• Though Under Fire, MPAA Refuses to Reform Ratings System

    by  • January 9, 2014 • Misrated, Profanity, Ratings Reform, Sex, Violence • 4 Comments

    One obvious proof of the need for Ratings Reform is the fact that the Motion Picture Association of America still refuses to consider changes to its movie ratings system – despite criticism from those inside and outside the entertainment industry.IFC Center NC-17

    As stated in US News and World Report, the MPAA recently came under attack by two studies from the Annenberg Public Policy Center. One showed that R-rated levels of violence are increasingly appearing in PG-13 rated films. The other demonstrated that the violence in such films is frequently linked to other risky behaviors like sex, smoking, and drinking.

    Those inside the industry – like Harvey Weinstein, who has consistently tried to bully the MPAA into giving PG-13 ratings to his movies containing the f-bomb – criticize the MPAA for restrictions on profanity and sexual content, even though by parental standards, the agency is already too lenient. Regarding Weinstein’s 2010 film The King’s Speech (in which a character went on a lengthy rant spewing the f-word multiple times), Joan Graves, the head of the MPAA’s Classification and Rating Administration, admitted that “We did some outreach to parents to find out if we were on the right track or if we were operating in an outmoded perception of what they thought. It overwhelmingly came back that they don’t want even one F-word in PG-13.” In spite of this, current MPAA policy is to allow one f-word in a PG-13 film, only imposing an R rating if the film features more.

    But while Harvey Weinstein and the rest of the entertainment industry shriek “censorship” and claim the MPAA is too harsh, most parents feel differently. Graves claims that when the MPAA talks to parents, “we find…that they think they’re getting correct information from us.” Yet in response to parents’ complaints that a simple “PG-13” or “R” rating did not provide enough information to make an informed decision for their children, the MPAA created its “Check the Box” campaign, allegedly a revamp of the ratings system. In fact, all “Check the Box” does is enlarge the type on the ratings, and offer a extremely brief list of problematic behaviors. However, most parents find that a “content description” consisting of “contains extreme violence and smoking” is little improvement.

    Graves may stand behind the current system; but as violence, sexual content, and profanity increase in entertainment, it is clear that only a system which is truly accurate, consistent, transparent, and publicly accountable will satisfy the parents who use it to protect their children.



    Christopher Gildemeister is the PTC’s Head of Research Operations. He began as an Entertainment Analyst at the PTC in 2005. From 2007-2016, he was Senior Writer/Editor, responsible for communicating the PTC’s message to the public through newsletters, columns, and the PTC Watchdog blog. Dr. Gildemeister holds a Ph.D. from The Catholic University of America.

    4 Responses to Though Under Fire, MPAA Refuses to Reform Ratings System

    1. April 14, 2017 at 3:44 pm

      The movies that Harvey Weinstein are stupid and they are nothing but trash. With him saying that there is way too much violence and sex in his movies, well what do you expect from it. Especially when you have a man who supports it. He is tearing this country apart. Now if he was in Malaysia, he probably wouldn’t last long. Over there, they have already banned movies that contain sex and violence. And I think it is time for this country to the same. Just before Trump was to take office, I have written him urging him to come down hard on guys like Harvey. Now with a new guy at the helm of the FCC, we now have a better chance of trying to Hollywood to straighten up. Somehow some of the Democrats don’t want the FCC guy to control what is permitted on TV and what is not. On Fox2 here in St. Louis, there are two shows that i don’t like. They are TMZ and DISH Nation. I am now trying to get Fox to air The Joy of Music and How It’s Made to take the places of TMZ and DISH Nation. Not only is sex in the movies and the TV programs but also in music. Back in the days when Mozart, Bach, and Beethoven were alive, there was no sex in the entertainment industry. Some of our coffee shops, restaurants, and grocery stores play modern music and some of the stuff they play sounds suspicious. The FCC suggests that when a store plays music that has suspicious lyrics, the store should be confronted by the FTC. Back in about 1997, i wrote Jim Talent a letter complaining about sex in the entertainment industry and he agreed with me all the way. He stated that he and some of his pals was about ready to go bizerk on Hollywood. But Bill Clinton had ruined everything. Clinton has stated that Hollywood had every right to have as much sex in the entertainment industry as they want.

    2. apl
      October 15, 2016 at 9:55 pm

      Harvey Weinstein’s movies should all be rated either “R” or “X” by the MPAA, with no discussion or input from him. Why cannot a suppose family movie be made without the constant cursing, sexual innuendo, and obscene scenes. And why is there no outrage about the constant demeaning and bigoted Christian bashing in many movies today. Such as seen in Jurassic Park and the scene involving a “Christian” lawyer sitting on a toilet saying the Hail Mary prayer before being killed – an obvious mockery and degrading of Holy Mary, portraying that the Holy Mary cannot save you, relating your religion to sewerage, and the use of a Christian/Catholic character, instead of just a secular one, to be a conniving and cowardice lawyer. This type of Christian bashing is also seen in Transformers, when the corrupt and mean police officer has his shirt torn off, revealing him not wearing just a plain chain or a non-descript medal, but a clearly seen cross to make sure you know that the corrupt and mean police officer is a Christian, not just any cop. Then there are the seemingly never ending sexual type scenes, almost always depicting a woman’s residence and questionable characters, with the movie maker intentionally panning on a clearly seen cross, just to degrade and demean the Christian religion and women. These are just a few examples of the constant Christian bashing in the movies.

    3. Ken
      September 14, 2016 at 11:35 am

      Its, too bad that someone cannot enjoy a movie without all the filth and trash in it, it sickens me what they call a movie nowadays!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    4. William Warfield
      January 13, 2014 at 12:45 pm

      I *always* knew the MPAA rating system was a farce. This *proves* it.

      As I said in another posting, thank the Lord for the Catholic News Service’s movie rating system. The CNS’ system *is* accurate, truthful, *and* transparent, and they *do not* have an appeals board like the MPAA does; i.e. once the CNS makes a rating decision it *cannot* be changed.

      Again, feel free to check them out: http://www.catholicnews.com. Once you open the main page, click on “movie reviews” in the left column; once the reviews page opens there is a link to the explanation of the CNS’ ratings symbols, as well as a listing of the current CNS reviews below that.

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