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They want R-rated movies
Students want them allowed in Manteca Unified classes
Morgan Freeman in The Shawshank Redemption. - photo by Photo Contributed

Will the Manteca Unified School Board lift its ban on R-rated movies?

On Tuesday a group of Manteca High School students from Marissa Kekke’s film class requested that the board revisit its policy that prohibits teachers from showing films with an R rating to students even with permission of parents.

Their argument?

Society is changing.

According to the students that spoke, the ratings that were given to the movies they’re hoping to incorporate into the curriculum – movies like The Shawshank Redemption and What’s Eating Gilbert Grape – are rated based on a dilapidated system that isn’t in-step with what is considered adult by modern standards.

And they at least got the board’s attention.

Trustee Michael Seeyle asked when they concluded what could be done to get the issue on the agenda, but Board President Deborah Romero jumped in and said that while she supports the idea of some of the movies, just blanket integration of R-rated movies into the curriculum wasn’t something that she favored.

“Just saying that you guys have our permission to watch any R-rated movie isn’t something that I’m comfortable with,” Romero said. “I, for one, still consider you children and if I can keep you in a bubble a little bit longer I will just so you don’t absorb everything that society crams down your throat.”

According to Kekke, the class – which focuses on literary themes in contemporary cinema and gives the students the ability and the chance to judge works based on their depth – fits seamlessly into the English classes that she teaches as well since they both use the same methods.

The problem, she said, is that it’s hard to find the same level of depth in visual works that are capped at a PG-13 rating than can be found in classic and contemporary literature.

Some students declared the policy – which will be reviewed by the board at its meeting next month – as a form of censorship.

“An art class with censored art is an art class without merit,” one student said to the board. “The same could be said for a film class.”

Some of the other films that he students would like be able to view include Hollywood staples such as Roman Polanski’s Chinatown – which was preserved in the United States National Film Registry for its depiction of the battle over the Owens Valley in the pursuit to supply water to Los Angeles – as well as the sci-fi future flick Blade Runner and the historical period drama 12 Years a Slave which won Best Picture at the Academy Awards for its portrayal of freeman Solomon Northup and his story of being swept up and sold to a Plantation owner.

Because the matter is a board policy, the board can revisit and revise it at their leisure with a simple majority.