Before watching this video, I really had no idea who the MPAA even was. The logo looked familiar at a glance (considering it’s on all movies), but I didn’t really put two and two together. I didn’t realize that the MPAA has so much control over the movies that we watch! I mean, whoa, this is insane, here I am watching movies all willy-nilly whenever they’re released, but it turns out that a secret group of ‘parents’ is watching them before me? And to top it all off NO ONE KNOWS WHO THEY ARE!? Excuse me? Pardon me? Why do you have the right to rate my movies?
Sure, I can understand why viewer discretion is advised, there are some shows out there that shouldn’t be seen by younger kids, but teenagers, on the other hand, are always going to find porn, drugs, and violence. Dude, the internet is a thing where were the MPAA ‘parents’ when that was invented? I’m confused to say the least. Back on topic however, in terms of ratings being a form of censorship I would have to agree 100% they do censor things in movies-real life things that happen all the time (sex, violence, and drugs). It’s like the MPAA rates these movies based off of a nonexistent scale that limits the public from seeing things that happen ALL THE TIME. What this ends up doing is creating a false sense of reality for the public. People expect a movie life and that isn’t what life is about. Also, the things that movies were rated down for were really weird and random things. If there is going to be a rating system, there needs to be actual guidelines that people can understand and reason with.
Here are the current ratings and what they mean:
G-General (anyone can go)
PG-Parental Guidance suggested (anyone can go, but parents should go with)
PG-13-Parental Guidance under 13 (kids under 13 can’t go without parent)
R-Restricted (kids and teenagers need to have parents with them)
NC-17-no one 17 and under admitted (no one under the age of 17 can go)
By: Logan Aust
I feel confident in saying we’re all familiar with the movie rating system. Take your toddlers to “G” movies, your young children to “PG” films, your preteens to “PG-13” flicks, and leave them with a babysitter for “R” movies. However, there’s a problem with this rating system. In its purest form, it should serve to notify people about the kind of movie they’re going to watch. If you’re watching an “R” rated film, you shouldn’t be surprised to see blood and/or nipples or hear a couple of “Fucks”. These things belong in films that are geared for adults, not that I believe it will affect a child. Separating movies this way is not a form of censorship. But like with anything decent, the implementation is where our rating system falls apart. Especially once you add the human element.
This article provides a decent perspective on the failings of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), the organization responsible for assigning the ratings. The biggest issue stemming from this group is the total secrecy around who it’s members are. Nobody knows who it is that decides what ratings movies should get. We know who is in charge, but there is very little information about who is actually reviewing movies before release. We know they’re white, upper-middle class and childless. In other words, totally unqualified to be the arbiters of decency for all American cinema. Couple that with the fact that they have strong ties to the major American production companies, and you have a secretive group being funded by large corporations with the power to ensure the little guy stays little.
This becomes an even larger problem when you take into account the fact that films play a role in dictating what is normal. You can have all the violence you want in a film, but the tiniest bit of nipple or a hint at a homosexual relationship gets you an “R” rating. The article above shares an example where the movie Clerks received an “NC-17” rating when it was released as an independent film. However, the sequel was released with a major production company and the rating was changed to an “R”. The fact that a movie would receive a lighter rating once it’s attached to a large production company is appalling, and a clear indication that the MPAA requires major reworking. While the system is not a form of censorship in itself, it is being used as a tool to silence unpopular opinions and guarantee the rich stay rich.
By: Austin Christoffersen
So how does the MPAA censor? Well they do, that is for sure. There are so many dumb rules that A. limits creativity and B.Can and has before stopped a message. But one of the most important it can hurt the artist in a couple different ways. That being monetary because they can not advertise the movie to its fullest extent and it can also hurt their image. If a Director makes a film that gets an NC-17 some big studios would not want to really hire them for other things necessarily. I mean the director for Boys Don’t Cry and even a show called gender twist Kimberly Pierce has not done a movie or a show according to her Wikipedia page since 2013 and that was with the movie called Carrie. We also need to look at what else can happen and how we can change things. On things is to allow people to advertise if a movie really gets an NC-17. I mean it cannot be that bad to advertise especially if the theaters will not even let them into the movie. I also think that we really need to loosen all of the ratings a bit. I mean you can not watch a PG movie in school pretty much unless you get a parents consent. Also, we can not have it so you can only say the F-word and not in a sexual way. But let’s see the most recent movie that is out that has an NC-17 and how the French react to it. As you can see in this article some of the movies that we rate are either R or NC-17 but in France, they rate it 12 which means if you are 12 or above this will be a good movie for you to watch. I also do not think we should be so protective over some of the words that they say in movies and especially sex we can teach the kids at a young age what it is and be more open about it. But that is what I have to say about it I think it is time for us to change some things in the Movie industry and that is a good way to do it.
By: Eric Scanlan
The Motion Picture Association of America or MPAA dictate the ratings of films shown in theaters. By doing so they are essentially creating a target audience for these films due to certain restrictions that films with the rating of R and NC-17 have for their viewers. By giving these films ratings, they are also creating a form of censorship as well. This form of censorship in my opinion, is necessary. There are things that I believe children of younger ages should not be exposed to until they reach an age of maturity and can handle graphic images and language that can be considered inappropriate. However, I believe that there should either be a more defined way of receiving a rating or a better understanding of how the rating system works. While watching the documentary in class we saw how a director of a film was angered over the fact that her film received a rating of NC-17 without a clear reason as to why. This led to her film not making a profit due to the content that was in it. Something that I think needs to be addressed is who exactly is giving these films the ratings they are receiving. As of now the members of the MPAA are anonymous and nobody is allowed inside the building to see how things are done. I believe that if the public was made more aware or even had more influence on how films are rated then we would not have issues of unfair ratings or censorship. The article provided here shows the MPAA defending their rating system.
By Taylor Jackson
When I was first started thinking about this question, my original answer was no, the rating system isn’t censorship. It’s merely a way to warn viewers of what kind of content they will be consuming in this specific movie (or video game, or whatever have you). But after watching the MPAA documentary, my thoughts have shifted.
The reason I now believe that the movie rating system is a form of censorship is because content is often left out of a movie or cut, solely to gain a specific rating that will garner more viewers. This isn’t a censorship based on content, it’s a censorship based on economics. As seen in the documentary, some films that are otherwise very artistically or socially progressive may not have the opportunity to be shown in theatres and to gain that amount of viewership because of what they have in their film (language, sexual content, etc.) or what they refuse to take out. It’s honestly bullshit, if you ask me. You shouldn’t be able to restrict art just because it’s not going to get you the biggest bucks, or little Timmy might see a boob for the first time.
Another issue I have with the rating system is that it is done by anonymous people, and that those people are all parents. While I believe that parents should have a say in what their children will be seeing based on ratings, I’m not sure I agree that they should be the ones getting all the power. That’s strictly one, very biased, point of view that is going in to “censoring” our media, and I’m not sure I’m in for it.
Here is an article from wired.com that talks about how much the rating system has changed in the past years, and how much more lenient it has become. My final question, thanks to this article, is that if it’s so lenient now and parents are upset, why do we still have it?
There are clear answers to the question whether or not it is censorship to place ratings on movies. If you are restricting populations due to an extra F-bomb in a film, you are censoring the population from the film, which otherwise, may be a perfectly fit film for said population. The way we censor, is through a randomly selected group of individuals who may see something as simple as the way someone says something or how they interact with another person, the amount of blood, or the language used to be more offensive than others would, therefore giving it a harsher rating. It seems as though ratings often close off the people from seeing film based off ratings, but why would a PG-13 verses a rated R movie give a different assumption on how the film may go. There are plenty of mild rated R films that are only rated R based off of something that would be in a PG-13 movie, but if paired with other factors, is suddenly too much for certain groups. In the article by Glenn Collins titled Guidance or Censorship? New Debate on Rating Films. it discusses how there were to films that were given an X rating, which would drastically effect how the movie would do in box offices, and how even an unrated rating would be more beneficial in theaters. It’s seems as though that the rating regulations we as a society go off of is based on small groups opinions and feels as though are decisions that are not made with an educated mind in film. Additionally, there are other factors that go into it. I have sat through rated PG films hearing children cry and whine about how they are scared or sad, but parents don’t take them out. If someone had rated the film PG-13 based off the potential for it to upset or possible scare some groups, it would drastically shift how we saw the film, and would think it was drastically more inappropriate.
By Corrie Brending
When we think about movie ratings we normally think of G, PG, PG-13 and R. However, there are plenty of movies that are made that are rated outside of these four standard ratings. These movies are rated NC-17 or what use to be rated X.
Giving a movie a rating doesn’t mean your censoring the work, right? Well, how many NC-17 movies have you seen in theaters? How many NC-17 movie trailers do you see while your watching television? Movies that are rated NC-17 are much less widely distributed. They do not tend to be shown in movie theaters or be allowed advertising in mainstream media. This means that the when the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) gives a rating they can decide what is acceptable for the public to see and be distributed. This can understandably be seen as a form of censorship. Why should one organization with an anonymous commitee of people decide what is acceptable for the public to see?
Many people might still suggest that they are not stopping people from seeing these films. If someone really wanted to see an NC-17 film their are ways to watch them. However, they are limiting access to these films, which I think is wrong.
Want to learn more about the MPAA and their rating system? Check out this Wikipedia article.