I usually don't approve of overtly adult things in ANY art form, weather it be film, paintings, or music. Whenever crude language, sexual themes, or violence is present in art, I feel that this is a cheap sell-out; the artist attempting to get more attention and views from vulgar and taboo material. However, that's not to say that I don't approve of obscene material all of the time...
A great example of my reasoning is an interview with Stan Lee that I saw in a video on youtube a few years back. They asked him what he thought the difference was between violence and action - A question many would back down from, as, even I (before watching the video) had a hard time explaining the difference. However, Stan the man put it best when he said his thoughts: Action is just tasteful violence!
Sure, many of the gags run in the old Three Stooges shorts could be portrayed as cruel and harmful in the wrong setting, but, because they are played off for laughs, and no true harm is shown over the course of the shorts, I think that the violence there is not only acceptable, but, actually pretty hilarious.
And, though I disprove of much of the language and violence present in the Godfather Trilogy, I do believe that the Francis Ford Coppola greats wouldn't have made as much of an impact, (or have even been given credit) had they have been rated PG. Godfather needed to be R, as, not only was it a sort of "warning label" for kids, but, it also set it apart from the Film-Noirs of the previous decades. - This film was darker, grittier, and, had to stand out of the pack to be recognized.
However, this issue truly is a double edged sword, as the same argument could be made the other way. Peter Pan is a GREAT movie, and, a definitive classic among the original Walt Disney produced animated films. And, though it has an alcohol reference, and a drug reference, it's still more child... no... "family friendly" movie. That was the magic of Walt Disney; he could take something, easily considered for more mature audiences, (Like 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea) and make it for everyone... That's why I'll always put Peter Pan, Citizen Kane, and Star Wars over films like The Godfather, The Matrix, and even Saving Private Ryan. - The PG films are just as good as the R rated greats, and yet, the PG ones will always have the potential to reach a much greater, and important, audience - kids.
As for my own brickfilms, I always shoot for a "Disney" final product, even IF the original concept was R, or even NC-17.
Warning: Some Graphic Violence depicted ahead!
I once had this recurring dream that was very surreal, and dark...
Spoiler (click to read)
It was about a father and his daughter who often went scuba diving in the Pacific ocean. However, one day, while they were diving under, they were attacked by a group of sharks. The man was able to fight them off, but, before he could, his daughter's stomach was practically ripped open - Blood, and her internal organs were all out. The father, knowing nothing else to do, started ripping himself apart, giving his daughter a chance to live with his blood, organs, heart, etc. In his dying moments, he stitched her up, and she was able to swim to the surface, alive and well.
The story really stuck with me, as, it's drama, love, and emotion was enough to keep my mind thinking of it. And, even though the last time I had that dream was nearly 6 years ago, I still remember it.
A year or two back, I was filming an Atlantis-based brickfilm, and, wouldn't you know, I gave my story the same characters and situation as was in the dream, however, the attack, the gore, and the violence was all gone. Instead of a tragedy, the third act had them finding a still thriving Atlantis, and, their decision (rather forced, due to their lack of oxygen tanks) to stay there; A story very deep and interesting at heart, even if it doesn't seem so upon a surface summary.
I guess my point is that, as with Stan Lee's argument; If violence (and even other adult themes) are used in a creative, and even, PG-ish way, and still be successful, then, that artist has done something greater on his own, rather than relying on shock-factor, or other cheep tricks to hook in an audience.
Another great example of this is a scene from the Beatles Yellow Submarine animated film. In one part, the sub is being attacked by a large boxing kangaroo. To appease it, they hand it a big cigar. Normally, especially in a children's film, I'd disapprove of this. However, just after puffing on it for a few seconds, the cigar blows up in it's face, obviously a gag distraction given from the Beatles for a quick escape. However, when it blows up in the kangaroo's face, this could be taken as a somewhat "anti-smoking" ad, showing that smoking may look fun, but, it can lead to disastrous, and dreadful, consequences. And, it didn't take an after-school special, or some seriously-toned short to do such; The Yellow Submarine was able to do it in a way that would appeal to kids, and, still gets the message across equally, if not better, than the other methods would have.
Thus, I end on this note: I'm not for restricting artistic ability in any way, shape, or form. However, I believe that if you CAN make an impact, difference, or statement in a G rated way, then, you've not only got a stronger will, but, you also are considerate of others - trying to reach the greatest audience possible; everyone.