I have a challenge for the film makers and the makers of television programs because I want to see if what I propose can actually be done anymore; for curiosity's sake - that is, can a blockbuster film or major television series be produced in the twenty-first century which is G rated, which isn't a "family film" and isn't "for the children"?
I don't suggest this because of some sort of weird moral crusade against the film and television studios, it's just that, I've seen a distinct lack of imagination when it comes to the kinds of film and television which is being produced, which is on some sort of cycle of becoming darker and edgier to the point where it's all just quite a bit hokey and banal.
At the bus stop where I change from the train to the bus on my morning travel as a cut-lunch commando commuter, I happen to stand outside on of Sydney's biggest cinema complexes. I took a quick survey of all the films which were on the current roster and found that there was currently showing:
G rated - 1 film
PG rated - 2 films
M rated - 6 films
MA rated - 3 films
This means that the average age rating on a film currently on show in Sydney this week is age 14. 14 isn't quite M rated but is does mean that or 75% of films, you couldn't actually take a 14 year old in to see them.
Obviously this is all an economic decision on the part of movie makers. They're only likely to produce films which will return a profit and so from that perspective, it all seems perfectly understandable to me. The problem though is that the G and PG rated films which are usually on offer are so predictable and puerile, it makes me even wonder if said 14 year old who could get in to see the rest of the films, would even want to see the remaining three.
Although Tom Lehrer in the 1960s said that "smut, is a market that you can't glut" and whilst I might find myself ever increasingly offended by what's on offer at the cinema, I'm in a small minority and they're not likely to miss my dollars any way but when cinema turnover peaked in about 2002 and has been on the slide ever since, maybe there might be something to be made of my challenge here.
Just what is on offer at the cinema anyway? More superhero stories? Crude comedies that are poorly written? The twenty-first century equivalent of kitchen-sink dramas?
Where are the modern day equivalents of "Dial M for Murder" which was basically a film set in three rooms? Where is our twenty-first century "Citizen Kane"? In an age of political corruption and deadlock, how come we don't see a new "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington"?
The basic stories are always there; there's constant inspiration being generated, why is it so very hard to produce intelligent films these days, which would still be remembered in 60 years' time. When the people of the year 2074 look back, will they remember the films of 2014? I doubt it.
This isn't even a rant about things "being better in my day" because (and let's be perfectly frank about this) in my day, which is now, the films ARE rubbish. I want better quality writing and more intelligent film making. Are the audiences of 2014 really so stupid that the film makers should treat us all like dolts?
There's your challenge. Make for me just one film in the next 12 months which is rated G and is smart enough, or funny enough or brilliant enough that I can take my grandchildren to.
Why can't we have nice things?