The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


February 2, 2014

Student Voice: Movie ratings tell the truth?

The $10.9 billion the box office generated over Christmas weekend speaks volumes about the value of movies in our society and the strength they have to even trump holiday traditions.

If you were one of those movie-goers on Christmas Day or frequented the theater throughout the year, how much notice did you take to the movie ratings? Chances are that if you have kids in your family, the Motion Picture Association of America’s (MPAA) ratings had a significant impact upon your movie choices. The MPAA ratings include the G, PG, PG-13, and R labels you see accompanying advertisements.

In the midst of the award season, this controversy affecting America’s greatest form of entertainment has resurfaced. The reality is the MPAA puts more weight on sexual content and profanity than it does on violence, causing an uneven categorization of movies. This has created issues with a myriad of movies, including, most recently, the Oscar-nominated movie “Philomena,” a story of a woman looking for her long lost son.

This otherwise harmless movie was slapped with an R rating due to two uses of extreme profanity, making it so no one under the age of 17 could see the movie without the accompaniment of an adult.

Many movies with an instance of nudity or swearing are rated R, while films with violence are increasingly let to slide a PG-13 rating. Movies know their greatest profits come from teenagers, and a PG-13 rating keeps that market open. But does the cost for teenagers go beyond money?

The normalization of violence has unfortunately become a part of youth culture and will most likely continue with future generations because lower rated PG movies have also seen a spike in violence. Although considered “cartoon violence,” children often cannot differentiate between a cartoon and reality and it could have real effects. While these ratings are suggestions and it’s ultimately the decision of parents to choose what movies they want their kids to see, the MPAA claims it provides parents with information about the content of movies. These parents, however, are often mislead.

It is time for this outdated rating system to either receive a major overhaul or be replaced completely.

Breanna Kramer,

Mifflinburg High School

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