Tuesday, June 15, 2004

No picture shows a-showin', but by God, that grass keeps growin'

It's kind of obvious why Michael Moore is worried about Fahrenheit 9/11 receiving an R rating; idiot teenagers are one of his primary markets. Without them, there's only idiot college students, aging hippies, and smug self-hating intellectuals to buy tickets, and wouldn't that be a shame? If he's only honestly concerned about "getting the message out" to as many impressionable youths as possible, he needn't worry. Under-18s that want to see the movie are going to anyway; I'm fairly certain on this, having worked at a theatre for two years. I worked the position we just called "door" - taking tickets at one of the two entrances to the individual auditoriums. It being one of the newer, large, restaurants-arcade-and-party room-possessing megaplexes, and this fantastic and expensive theatre having been inexplicably built in one of the poorest neighbourhoods in Ottawa, there were always a lot of teenage "guests" (not customers, the employee manual firmly stated; guests) hanging around with no intent to buy tickets. Plus, of course, there were the usual twelve-year-olds trying to sneak into R-rated films (I remember Hannibal and Freddy Got Fingered, in particular, seemed to be kid magnets), and jerkass twentysomethings trying to get in with half-price children's tickets. This was possible because of the self-service ticket machines; thus, the entire responsibility for checking to see that no shenanigans nor chicanery ensued was on the employee working the door. In the entire time I worked there, I believe I may have been the only person to stringently attempt to both catch freebie-seekers and enforce the ratings law. Not the rules - in the US, film ratings are voluntarily enforced by individual theatres - but the law. In Ontario, anyway, film ratings are handed out by a provincially-appointed board, and theatres face penalties of up to $25,000 for knowingly failing to enforce the provisions, such as keeping those twelve-year-olds from seeing Tom Green eating, humping, wearing, and performing with various things. I checked ID, and sent those without to go get a refund. For my pains I was nicknamed "The Ticket Nazi." Eventually, exasperated, I printed out a copy of the Theatres Act to store at the door podium, and highlighted the relevant sections; still, management gently humoured and occasionally overruled me, allowing quite a few underage kids without proper identification into the theatres. The point is, even where the law stands behind ratings, it doesn't matter; kids are either going to sneak in (I was as vigilant as I could be, but I couldn't watch all six doors on the floor for theatre-hopping all the time), or else be casually let in by unconcerned employees. Michael Moore has nothing to worry about. This is just another publicity stunt to cast himself as a martyr, and drum up sympathy support for his agitprop.


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