Table Talk: Rating Systems – The Movies

In the entertainment world, we see rating systems. Ratings on movies, TV shows, and even video games. I think the only format that doesn’t really have a rating system are books. Stories are separated into three main categories–adults, teens, and children–and then divided into genres. At least, that’s what I think because it’s not like I can pick up a book and on the cover it says “NC-17” as a warning, but the genre “erotica” or “mature content” would probably equal that rating.

So, rating systems. I thought I’d share a little about them, starting with The Movies.

Movie Ratings and their meaning (according to

G – General Audience: Nothing that would offend parents for viewing by children

The Top 5 Grossing G-rated movies: The Lion KingToy Story 3, Finding NemoMonsters Inc.Monster’s University.

Movies in this category should be family friendly and okay for children. I say “should be” because everyone has their own preference and opinion, especially now days when things seem to be hypersensitive. Take, for instance The Lion King. This movie debuted in 1994. I wasn’t even a teenager and my parents definitely allowed us (my siblings and me) to watch it. However, Scar intentionally kills his brother. I mean, come on, he threw him to his death. Some might think that’s a little too intense for their kids and yet it holds a G-rating.

PG – Parental Guidance: Parents urged to give “parental guidance.” May contain some material parents might not like for their young children.

Top 5 Grossing PG-rated movies: Star Wars: Episode OneStar WarsShrek 2ET: Extra Terrestrial, and Frozen.

To me, Frozen could have fallen under a G-rating. I mean, no one in Frozen intentionally kills anyone. And the story sort of follows Disney’s M.O. which is that there’s some tension, a prince, a princess, a possible romance, then a happily ever after (sorry, I know I may be oversimplifying things). But why is this bumped to PG status when The Lion King is rated G?

PG-13 – Parents Strongly Cautioned: Parents are urged to be cautious. Some materials may be inappropriate for pre-teenagers.

Top 5 Grossing PG-13 rated movies: Star Wars: The Force AwakensAvatarTitanicJurassic World, and Marvel’s The Avengers.

R – Restricted: Contains some adult material. Parents are urged to learn more about the film before taking their young children with them.

Top 5 Grossing R rated movies: The Passion of the ChristDeadpoolAmerican SniperThe Matrix Reloaded, and The Hangover.

NC-17 – No one 17 or under is admitted: Clearly adult. No one the age 17 or under is admitted.

Top 5 Grossing NC-17 rated movies: ShowgirlsHenry & June; The Cook, His Wife and Her LoverBad Education; and Lust, Caution.

Often times, we depend on these ratings to judge whether or not we want to watch that movie. In some families, no one can watch any movies with an R-rating and above, but what about The Passion of the Christ where it may teach a bit about the Christian religion. I know it’s a movie and that there is the opinion that it’s fictional, but still there could be some things to learn if you’re a Christian. It’s the same argument I made earlier with The Lion King and Frozen.

So, while we tend to place a lot of weight in this rating systems, sometimes it’s best to do a little more digging and also consider the content of the movie because times change and so does the meaning of the ratings. I was watching the Back to the Future special features (I think. I can’t remember if it was that or a completely separate special), but someone made the argument that in the time period Back to the Future was released (1985), no one questioned why Marty, a teenager in high school, was going over to Doc Brown’s house, which Doc is clearly much older. He mentioned if it was released in today’s world, majority of the populace would see Doc as a pedophile. And that’s a good argument. I know when I watched Back to the Future, in the 90s, I just thought they were friends. Marty may have been working on a project that made him cross paths with Doc and they just got a long well. I mean, there is such a thing as a confidant right? So, I would never have thought “pedophile.” But now, my much older self, sees how that assumption could be made.

Different worlds. You know? Societal views change with time and that’s a good reason to look at content as well as ratings.

All Time Box Offices: Domestic Grosses By MPAA Ratings. Box Office Mojo. Accessed June 21, 2016.

The Classification and Rating Administration. Accessed November 22, 2015.


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