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Current Events & Hot Topics Current Events & Hot Topics

Today's Hot Topic (2/23): Does The Movie Rating System Help? Too Much Sex And Violence?

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."

 

by on Feb. 23, 2009 at 6:42 AM
Replies (11-14):
JJTaylor
by Member on Feb. 23, 2009 at 1:45 PM

Both myself and my husband definitely use and pay attention to movie ratings as well as TV ratings when we decide what our daughter can and cannot watch.  Currently, she is 5, and typically she doesn't get to see anything that isn't G rated, that being said, she typically isn't interested in watching movies or TV shows that have much to do with nonanimated characters. 

She does occasionally watch shows that I find on Discovery, TLC, PBS, etc., that are clean; a week back her and I shared an hour on the couch watching a documentary about glass art by the famous artist Chihuly; she found it just as interesting and educational as I did... however, typically she doesn't want much to do with anything that's not cartoonish. 

We do allow her to have a TV in her room and the only channels she is allowed to watch are Noggin & Sprout; we placed a password protection on her box so she is unable to change to any other stations w/o our permissions/help. 


BlueDolphins3
by Member on Feb. 23, 2009 at 4:56 PM

I always use rating to help me in choosing proper materials for my children (7 and 3 yrs old) to watch. However I've more than seldom have thought the rating system is flawed. There are movies that have a G rating that after seeing I would not allow my children to watch. I'm actually up in the air right now about certain Disney shows that have G ratings. Most of the children my daughter knows are watching High School Musical, Hannah Montana, Camp Rock, etc... but when I look at these shows they contain topics and interactions that I am not comfortable with my 7 yr old seeing. I don't know if this is the old fashioned parent in me or if in fact these shows are more appropriate for children 12+. I think a better rating system would help in instances like this such as having at age after the G rating something like G3+, G8+,G12+...

JJTaylor
by Member on Feb. 23, 2009 at 6:49 PM

I don't think you're that "old Fashioned" or maybe I am too? (hmmmm...) anyways, my daughter, she is almost 6 (2 weeks until then) many of her classmates already know tons about High School Musical, Hannah Montana, Camp Rock, etc., my daughter doesn't watch these movies or shows... none.  She shows little interest, thankfully there isn't much to have to debate with her yet...  the funny thing is, she does know who Hannah Montana is... well, the persona of her; when hubby and I ask Who she is... she replies: "She's a singer!" that's all she knows of her and she has gotten excited about a pair of flip flops with Hannah Montana and recently a girls hand bag/purse with purple swirls all over it... which also said Hannah Montana on it...

I don't see any problem with her not seeing these kinds of things until she is much older too... (my daughter that is).  I also agree that Most of these Disney like shows (some are also Nickelodeon shows) are for the tween population and teen population, Disney and Nickelodeon has been quoted as saying this was why they created such characters and stars... for this generation of kids... they apparently didn't think they had much out there for this market; now we have a flood of everything tween!!!

Quoting BlueDolphins3:

I always use rating to help me in choosing proper materials for my children (7 and 3 yrs old) to watch. However I've more than seldom have thought the rating system is flawed. There are movies that have a G rating that after seeing I would not allow my children to watch. I'm actually up in the air right now about certain Disney shows that have G ratings. Most of the children my daughter knows are watching High School Musical, Hannah Montana, Camp Rock, etc... but when I look at these shows they contain topics and interactions that I am not comfortable with my 7 yr old seeing. I don't know if this is the old fashioned parent in me or if in fact these shows are more appropriate for children 12+. I think a better rating system would help in instances like this such as having at age after the G rating something like G3+, G8+,G12+...


suite_lady
by Member on Feb. 23, 2009 at 10:13 PM

My boys are almost 18 and 15. I'm not worried about the ratings now that they are older. We've always been an open book towards any subject in our household. 

None of us take offense easily. My boys know if they don't understand something that is said, to please come to us for an explanation. No embarrasment whatsoever. We're pretty laid back, however, that is not to be mistaken that we don't care. 

We don't watch too much regular TV anyway. Most of it is boring.

DancingBettyBoop.gif Dancing Betty Boop image by mtnterry

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