Thursday, September 28, 2006

Revisiting the Ratings

While ratings aren't the only indicators of a movie's child-worthiness, they are a great first clue to determining the value of a movie to children, especially if you don't want to risk watching it with your child as a means of review. If you're anything like me, you don't have time to sit down and watch a movie by yourself (when are we ever alone anyway?), then watch it with your child. Before you decide to invest your time and money in a film, check the rating. According to The Movie Picture Association of America,
The movie ratings system is a voluntary system operated by the MPAA and the National Association of Theater Owners (NATO). The ratings are given by a board of parents who comprise the Classification and Rating Administration (CARA). CARA's Board members view each film and, after a group discussion, vote on its rating. The ratings are intended to provide parents with advance information so they can decide for themselves which films are appropriate for viewing by their own children. The Board uses the same criteria as any parent making a judgment: theme, language, violence, nudity, sex and drug use are among content areas considered in the decision-making process.

The ratings are a team effort of parents helping one another to protect our children's minds, emotions, values, and - for Christian parents - their souls.

Looking at the new movie genre I discussed in an earlier post, you find that many of the movies are rated PG. Believe it or not, some people don't know what "PG" stands for; it means parental guidance suggested.? Just what does that mean, though? Here's what the officials mean:

This is a film which clearly needs to be examined by parents before they let their children attend. The label PG plainly states parents may consider some material unsuitable for their children, but leaves the parent to make the decision. Parents are warned against sending their children, unseen and without inquiry, to PG-rated movies. The theme of a PG-rated film may itself call for parental guidance. There may be some profanity in these films. There may be some violence or brief nudity. However, these elements are not considered so intense as to require that parents be strongly cautioned beyond the suggestion of parental guidance. There is no drug use content in a PG-rated film. The PG rating, suggesting parental guidance, is thus an alert for examination of a film by parents before deciding on its viewing by their children. Obviously such a line is difficult to draw. In our pluralistic society it is not easy to make judgments without incurring some disagreement. As long as parents know they must exercise parental responsibility, the rating serves as a meaningful guide and as a warning. (emphasis mine)

It's a sneaky little trick. The executives for these movies market them heavily to children, so parents think that they're children's movies, but they're not.

Another fallacy is that if Disney makes it, it's a kid's movie. Take Pirates of the Carribean: Curse of the Black Pearl, for example. There are toys, posters, and school supplies emblazoned with Captain Jack Sparrow just for your kids to enjoy.? My kids got Happy Meals from McDonald's - and Pirates of the Carribean toys. What about an under 3 toy? "Oh these are under 3 toys," I was told.

Wonder what the MPAA rating was for that movie? Remember, these ratings are set by parents. Are you ready for this?

PG-13 is thus a sterner warning to parents, particularly when deciding which movies are not suitable for younger children. Parents, by the rating, are alerted to be very careful about the attendance of their under-teenage children. A PG-13 film is one which, in the view of the Rating Board, leaps beyond the boundaries of the PG rating in theme, violence, nudity, sensuality, language, or other contents, but does not quite fit within the restricted R category. Any drug use content will initially require at least a PG-13 rating. In effect, the PG-13 cautions parents with more stringency than usual to give special attention to this film before they allow their 12-year-olds and younger to attend. If nudity is sexually oriented, the film will generally not be found in the PG-13 category. If violence is too rough or persistent, the film goes into the R (restricted) rating. A film's single use of one of the harsher sexually derived words, though only as an expletive, shall initially require the Rating Board to issue that film at least a PG-13 rating. More than one such expletive must lead the Rating Board to issue a film an R rating, as must even one of these words used in a sexual context. These films can be rated less severely, however, if by a special vote, the Rating Board feels that a lesser rating would more responsibly reflect the opinion of American parents.? (emphasis mine)

Yet, Disney and McDonald's decided, intended, and didmake, market, and sell items related to Pirates of the Caribbean to children and parents of children under the age of 3!

Seems to me Disney's not so much a kid's company anymore...

1 comment:

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