By Kurt A. Gardinier
The romantic comedy “It’s Complicated,” which stars Steve Martin, Meryl Streep and Alec Baldwin, was recently given an R rating by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA). The rating was not due to explicit language, graphic violence, sex or nudity (many acts often seen in PG-13 movies), but because of a scene in which Martin’s and Streep’s characters smoke marijuana, something over 100 million Americans have done, and nearly 15 million do at least monthly.
The most alarming aspect of this story is that the R rating was apparently not given for the actual use of marijuana, but for MPAA’s concern that the movie did not show the negative consequence of the behavior. No drug is harmless, including marijuana, but independent scientific and government studies have concluded that the health risks of marijuana are significantly lower than those of alcohol or tobacco.
Will the MPAA now start giving movies R ratings for alcohol or cigarette use portrayed in a positive light? I don’t think that’s necessary. But neither is giving a silly romantic comedy an R rating for a brief scene in which two responsible adults use a substance far less harmful and addictive than alcohol.