Parents Org Calls for Overhaul of Movie and TV Ratings

mpaa Motion Picture Association of America

The Parents Television Council is calling for an overhaul of movie and TV ratings, which the org says are inaccurate and inconsistent.

Last month, the PTC blasted the TV content ratings system, and its most recent criticism on Wednesday was extended to include the 46-year-old motion picture voluntary ratings.

“In order for the system to work properly, content ratings much be accurate, consistent, transparent and publicly accountable,” said Tim Winter, president of PTC. “The current system is none of that.”

The PTC tied their call for an overhaul of the ratings system to the one-year anniversary of Vice President Joseph Biden’s meetings with reps of the movie and TV business to talk about violence in the media, following the Newtown, Conn., school shootings. Winter contends that the industry “has done nothing” to reduce media violence since then, and he cited a well-publicized study from the Annenberg Public Policy Center and Ohio State University that found that PG-13 rated movies contain as much violence as R-rated movies. The study appeared in Pediatrics, the publication of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

“Parents instinctively protect their children from harmful content because they know that children are impacted by what they see,” Winter said. “But they cannot protect their children by relying on an inaccurate ratings system.”

The MPAA had no comment.

Industry reps have long pointed to research finding an inconclusive connection to media violence and real life violence, even though PTC and other parents orgs have called for additional research and have pointed to findings that there is a correlation between on-screen and actual aggression. The Annenberg study, meanwhile, looked at only the top 30 movies each year, not every movie rated or released.

Last month, the PTC’s criticisms of the TV content ratings was met with pushback from TV Watch, an org made of of several industry members that opposes government control of TV content. Its executive director, Jim Dyke, said that PTC had an “online complaint machine” and had a “history of exaggerated numbers, flawed methodology and misleading or outright false claims” that “suggests they are more interested in their own agenda rather than parents.”

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  1. Duder NME says:

    How about getting rid of the NC-17, since it’s a well known blacklist label for indie films that would otherwise qualify as R or even PG-13.

  2. John Shea says:

    ‘Parents Org’? An interesting choice of phrase. Since most adults are parents almost any group could be called a ‘Parents Org’.

    Trying to curb real violence by curbing imaginary violence is magical thinking of the most primitive kind. For example, absolutely NOBODY was killed in ‘LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD’. Nobody has EVER been killed in a movie except in very rare accidents. Many children seem to know that simple fact better than do some adults.

  3. bfmrdk says:

    It isn’t about censorship, or lack of parenting. The rating system for motion pictures is not run by the government, it is run by the MPAA. No one forced them to use base abbreviations (PG, etc.) to rate film content. That is their choice. I am not even a parent but I think those rating should accurately reflect the overall adult content of a film. What has parents upset is that because studios believe an R rating is bad for box office they haven’t reduced violent content, the MPAA has simply gotten far more lax about giving extreme violence a PG-13 rating.

    31 people were killed in Live Free or Die Hard (most shot, but some had necks broken or were thrown into ventilation fans, etc.) and it was PG-13. The Dark Knight was violent and scary in the first 2 acts and then got downright gruesome as the villain appeared on screen over and over with his face burned off and eyeball nearly hanging out. It was rated PG-13. I could list hundreds of recent examples.

    The Hammer is a sweet indy comedy about golden gloves boxing with no deaths or sex and is rated R for literally a couple of F-words.

    Were I a parent I would be outraged by the ratings system too.

  4. Eric Levengood says:

    How about we just get rid of the ratings system completely, and replace it with a better system: PARENTS! Parents cannot shelter their kids from everything in the world (sorry fundamentalists), but just because someone is hurt by something doesn’t mean we have to sacrifice a director’s vision for that golden PG rating or to be “PC”. Parents Org, stop whining and listen: if you don’t like violent movies, GREAT! Don’t let your kids watch them. But don’t ruin things for the people who DO like those movies. It seems all you want to see is a predictable happy world where theres sun-shining rainbows, everyone is equal, with cheesy humor and politically correct dialogue and characters.

    The best thing you could probably do is to tell your kids about fact and fiction, and teach them about responsibility with the situations brought up in a movie. Political correctness will be the downfall of our society.

  5. Big Daddy D says:

    Anyone remember Dee Snider vs the PMRC? This is just like it. Thank God Dee had a brain in his head.

  6. DG says:

    The last thing we need is government intervention in an industry self-regulated ratings system. Our present system is not perfect, but I remember how bad things were getting with local municipalities steeping into the matter the year before GMRX appeared in November of 1968.

    We now add fairly detailed content explanation boxes at the bottom of our ratings blocks. What more do they want? Censorship?

    Sure, as filmmakers, we want more “consistency”. But, as it stands, the system is no way nearly as bad as it could be.

    Tread carefully here.

  7. I have often felt the same, especially nowadays, these ratings seem to mean nothing. I think that it would be a good idea to reevaluate these ratings, because when it comes to R and PG-13 there really isn’t much difference. I remember reading a long time ago, if there was 1, only 1, F-word in a movie it automatically made it rated R, but that is certainly not the case anymore…

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