Motion Picture Association of America film rating system

Motion Picture Association of America film rating system

The Motion Picture Association of America's film-rating system is used in the U.S. and its territories to rate a film's thematic and content suitability for certain audiences. The MPAA system applies only to motion pictures that are submitted for rating. Other media (such as television programs and video games) may be rated by other entities. A voluntary system not enforced by law, it is one of various motion picture rating systems used to help parents decide what movies are appropriate for their children.

In the U.S., the MPAA's rating systems are the most-recognized guide for parents regarding the content of movies, and each rating has been trademarked by MPAA so that they are not used outside of motion pictures. The MPAA system has been criticized for the secrecy of its decisions as well as for perceived inconsistencies.[1]

Contrary to popular belief, MPAA ratings carry no force of local, state, or federal law anywhere in the United States. The MPAA's rating system is administered by the Classification & Ratings Administration, which is not a government agency. MPAA ratings only serve as a consumer suggestion by a group of corporate analysts. After screening films, their personal opinions are used to arrive at one of five ratings. Theater owners voluntarily agree to enforce corporate film ratings as determined by the MPAA, which in turn facilitates their access to new film releases.

Films are often released with different versions and different ratings, as versions that may be unprofitable in theaters may have better success in the home entertainment market (see the section entitled "Commercial viability of the NC-17 rating" below).



Since 1990, the MPAA movie ratings have been as follows:

Rating symbol Meaning[2]
G rating symbol
G- General Audiences
All ages admitted
PG rating symbol
PG- Parental Guidance Suggested
Some material may not be suitable for some children
(1978–present; between 1972 and 1977, the word "children" instead read "pre-teenagers.")
PG-13 rating symbol
PG-13- Parents Strongly Cautioned
Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13
R rating symbol
R- Restricted
Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian
(1970–present; during 1968 and 1969, the designated age was 16)
NC-17 rating symbol
NC-17- No One 17 and Under Admitted
(1996–present; between 1990 and 1996, the wording was "No Children Under 17 Admitted")

If a film is not submitted for rating, the label NR (Not Rated) or Unrated is often used. Many older films have the label NR or Unrated, but merely because a film is labelled NR it does not mean that it is suitable for children.


Replacement of Hays Code

Jack Valenti, who had become president of the MPAA in May 1966, deemed the Hays Code -- in place since 1930 and rigorously enforced since July 1, 1934 -- as hopelessly out of date and no longer appropriate for the current film and cultural environment. He felt compelled to take this position by the release of major studio films such as The Pawnbroker (1965), Blow-Up (1966), and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966), which were among the first to feature nudity and profanity.[3]

Valenti felt action was required on the part of the respective studios to edit their films appropriately, but that having to deal with each film one at a time in this manner was awkward and inefficient.[3] The Code was revised in 1966 to include the "SMA" (Suggested for Mature Audiences) advisory as a stopgap measure. However, Valenti realized that a new approach to film rating was needed in response to "the irresistible force of creators determined to make 'their films'", and to avoid "the possible intrusion of government into the movie arena".[3]

On November 1, 1968, the voluntary MPAA film rating system took effect, with three organizations serving as its monitoring and guiding groups: the MPAA, the National Association of Theater Owners (NATO), and the International Film Importers & Distributors of America (IFIDA).[3]

The original movie ratings were:

  • G: General Audiences – Suggested for General Audiences - (all ages)
  • M: Mature Audiences – Suggested for Mature Audiences - Parental Discretion Advised
  • R: Restricted – Persons Under 16 Not Admitted Unless Accompanying Parent or Adult Guardian
  • X: Adults Only - Persons Under 18 will not be Admitted (changed to 17 later that year)


This content classification system originally was to have three ratings with the intention of allowing parents to take their children to any film they choose. However, the National Association of Theater Owners urged the creation of an adults only category, fearful of possible legal problems in local jurisdictions. The "X" rating was not an MPAA trademark: any producer not submitting a movie for MPAA rating could self-apply the "X" rating (or any other symbol or description that was not an MPAA trademark).[3]

With the MPAA's introduction of its rating system, the U.S. was a latecomer as far as film classification was concerned. Countries such as Australia and the United Kingdom had begun this practice earlier in the 20th century.[4]

From M to GP to PG

The M rating was changed because parents were confused as to whether "M"-rated films or "R"-rated films had more intense content. This led to the "GP" rating in January 1970.[5]

The ratings used from 1970 to 1972 were:

  • Rated G: All Ages Admitted. General Audiences.
  • Rated GP: All ages Admitted. Parental Guidance Suggested.
  • Rated R: Restricted. Under 17 Requires Accompanying Parent or Adult Guardian.
  • Rated X: No One Under 17 Admitted.

Also in 1970 the ages of viewers admitted to R- and X-rated movies was raised from 16 to 17. It was then changed from 17 to 18 for X to stop underage kids from seeing pornography. [6][7] However, the age on the X rating varied per the jurisdiction.[citation needed]

By 1972, parents perceived the "GP" rating as not indicative of a film's true content. In 1971, the MPAA added content advisories such as: Contains material not generally suitable for pre-teenagers. In February 1972 the MPAA replaced the GP rating with the new PG rating.[8]

The ratings used from 1972 to 1984 were:

  • Rated G: General Audiences — All Ages Admitted.
  • Rated PG: Parental Guidance Suggested — Some Material May Not be Suitable for Pre-Teenagers.
  • Rated R: Restricted — Under 17 Requires Accompanying Parent or Adult Guardian.
  • Rated X: No One Under 17 Admitted.

By late 1978, the PG rating was reworded, with pre-teenagers being replaced with children.[9][10]

Adoption of PG-13 rating

In 1984, explicit violence and gore in the films Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and Gremlins caused an uproar among parents over their PG rating.[11][12] Their complaints led Hollywood figure Steven Spielberg, director of Temple of Doom and producer of Gremlins, to suggest a new rating to MPAA president Jack Valenti for movies that have too much adult content to be rated PG, but not quite enough to be rated R. Spielberg's suggestion was for an intermediate rating of PG-13 or PG-14.[13] On conferring with cinema owners, Valenti and the MPAA introduced the PG-13 rating on July 1, 1984, indicating that some material may be inappropriate for children under 13. The Spielberg films were never re-rated.

The first film distributed with a PG-13 rating was Red Dawn (1984). Dreamscape and The Woman in Red were released on the same day the following week. The Flamingo Kid (1984) was the first film to receive the rating, but was not released until December 1984.[14][15]

The ratings used from 1984 to 1986 were:

  • Rated G: General Audiences – All Ages Admitted.
  • Rated PG: Parental Guidance Suggested – Some Material May Not be Suitable for Children.
  • Rated PG-13: Parents Are Strongly Cautioned to Give Special Guidance for Attendance of Children Under 13 – Some Material may be Inappropriate for Children Under 13.
  • Rated R: Restricted – Under 17 Requires Accompanying Parent or Adult Guardian.
  • Rated X: No One Under 17 Admitted.

In 1986, the PG-13 rating's wording was changed to: Parents Strongly Cautioned – Some Material May be Inappropriate for Children Under 13.

X is replaced by NC-17

In the rating system's early years, X-rated movies, such as Midnight Cowboy (1969), Fritz the Cat (1972), and Last Tango in Paris (1973) were understood to be non-pornographic films with adult content. However, pornographic films – if rated at all – sometimes self-imposed the non-trademarked X rating. Thus, the X rating (along with the hyperbolic "XXX", typically for hardcore pornography) soon became a synonym for pornography in American mainstream culture.[16]

In 1989, two critically acclaimed art films, The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover and Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, were released featuring very strong adult content. Neither was approved for an R rating, thus limiting their commercial distribution.[17]

On September 27, 1990, the MPAA introduced the rating NC-17 ("No Children Under 17 Admitted") as its official rating for adult-oriented films bearing the MPAA seal.[18] Henry & June was the first film to receive the NC-17 rating.[18][19]

The ratings used from 1990 to the late 1990s were:

  • Rated G: General Audiences – All Ages Admitted.
  • Rated PG: Parental Guidance Suggested – Some Material May Not be Suitable for Children.
  • Rated PG-13: Parents Strongly Cautioned – Some Material May be Inappropriate for Children Under 13.
  • Rated R: Restricted – Under 17 Requires Accompanying Parent or Adult Guardian.
  • Rated NC-17: No Children Under 17 Admitted.

In the late 1990s the NC-17 rating age limit was changed by rewording it from "No Children Under 17 Admitted" to "No One 17 And Under Admitted".[citation needed] In practice, media that refused to advertise X-rated films also refused to advertise NC-17 movies.[citation needed] In addition, large video distribution businesses such as Blockbuster Video and Hollywood Video refused to stock NC-17 movies.[20]

Re-released films

Some films, if re-submitted when re-released, are given a revised rating by the current MPAA.[citation needed] Midnight Cowboy, for example, was rated X when released in 1969, but re-rated (unedited) R in 1971.[citation needed] Films which predated the ratings system (and thus originally had no rating) are sometimes rated when re-released.[citation needed] Examples include the "approved" (under the pre-1968 MPAA) The Manchurian Candidate (1962), which was re-rated PG-13 in 1988,[21] and the previously PG rated Grease (1978) being re-rated PG-13 in 2010.[citation needed]

Additional information for parents

Since September 1990, the MPAA has added brief explanations of why a particular film received an R rating, allowing parents to know what type of content the film contained. For example, the film The Departed is rated R for "Strong Brutal Violence, Pervasive Language, Some Strong Sexual Content, and Drug Material". Sometime later, the MPAA began applying rating explanations for PG, PG-13 and NC-17 films as well.[22]

As of October 2011, most, if not all, films assigned with an official MPAA rating provide reasons as to why they were rated because of said content. Some pre-1990 films may contain rating explanations if re-released for home video.

Advertising materials

The MPAA also rates film trailers, print advertising, posters, and other media used to promote a film. Trailers are commonly referred to as "green band", "yellow band", or "red band" based on the rating given to the trailer by the MPAA. Green, yellow, or red title cards displayed before the start of a trailer indicates the trailer's rating.

  • Green band: approved for all or appropriate audiences; can be shown before a movie with any rating.
  • Yellow band: approved for age-appropriate audiences; Internet trailers only.[23]
  • Red band: approved for restricted audiences; can be shown before R, NC-17 or unrated films.[24]

Rating process


  • If a film uses "one of the harsher sexually derived words" (such as fuck) one to four times, it is routine today for the film to receive a PG-13 rating, provided that the word is used as an expletive and not with a sexual meaning (this was mentioned in Be Cool, when Chili Palmer complains about the movie industry.). Both Back to School and Away from Her contain four uses of "fuck" in non-sexual context. An example of a film that might suggest this criterion is Waiting for Guffman, which contains mostly PG-13 content, yet is rated R (brief strong language) because a man auditioning for a role uses fuck in a sexual context while quoting Raging Bull (the only time it is spoken in the movie). Also, some films are rated R but contain minimal use of the word, such as Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, Run Lola Run, 88 Minutes, and Frost/Nixon. In addition, if a film has PG-13 content, yet uses fuck many times in one scene, then it generally gets an R rating (for example, Planes, Trains, and Automobiles and The King's Speech). Exceptions may be allowed, "by a special vote of the ratings board" where the board feels such an exception would better reflect the sensibilities of American parents. A couple of exceptions were noted: rare films such as Guilty by Suspicion were allowed as many as nine uses of the word; probably because of the precedent set in the 1970s by politically important films such as All the President's Men. All the President's Men was once rated R but then re-rated PG on appeal. It is a common misconception that if a movie uses fuck in a nonsexual context more than once, it will automatically receive an R rating. In reality, PG-13 movies have been allowed two or three uses. Some movies such as Valkyrie, I, Robot, The Social Network, It's A Boy Girl Thing, and The Sum of All Fears each have fuck said more than once, but still received the PG-13 rating. There have been two extreme circumstances so far: Gunner Palace has 42 uses of the word, 2 used sexually,[25] and The Hip Hop Project has 17 uses. Both films were rated PG-13 on appeal from an R rating. Another example of a film not getting an R rating, despite having a sexual use of fuck, is "The 6th Day". The film is rated PG-13 (for strong sci-fi violence, brief strong language, and some sensuality), yet contains a scene in which Arnold Schwarzenegger tells the villain to "go fuck yourself". The possible reason for this is that this is the only use of the word in the film. Precedent for this dates back to the early days of the system, in which an independent film called Saturday Morning (a documentary including interviews with youth) was allowed many extra uses of the word to accommodate its documentary nature without restricting its primary audience. (See Farber's book, described below, for documentation of the Saturday Morning fact.) The word cunt, while rarely used in American films, has warranted an NC-17 on at least one occasion, in the film Tropic of Cancer, although the MPAA has allowed the term pussy to be used in PG-13 films, such as Super 8 and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.


  • A reference to drugs, such as marijuana, usually gets a movie a PG-13 rating at a minimum. A well known example of an otherwise PG movie getting a PG-13 for a drug reference (momentary, along with brief language) is Whale Rider. The film contained only mild profanity but received a PG-13 because of a scene where drug paraphernalia were briefly visible. Critic Roger Ebert criticized the MPAA for the rating and called it "a wild overreaction."[26]
  • In May 2007, the MPAA announced that depictions of cigarette smoking would be considered in a film's rating.[27]

[28] Walt Disney Pictures no longer allows smoking in its movies, or at least in its newer movies, as at least one older movie, 101 Dalmatians, was released uncut on DVD after Disney banned smoking in its films despite the fact that it portrays Cruella de Vil as a fanatic smoker. The 2011 Nickelodeon animated film Rango caused some controversy over its PG rating among anti-smoking advocates. It was argued that the movie showed over sixty depictions of characters smoking in the film, and was therefore inappropriate for the child-friendly PG rating.[29]

Sexual content

  • Shirtless men are allowed in G-rated films, while topless women usually earn at least a PG-13. Before the adaptation of the PG-13 rating, topless women could be seen in several PG-rated films such as some of the ones mentioned below. Even after the PG-13 rating had been implemented, topless women have been featured in PG-rated films, generally if the film depicts it in a cultural or scientific context, such as in the documentary film Babies or if the nudity is not featured in a sexual manner. Sometimes a film featuring topless women can get a PG rating depending on how long it lasts on screen, even if depicting it sexually. Films that contains male rear nudity are more likely to be given a lower rating than if the nudity were female. Male nudity is generally regarded as ribald (i.e. mooning) or natural, while female nudity is generally regarded as sexual. Though if a film does not depict the nudity in a sexual way, it can get a lower rating. When it comes to exposed genitalia, there appears to be a double standard that allows male genitals to be shown much more often and more graphically than female genitals. Some films containing full-frontal male nudity have received PG and PG-13 ratings, such as The Cider House Rules (PG-13), in which a male migrant worker takes a shower and his genitalia are visible for a few seconds, though the scene is very brief and not in a sexual context. Films containing male or female full-frontal nudity usually earn an R rating, or possibly NC-17 if depicted in sexual situations. Some R-rated films have male frontal nudity such as Boogie Nights, Jackass: The Movie, Sideways, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, The Life of Brian and many more. While many films show female full-frontal nudity, in nearly every case, it is mostly the pubic hair that is seen and the actual vulva varies from being not visible to very visible. The end result is that male genitals are more prevalent than female genitals in R-rated films.[clarification needed] As of 2010, the MPAA has added a descriptor of "male nudity" to movies featuring said content.[30]

MPAA Ratings Board

According to This Film Is Not Yet Rated, the members of the board as of December 2005[31] were:

  • Joan Graves, Chair
  • Anthony "Tony" Hey, Senior Rater, 61,
  • Scott Young, Senior Rater, 51,
  • Joann Yatabe, Senior Rater, 61,
  • Matt Ioakimedes, 46,
  • Barry Freeman, 45,
  • Arleen Bates, 44,
  • Joan Worden, 56,
  • Howard Fridkin, 47,
  • Kori Jones, now deceased

and the MPAA Appeals Board members:

Effects of ratings

During the last decade PG ratings have begun to be associated with children's films, and are widely considered to be commercially bad for films targeted at teenagers and adults. For example, the 2004 film Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, which was not targeted at children, received a PG rating, which some believe caused it to underperform at the box office as preteens and teenagers may have brushed it off as a "kiddie flick".[32]

Commercial viability of the NC-17 rating

In its initial years of use, few movies with the NC-17 rating were profitable. Today, the NC-17 rating is found primarily in art house films where patrons are less likely to have a positive or negative impression of the rating. During the controversy about the MPAA's decision to give the film Blue Valentine an NC-17 rating (the Weinstein Company challenged this decision, and the MPAA ended up rewarding the same cut an R rating on appeal), star Ryan Gosling noted that NC-17 films are not allowed wide advertisement and that, given the refusal of major cinema chains like AMC and Regal to show NC-17s, many such films will never be accessible to people who live in markets that do not have art house theatres.

In 1995, United Artists released the big-budget film Showgirls (1995). It became the most widely-distributed movie with an NC-17 rating (showing in 1,388 cinemas simultaneously), but a financial failure that grossed only 45% of its $45 millon budget.[33] This helped establish the perception that the NC-17 rating was commercially untenable.

When the horror film Scream was submitted, it received an NC-17 rating for its graphic violence. However, Miramax Films, which funded the film, refused to release a film with this rating, so director Wes Craven fought long and hard, making many cuts to attempt to get an R rating. In the end, it took a second showing, with the members having an open mind toward the humorous subject matter, to get the wanted rating. Ironically, when the film was released to video, the version shown was the original, uncut version, though that was fixed in subsequent releases.

Requiem for a Dream (2000) was given an NC-17 rating. When Darren Aronofsky refused to edit the film for an R rating, Artisan Entertainment backed him up by releasing an unrated final cut. An R-rated cut was released later.

Some modest successes can be found among NC-17 theatrical releases, however. Fox Searchlight Pictures released the original NC-17-rated American edition of the European movie The Dreamers (2003) in theaters in the United States, and later released both the original NC-17 and the cut R-rated version on DVD. A Fox Searchlight spokesman said the NC-17 rating did not give them much trouble in releasing this film (they had no problem booking it, and only a Mormon-owned newspaper in Salt Lake City refused to take the film's ad), and Fox Searchlight was satisfied with this film's United States box office result.[34] Another notable exception is Bad Education, a NC-17 foreign-language film which grossed $5.2 million in the United States theatrically[35] (a moderate success for a foreign-language film[36]).

With the growth of the home entertainment market since the late 1990s, a successful marketing vehicle for NC-17 films has emerged. Since R ratings are preferred for theatrical exhibition, filmmakers often cut films to meet the requirements. The "uncut" (either unrated or NC-17) version is sometimes released in limited engagements, other formats (such as DVD or Blu-Ray), and in foreign markets. This practice has become commonplace as an enticement to sell the movies for home entertainment use.[citation needed]

As of March 2007, according to Variety, MPAA chairman Dan Glickman had been made aware of the attempts to introduce a new rating, or find ways to reduce the stigma of the NC-17 rating. Film studios have pressured the MPAA to retire the NC-17 rating, because of its likely impact on their film's box office revenue.[37][38]

Legal scholar Julie Hilden wrote that the MPAA has a "masterpiece exception" that it has made for films that would ordinarily earn an NC-17 rating, if not for the broader artistic masterpiece that requires the violence depicted as a part of its message. She cites Saving Private Ryan, with its bloody depiction of the D-Day landings, as an example. This exception is troubling, Hilden argues, because it ignores context and perspective in evaluating other films and favors conventional films over edgier films that contribute newer and more interesting points to public discourse about violence.[39]

Issuance of "R Cards"

Starting in 2004, GKC Theatres (now Carmike Cinemas) had 'R-Cards' that let teens see R-rated films without adult accompaniment. The cards generated much controversy, and Jack Valenti of the MPAA said in a news article: "I think it distorts and ruptures the intent of this voluntary film ratings system. All R-rated films are not alike."[40] The president of the National Association of Theatre Owners, John Fithian, also says that the cards can be harmful. He noted in a news article for the Christian Science Monitor that the R rating is "broad enough to include relatively family-friendly fare such as Billy Elliot and Erin Brockovich (both rated R for language) along with movies that push the extremes of violence, including Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill."[41]. Though the quote is cited correctly, "Billy Elliot", was actually rated PG-13 when it was released on video.


Emphasis on sex versus violence

The movie rating system has had a number of high profile critics. Film critic Roger Ebert argues that the system places too much emphasis on sex while allowing the portrayal of massive amounts of gruesome violence. The uneven emphasis on sex versus violence is echoed by other critics, including David Ansen, as well as many filmmakers.[citation needed] Moreover, Ebert argues that the rating system is geared toward looking at trivial aspects of the movie (such as the number of times a profane word is used) rather than at the general theme of the movie (for example, if the movie realistically depicts the consequences of sex and violence). He has called for an A (adults only) rating, to indicate films high in violence or mature content that should not be marketed to teenagers, but do not have NC-17 levels of sex. He has also called for the NC-17 rating to be removed and have the X rating revived. He felt that everyone understood what X-rated means while fewer people understood what NC-17 meant. He called for ratings A and X to identify whether an adult film is pornographic or not.[citation needed]

MPAA chairman Dan Glickman has disputed these claims, stating that far more films are initially rated NC-17 for violence than for sex but that these are later edited by studios to receive an R rating.[42]

Despite this, an internal critic of the early workings of the ratings system is film critic and writer Stephen Farber, who was a CARA intern for six months during 1969 and 1970. In The Movie Ratings Game,[43] he documents a prejudice against sex in relation to violence. This Film Is Not Yet Rated also points out that four times as many films received an NC-17 rating for sex rather as they did for violence according to the MPAA's own website.

Tougher standards for independent studios

Many critics of the MPAA system, especially independent distributors, have charged that major studios' releases often receive more lenient treatment than independent films. They allege that Saving Private Ryan, with its intense depiction of the D-Day invasion of Normandy, would have earned an NC-17 had it not been a Steven Spielberg film. The independent film Saints and Soldiers, which contains almost no sex (there is a scene where a German soldier is about to rape a French woman), very little profanity, and a minimum of violence, was said to have been rated R for a single clip where a main character is shot and killed, and required modification of just that one scene to receive a PG-13 rating.[44][45]

The comedy Scary Movie, released by a division of The Walt Disney Company's Dimension Films, contained "strong crude sexual humor, language, drug use and violence," including images of ejaculation and an erect penis, but was rated R, to the surprise of many reviewers and audiences; by comparison, the comparatively tame porn spoof Orgazmo, an independent release by South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker, contained "explicit sexual content and dialogue" and received an NC-17 (the only onscreen penis seen is a dildo). As Parker and Stone did not have the money and the time to edit the film, it retained its NC-17 rating. Adam Carolla's movie The Hammer was given a R rating for brief language which prompted him to question why the MPAA would rate the movie R, despite there being one to two uses of fuck, and other minimal profanities, which is mostly considered PG-13 rated fare. A similar incident occurred with the Oscar winning independent film "The King's Speech", which had a rough total of 17 F-bombs used over two brief scenes. The film's subsequent R rating was criticized due to the tame content of the rest of the film, as well as the relative importance to the plot the cursing plays. Eventually, an edited, PG-13 rated version was released. To help counter this imbalance, some studio executives and successful producers who had worked with the MPAA have gone on to form companies that work with filmmakers to submit their films. Examples include Dunn Films and Motion Picture Consulting LLC.[citation needed]

Call for publicizing the standards

Many critics of the system, both conservative and liberal, would like to see the MPAA ratings unveiled and the standards made public. The MPAA has consistently cited nationwide scientific polls (conducted each year by the Opinion Research Corporation of Princeton, New Jersey), which show that parents find the ratings useful. Critics (such as Kirby Dick) respond this proves only that parents find the ratings more useful than nothing at all.[31]

Accusation of "ratings creep"

Although there has always been concern about the content of films,[46] the MPAA has, in recent years, been accused of a "ratings creep", whereby the films that fall into today's ratings categories now contain more objectionable material than those that appeared in the same categories two decades earlier.[47] A study put forward by the Harvard School of Public Health in 2004 concluded that there had been a significant increase in the level of profanity, sex and violence in films released between 1992 and 2003.[48] Kimberly Thompson, director of the study, stated: "The findings demonstrate that ratings creep has occurred over the last decade and that today’s movies contain significantly more violence, sex, and profanity on average than movies of the same rating a decade ago."[48]

Several independent consumer information services have stated that they have perceived a trend in movies containing more objectionable material. In September 2000, the ChildCare Action Project published a report with conclusions similar to that of the Harvard School of Public Health's, where they claimed that their findings indicated a "ratings creep" towards more explicit material.[49]

Questions of relevance managing editor David Chen wrote on the website: "It's time for more people to condemn the MPAA and their outrageous antics. We’re heading towards an age when we don’t need a mommy-like organization to dictate what our delicate sensibilities can and can’t be exposed to. I deeply hope that the MPAA’s irrelevance is imminent." [50] Chicago Tribune movie critic Michael Phillips wrote that the MPAA ratings board "has become foolish and irrevelvant [sic], and its members do not have my interests at heart, or yours. They’re too easy on violence yet bizarrely reactionary when it comes to nudity and language."[51]

Alternative systems

For independent filmmakers

The MPAA system is not mandatory for films produced outside the major studios and therefore can be bypassed. In 2010, the Voluntary Media Rating (known as VoMeR for short) system was created by US-based filmmakers frustrated with the MPAA system, yet do not wish their films released 'unrated.'[52] The Voluntary Media Rating is a self-rating system for film, music and new-media producers. The system has a key feature of two levels of parental admonishment; with Adult under age [ wA < (age) ] and Restricted content under age [ Rc < (age) ]. The admonishment scale is refined by the age number. There are two informative parts to the voluntary self-rating; a Letter+Age code and disclosure details.[52]

The US feature film Spectrauma was the first to adopt the Voluntary Media Rating system with a wA < 14 rating.[52][53]

See also


  1. ^ Bowles, Scott (2007-04-10). "Debating the MPAA's mission". USA Today. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b c d e f
  4. ^ Austin, Bruce A. (1989). "The Movie Rating System". Immediate Seating: A Look at Movie Audiences. Wadsworth Publishing. p. 110. ISBN 0-534-09366-3. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ Siskel, Gene (1970-01-28). "The Movies". Chicago Tribune: p. B5. 
  7. ^ Beck, Joan (1970-02-24). "Children's Film Fare Skimpy". Chicago Tribune: p. B3. 
  8. ^ United Press International (1972-02-03). "New 'PG' Film Rating Clarifies Picture Type". Chicago Tribune: p. W14. 
  9. ^ "The Influence of the MPAA'S Film-Rating System on Motion Picture Attendance: a Pilot Study" in Journal of Psychology, Vol. 106, 1980, by Bruce A. Austin
  10. ^ MPAA rating at end of movie clip on YouTube
  11. ^ "Gremlins in the Rating System" from TIME
  12. ^ The Top 10 Most Inappropriate PG Movies from Spike
  13. ^ Q&A: Steven Spielberg on Indiana Jones from Vanity Fair
  14. ^ The Flamingo Kid (1984) – Trivia from the Internet Movie Database
  15. ^ Dreamscape (1984) – Trivia from the Internet Movie Database
  16. ^ The MPAA Rating Systems
  18. ^ a b "X-Film Rating Dropped and Replaced with NC-17"
  19. ^ "Henry Miller Meets the MPAA"
  20. ^ First Major Film With an NC-17 Rating Is Embraced by the Studio from New York Times
  21. ^ Midnight Cowboy at the Internet Movie Database
  22. ^ Changes in the Rating System
  23. ^ Halbfinger, David (2007-06-13). "Attention, Web Surfers: The Following Film Trailer May Be Racy or Graphic". The New York Times. 
  24. ^
  25. ^ "SCREEN IT! PARENTAL REVIEW: GUNNER PALACE". 2005-03-11. Retrieved 2007-07-26. 
  26. ^ Ebert, Roger (2003-11-16). "Movie Answer Man". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2007-07-26. 
  27. ^ "FILM RATING BOARD TO CONSIDER SMOKING AS A FACTOR" (PDF). MPAA. 2007-05-10. Archived from the original on 2007-06-12. Retrieved 2007-07-26. 
  28. ^ "Universal Pictures Policy Regarding Tobacco Depictions in Films". Universal Studios. 2007-04-16. Retrieved 2008-08-05. 
  29. ^ Rubin, Rita (2011-03-08). "PG-rated 'Rango' has anti-smoking advocates fuming". USA Today. 
  30. ^ Thompson, Brian (2010-10-11). "Spangle Magazine". Spangle Magazine. Retrieved 2011-02-01. 
  31. ^ a b Kirby Dick (2006-01-25). This Film is not Yet Rated (Film). 
  32. ^ Byrne, Bridget (2004-09-20). ""Sky Captain" Takes Flight". E! Online. Archived from the original on 2004-09-22.,1,14962,00.html. Retrieved 2007-07-26. 
  33. ^
  34. ^ NC-17 comes out from hiding from Los Angeles Times
  35. ^ Bad Education performance from Box Office Mojo
  36. ^ Foreign affairs from The Hollywood Reporter
  37. ^ BD Horror News – MPAA Creating 'Heavy-R', A More PC Version of NC-17 from
  38. ^ MPAA Wants New Rating For 'Heavy R' – Cinematical
  39. ^ [|Hilden, Julie] (July 16, 2007). "Free Speech and the Concept of "Torture Porn": Why are Critics So Hostile to "Hostel II"?". FindLaw's Writ. Retrieved 22 March 2011. 
  40. ^ Pinto, Barbara (2004-06-01). "'R-Cards' Let Teens See Racy Movies: Some in Industry Say Cards Defeat Purpose of Ratings". ABC News. Retrieved 2007-07-26. 
  41. ^ Paulson, Amanda (2004-05-24). "Under 17 not admitted without R-card". Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 2007-07-26. 
  42. ^ Cruz, Gilbert (October 30, 2008). "Happy 40th Birthday, Movie Ratings". Time.,8599,1854732,00.html. 
  43. ^ Stephen Farber. The Movie Rating Game. Paperback ed. Public Affairs Press; 1972 [cited October 3, 2011]. ISBN 978-0-8183-0181-0.
  44. ^ "R rating stuns 'Saints' makers". Deseret News.,1249,590041363,00.html. Retrieved 2008-03-15. 
  45. ^ Baggaley, Thomas. "LDS Cinema Gets Better and Gets a Bum Rating". Retrieved 2008-03-15. 
  46. ^ Tobias, Patricia Eliot (November 1999). "Who Put the Sin in Cinema?". Written By. Archived from the original on April 16, 2003. Retrieved September 6, 2010. 
  47. ^ Greydanus, Steven D. (October 24, 2004). "‘Ratings Creep’ – or a Case of ‘Once Bitten, Twice Shy’?". National Catholic Register. Retrieved September 6, 2010. 
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  50. ^ Chen, David (November 8, 2010). "Why the MPAA Should Be Ashamed of Itself". Retrieved October 3, 2011. 
  51. ^ Phillips, Michael (November 2010). [ 10-11-04/entertainment/chi-talking-pictures-1105_1_joan-graves-r-rating-mpaas "There's a word for the MPAA..."]. Chicago Tribune. 10-11-04/entertainment/chi-talking-pictures-1105_1_joan-graves-r-rating-mpaas. [dead link]
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  53. ^ Spectrauma at the Internet Movie Database

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