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April 13th, 2011, 2:20 PM

I just watched a documentary on the film ratings in America and was curious if anyone else had thoughts on this topic. In America the MPAA gives us the following movie ratings:G: General Audiences
PG: Parental Guidance Suggested
PG-13: Parents Strongly Cautioned
R: Restricted
NC-17: No One 17 and under admitted
Other counties have different terms and ranges for their systems, but they're generally similar. Anyway...

What are your feelings on ratings for movies and for media in general?

Are they accurate? Do you follow them? Should they be changed and if so, then how? Share your thoughts and experiences.

April 13th, 2011, 3:56 PM
Well I used to work at a cinema, and the two top end ones in Australia (MA15+ and R18+) MUST be followed when selling tickets.

When I'm watching movies by myself, I followed them, but not for the sake of following them, only because I didn't really have any interest in watching movies with themes which got classified as restricted before I got to that age. In fact, I still don't think I've seen an R18+ film just because I don't really like huge gore or anything like that...

I think they are good guidelines, but I do think that parents are the ones who this applies to the most. It is up to them ultimately to prevent their children from seeing movies that are inappropriate for them, as individuals. All children are different in terms of maturity and how they react to films and stuff. So I think it should be used as guidelines, but can be bent a little bit depending on the individuals and allowing parents to take some sort of control over what their kids see.

April 13th, 2011, 4:08 PM
I think the rating system is important, but I don't think that most of America holds it as high as they should. I used to work at a box office at a movie theater, and I've seen parents bring young children into movies that were nowhere near appropriate for them to watch because they didn't care, because the child put up a fuss, because they don't think it will affect the child, because they think the rating system is meaningless, etc.

But, anyway, back to the movie, I've been wanting to see this movie for a while. I see it on Netflix every time I go to pick out a movie to watch, but it is one of those things there is always something that I'd wanted to watch more than it, so it never gets watched.

April 13th, 2011, 8:54 PM
I think the rating system is important, but I don't think that most of America holds it as high as they should. I used to work at a box office at a movie theater, and I've seen parents bring young children into movies that were nowhere near appropriate for them to watch because they didn't care, because the child put up a fuss, because they don't think it will affect the child, because they think the rating system is meaningless, etc.
I pretty much agree with this 100%. I think the ratings system is important and more parents should be... well, not dumb parents. Ratings aren't just arbitrarily slapped on and just like with video games, parents should be aware of what their children are watching/playing and that's precisely what the ratings and age limits are there for. I hate when people let their kids in to see inappropriate movies and then complain at a later date that their children turned out wrong or something along those lines. :P

Honestly, I don't pay much mind to rating myself, and I never have, simply because I didn't care about R-rated movies or anything when I was a kid and now that I'm old enough to see whatever I want, I still don't really gravitate toward R movies. I do appreciate when a movie warns about content--because if I see something has gore or major violence, I tend to steer clear of it. That sort of thing just makes me uneasy and I know I wouldn't enjoy it.

April 14th, 2011, 3:27 AM
I think that the rating system is important because of the "scary" images that may be present in the movie. Parents don't want their kids to have nightmares about something they saw in something like "Alien vs. Predator."

Mr Cat Dog
April 14th, 2011, 3:28 AM
I really want to see This Film Is Not Yet Rated, as rating systems are a very touchy subject with me: especially the MPAA.

In the UK, the ratings system is run by a group called the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) and their ratings go like this:

U: Universal: all ages admitted
PG:Parental Guidance: all ages admitted, but certain scenes may be unsuitable for children under 8
12A: Under 12s admitted only with a guardian aged 18 or over
15: Only those over 15 are admitted
18: Only those over 18 are admitted

(There's also R18, but that just refers to porn and is more a issue of licensing regulation, due to R18 films only being sold in proper sex shops)

The last big change was the decision in 2002 to turn the old '12' rating, where you had to be 12 or over to see a film, into 12A, with a more discretionary standard on behalf of parents/guardians. That this came out when I was 12 dampened the excitement that I felt upon seeing 12-rated films for the first time, but it has slowly grown on me as time has gone on.

For the most part, I feel this system seems to work well. You hear horror stories regarding horrible censorship requirements by the BBFC in the '70s and even some really famous films - like A Clockwork Orange - were not shown in the UK for fear of either inciting violence or suffering swingeing cuts or bans from the BBFC. Nowadays, however, they're really quite liberal. The recent brouhaha over the classification of The King's Speech hit both sides of the Atlantic, with both the MPAA and the BBFC giving it similar ratings (R and 15 respectively). Harvey Weinstein went to hell and back trying to get them both reduced, but only managed successfully in the UK, where it was reduced down to a 12 - with a warning due to 'strong language in a speech therapy context'.

The King's Speech dilemma - which resulted in a 30-second cut from the film, involving 5 instances of the F-word used in a comedic fashion, in order to get it down to a PG-13 rating - represents my feelings of vitriol towards the MPAA in that they regard strong language and sexual conduct more harshly than violence and gore. None of the Saw films have been rated NC-17 or have even needed to appeal DOWN to an R rating, yet Blue Valentine has one 15 second scene of non-gratuitous, tasteful oral sex and was slumped with the box-office poison rating NC-17. (It was yelled down to an R on appeal by the aforementioned Harvey Weinstein, but it shouldn't have needed to be yelled down in the first place).

Indeed, the NC-17 rating itself isn't the main problem: it's called box-office poison because most TV and national newspapers won't advertise NC-17 films, and most cinema chains won't distribute them 18-rated films in the UK don't have this problem, as cinemas, as well as the media, have long gone past the stigma that 18 = porn, which still seemingly hasn't vanished from the US mindset. (NC-17 is, essentially, the new version of the X rated system of the 70s).

Another good film to watch with regard to film censorship is South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut. That's one of the best deconstructions of the entire mentality of the MPAA, which - if you haven't already guessed - I don't particularly care for.

tl;dr - I like the UK ratings body; I don't like the US ratings body.

April 15th, 2011, 12:15 PM
I'm with everyone that there should be ratings and that people, particularly parents, ought to take them more seriously. I know that when I was younger (maybe 10 or 11) I knew to stay away from rated R movies because I'd seen just one of them that showed someone getting their head chopped off and it was pretty scary for me. I shouldn't have been allowed to see that.

I do have a problem with the way films are rated in the US though. This Film Is Not Yet Rated was pretty entertaining as well as informative. It kind of confirmed what I'd suspected, but never really thought too much about, which is that the MPAA is much more lenient toward violence than sexuality and pretty biased in their view of sexuality on top of that. Some movie directors appear in the documentary and talk about how their movies were slapped with NC-17 ratings when there were far more graphic movies out there which had only gotten R ratings and other problems they had.

One movie in particular that they brought up was But I'm A Cheerleader, which I suppose I could best describe as a kind of coming-of-age gay comedy. It had no violence and only suggested or implied or clothed sexual scenes with no nudity, but got labelled NC-17 anyway... probably because it was gay, but it's not like we can ask because the MPAA keeps its raters secret.

April 16th, 2011, 3:03 AM
It's a necessary thing. Though focusing on your thread title, I do think that all films should be rated before they start advertising them, in all honesty. I think it's an under sight when they don't. Though, at times I do feel films are being a little lax on their ratings. Over here we go from General, Parental guidance, 12's, 15's, 16's (which is like R), and 18's (which is more strict R), but they rated Black Swan as a 15's movie, I honestly thought that it would be somewhat restricted. I would not let my 15 year old (if I had one haha) to go see that film.

Those who rate films have got to be subjective though, so there's always going to be conflicting opinions on what the film should be rated. But like you mentioned Scarf, simply making a film a higher rating due to "gay" themes is a little ridiculous, if anything, it's somewhat educational, and not in a bad way either. But that shows the lack of tolerance amongst media.

Rogue planet
April 17th, 2011, 8:06 AM
I think they are fairly accurate, personally I couldn't think of a better system. I've yet to see a film and think "this isn't rated correctly". Sometimes it's taken too far, the first example I can think of being the editing of Cardcaptor Sakura because Tomoyo's lesbian crush was apparently "inappropriate" for a young Western audience. I read about that about 2 years ago, and it still annoys me. I can't think of any examples in the film industry, but I am sure there are similar instances there as well.

Does it work though? No, of course not. But that's the role of the parents and nobody's going to force anyone to prevent their kid from seeing these types of films. There are so many ways to bypass it that it literally has no effect on restricting the vast majority of children.

My mum was incredibly strict with film ratings, I wasn't allowed to watch PG films until I was about 8 years old and I wasn't ever allowed to watch 16+ films or play 16+ games. Did it work? No, I ended up being obsessed with gore and violence and found it all on the internet instead.

I think it is a necessary system; but all in all, a fairly useless one. Maturity cannot be measured, the effects from either preventing or allowing such films cannot be foreseen, and children cannot be controlled as if they were prisoners; so I really see no effective alternative either.