We, the undersigned individuals, encourage those in the position to do so, to change the USA rating of the film THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW from the R-RESTRICTED it has carried since its 1975 release to the much more realistic PG-13 it now clearly deserves. We ask you to please consider our position, which is based on the following points:

1.The content which made this film risquй and unsuitable for minors in 1975 is tame compared to what is commonly shown today on free, commercial television, and indeed, ROCKY itself is frequently shown on TV with only minimal editing. (This does not even begin to take into account what persons under 17 freely have access to on cable TV, home video and the Internet.) Moreover the films shock value is nil compared to the modern everyday reality of teenage life on contemporary school campuses (see the movies MEAN GIRLS and THIRTEEN for reference).

1a. In regards to specific points of objection: While ROCKY contains a single, fleeting use of the word fuck in one song, it contains no other profanity; by contrast, the movie FERRIS BUELLERS DAY OFF (released in 1986) contains frequent use of the word fuck, clearly and audibly, and yet received a PG-13 rating. In ROCKY, there are two EXTREMELY brief shots of the nipples of the character Columbia, but no other nudity (not counting classical-style statues); but numerous PG-13 movies have contained full female frontal nudity; for instance, NATIONAL LAMPOONS EUROPEAN VACATION (1985)and indeed in that film, the character in question was implied to be underage. The general sensuality, innuendo and homoeroticism inherent in ROCKY is likewise tame in this age of QUEER EYE FOR THE STRAIGHT GUY and other examples of sexuality of all kinds (including same-sex relationships) seeping into mainstream American life; indeed, ROCKY is sheer camp by comparison. (Even its creator, Richard O'Brien, has called is "something any ten year old can enjoy".)

2. The films audience base has ALWAYS been primarily teenaged, even before the PG-13 rating existed; throughout the films history and continuing to this day, many cinema exhibitors voluntarily choose not to observe the R-rating by silently treating it as a PG-13 regardless, acknowledging that the 13-17 demographic is an important part of what has kept ROCKY in business over the years, in the face of an ever-changing media, marketing and technological world and a great deal of competitionROCKYs youth appeal has kept it profitable. For many exhibitors, enforcing the rating would mean cutting off their audience baseand thereby decreasing revenue. Conversely, changing the rating would give those exhibitors a free hand, and would encourage other more timid exhibitors to screen the film.

3. In many communities the subculture that attends the film in its theatrical exhibition is seen as a very positive, safe and accepting environment for many misfit teens, one that keeps them off the streets on weekend nights and gives them a safe haven in a controlled, contained environment, around peers and away from more sinister influences.

4. In the UK, the film was recently re-rated by the British Film Ratings Board the UK equivalent of PG-13. In a letter to me written in May of 2004, Craig Lapper, Chief Assistant of Policy for the BBFC (the body that rates films for UK screening), explained the following (and granted me permission to quote):

When THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW was first seen by the BBFC [in 1975] we did not have a '12' category. Therefore we were faced with a simple choice between 'A' (now called 'PG - Parental Guidance') and 'AA' (the nearest modern equivalent is '15 - no persons admitted under 15 years'). As you will know, the film contains a significant quantity of sexual references and innuendo. Unsurprisingly, perhaps, these elements were felt to be too strong for an unrestricted general certificate. Therefore we had no choice but to opt for the 'AA' (modern equivalent '15'). At the time we acknowledged that it was a shame that there was no intermediate category as the film was not a particularly strong 'AA'. However, once the '12' certificate was introduced (in 1989) the film was resubmitted and we agreed to downgrade the film to a more reasonable '12' ratingwe could see nothing in the film likely to disturb, corrupt or baffle 12 year olds. Indeed we felt strongly that teenagers - and even pre-teens - would very much enjoy it. . Perhaps you could ask the distributors to resubmit to the MPAA for a possible re-rating?

The full text of this letter can be found at

5. For the last several years, a great deal of ROCKY merchandise (clothing, posters, etc), licensed by the films distributors and producers, has been marketed directly to teenagers via the HOT TOPIC chain of retail stores, which tend to be the primary shopping haven for the kind of teenagers to whom ROCKY and similar pop-culture entities appeals. Thus, the teen appeal of ROCKY has been subtly but explicitly acknowledged by the very same entities that have the power to change the rating; the obvious irony being that items associated with an R-Rated film are being marketed to a demographic that cannot, according the MPAA, see the film in a theatre without adult accompaniment.

In light of all of these considerations, we feel that the fact that ROCKY HORROR still carries an R-Rating is both anachronistic and unrealistic. And if these appeals are not enough, then consider this: with 2005 being the films 30th Anniversary, a re-rated and re-released ROCKY HORROR, coordinated with a national marketing strategy, could be a highly profitable marketing move, re-establishing ROCKY in dead or dying markets and penetrating new ones. We sincerely hope that you will give due attention to this matter, and we look forward to the day that persons of ALL ages from can do THE TIME WARP without fear of reprisal.

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Velma PatelBy:
Petition target:
20th Century Fox Film Co (distributor), Lou Adler (Producer), and the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America)


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