New Movie Ratings System Discerns Whether That R-Rated Film Includes Harmless Nudity Or Newtown Level Violence


For years the MPAA’s ratings system for movies have been pretty vague — and not all that helpful to parents. Painted with a broad stroke, the ratings system didn’t specify which exact content in the films caused them to be given the ratings they received. There is also the little issue of failing to take into consideration that some parents may not care so much about their children witnessing nudity or bad language — but were more concerned with violence in film. But now the MPAA has announced a revamped ratings system to provide more information to parents, which I think is long overdue.

After the tragedy in Newtown, Vice President Joe Biden met with the leader of the MPAA and the National Association of Theater Owners to adjust the current ratings systems to have more of a focus on the violent content in films. The new system will be more specific to each film and have descriptions of violence, language and sexual content displayed next to the rating:

The new “Check the Box” campaign will highlight descriptions of why a movie received a certain rating. Also, there will be a tag attached to trailers explaining that the trailer is approved to play with the feature they came to see. The campaign also includes a new PSA as well as a new poster that will be displayed at theaters nationwide.

In addition to explanations as to why the movies receives certain ratings, I’d also like to know why a film with a 10-second shot of a naked woman and one that is littered with violence receives the same rating. But for now I guess this will do.

There are already a number of websites that screen movies and give parents information on content. But it will be nice to get information straight from the people whose job it is to actually rate the films.

Although I do hope the new system is more helpful than the PSA created for it. After watching it I was only left wondering if the NC-17 lady and the PG-13 drunk guy meet up later in a film rated X.

(photo: dotshock / Shutterstock)

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  • Paul White

    Good. There’ a lot more gray area of course, but you can’t avoid that entirely.

  • Tea

    I kind of feel like they were already doing this to a degree with R: For graphic violence, strong language, nudity and iguanas. But, if it gets people to stop taking their 5 year old kids to “Pan’s Labyrinth” then it can’t be a bad thing.

    The nudity thing always confused me, too. I post art on a website that has three categories, General, 13+, and 18+. 18+ is for any and all nudity, gore, graphic violence and sexual scenes. I got a 2 week ban for putting a tasteful set of bare nipples (a Courbet master copy) in 13+. One of these things is not like the other…

    • chickadee

      It won’t stop them. A movie ticket is cheaper than a babysitter, and besides, kids don’t remember scary stuff, right? And they are too little to know about sexytimes because basically children are just sentient cantelopes, yes?

    • Tea

      What I’ve usually seen is people flipping out like mad over a stray tit, but graphic violence is a great babysitter and something that boys “Need” to see for some reason. It creeps me out to be honest, exploding heads should not be more okay and natural than a boob or bum.

  • Daisy

    My parents were the opposite. For instance, Lord of the Rings came out when I was in junior high, and they were okay with me watching that even though it was violent (not super gory like Saw or anything, but scary Orcs and battle scenes and whatnot) but pretty much any and all romantic comedies were forbidden, because of sexual suggestiveness.

    • Tea

      This is sadly the standard in the US. Limbs and body parts can fly everywhere, but at the slightest hint of sexuality, everyone goes “Think of the Children!”.

    • EmmaFromÉire

      I’m picturing some sort of James Bond scene.”Right lads, we can place this limb on the table, stick some fingers on the floor, but for God’s sake cover up that lady’s nipples, there’ll be none of that now.”

    • CrazyFor Kate

      In high school we saw Apocalypse Now because it’s basically a different version of Heart of Darkness, which we studied. All the war violence and graphic cruelty? Fine. The approximately two minutes of nudity? EEP HIT FAST-FORWARD THE STUDENTS MUST ONLY SEE FAST-FORWARD BOOBIES BECAUSE THOSE ARE SAFE. The mind, it is boggled.

    • Shea

      When I was in high school, my history teacher planned to show “Schindler’s List”. The school told him that was fine, but he’d have to fast-forward through the bits with naked concentration-camp prisoners, because NUDITY. The teacher thought that was the most utter bullshit ever, sent home a permission slip for parents to sign (explaining that he’d be showing the movie unedited) and showed us the whole thing. The school wasn’t happy, but the man had been at the school forever and was universally beloved, so nothing happened to him. Fortunately.

  • EmmaFromÉire

    I’ve always thought the ratings system was ridiculously vague. Frankly, i’d rather see some titties than a gory gun fight.

  • CW

    I hope that the new ratings system makes more of a distinction between violent films where there is a clear good triumphing over evil message and those that glorify antiheroes.

    • Tea

      Not to be snarky, but usually a plot synopsis or a bit of background research solves this issue, it’s usually not hard to dig up.

  • CrazyFor Kate

    The MPAA system needs a huge overhaul, but so does the society that spawned it. How come violent content gets so much more of a pass than sexuality? How come saying the f-word a few times got The King’s Speech an R-rating? How come I can rent a movie in Canada where the US gives it R and Canada gives it PG? Surely they are not THAT different. Come on, grow up and develop some ability to discern, guys.

  • LiteBrite

    I watched a documentary “This Movie is not yet Rated” awhile back that addresses this very issue. Mostly it was a lot of filmmakers bitching because their movies got an NC-17 rating and they had to cut out film to get an R rating, but the movie did ask this very question: why is nudity in America so heavily censored yet graphic violence gets a pass?

    In Europe, it’s the opposite. A flash of boob or vajayjay doesn’t rate a batting of an eye, but violence is heavily scrutinized and filmmakers are often asked to justify the violence in accordance with the integrity of the film. (Well, that’s what the documentary said anyways.)

    • EmmaFromÉire

      It depends on whether the film was made here or not. I live in Ireland, and any film from the US generally has the same rating as the US gave it. Some films that don’t have a favourable rating get shown in the art house cinemas where anyone with five euro can go see them, regardless of age. The only films given an 18 rating are really violent ones, either continental european or from the US. I’ve never seen a film be given an 18 rating based on nudity alone here.

  • Thrillhouse

    I’ve had a huge issue with the MPAA for quite awhile now. It’s just one of those things that brings out the intense rage in me. To be honest, it doesn’t even make sense, seeing as I’m not American. But I honestly feel as if it’s keeping with the times about as much as the Hays Code would be.

    ANYWAY, I feel like it’s about damn time that they really give a REASON for a rating. I think there’s a lot more wrong with it than lack of explanation, but it’s at least a step in the right direction for them to actually inform the public about a rating so that the ratings actually, you know, have meaning.