Mature Content Policy

gratuitous content - negating necessity

Many people define ‘gratuitous’ as anything unnecessary to the plot. They’ll say that a particular ‘sex scene’ or ‘course language’ is unnecessary; that you could have done the same plot without it because it doesn’t have any effective outcome on the way the events turn out. However, there are some significant flaws with this mindset that generally create a double standard within the advocate of such theories.

If you’re going to evaluate the merit of a particular film element (action, scene, dialogue etc.) purely by the literal effect it has on the ‘plot events’ of the movie; then probably more than 50% of content in most films are unnecessary. In fact in most films, not every scene needs to be there from a ‘plot’ standpoint, by this standard it makes them gratuitous.

This mindset is a very limited view of what a movie is; what it could be; or what it is supposed to be. It allows very little room for anything that is character related and suggests that only significant ‘plot twists’, ‘information’, or ‘exposition’ should exist in the film.

"The problem with the idea of what is ‘necessary’ is that it is far too subjective; there is no standard.  Therefore, it is neither a good nor objective means of determining what content is appropriate in our films."

At Thousand Year Films, this contradicts our devotion to creating real, honest characters, allowing the possibility of insight to an element of human condition or human behavior.

The problem with the idea of what is ‘necessary’ is that it is far too subjective; there is no standard. Someone could take this argument as far as saying that movies as a whole are completely unnecessary, after all; people functioned for thousands and thousands of years without them.

This mindset will subconsciously inhibit its owner in being able to either create something of depth and value because they function from mathematical or intellectualized frame of mind that drives them to just connect the dots of the plot. From the viewer’s side of things, it prevents them from being able to obtain anything of relevance from the experience of a movie.

Just because something is unnecessary in a movie does not mean that it is bad or more accurately, that it shouldn’t be there. 

"The idea that ‘gratuitous’ equals ‘unnecessary’; is an incomplete understanding of what ‘gratuity' is."

In real life, we shouldn't be living simply to get to the end of our life (at least we hope you're not), it's about the journey, the relationships, the details, the experiences.  This is what colours life.  Similarly, it is generally understood that in most good movies, it’s not a matter of merely getting to the ending, but how you get to the ending.  It is first and foremost about the experience along the way, and the end is just inevitability. You don't go to a movie to because you're excited to leave the theater once its done... you go because you want to be transported to the world of the characters.

Therefore you should not look at film content in terms of what is necessary to the plot. It is not a good or objective means of determining what content is appropriate in our films; it strays into pretty much personal opinion and nothing more. If that occurs you could waste countless hours debating and arguing whether or not a scene is ‘necessary’ and really get nowhere.

The idea that ‘gratuitous’ equals ‘unnecessary’; is a false (or more appropriately); an incomplete understanding of what is considered ‘gratuitous’.  To overcome this problem, one must really understand that a story is so much more than simply the plot.