The Reflection

Gull Lake High School's Online News Source

Indiana Jones: The Temple of Doom scared the way to PG-13 movies

It was spring of 1984, Hollywood was bustling from the release of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi the year prior and a month later Ghostbusters would inspire kids to fight paranormal activity.  Steven Spielberg, famed for directing instant classics, prepared for the release of the sequel to the hit movie Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark, starring Harrison Ford.  Movies theaters were filled with families to watch Temple of Doom, hoping for another family classic but instead were distracted by the dark moments Spielburg had to offer.

Director Steven Spielburg. Photo by Wikimedia Commons.

Indiana Jones: Temple of Doom with less comedic action appealed to the dark side of adventure.  In the movie, Indiana Jones travels to India in 1935 to search for a stone artifact, but he discovers a secret cult involved in human sacrifices and child slavery.  By itself, the theme of the film was enough to create an uproar, but the details emphasized such themes.  Scenes include a man ripping another’s heart out of his chest before being sent to a pit of lava and a setting in hellish catacombs.  

Star Wars creator, George Lucas. Photo courtesy of Quotes of Famous People.

According to the film’s story writer, George Lucas, Indiana Jones: Temple of Doom was intended as a darker sequel to the first film, just as in other films as Star Wars and The Godfather.  Movies in the 1980s were more lenient on adult content for family movies such as smoking and swearing, but the idea of cults conspiring in inhumane acts led to the idea of a medium between PG and R.

The mixed reviews over the film and pressure for MPAA to create a better rating for a category for edgier films didn’t see results in time for Gremlins later that year.  The heavy promotion of the wholesome Gizmo caused younger audiences to be fooled into thinking the movie would be “cuddly and happy.”  Instead, they were welcomed to terrorizing monsters and a scene dedicated to battling such creatures using kitchen appliances in gruesome murders.  The main Gremlin, Spike, was a main source of terror for younger audiences, jumping into a YMCA pool, creating a bubbling effect as it reproduced an army of monsters.  Also, the same creature met its demise by its flesh melting in the sunlight, which was thematically shot in close detail.

Jack Valenti. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

After another outcry from audiences, it took the person behind these “distasteful” movies to contact the head of MPAA, Jack Valenti, and propose the PG-13 rating.  “I created the problem, and I also supplied the solution…I invented the rating,” Steven Spielberg told the Associated Press in 2004.  MPAA discussed this solution with many different groups involved with the film industry to greenlight the new rating.  This new PG-13 rating would keep the too scary and violent content out of PG movies, making anyone under 13 have to attend theaters with their parents.

Today, the rating is used a lot to appeal to families and adults to increase box office cash.  The sequel trilogy to Star Wars, most Harry Potter movies, and Marvel movies are rated as PG-13 specifically to benefit more than one audience, creating more money for studios. 

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