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MPAA to Make Minor Changes to Ratings System

Posted on Tuesday, January 23rd, 2007 11:13 AM by Scott Jentsch

Industry publication Variety is reporting that the MPAA is working on some changes to the ratings system that assigns ratings such as "G," "PG," "PG-13," and "R."

The documentary "This Film is Not Yet Rated" took the MPAA to task for its policies and practices regarding the ratings system, but MPAA chief Dan Glickman said that the movie did not cause this change, but admitted that it demonstrated that the MPAA could be more forthcoming with some information surrounding the process.

"The documentary made it clear that we probably haven't done as much as we can to explain how it all works," Glickman told Daily Variety, adding that the voluntary ratings system--devised and implemented by Jack Valenti, his predecessor -- is a "gem," even if it needs some polishing.

To that end, the public soon will have access to information previously unavailable. That includes:

  • For the first time, CARA will post the ratings rules on the MPAA Web site, describing the standards for each rating. The ratings and appeal processes also will be described in detail, along with a link to paperwork needed to submit a film for a rating.
  • Most members of the ratings board will remain anonymous, although CARA will describe the demographic make-up of the board, which is composed of parents. The names of the three senior raters have always been public; now, they will be posted online.

Click the Read link below to read the full article.

The MPAA is also drafting a special notation that can be attached to "R" ratings given to movies that are "absolutely not suitable" for younger kids. The exact language is not yet finalized, nor have any examples of movies that would have been given this extra notation, but I find it hard to come up with an R-rated movie that the average pre-teenager should be seeing in the first place.

Negligent parents aren't suddenly going to snap to attention just because there is a note buried in a ratings box on the movie poster, and such notations may do to movies what the "Explicit Content" sticker did for music. They become a badge of honor for the producers and an easy way to spot the "good" films that youngsters will want to try even harder to get into.

However, since the ratings system has become a censorship tool of sorts (as many newspapers won't advertise NC-17 movies and many theaters won't show them), as well as a creative restriction on movies that are contractually obligated to be released as a certain rating (R-rated content gets pared down in order to get a PG-13 rating), it's a good thing to make the process more transparent and open to scrutiny.

Here at The BigScreen Cinema Guide, we've provided as much information about the ratings given to, and the content of, each movie as possible.

The "Reviews" page for each movie contains information about the MPAA rating given to that movie, the reasons given by the MPAA (violence, language, etc.), and links to services that provide in-depth reviews of the content of movies, with particular attention paid to families and children.

To see an example of this, check out the Reviews page for "The Departed."

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