When your data analysis is validated on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert

Cross-posted: taraskaduk.com

About a month ago, I wrote a little article about the MPAA rating system. I set up to find out if their lettering system does any justice to the actual content seen on the screen. Briefly speaking, it does, but with caveats.

One of such caveats was the effect of profanity. What my quick and dirty data analysis showed was that profanity was the sure thing that could send a movie into an R category:

Unlike other categories, where scores flow gradually from category to category, profanity has some clear trends
Movies in R & NC-17 categories are widely distributed across violence and sex, but snuggle tightly in the upper section of profanity

When Matt Damon proves you right

A caption from my previous post on MPAA rating system. To be proven right in 3…2…1…

So, a few days ago we were watching The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, and this bit with Matt Damon caught my instant attention:

I remember when people at MIRAMAX came to us and said “Could you make it [Good Will Hunting] PG-13?” There’s no violence or sex to speak of, it’s just…
And I said “What’s making it rated R?”, and they said “the language”, and I said “Okay well so we could loop a couple lines”, and they go “Yeah but you’re only allowed”… I think at the time you were allowed to say the F-word three times, and I said “Okay, well how many are we off by?” And they said “You go over by a hundred and forty-five”

Ha! So, my theory checks out! It’s profanity that makes a movie R rated! It can be puritan and pacifistic, but you drop a couple of F-bombs — and you’re out.

It is funny that I chose exactly Good Will Hunting as an example of how an otherwise modest movie can be sent straight to the R bench for what Matt claims is how they all talk in Boston.


Well, anyway, that’s it folks. Do more data analysis, for work and for fun.