• Former MPAA Raters Turn On Families

    by  • June 4, 2014 • Movies, Ratings Reform • 2 Comments

    Two of the men previously responsible for assigning parental guideline ratings to films have established a new company offering a unique service: helping filmmakers get around the ratings system. ratingsMovie

    The Motion Picture Association of America employs various people to assign ratings (G, PG, PG-13, R, NC-17) to films, in order to assist parents in assessing whether or not the films are appropriate for their children. The identities of the MPAA’s raters are typically kept secret, so that the raters aren’t subjected to undue pressure from the industry. But Howard Fridkin and Barry Freeman, two former raters with 23 years worth of rating experience between them, are planning to make money off of the MPAA’s previously secret process.

    According to The Wrap, after warning filmmakers that “suggested edits can detract from the director’s vision,” Fridkin boasts that “Barry and I, having been longtime raters, are able to catch these issues early on. We can prevent the need for heavy-handed editing.” Because what could possibly be worse than “heavy-handed editing,” like removing f-words from a screenplay?

    The PTC has previously reported the ways in which this ratings system has fallen short; but a pair of raters openly telling filmmakers how to avoid more restrictive ratings is a new low. And what recourse do the parents who rely on the ratings system have? None whatsoever.

    As with the TV content ratings system, only a system which is truly accurate, consistent, transparent, and accountable to the public will make the system valuable to parents.



    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.

    2 Responses to Former MPAA Raters Turn On Families

    1. Cathy
      June 5, 2014 at 2:30 pm

      “What recourse do the parents who rely on the ratings system have?” Stop taking your kids to see PG-13 films. We aren’t helpless and we have choices. I have been getting your emails for a long time and I read all your articles, and I am constantly a bit irritated at the fact that you guys don’t advocate just turning the darn TV off. We killed the cable 3 years ago and we never go to movies that are rated above PG. My husband and I will occasionally go to see a blockbuster like “The Hobbit” but we don’t let our kids go- that’s what baby-sitters are for. Honestly, I know you all are going for the dramatic effect, but it would awesome if once in a while you just said, “Stop WATCHING”. I fill out your forms when you want people to complain to McDonald’s etc for advertising during shows like Family Guy- but what about just saying, “Dont’ watch Family Guy”? My kids don’t even know what Family Guy is. They’ve never seen MTV or Jersey Shore and they don’t know who Lady Gaga is. In our house, we know how to say “no” and the kids aren’t missing anything, I promise you.

      • Christopher Gildemeister
        June 6, 2014 at 8:56 am


        The PTC has always said that parents are the “first line of defense” for their children, and that, ultimately, parents have the most sway over their children’s media habits. We applaud your dedication to safeguarding your children.

        But especially in today’s world of smartphones and other technologies which make possible access to media virtually anywhere at any time, saying “It’s up to the parents” simply isn’t enough. Parents do their best, but they cannot monitor their children every second of every minute of every day. We believe that those who create and profit from entertainment bear responsibility for the content they deliberately choose to place before children.

        While it is tempting to “advocate just turning the darn TV off,” doing so would only protect children at those times when the parent has control over what the children are watching. Once at school, or with friends, the dangerous content would still remain. We seek to reform the entire system, so that kids are safe while consuming media anywhere.

        Honestly, most of the reason we detail the content out there is to inform parents, in the hopes that they WILL “stop watching.” But in a way, the situation is similar to a factory that dumps toxic sludge into the public water supply. Putting up signs saying “don’t drink the water” may help many individuals — but the water’s still poisoned. The better solution is to get the factory to stop doing the poisoning.

        Thank you for your comment.

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