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The MPAA’s decision to kowtow to the demands of professional anti-smoking advocates won’t do anything to discourage kids from smoking; the Motion Picture Association of America isn’t a surrogate parent, and it shouldn’t try to be. The only thing this decision will do is make the MPAA’s ratings system—trusted by Americans’ for nearly 40 years—absolutely meaningless. What’s next? A triple-X rating for Fat Albert because it glorifies obesity? An R-rating for the Pirates of the Caribbean because Johnny Depp makes imbibing copious amounts of rum look like fun?
The MPAA has sealed its own fate by announcing its willingness to cave to any interest group that complains loudly enough. One can only hope that a new organization will challenge the MPAA’s chokehold over the industry by creating a ratings system that actually has some meaning.