Why the MPAA should implement a new rating
Controversy over movie ratings is an issue as old as movies themselves: there are countless examples of outrage over rating from the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), especially between PG-13 and R-rated movies. The issues stem from the blurred lines that separate the two ratings. Since teenagers are a large movie-going demographic, in order to maximize their earnings and reach their target audience, creators of blockbuster movies and movies based on franchises commonly try to force their movies to fit the PG-13 criteria. The difference between the two ratings is drastic; movie creators can lose a lot of content trying to force a movie that should be for an older audience into the PG-13 rating.
Recently, the planned 2016 film adaptation of the Marvel comic book "Deadpool" has gained hype among the fans of the series. However, there has been some controversy about the movie's rating because the production team has been considering rating the movie PG-13 despite the fact that Deadpool is an inherently violent character. He can regenerate, so seeing him getting decapitated or losing limbs throughout the series isn't uncommon. The biggest problem with giving Deadpool a rating is that the subject matter is too graphic for a PG-13 rating but too immature for an R rating.
There are certainly a large number of movies that sport undeserved R ratings. One of the most famous examples is the 2010 movie "The King's Speech," a movie that could have had a PG rating were it not for one scene in which the main character uses a long list of profanities in the span of about one minute. Another more recent example is the 2014 movie "Boyhood," in which as much of the swearing is done by teenagers as it is adults. PG-13 movies allow admittance to viewers of all ages, making it difficult for a PG-13 movie to slide by with a lot of expletives. The foul-mouthed characters are allowed to swear on screen, but end up being too young in real life to see themselves swearing.
Conversely, the lack of foul language in PG-13 movies doesn't make them tame. A recent study has shown that the amount of gun violence in PG-13 movies has tripled since 1985, even exceeding the amount seen in recent R-rated movies. There isn't just gun violence, though. For example, the 2012 movie "The Hunger Games" had an incredible amount of bloody violence for its PG-13 rating, masked by shaky, unclear camera work, and the 2011 movie "Sucker Punch" has many scenes involving sexual assault and rape. It is absurd that movies that are allowed just one use of the f-word can show so much graphic violence.
Not all of the world's movie rating systems are as flawed as the MPAA's is. Ratings systems in many European countries, such as the UK, France and Germany, have three age ratings where the US has two: ratings for people aged 12 and up, 15 and up and 18 and up. The intermediate rating for 15-year-olds encapsulates movies that would be too tame for R ratings but too graphic for PG-13 ratings.
The addition of a 15 and older rating in the US would be perfect for movies like "Deadpool,” which are stuck in not-quite-PG-13-or-R limbo. This type of rating would force the MPAA to shy away from their prudishness and leniency towards violence, which is apparent in their current standards for what defines different movie ratings. It could be a great first step for the MPAA towards rating standards that are less ridiculous.
Arthi Vijaykumar. More »