I was quite surprised to suddenly get comments on a story I posted a year ago, but not surprised at the passion of the commenter. People like to get worked up over pet projects, allowing their passion to blind themselves to any data that don't fit their preconception. Ted Baehr is no exception.
For years, Ted Baehr has been telling anyone who will listen that R-rated movies are nearly doomed to failure simply by virtue of their R rating, and that movies with a Christian worldview (as defined by Ted Baehr, of course) make more money on average than otherwise. The trick is that Mr. Baehr never actually releases the lists of movies on which he is basing these summaries, which makes his claims impossible to examine.
And in fact, R-rated movies continue to make a lot of money, which is why they continue to be made. In fact, as I thought about 2004, I realized that one R-rated movie that made a lot of money last year was Mel Gibson's The Passion Of The Christ. How would Mr. Baehr respond to this outrage? An R-rated movie broke into the top ten of all time! I visited his site and quickly found my answer as the most recent news link: The new standard isn't the R rating, it's "explicit lewd content".
And here Mr. Baehr slipped up, because he mentioned a few movie titles for a change, provided just enough to get a grip on his argument. Troy, for example, is cited as a movie with no sexual nudity whatsoever, which startled me somewhat, because I distinctly remember nudity and sexual situations in that film, both when I saw it in the theater and on subsequent viewing via DVD. I'm not sure how Mr. Baehr missed the sexual nudity in Troy, but he's simply wrong on that score.
Here's how I think it works: To begin with, the case against R-rated movies could be made more or less from U.S. theater grosses alone. Then, the tide began to shift. More R-rated movies did well, and more lower-rated movies tanked. And so the focus shifted to overseas grosses. In the last few years, Mr. Baehr has been able to make his points about films by contrasting worldwide grosses or simply overseas grosses, while analysis of the same films based solely on their U.S. grosses would have gone the other way.
But now you've got Troy, a film which did the lion's share of it's business overseas, despite the R rating. And there's The Passion Of The Christ, an admittedly confusing film to analyze. What to do when the 7th and 9th worldwide highest-grossing films of 2004 are rated R? You change the rules again, and now the standard is lewdness. That lets The Passion off the hook, and apparently Troy too, if you close your eyes for a few seconds here and there, but to be fair, I suppose Meet The Fockers should suddenly switch sides, despite the PG-13 rating.