Stop Marketing of PG-13 Movies to Young Children

Posted on August 4, 2009 at 10:16 am

The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood is circulating a petition to protest the marketing of GI Joe action figures promoting the new PG-13 movie “GI Joe.”
Yes, GI Joe was a toy for decades before the movie. But these action figures, specifically tied to characters in this very violent film are specifically targeted at young children to promote a movie that is completely inappropriate for them.

Since March, CCFC has logged over 3,000 ads on children’s TV channels for five PG-13 films: Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen; Terminator Salvation; Star Trek; X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and the upcoming GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra. Last month CCFC sent another letter to the FTC documenting the continued failure of the movie industry’s self-regulation, and urging the Commission to take action.

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13 Replies to “Stop Marketing of PG-13 Movies to Young Children”

  1. Why does the FTC need to jump in and act like all our parents? If you don’t approve of the marketing of PG-13 movies to your children, DON’T let your kids go see the movies. When they ask about the films, explain AS PARENTS, why the answer is no. When they whine and complain and push to see the film. act LIKE PARENTS and say no. Stop making the government do your job AS PARENTS!!!

  2. RevPauli, I appreciate your comment and I agree entirely that it is the parents’ job to protect their children from inappropriate material. I also believe that a part of that job is sending as clear and powerful a message as possible to corporations that try to circumvent the restrictions on advertising PG-13 films to children that this behavior is unacceptable. A good lesson for children is seeing their parents stand up for what is right in addition to establishing boundaries within their own home.

  3. In the beginning GI Joe was for kids. But the kids grew up and GI Joe culture adapted to meet their age. Then came the movie – a not-for-kids GI Joe. But it all started as a toy for kids.
    So it is with many of the PG-13 movies and toy tie-ins. Maybe they need to develop a line of Happy meals for adults, with the toys in their boxes (I have all the Star Trek glasses from BK and many of the Star Wars toys from McD), and keep a place for the original intent, a toy and a story for kids.
    Its not likely, but its and idea.

  4. Nell,
    I completely agree that there has to be a more firm line drawn when it comes to where PG-13 ads can be shown. Far too many times you see these ads on television channels and publications meant for VERY young children.
    Everyone knows from the MPAA to the guy getting the director his coffee if a PG-13 movie is appropriate for young kids. Some may not be too bad…but clearly films like the ones listed here in your piece ARE NOT meant for young children and ads for these movies should NOT be in places that are meant for the young kids.
    Teenagers don’t watch those channels or read those publications, so there is NO need to advertise there. It is strictly to get money from the parents who either don’t care or don’t do the necessary homework to make sure they protect their kids. After all, there will be a LOT of 6-10 yr-olds in the seats when GI Joe comes out and it is not meant for kids so young.
    True, it’s a parent’s job NOT to take the kids to see it…but it’s pretty sleazy marketing to try to squeeze some more ticket sales out of the parents who don’t. Besides, if you have a very mature 10 yr old and you believe he/she can see the film…you’ll already know about the movie…you don’t need to see a trailer on a kid’s channel to be informed.
    That’s my couple of pennies anyway,
    Great piece as always…keep us updated as the CCFC keeps fighting this battle.
    Tom Clocker
    Baltimore Movie Examiner

  5. I agree that bombarding children with PG-13 movie ads is irresponsible of the advertising agencies. I am sure their take on it is that is their job to advertize and the parents responsibility to estalish family guide lines and follow through with it. However, the reality is that many parents do not accept this responsibility. So, I guess the question becomes should the ad agencies start making morale judgments ? Their interest is in promotiong and making money and as long as that happens “morale” responsibility will take a back seat. When they finally start to see a decline in their income, then they will start to make a change in their approach. In the mean time, it is imporetant for parents to make adjustments in their approach to become familiar with what content is in the films and decide whether or not it is appropriate for their child. There are enough sites, including this one, where the film can be researched. As for myself, I’m all for letting these agencies know I don’t find it acceptable to market PG-13 films to children.

  6. I have already warned my children to avoid the movie PG-13. I didn’t except this news in blogs . Very good collection and thanks for sharing .

  7. Dear Nell: The most deceptive of all the Valenti ratings (and they all are!) is PG13. As I see it, they come in two categories. First: Originally child friendly stories that the producers decided to “dirty up” a little in order to appeal to young adults. Second: And R-rated grungefest what was strategically snipped here and there so that it could lure in clueless families with a clever trailer. “POTC: At World’s End” is an example of the first. The other kind is omnipresent! The worst of those is usually when they use once-clean child stars as an additional draw. And all involve politicking with MPAA to include (it’s said!) a little money changing hands. Wouldn’t it be great to go back to the former system? Either it’s fit for all audiences or its not… and if it’s not, you’ll have to pick it up at the all-night “news stand” downtown.

  8. Thank you, Mr. Pilling. You are quite right — I often call the PG-13 the no man’s land of the rating system. I am horrified by the cynical manipulation of the ratings process. It is designed to look meaningful while making the movies with mature material even more appealing to underage kids.

  9. But before there was PG-13, a lot of PG movies were truly not appropriate for kids. PG was the no-man’s-land. An example of this is Ghostbusters, PG when it came out, but actually full of innuendo and language, including the word, d*ck. Now, PG is pretty much appropriate for late elementary and early middle school, and it’s probably a good idea to keep kids away from PG-13 until they *are* at least 13. The problem is, lots of parents don’t, so you have situations like my 10-year-old begging to see Avatar because all her friends have seen it. That’s what makes your ratings so valuable. I told my daughter what you said about the movie, and she agreed she didn’t want to see it. I can think of few PG13s that are appropriate for younger kids.

  10. Exactly right, Alexandra, which is why I try to give parents more information. Even within the PG and PG-13 ratings there are wide variations in content. Many thanks for the kind words. I do this as a labor of love and feedback like yours — and parents like you — are what make it all worthwhile.

  11. If I had kids, what I let them watch would depend on content, not rating. For example, I’d have no problem letting my kids watch Iron Man because the action is mostly bloodless, but I’d think twice before I let them watch Daredevil because that film is darker and the violence is more brutal. In my opinion, that’s the way to be responsible.

  12. Thanks, Vince, for this thoughtful assessment. I agree and that is what I try to convey in my reviews — the context and not just a check-list.

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