The MPAA: 50 Years of Movie Ratings

Posted on December 9, 2018 at 10:46 pm

MPAA head Charles Rivkin writes about the first half century of the Motion Picture Association’s Ratings system.

It took a little time but, over the decades, the rating system gained credibility and acceptance with audiences. And this month, as we celebrate the system’s 50th anniversary, it remains the gold standard of voluntary industry self-regulation.

Given the extraordinary changes in our culture, entertainment, and society over the past half century, this anniversary feels particularly hard-earned and special. And if you can measure success by how long it has lasted, then I agree with The Center for Association Leadership which recently called the ratings system “the most famous association initiative of all time.”

We could point to many factors behind that success. But the clearest one of all comes directly from its founding mission: to maintain the trust and confidence of American parents.

I have often complained about the MPAA rating system, but Rivkin is right that it was a huge improvement over the Hays Code, which literally set a time limit for kisses and forbade portrayal of clergy as incompetent or corrupt — and, most importantly, required all movies to be suitable for all audiences. We look forward to continued refinements over the next half century.

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Understanding Media and Pop Culture

This Week in Inscrutable MPAA Movie Ratings

Posted on September 24, 2015 at 12:00 pm

Here is the MPAA rating for “Hotel Transylvania 2”

Rated PG for some scary images, action and rude humor

And here is the rating for the first “Hotel Transylvania”

Rated PG for some rude humor, action and scary images

Can anyone tell me what the difference means?

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Commentary Understanding Media and Pop Culture

MPAA Willing to Consider Banning the F-Word in PG-13 Movies

Posted on August 18, 2011 at 10:52 am

I have consistently criticized the MPAA for allowing the F-word in a PG-13 movie.  It used to be limited to one non-sexual use of the term but now they allow it more than once in some PG-13s.  It makes no sense at all.  Either the word is acceptable for young children or it is not.  Movie studios are cynical in manipulating the MPAA to get the rating they think will sell the most tickets.  So they will throw a bad word into an otherwise-acceptable film so it won’t get a “babyish” PG rating.

Today I am quoted in a new piece in the Huffington Post by Glenn Whipp of AP about the use of the F-word in PG-13 movies.

“Allowing it once or twice just doesn’t make sense to me,” Minow says. “The word is something you’re OK with a child hearing or you’re not. And, still, in 2011, I’d argue that it’s outside the safety zone for children.”

The MPAA’s Joan Graves responded that she is open to revising the rules to prohibit the F-word if she hears from parents who object.  If the language in PG-13 movies bothers you, get in touch with her at:

Joan Graves
MPAA Ratings Board
15301 Ventura Blvd., Building E
Sherman Oaks, California 91403
(818) 995-6600

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Understanding Media and Pop Culture

More Madness from the MPAA Ratings Board

Posted on December 15, 2010 at 11:27 pm

Two movies opening up this week get a PG rating. One is “Yogi Bear,” based on the cartoon series for children about a bear who steals picnic baskets. The other is “Tron: Legacy” a high-tech action film that involves peril, abandonment, deaths of parents, and characters who are destroyed by being shattered into billions of tiny fragments.
Does anyone think this makes sense?

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Commentary Understanding Media and Pop Culture
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