.

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