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Restricted no more, The Rocky Horror Picture Show is now considered kids' stuff on Astini News

If you can remember chanting "lips! lips!" before Tim Curry's mouth filled the entire screen with tongue and teeth, then you'll probably remember The Rocky Horror Picture Show as a titillating piece of smashed taboo.

These days, however, it's considered close to kids' stuff.

The movie, adapted from Richard O'Brien's musical play, featured cross-dressing professors, oily muscle men and a hero transvestite with an omnivorous sexual appetite. For its time, it was racy enough to earn a Restricted rating from both the Motion Picture Association of America and the BC Film Classification Office, who slapped the now-iconic Restricted Cougar trailer to its head — and let it play for the next four decades without alteration.

Last month, the BC Film Classification office took a second look at Jim Sharman's reel, and decided it should now carry the Parental Guidance label – making it accessible to young people providing there is parental supervision.

"When the movie came out in 1975, it was restricted – or 18A," says Steve Pelton, director of Motion Picture Classification for Consumer BC, a non-profit created to oversee film ratings in the province. "The movie was reclassified in October of this year and received a PG rating, with an advisory of violence and sexual content."

Exactly what changed over the past 36 years? Certainly not the movie: Not a frame of the original theatrical reel has been altered.

Pelton says ratings are designed to reflect current social standards, and the content of Rocky Horror has probably become less controversial over the years. For instance, a scene of two men kissing or the comic suggestion of cannibalism, have become significantly less controversial over time.

"Unfortunately, I don't have a copy of the legislation from 1975, or the details of the original decision, so it's hard to know the exact context," says Pelton. "But policy changes in accordance with public tolerance. And it's not uncommon for films to be re-classified, often changing category."

Pelton points to other recently reclassified films including Apocalypse Now and Warrior, both of which originally received restricted ratings, but now carry the far less stigmatized classification of 14A.

"We didn't even have 14A when Rocky Horror was originally rated," says Pelton, adding that 18A was also a newer category. "That could have been one of the reasons why it received the Restricted rating."

In 1997, the B.C. government revised the act to make it more consistent with the Canadian Home Video Rating System. The change saw the switch from Restricted to 18A, which in turn forced the retirement of the Restricted Cougar trailer.

Though now reserved strictly for persons 18 years or older, the Restricted rating applies to adult motion pictures as defined by the Motion Picture Act of British Columbia, the active piece of legislation governing the rating system.

However, unlike the current Adult rating (which is essentially reserved for pornography), Restricted means adult content with "artistic, scientific, historic or political merit" such as Crash, Irreversible and Requiem for a Dream, which all carry the Restricted sticker.

Though most films end up carrying the same rating over the course of their theatrical lifetime, Rocky Horror is now the longest running theatrical reel ever made. It continues to play on the big screen, which means it has to be re-submitted to classification if it's re-released.

There is a fee for classifying a movie, and every movie that is shown publicly in B.C. must pony up $1.20 per minute in order to have the film rated. Pelton says the change to the classification of The Rocky Horror Picture Show was the result of a change in Canadian distribution, not public outcry or any style of cash-grab for the non-profit. It also it reflects a larger change in how the language of the act has shifted to allow for more artistic distinctions between the content and intent of a given scene.

"We are constantly listening to the concerns of the public and if we make a decision that people don't agree with, we hear about it right away," says Pelton.

"That's why we have an appeal process."

The good news for those people who remember the Restricted Cougar trailer as an inherent part of the Rocky Horror experience is that the trailer is back, even if it's no longer introducing Frank N. Furter's lips.

BC Classification was due to announce today that it will bring back the Cougar as a nod to its B.C. roots. Originally created in 1960, and registered as a trademark in 1966, the Cougar trailer was produced and conceived in B.C. and was part of several classification trailers that capitalized on B.C.'s natural wildlife.

The cougar is the largest wild cat native to B.C., and so it became the de facto star of what would eventually become a piece of pop culture history when Quentin Tarantino used the Restricted Trailer to open his Grindhouse double feature.

"We learned the trailer often didn't come off the print after it played, and the Restricted Cougar travelled the world attached to different movies. It became iconic," says Pelton. "We thought this was a great way of paying tribute to a little piece of Canadian pop culture history."

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