The NY Times Explains the Ratings

25 February, 2007

In honor of today's 79th Annual Academy Awards telecast, I'm proud to present: The NY Times Explains the Ratings. Continuing the tradition of ridiculous web apps begun with Largehearted Goat, TNYTETR aggregates the short blurbs at the end of each NY Times movie review summarizing how the movie earned its rating.

Ranging from highly-detailed ("'The Number 23' is rated R (Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian). It has adult language, scenes of animal endangerment, and one realistic-looking slit and spurting human throat.") to pat ("'The Queen' is rated PG-13 (Parents strongly cautioned). There is some tart language.") and sometimes even all the way to cheeky ("'Music and Lyrics' is rated PG-13 (Parents strongly cautioned). It has some sexual situations and naughty language. Parents of a certain age who see it with their children may have to endure some uncomfortable questions about the '80s."), these blurbs function as a kind of highly concise criticism of the movies they describe. When separated from the reviews they originally accompanied, they offer intriguing portraits of movies that consist only of taboo-bendings: violence, sex, profanity, animal endangerment, etc. In fact, taken as an aggregate, the blurbs present a view of what's going on at the local multiplex that looks a lot like what the typical religious right culture warrior sees there.

On launch, TNYTETR only features a small pool of reviews (the ones I was easily able to find on nytimes.com last night, with bleary sleep-deprived eyes), but I'll be adding to it as new reviews are posted and as I find the time to scrape through some of the archives.

But, for now, I'm off to watch the Oscar telecast. It's an exciting race this year. Between "strong language, nudity and intense violence", "salty language", "dirty language and bloody action", "tart language", and "extremely graphic combat violence", it's really anybody's game.

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