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Today's Hot Topic (2/23): Does The Movie Rating System Help? Too Much Sex And Violence?
February 23, 2009 at 6:42 AM

Do you pay attention to the rating of a film before you let your kids watch it?  Where do you draw the line?  Do you think kids are exposed to too much sex and violence in movies today?

Origins of the Movie Rating System:

The United States began rating its movies relatively late, having depended upon the United States Motion Picture Production Code of 1930 to control the content of films; most other countries began classifying their films decades earlier, such as the United Kingdom with the BBFC rating organization. The MPAA's film ratings were instituted on November 1, 1968, in response to religiously-motivated complaints about the sexual, violent, profane, and impudent content of American cinema, after the MPAA's 1966 revision of the Production Code. The revision, prompted by imports and the first US studio releases lacking MPAA approval, created the "SMA" (Suggested for Mature Audiences) advisory, identifying violent movies and movies with mature themes, along with the MPAA Code seal. (see Green Sheet about an internal precursor to the ratings system).

The cultural erosion of the film production code had several effects: it allowed violently artistic films such as Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho (1960), and an increase in low-budget exploitation films that were more sexually and violently explicit. In 1966, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? used the phrase "hump the hostess". In 1967, two movies—Ulysses and I'll Never Forget What's'isname—used the word fuck in their dialog. This precipitated public demand for the reintroduction of self-censorship. After meeting with government, the MPAA and the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) agreed to a uniform ratings system for every film produced by its members that, theoretically, would be enforced by exhibitors.

The Non-MPAA member film producers were unaffected; the ratings system was legally unenforceable because of the free speech guarantee, inherent to the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, as interpreted regarding the sexual, violent, profane, and impudent content in communications media dating from the 1952 Joseph Burstyn, Inc v. Wilson decision. However, two important 1968 Supreme Court cases, Ginsberg v. New York[2] and Interstate Circuit, Inc. v. Dallas,[3] led to the MPAA's creation of its movie rating system.

G rating symbol
G - General Audiences
All ages admitted.
No nudity, no sex, no drugs, minimal violence, and limited use of language that goes beyond polite conversation.
PG rating symbol
PG - Parental Guidance Suggested
Some material may not be suitable for children.
May have mild violence, mild language and sexual references, brief nudity, intense images, sexual themes, crude humor or very mild drug references.
PG-13 rating symbol
PG-13 - Parents Strongly Cautioned
Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.
May contain moderate language, minimal strong language, some explicit nudity, intense violence and/or gore, or mild drug content.
R rating symbol
R - Restricted
Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.
May contain very strong language or strong sexual emphasis, strong explicit nudity, strong violence and gore, or strong drug content.
NC-17 rating symbol
NC-17 - No One 17 and Under Admitted
May contain very strong sexual or offensive language, strong explicit nudity, very strong gore or disturbing violence, or graphic drug abuse.

If a film is not submitted for rating, the label NR (Not Rated) is used; however, "NR" is not an official MPAA classification. Films as yet unrated by the MPAA, but that are expected to be submitted for rating, are often advertised with the notice "This Film is Not Yet Rated" or, less frequently, "Rating Pending."

 

Replies

  • wendyb27
    February 23, 2009 at 8:15 AM

    Yes, ratings matter to me, my kids are still quite young (6,3,2) but I always look at ratings.  I screen alot of movies and shows before I show it to my kids.  I think that it is a good habit to get into for down the road.

  • Da1nOnlyDestiny
    February 23, 2009 at 8:16 AM

    I actually do not pay much mind to the ratings, i typically will watch the movie before they do and judge if it is something for my children to watch or not.

  • Da1nOnlyDestiny
    February 23, 2009 at 8:19 AM

    i laugh cause i just thought about this after reading the ratings again, Disney's movies are rated G and I remember when I was younger they would depress me! Animals, people would die, fight, cry, drama drama drama and then my parents wondered why I was so sad all the time. LMAO

  • my2boyz117
    February 23, 2009 at 9:01 AM

    Yes,  I look at the ratings of movies when it comes to my kids watching, I have watched some PG with my 7 yr old such as Super-Hero movies ie.  Spider-Man, Hulk etc..to me there's a differenece between super-heroe's, robots "fighting" eachother and real violence depicted on movies....it depends on the movie.

  • Junebug926
    February 23, 2009 at 9:39 AM

    OMG I'm totally with you on this!!! I remember watching the fox and the hound dog and crying my eyes out!!!! TOTALLY DEPRESSING!! Personally I don't like Disney movies. We don't watch them.

    Quoting Da1nOnlyDestiny:

    i laugh cause i just thought about this after reading the ratings again, Disney's movies are rated G and I remember when I was younger they would depress me! Animals, people would die, fight, cry, drama drama drama and then my parents wondered why I was so sad all the time. LMAO


  • julie323
    February 23, 2009 at 9:43 AM

    I pay attention to the ratings and look at the content. If you ask me I think some of the PG -13 ratings should be rated R.

  • cmarielin
    February 23, 2009 at 10:22 AM

    There are quite a few PG-13 movies my kids aren't allowed to watch, and my youngest is almost 13 - my oldest is 17.  There are some parents who don't use that kind of language in their homes, and I just don't like my kiddos being exposed to so many "teen" movies that glorify sex in teens - as if there are no consequences, such as STD's.  JMHO.

    When hubby and I have seen a great movie with a higher rating, that we see is without all the nudity and sex, and not so much language, but has a good message, we'll let them watch it.  We've let them watch movies about history, even war movies that are historically accurate, if there's no sex and not a lot of language.  They are teenagers, we realize, and we know we can't keep them sheltered from everything.  We know they do hear a lot of garbage at school.  But we're selective about what's seen and heard in our home, and they do have a really strong foundation.

    So I guess we pay moderate attention to their ratings - around here, the movies and shows have to be rated by mom and dad too....LOL!

  • sweetie00
    February 23, 2009 at 12:19 PM

    I think they are screwed up. If a movie has full on sex, it gets an X rating, if it shows someone getting their eyes gashed out, an R rating. WTF?

  • forsythia_18
    February 23, 2009 at 12:25 PM

    I don't believe in such strict censorship.  I'll take the ratings and make a decision based on them but I don't agree with people being so strict at the theaters not letting ANYONE under 17 in a rated R movie without an adult.  dumb.  I was turned away because I had my 16 yr old sister with me and they said they could tell I wasn't her legal guardian.  It's a little ridiculous.  I was pissed.  America has stricter rating systems than other countries and notice how we're the most sexual.  Put a lot of restrictions on something and it makes it all the more alluring.

  • mom_wrhsc
    February 23, 2009 at 1:31 PM

    I do pay attention to the ratings and yes I also think kids are exposed to way too much shit these days. Dh lets 16yr watch whatever he wants and that drives me crazy.

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