Rating is overrated; what is really wrong with the MPAA

Tristan Baez, Writer

This article is rated “R” for realism.

I was recently in line to buy tickets with my 16 year old friend getting ready to see an R rated film. Now, I’m 18 so I don’t have to worry about age limits for buying tickets, but (not to throw anyone under the bus) my friend has gotten into many R rated films without sneaking in.

We walk up to the counter to purchase our tickets when she asks for our ID’s, of course I have no problem, but she replies to my friend, “Son, it says here you don’t turn 17 for another 13 days.” He replies (politely I might add) “I really don’t think I’m going to mature much in the next two weeks, anyway can I still buy my ticket?”

That sad day, we had to go home and ended up watching Frozen for the 30th time (okay not really, but you get the point). So the problem arises, 1) should the age for viewing a “R” film be lowered and 2) should the standards for a film getting such a rating be changed?

As many of you may or may not know the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) is the association that rates both films and trailers (you know the green or red banner before the trailer and/or movie). Now, obviously they are considered the most qualified to do such a job, but there are quite a bit of flaws with the system.

Fun Fact: any PG-13 movie is allowed to use multiple cuss words except that “dreaded” F-Bomb. Each PG-13 film is allowed one F-Bomb, but the second they use two, it’s rated R. Bit ridiculous, right? Right. But someones head getting blown off or hundreds of people getting killed while the city explodes is PG-13.

Another Fun Fact: show one boob, also rated R (with exceptions *ahem* James Cameron). So the MPAA is going to tell me that someone getting shot between the eyes is not as bad as seeing a natural body part? Obviously this specific topic is a popular argument that I won’t get into, but should at least be addressed. Though I don’t believe the idea that violence on TV or in film causes kids to be violent themselves (more or less desensitizes in my opinion), I do think that I’d rather prefer a 13 or 14 year old seeing some nudity versus limbs being chopped off.

That also brings up the question of if the MPAA doesn’t change the way they rate films, what age limit should it be for kids to go to a R rated film. As my friend brought up, setting an age for seeing specific rated films can be a little unreasonable. While films that are clearly NC-17 should remain so, I think it’s the parents responsibility to monitor what their kids are watching. My suggestion is that the MPAA should merely say the things that a film contains (i.e. language, violence, nudity) and let the decision making up to the viewer and/or the parents of a child.

Now I know thats extremely unlikely, so I propose just lowering the age limit to view R movies. Ages 15 to 16 would be appropriate as by that time they have more than likely been exposed to violence, language and partial nudity. If a kid is legally eligible to drive a car (which is ridiculous in and of itself), they should be able to see an R movie.

The MPAA has carefully crafted this rating system for many years and is for the most part effective, but there are many flaws that need to be fixed. Whether be it the age limit or the rating system entirely, there needs to be some change, soon.