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The Movies Get Rated – 1968 – Introducing The New Rating System – Past Daily Weekend Pop Chronicles

Midnight Cowboy – one of the first movies to get the dubious X Rating.

– Night Call – Judith Crist Talks About the new Movie Rating system – December 13, 1968 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –

Much as the 60s represented changing values, changing ideas and a certain “freeing up” of society, it also represented the early planting of the seeds of backlash. That opposition to what was perceived as “America going to hell in a handbasket” – the widening generation gap – the growing opposition to the War in Vietnam, changing styles and fashion and a certain retaliation to the Youth Culture that was overtaking advertising and consumer products.

How could the older generation, who were losing their grip at an ever-increasing pace, hold on to what little vestiges of the past they had left. Those people who openly pined for the “good old days” and seethed with contempt at the site of anyone with long hair were looking for anything to retain control.

It wasn’t going to be music and it wasn’t going to be Television – they were both under the spell of Youth Culture. The only thing left were The Movies.

Ironically, it was just before the 1968 election that the MPAA instigated the Movie Rating System. It went from G,M,R to X – X being reserved for what was considered off limits to anyone under 17 without an adult and which gave many the impression those films were pornographic. The first two films to receive the X rating were Midnight Cowboy and A CLockwork Orange.

This episode of the call-in program Night Call features the well-known film critic Judith Crist. She lambasts the then-current state of film making and was very much in favor of these ratings and restrictions as a way of preserving film going as a family affair, where children could go and not worry parents the content might not be appropriate. She did go on to say that films were catering too much to the Youth Culture and, in their way, pushing the envelope.

Needless to say, the X rating of movies didn’t last that long and the system of rating was revamped. But the restrictions were in place and the generation gap continued to widen.

Here is that episode of Night Call from December 13, 1968.

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