I grew up in the '80s, and back then PG films had balls — Raiders of the Lost Ark, #Gremlins, Back to the Future, Beetlejuice to name just a few. All of these movies have scenes that could be brought into question today due to the rating the films received back then.
I mean, let's just look at Back to the Future as a quick example. There is a scene in which Lorraine unknowingly tries to seduce her own son, just before Biff turns up and attempts to sexually assault her in a car — and this was rated PG. Plus there was some swearing throughout the movie, too.
Other '80s-era PG films also featured plenty of risqué scenes and dialogue. #Beetlejuice even manages to squeeze in a cheeky F-bomb.
Some PG films would even show nudity, as Airplane! proves with a scene where a topless woman pops up full frame and jiggles her breasts in the face of us viewers. Not subtlety hidden away in the background but full screen, upfront and uncensored. Still not good enough? The Woman in Red from the late, great Gene Wilder features a scene in which the amazingly beautiful Kelly LeBrock not only shows her equally amazing lady bumps, but also a shot of her very '80s lady bits. Again, not subtle but shown full frame. These were the PG-rated films I grew up with. They could be dark, violent, sweary — and even feature beaver shots.
Now Let's Look At Later PG-Rated Movies
We have The Pacifier, a movie in which Vin Diesel plays a babysitter, a PG film in today's age. How have we gone from seeing someone get their still-beating heart ripped out while conscious...
...To formerly bawdy comic Eddie Murphy talking to a bear while toasting marshmallows in 2001's Dr. Dolittle 2?
Before people pipe up, #TempleofDoom was originally a PG film before being re-rated as PG-13. So yes, we got to see a heart being ripped out in a PG film. Or how about watching a gremlin's head explode in a microwave?
It's funny how younger viewers watch PG films from the '80s and are shocked at how much adult content these movies contain. Conversely, when people my age watch a PG film from the last 20 years or so, we're shocked at how little adult content they contain. Both age groups tend to exclaim, "This is a PG film?!" but for opposite reasons.
A PG rating used to mean something: Parental Guidance. Translation? While kids can watch the movie, there is going to be some adult content. Violence, blood, swearing and yes, even nudity. But now, the PG film is more akin to kids films from the '80s. As the warning states, "Some material may not be suitable for children" — because that material was not filmed with children in mind. PG movies used to be tamer adult films that children could watch with a warning.
So what has happened to PG films today? Where has the harder edge gone? I blame this...
Blame It On Unlucky Number 13
The introduction of the #PG13 rating has moved everything down a notch in terms of ratings. The PG-13 film has now become the PG film of the '80s, while the PG film of today is now the kids films of the '80s. There is another problem with the PG-13 rated film. It's now used as an excuse to turn previously adult-rated films into lesser movies. When 1987's #RoboCop — an adult film that was rated for its violence — was remade into a PG-13 film in 2014, you knew something was very, very wrong. And RoboCop is just one of many examples where the PG-13 rating is being used to soften the graphic content of a film or even an entire genre of movies. A PG-13 rated horror film?
Now, I'm from England, so we don't have the PG-13 rating. Yet the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) system is very similar to that of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA). The MPAA's PG-13 rating is the BBFC's 12/12A.
The introduction of PG-13/12/12A has even changed the PG film rating over here in Britain, too. We now get the watered-down PG film, the lesser 12/12A horror films and remakes attempting (and failing) to be what the adult films of the '80s were.
I just miss it all. I miss the PG films of the '80s. I miss the violence, the blood, the swearing and yes, the nudity. As I said at the very start, '80s PG films had balls, big T.rex-sized balls. This here is my love letter to that age that I miss so much...