Why Ratings are Overrated

RATED-REver had that moment?

That moment where you are telling someone about a movie, and that it is actually pretty good. Then you tell them what it is rated.

Then- the gasp *Gasp!* (added for effect) and you get the “Terrible Person” look. Awkwardness.

I think pretty much everyone has had that experience, and I think it is telling just how much our culture puts stock into what is an acceptable movie, and what isn’t.

All based on one little letter.

History and Method of Ratings

Back in 1968, a guy named Jack Valenti replaced the existing system of movie censorship with a new one he called “Ratings.” Included were “G”, “PG”, and “R”. In 1984, the rating of PG-13 was introduced to quote “Not intended to be tied to any specific age, the rating is a stronger note of caution suggesting to parents to further investigate the content of the motion picture before allowing their children to see it.” (source: mpaa.org) These letters came about to aid parents in determining what they desired their child to watch.

These ratings were developed to reflect solely the content of the movies produced. Violence, sexual content, profanity, drugs, alcohol use, and more are taken into consideration when a movie is given a rating by the Mpaa. Their standard however, is wishy-washy at best. See, Their standard changes based on the current culture which is watching the films. What is PG-13 today, could be PG in just a few years. A “R” movie twenty years ago could very well be rated a PG-13 movie today. With a flexible standard of rating things which the culture deems acceptable, they have, in essence, defined the current morality of the culture.

Ratings should not be our Standard.

That’s why it is my opinion the whole culturally based rating system is so incredibly flawed. A movie is not just content, but rather how that content is portrayed. There are many PG-13  rated movies I would rather my younger bros watch, than some PG rated movies I can think of. If your standard of watching movies is based upon the letter the MPAA gives it, then that is flawed.

Our standard is to take every thought captive for Christ- especially in media. Just because something is rated “G” doesn’t mean it is instantly OK to watch. Terrible and destructive messages can be shown through a “G” movie. The Little Mermaid anyone? Now, I realize a “R” rated movie is done so for a reason, often for showing violence in war movies, and sexual content in pointless “comedies” (I use that word to describe a genre- not to say I think they are funny). We should definitely approach these with caution, knowing beforehand what is in the film in terms of content.

That being said, this idea boils down to personal conviction on what you can view without stumbling. Viewing is only half the battle though. Thinking is the other. We need to focus just as much, if not more, on what a film is telling us through the story. Let’s find that balance of  viewing the content and analyzing the message, and stop putting this flawed cultural standard on such a high pedestal.

3 thoughts on “Why Ratings are Overrated

  1. Well said! Ratings can be so misleading, and I personally believe that many G films can be very dangerous, not because they contain adult content, but because they are assumed to be “kid’s films,” and yet they have dangerous and unbiblical messages.

  2. Indeed. A rating should never be the reason that you do or don’t watch something. Personally, I don’t even look at what a movie is rated anymore; I just watch it. If it starts going places I don’t like, I pull up imdb’s content guide for the movie and see if it keeps escalating, and decide from there. I recommend some movies to certain friends that I would never in a million years recommend to someone else; it all depends on you, what you can take/what you are willing to take, and a slew of other factors.

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