So Many Movies, So Few Choices

            Have you ever sat down to a movie that was PG-13 and wondered how it isn’t rated R? Or even a PG movie that seems as if it should be PG-13 at the least? Are the movie ratings as meaningful as they are made out to be?

            On the weekend many people enjoy escaping real life for a couple of hours with a dramatic, suspenseful, or funny movie. Movies are one of the most popular outings for friends and families in America. It can be extremely limiting to those going out to enjoy an afternoon/evening of movie watching when at least half of the movies portray scenes of terrible violence, uncomfortable sexual scenes, or a barrage of vulgar speech. After checking the movies that were out this weekend, there were: 7 R ratings, 8 PG-13 ratings, and a single PG movie. Not bad, huh? This is a better set of options than only a couple weeks ago where there were only two PG-13 movies and the rest were R.

            How movies are rated has changed much over the years. Originally there was G, PG, R, and X. PG encompassed a large amount of the movies that the general crowd would go and see. When the PG-13 rating was released (beginning with ‘Red Dawn’) in 1984 a stereotype began that PG was merely for children which increased the number of PG-13 movies produced.

             About the time that PG-13 originated, rated X became NC-17. Directors jumped on the chance to start lowering ratings. Things that had previously been X were made NC-17, and things that were R were made PG-13, so that these movies had an even better chance to pull in a larger crowd. Movies that had once been considered inappropriate for certain audiences were now targeted for the larger general audience. “[Filmmaker] Kirby Dick says that the ratings board is deliberately opaque, refusing to identify its members or their criteria. Dick found one strict rule for language — a formula for the number of allowable f-words — but no standards on sex and violence. “They want to make sure that they can get their films to be PG-13,” Dick says. “The vaguer the categories are the more they are able to fudge the ratings and push their films into the PG-13 category.”

            Movies have what Malcolm Gladwell (author of “The Tipping Point”) would describe as the “stickiness factor”. This is the factor that makes the movie memorable, so that it stays in your mind. This can be used to influence us for good or bad. “The information and entertainment provided through these media can increase your ability to learn, communicate, and become a force for good in the world. However, some information and entertainment can lead you away from righteous living” (as stated in the For Strength of Youth pamphlet).

            So how is that movies are not receiving their ‘rightful’ rating?

            Dick feels it wouldn’t be difficult to provide parents with better ratings, if the industry wanted to. “They should really break it out by category — sex, violence, profanity, drug use, mature content — and very precisely, but quickly, list what’s in each of those categories so parents can decide.”

            The ratings system plays into Hollywood politics, Dick charges, since the major studios are in the position of rating their own films and their competitors’. “That puts them in the position to rate their films less harshly, and allow them make more money.”

            It has come to a point where individuals must police themselves rather than trust the rating given. My own family uses kidsinmind.com as our source of information. We even invested in a Clearplay DVD system that filters out language and scenes based on the settings selected by the user so that we could watch a show such as Transformers, which is targeted for kids, but still has inappropriate content in it, comfortably in our own home.

            What are your standards when it comes to choosing the movies you watch? Do we settle for Hollywood’s idea of standards and what they want to make accessible?

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9 thoughts on “So Many Movies, So Few Choices

  1. I hate it when a movie says its PG-13, but its really bad. Then, there is one movie that is rated R because the main character had Turrets, and went off on his Turrets spell, and said pretty bad things, but if you borrowed the video you could mute it. The rest of the movie was fabulous, though…

  2. I find it pretty ridiculous that I sound like a pirate when look at movies. “R… R… R…. R… R…. PG-13 … R… R… R… PG-13…” Seriously, That has got to stop. Who ever cares for R movies (no judgement to anyone who does watch R-movies reading this. Just a stereotype from my head) thinks that the only thing out there is the worst things in movies: sex, obscene language, violence…. yep. There’s better topics.

    This even boils down to video games, too violent and too sexual played too often. As an EXTREME example, a Junior in Cleveland murdered his mother and almost killed his father because they took away his Halo 3 game, which was his escape from the real world. Our world is just becoming more and more dangerous. Think back to Columbine , April 20th, 1999: the first major school shooting everyone knows, right?. Even in the 1870s, they had gun problems: “The hills west of town are not safe for pedestrians after school hours. Nearly every school-boy carries a pistol, and the power of these pistols range from the harmless six-bit auction concern to the deadly Colt’s six-shooter…” (Los Angeles Herald, 11 September 1874). With so many terrible things happening in our world, we need our media to lift us, not tear us into terrible people.

    What we enjoy typically reflects who we are. If we want to watch an R-rated movies, then are conscious begins to reflect an R-rated movie. Elder H. Burke Peterson said “Again I say, leave it alone. Turn it off, walk away from it, burn it, erase it, destroy it. I know it is hard counsel we give when we say movies that are R-rated, and many with PG-13 ratings, are produced by satanic influences. Our standards should not be dictated by the rating system. I repeat, because of what they really represent, these types of movies, music, tapes, etc. serve the purposes of the author of all darkness” (Gen. Conf. Oct. 1993).

    So, as a stance AGAINST the R- rated movies spewing out, when the occasional G- rated or PG- rated movie comes out, and it might look good GO SEE IT. SUPPORT the “lower” ratings to support your standards. Why watch the trailer of an R-rated movie if you’re not going to see it anyway?

    When “Soul Surfer” came out, it was almost PG- 13 when the producers and film-makers of one company tried to produce it by adding drinking and cursing and things. But it was important to the family of Bethany Hamilton to not have any of that, so they found a new company to produce the film, one that would keep the Christianity that inspired Bethany through her trials and keep it to a PG rating.

    I know that I can censor my entertainment so others view me as an inspiring, clean person.

    http://blog.cleveland.com/metro/2008/12/boy_killed_mom_and_shot_dad_ov.html
    http://blog.cleveland.com/metro/2007/10/loving_child_called_a_killer.html
    http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,100894,00.html
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_school_shootings_in_the_United_States
    http://www.mpaa.org/ratings/what-each-rating-means
    http://www.nauvoo.com/library/card-r-rated-movie.html

    1. You are completely right, it’s in video games too. It’s also in books and music, there is some pretty gruesome stuff and unwanted topics in a lot of today’s media. Stuff that is “cleared” for kids and even some wrong stuff for teens and adults!
      And Ty, you’re completely right that if someone with common sense, a clean conscience, and high moral standards then there could most likely be more options for way better entertainment.

  3. Clean AND entertaining movies or tv shows have become a little scarce. Recently I babysat for some kids in my church and they requested to watch a show that their parents said was okay for them to watch–a Disney Channel show, and I was a little troubled by some of the crude humor and vague refferences to topics that shouldn’t be discussed on a children’s show.
    I really like how you gave the solutions for how your family keeps the movies clean for all of you, job well done.

  4. It is easy for me to know when a movie is way beyond my moral limits because it will say up front that it is rated “R”. It’s the PG-13 movies that I look out for most. To paraphrase one of the things you said; things that were once rated “R” are noted as more acceptable in today’s society, therefore they are given a softer rating. This softer rating does not always detract from the overall “lack of taste.”
    Why doesn’t somebody with a sense of morality or a conscience take charge in the film industry? I’m sure that if somebody with values was making the decisions, children wouldn’t be exposed to such violent, crude, vulgar, or immoral media at such a young age. Maybe then would the youth of America and the world be less inclined to crime and sin!

  5. That is exactly what I see at the movies; allmost all rated R movies. That is also almost ALL I see on comericials.

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