Ratings Update


UNITED STATES—The Motion Picture of Arts Association has adjusted its ratings system as of Tuesday, April 16.  The new system is geared to further educate parents on why certain pictures received a specific rating.  Just to reiterate those ratings for everyone there is: G, PG, PG-13, R and NC-17.

NC-17 is something that is rarely seen in cinema, as it’s known as the kiss of death for most pictures, so the likelihood of a picture being released with such a rating is not likely is this day in age. I am happy with the new modifications to the rating system, which will distinctly indicate what a movie received the rating that it has gotten.  This is particularly important for the PG and PG-13 ratings for movies.  Those two are very tricky.  While PG flicks are typical for all audiences, there could be some images that are quite frightful or scary to smaller children.

To give you an example, the movie “A Christmas Carol” that starred Jim Carrey in CGI imagery was rated PG and in 3D.  I took my nephew who was 3 at the time to see the picture, and it literally scared him to death.  The movie really was not intended for all ages.  In my argument, there were some frightening sequences, even for an adult, that movie should have been rated PG-13.  The G rating indicates the picture is family-oriented and for all audiences, most likely cartoon flicks or animal journey’s to some degree.

PG-13 has changed a lot since my time.  Most pictures squeak by with a PG-13 rating by toning down the language, sexuality/sensuality and violence, but so many movies today that are PG-13 should actually be rated R.  I recall back in the 80s, one curse word in a picture would automatically garner you a solid R-rating, not today.  So many horror flicks that appear tame on the surface have dropped quite a few expletives throughout the picture and gotten away with it.

Furthermore, it’s not like movie theaters card people for PG-13 movies.  It’s just something they don’t do or do I ever think they will.  The PG-13 rating is so important for many studios because it allows the picture to be marketed to a wider audience for bigger box-office revenues.  A film earning an R-rating, limits the audience that can see the picture without an adult present.  Why is this important?

There are lots of children exposed to violent cinema at an early age, differentiating the difference from fantasy to reality is not easy for children. I recall as a child my love for horror pictures.  Being scared was something I enjoyed, however, I was never a fan of excessive blood and gore; it creeps me out. It still does today.

There are so many teens that are able to get into R-rated movies without an adult.  I’d said kids between the ages of 11-16 are already viewing are rated content way before many think its okay for them to see it. Some theater chains have cracked down on carding teens for R-rated movies in the midst of the tragic violence that has gripped the nation.  It started quite heavy in 1999, after the shootings at Columbine High School in Colorado.

If you weren’t 17, there wasn’t a chance in hell you were seeing a movie without an adult.  A few years passed and the carding began to slack off.  In a way, you can’t really protect a teen from seeing a picture that they want, a parent can shield them until a particular age, but at some point they will be exposed to it, but we have to do better.

It’s not just the movie ratings system to protect minors from unsuitable content, so should the television. There is a rating system in place, but not as quite as detailed as the movie rating system.  There are so many programs airing on regular TV that should not be seen by children at all. Yes, you have the parental block, but if a kid wants to watch a particular show, they will find a way to do it.  The problem with our culture is two things: we’ve become desensitized to violence and sexuality is prevalent everywhere.

Violence is no longer seen as a bad thing; over-exposure to it; lessens the impact, not only to children, but adults as well. The same applies with sexuality there are so many shows on Network TV where sexuality is practically thrown in the audience’s face, it’s not pornography, but it’s pretty close. The envelope does not have to be pushed too much to get the audience to watch, its all about storytelling.

I go back to a popular phrase from the movie “Scream 2” where Jada Pinkett’s character questions the motive to having a character appear nude a “Stab” movie. It made logical sense, how does a character being naked propel the storyline, it doesn’t.  Less or implied is better than seeing it at all.

The new movie ratings system will provide parents with a more suitable blue print of why certain content may not be for all children.  Indication of bad language, violence or sexuality is not enough.  Having the distinction from those categories in the ratings system, allow us to make a more informed decision about the content we expose to our children.  We as adults most do more to not only educate our younger generation on the content viewed, but for them to understand a vast majority of what is being seen is NOT REAL.

By Trevor Roberts