I know Jack Valenti is preoccupied, what with defending the ratings system, fighting pirates, writing books and coining phrases that evoke Savanarola or La Rochefoucauld. I know he’s busy, but I have one more teeny little task for him.Jack, could you please create a ratings system for parents? No, not for the benefit of parents — but rather a system that rates people’s fitness to become parents. Here’s why: For years, angry media watchdogs have reported breathless stories about theater owners who looked the other way as underage kids sneak into R-rated fare. And every time some teen opens fire on his classmates, social observers wonder what film, song or videogame the kid had recently been obsessing over. A word to these people: Maybe it’s the parents. The upcoming “The Matrix Reloaded” will be R-rated. “Terminator 3,” “Bad Boys 2” and “American Wedding” may also be Rs. Presumably a lot of youngsters will be dying to see these films and presumably their parents will give in. Parents always seem to give in. Not too long ago, an acquaintance groaned about going to “Gangs of New York.” But, her children, ages 8 and 11, wanted to see Leonardo DiCaprio. And sometimes mom & dad drag the little nippers to films the parents want to see. At a viewing of “Red Dragon” in the local mall, I sat among several families with young kids as we all watched Edward Norton studying photos of murdered mommies who’d had their eyeballs mutilated and their faces bloodied by the Tooth Fairy. Certainly, parental responsibility is needed, but it’s not enough. There’s only one solution: Valenti must institute a program to determine if someone is eligible for parenthood. Because Jack is so busy, I’ve been working on some ideas to give him a headstart. Here’s the plan: Under Valenti’s system — really, I don’t want the credit, I’m too modest — potential moms and dads would aspire to a P rating, meaning suitable for all parenting. GP: Acceptable as a GodParent or Uncle, but not allowed children of their own. UU7: Unsuitable for impressionable minds under age 7. NC-18 means No Chance this person would be permitted contact with a youngster under the age of 18. GUD stands for Genetically Undesirable. These people would be allowed to adopt, but could not parent their own children for a variety of reasons, e.g., they sunburn too easily or are prone to speak loudly in public places. In the interests of full disclosure, I must admit that I am not a parent. Perhaps I’m a little P-shy. HMOs would be only too happy to help sterilize the undeserving. Of course, some lunkheads may carp, but Valenti can always point out that this is a voluntary system. And, as with the film ratings system, there will be an outcry to explain the reason for the classifications. People naturally would be rejected if they have low IQs (for instance, they believe professional wrestling is a real sport). They would be nixed if they have no taste (they enjoy those Carl’s Jr. commercials, “Are You Hot?” and Maury Povich). If they have a low IQ, no taste and are in a position of power (i.e., they greenlit the remake of “Swept Away,” “Charade” or “The Four Feathers”), not only would they be denied future children, they would have their existing offspring snatched away from them. Most of the world’s problems — unemployment, poverty, sometimes even war — can be traced directly to overpopulation. So this would be Nobel Peace Prize material. C’mon, Jack — give it a go. You can save the world. We always knew that was your destiny anyway.
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- Save the Children, Fairfield, Connecticut