The Making of Hollywood's Motion Picture Rating System
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Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC, in VOA Special English.
I'm Doug Johnson. On our show this week:
We listen to some music from King Wilkie …
Answer a question about the American movie rating system …
And report about a new book by Jenna Bush.
Jenna Bush is the twenty-five-year-old daughter of President Bush and Laura Bush. Last year, she began an internship with the United Nations Children's Fund, UNICEF. She traveled throughout Latin America. She met with young people living in poverty who do not receive education, social services or health care. One was a seventeen-year-old single mother named Ana. Jenna Bush met with the young woman for the next six months. She decided to write a book about her life. The result is "Ana's Story: A Journey of Hope." Mario Ritter tells us more.
Ana's parents had died of AIDS when she was a young child. When she was ten years old, she found out she was born with H.I.V., the virus that causes AIDS. But she was told to keep it a secret. She became a victim of abuse by family members and was also warned not to tell anyone.
In her book, Jenna Bush tells of Ana's struggles to survive poverty, abuse and illness. The book also provides important information for young people about H.I.V. and other issues.
Jenna Bush says she wants to start a discussion with young Americans about H.I.V./AIDS, poverty, lack of education and other problems that affect millions of children around the world.
She has been traveling to more than twenty-five cities around the country to talk about her new book. Last week she took part in VOA's Web chat, T2A. She answered questions from people in India, Ethiopia, Kenya and Germany.
Jenna Bush said her job for UNICEF was to meet with children living in extreme poverty, or with H.I.V./AIDS. She said that even these young people with difficult lives had much hope for the future and a positive outlook on life.
Jenna Bush also spoke about Ana, the teenager she wrote about in her book. She said Ana got the help she needed from trusted adults like her teachers and her priest. Ana now sees a better future for herself and her daughter.
Some of the money earned from the book, "Ana's Story: A Journey of Hope," will go to UNICEF to help girls like Ana continue their education.
Movie Rating System
Our listener question this week comes from Norway. Xiaoren Chen wants to know how movies are controlled in the United States.
Today, American filmmakers produce movies with few restraints about violence, sexuality and adult language. But this was not always the case.
The Motion Picture Association of America is the major movie organization that first formed in nineteen twenty-two. The organization helps distribute movies internationally, decides on rating systems, and deals with public relations for the movie industry.
When it was first started by the Hollywood production studios, the organization was called the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America. The group was popularly called the Hays Office because of its director, Will Hays. This group developed the Motion Picture Production Code in nineteen thirty. The aim was for the film industry and not the government to decide what was morally acceptable to show in movies. The Hays Office examined each film before it could receive permission to be released.
The production code was very clear about issues including crime and sex. For example, movies could not show violent killings, methods of stealing, or illegal drug use. The code banned sex scenes, sexual relationships between people of different races, scenes of childbirth, and people not wearing clothing.
The Motion Picture Association finally ended the code in nineteen sixty-eight although movie makers had stopped following its rules many years before.
The group developed a new voluntary rating system that tells parents whether a movie is right for children. The ratings judge the level of violence, sexuality, and adult language. "G" movies are for people of all ages. "PG" means parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be right for children.
"PG-13" means parents are strongly warned that some material may not be right for children under the age of thirteen. "R" mean restricted. Children under the age of seventeen must have a parent or adult guardian with them. And if a movie is rated "NC-17" it means no one seventeen or younger will be admitted.
The rating system has its critics. Some movie experts say the ratings warn more about sexual subjects than about extreme violence. Others say a rating can harm a movie's financial success and ignore its artistic importance.
The band King Wilkie is made up of six young men who love traditional bluegrass music. Their second full-length album, "Low Country Suite," mixes the sound of bluegrass with the influence of folk and country music. Faith Lapidus plays some of these songs.
(MUSIC: "Crazy Daisy")
That was "Crazy Daisy (Don't You Fade on Me)" from "Low Country Suite." Like many songs on this album, it explores feelings of love and loss. King Wilkie has said the album is about a young man finding his place in the world.
Ted Pitney and Reid Burgess formed King Wilkie in two thousand three in Charlottesville, Virginia. They named the band after the favorite horse of Bill Monroe, who is considered the father of bluegrass music.
King Wilkie's first album, "Broke," was a collection of traditional bluegrass songs. The record earned them an Emerging Artist of the Year Award from the International Bluegrass Music Association.
For "Low Country Suite" the band wanted to push their musical boundaries. Reid Burgess says their goal was to free themselves and show different musical sides of the band. He says limiting their music style to bluegrass did not permit them to be as personal and expressive as they wanted to be.
Here is the playful sound of "Ms. Peabody." It tells about a young man's love affair with an older woman.
Although this record is not traditional bluegrass, the band still plans to play at bluegrass festivals and concerts. Reid Burgess says King Wilkie's performances are still made for bluegrass stages. He says he loves the personalities, the community and the history of bluegrass shows. We leave you with the energetic beat of "Wrecking Ball."
I'm Doug Johnson. I hope you enjoyed our program today.
It was written by Dana Demange and Shelley Gollust. Caty Weaver was our producer. To read the text of this program and download audio, go to our Web site, voaspecialenglish.com.
Join us again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC, VOA's radio magazine in Special English.