Skip to main content

Entertainment: How Ratings Are Assigned and Applied

Regarding regulation of finance, intellectual property, publicity and privacy.

Entertainment: How Ratings Are Assigned and Applied

Studies have shown that movie industry ratings have become more lenient as the population becomes more desensitized daily. Movies are more violent and sexually explicit than ever before. Many parents don’t know what a movie rating means and how it’s determined. This article will tell you exactly how movie ratings are assigned and how they apply. This will help you make a more informed choice when you allow your children to watch the next blockbuster.

The Movie Rating System in the US

The movie rating system in the US was established in 1968. This replaced the Hays Production Code. This code was established in 1934, and it was a set of industry guidelines that major movie studios applied for the self-censorship of film content.

The creation of more films with wide-appeal and adult content led to the formation of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPPA), the International Film Importers and Distributors of America (IFIDA), and the National Association of Theater Owners (NATO). These institutions were given the merit to devise a new rating system to assist parents in protecting their children against inappropriate film content. The rating system originally only had four categories.

Who Assigns These Ratings

The agency that assigns film ratings is the Rating Board, located in Los Angeles. The board has 13 members that hold full-time positions, and they’re also members of the Classification and Rating Administration. Although the president of the MPAA appoints the chairman of the Rating Board, the MPAA has no power over the decisions that the Rating Board makes.

Rating Board members come from various backgrounds, and they all have parenting backgrounds as to be able to make informed decisions as a parent themselves. Each member will watch a film submitted to be rated and assigned their personal rating. Ratings are then discussed, and a group vote is then decided on the final rating.

Producers are given reasons for the board’s decision (if requested), and producers may then decide to re-edit the movie and resubmit it for re-evaluation. Producers may also contact the Appeals Board should they feel the rating is inaccurate. The Appeals Board, which consists of up to 18 movie industry experts, will hear both sides and make a final decision.

It should also be mentioned that a two-thirds Appeals Board majority vote can only retract a rating given by the Rating Board. Lastly, the NATO and MPAA officials monitor the Rating Board’s decisions and provide standard guidelines on how a film should be rated.

Movie Ratings Explained

At present, movies are rated as follows:

R – Restricted

All under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent or an adult guardian. This rating is assigned to movies with very high adult content, including excessive violence, sexual content, drug use, and profanity.

NC-17 – Nobody 18 and Under Admitted

Known initially as X movies, these films are assigned by the boards as movies they believe parents will consider inappropriate for children to view. It indicates that adult content is more extreme than in an R-rated film. Some states allow 17 years. 

G – General Audience

These movies allow for all ages. These films are family-friendly, with no nudity, sexual content, drug use, foul language, and minimal violence. It must be noted that the MPAA doesn’t consider these films as children’s movies.

PG – Parental Guidance

These films may not be suitable for children to watch. The movie may contain content or a theme that could be inappropriate for young children. There could also be some violence, mild nudity, or limited violence. PG-rated films will never include any forms of drug use.

PG13 – Parents Are Strongly Cautioned

The movie may contain images that could be considered inappropriate for young children under the age of 13. This rating was added in 1984 to identify films where parents would not want to expose their children to drug use, violence, nudity, or profanity in the movie. A PG13 film can include harsher sexual words as long as they’re not profanities.





Register to Vote