The MPAA, Motion Picture Association of America, announced a change to the movie rating system today, with the “Check the Box” campaign. Aimed at parents, this change will add more information into the ratings box that you see before a preview, movie, or on a movie poster. You can see this change in the description box below; now there is a box to the right of the rating where there will be more descriptions for a parent to make an assessment of a movie.
It is the goal of the MPAA to ensure that parents have as much information available as possible in order for them to make a proper assessment of the movies their children want to see or that they may want to take their children to.
This announcement comes on the heels of the bombings that occurred in Boston during the Boston Marathon April 15th 2013. And the timing is perfect marketing. Culturally, we’ve struggled with violence in films, be it TV, games, or movies. We’ve always feared that life imitates art. We believe that exposure to violence in the arts feeds violence in real life. We do studies, proving there is a correlation, causation, that this must stop. We implement policies to protect against the arts from impacting our lives. I don’t know if it helps or makes a difference, because we still make violent films, films with adult humor, and sexual innuendo that end up in our Blu-ray collections.
In my house policy starts with my wife and with me. We take an active role in deciding what our kids can cannot see. Yes we use ratings systems and we also use our ability to research. We are active in deciding what we think our kids are allowed to see, sometimes seeing the movie first, sometimes by trial and error (oh Ted how you snuck into our house under the radar) and most of the time by knowing our children. My youngest laughed his way through Zombieland, my oldest covered his eyes and left the room. With our oldest it’s been trial and error.It did not take much to give him nightmares; the infamous Lord of the Rings episode still lives on as the bar. My youngest sleepwalks when overstimulated. Lots of PS3 or action isn’t good for him. But it is our responsibility to gauge and evaluate what they can and cannot handle. Each child, family, environment is different, but it requires that parents are involved. Changing or updating the ratings system isn’t going to help.
In the late 70’s and early 80’s my parents were able to use the ratings system at the time. Did I see movies I probably shouldn’t have? Yes! But they took me after doing the research, reading the paper, watching reviews. They took me because they knew me and my brother and knew what affected us.
I’m happy that the MPAA is doing a better job of putting more information into their ratings system, really, because it shows that our society has become so lazy, so grain-fed that they have to have it completely spelled out for them what is acceptable, what a film contains. Because they can’t take the 5 minutes to go out and read some information about the film–information that is free and easily accessed through any modern media device–and they can’t spend 5 minutes with their own children to figure out what makes them tick, what they react to. You can read more about it on the MPAA website.
As always, feel free to discuss this topic further here or on the fwoosh forums.