There are Serious Flaws in the Movie Rating System

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The "G" rating of Motion Picture Association of America in the movie rating system.

Over the years, people have watched movies with designated ratings, most of which are made to help parents protect their children from a movie’s content.

While the movies are understandably rated, the system and its flaws are far from okay.

“I would rather something be rated more conservatively to protect young minds, eyes, and ears, so I often think movies are not rated strictly enough,” said English teacher and parent Rachel Cullen.

“It depends on the kid. I base it off my child and what I think they can handle, not what a movie is rated,” said math teacher and parent Kathryn O’Hare.

In 1968, the movie system that the United States uses was created to replace the Hays Production Code. The Hays Production Code only gave the Production Code Administration’s approval or disapproval on movies, without any description of a movie’s actual content.

The wide appeal for more movies with adult content led to the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) being created. The MPAA worked with the National Association of Theater Owners (NATO) and the International Film Importers and Distributors of America (IFIDA) to devise a new rating system, ultimately having the goal to help parents protect their children from mature content.

Before the recreation, there was four ratings for movies; now there are five.

According to The Classification and Rating Administration, the ratings are now: G for “General Audience,” PG for “Parental Guidance Suggested: Some material may not be suitable for all children,” PG-13 for “Parents Strongly Cautioned: Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13,” R for “Restricted: Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian,” and NC-17 for “No one 17 and under admitted.”

The body that assigns these ratings is known as the Ratings Board. It consists of 8 to 13 full-time members, and is apart of the Classification and Rating Administration (CARA). All members have some sort of parenting experience so they can look at the movies with a parent’s perspective, according to Entertainment: How Stuff Works.

However, while we do need the rating system, it’s not effective if parents have to do thorough internet searches to find the content about movies. The MPAA doesn’t advertise information about a movie’s content and only places an overall rating.

“I am super cautious about what I allow my children to watch and read. I am very aware that what you hear will eventually come out of your mouth and what you see will stick in your mind. For that reason, I generally keep my children very sheltered and pre-screen or look up movies on Common Sense Media before allowing them to watch,” said Cullen.

The team members of the Ratings Board are all select and have parental experience, but they never quite explain what a specific rating on a movie is for. If a movie has strong language, they never elaborate exactly what the strong language used is. If a movie contains violence, no amount of violence is ever explained, whether it be for five seconds or thirty minutes.

“A lot of times, the context the words are used in can make it worse, or better,” said O’Hare.

Movies tend to have previews for movies that aren’t rated for specific audiences. You could go to a G-rated movie and have previews for a R-rated movie, causing children to become scared or exposing them to movies that could cause misuse of language or objects included in the preview.

“I do not even like to take my children to the movies because often there will be previews for other movies that I think are completely inappropriate, and I do not want my children exposed to that,” said Cullen.

The system has its flaws and if they were worked out, parents and siblings would probably be more willing to take the younger members of their household to movies meant for general audiences. To work out their flaws, ratings should ask for more approval over previews and language in movies that could cause a parent to keep their child from being able to see a movie that is actually appropriate for their age group.