PG-14, PG-15, PG-16...

Updated 26 weeks ago by Tony Rutherford , HNN Entertainment Editor
PG-14, PG-15, PG-16...
Graphic: Hollywood Reporter

905 teens (12 to 17) have been killed or injured so far in 2018 by gun violence, according to Gun Violence Archive. The Annenberg Public Policy Center (APPC) at the University of Pennsylvania. recently completed a survey (published in part by Hollywood Reporter) concerning parents reaction to gun violence in cinema.

The study demonstrates that most parents are more tolerant of gun violence when it is "justified," i.e. rescue family member, self defense which equates to them deeming a film suitable for their teen. 

APPC suggested that numerous PG-13 films eliminate the consequences of gun violence  (pain, blood) unlike one R-rated. 

The APPC asked the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) for a comment on a need for still another rating category (such as PG-15). They declined to comment.

However, the MPAA or APPC cannot determine what is a suitable age for specific types of content. It's a parents job. These umbrella organizations can only offer general guidance that applies (theoretically) to most cases. 

Stepping away from "gun violence," the rating system warns too of adult language and sexual themes. In essence, does one FU, a brief uncovered nipple, and a blast of bullets equate to similar restrictive designations?

Considering the vast differences in USA values --- far right , moderate, far left --- there is no answer which covers all child rearing philosophies. 

For example, a conservative moviegoer found sexually suggestive scenes involving a teen at a bar with her dad in the cherished "The Glass Castle" objectionable for his teen daughter. They walked out.

Another example, in a science fiction futuristic film, artificial intelligence surveys all movement. A couple convinces the computer that humans have an intimacy that occurs in private with no one watching. Hence, the scene from "Colossus the Forbin Project" has a wide shot where the couple disrobe and then get into bed before the lights go out. The robot shuts off viewing and the couple discuss ways to overthrow the computer's iron fist. 

When released in the 70s, it earned a PG rating (in the absence of a PG-13).  

Similarly, the thrill coasting "Vanishing Point," has a wide shot of a woman riding naked on a motorcycle. The film was PG, then R, then re-rated to PG-13. 

When "All the President's Men" was initially released, the MPAA allowed it to be PG despite one use of the F word.

Nealy obvious from these examples are that the plot details impact the rating. So too would the camera view. Shift from a wide shot to a lingering close up and the desirability for children or teen viewing alters.

Pre-internet, the rating always figured into newspaper , television and radio advertising. Now, the internet allows countless investigation for parents concerned about a film's suitability for THEIR youngster.   Ratings contain brief explanations of the "why". A Google to IMDB, Metacritic, or Rotten Tomatoes and others will supply more detailed info including in some cases clips and stills.

Parents for the survey watched 90-second clips of justified gun violence from PG-13 rated films, including “Live Free or Die Hard,” “White House Down,” “Terminator Salvation” and “Taken.” Or they saw clips of unjustified violence from PG-13 rated films “Skyfall” and “Jack Reacher,” or R-rated films “Sicario” and “Training Day.”

The survey did NOT attempt to surmise whether repeated exposure to intense gun violence (justified and/or unjustified) has a harmful impact on young viewers. 

I suspect that some US parents may agree with the European culture that permits greater tolerance or intimacy and less of violence. 

Bottom line: No additional rating category is needed. Parents must be proactive concerning the films (video games, television, etc.) that their children and younger teens see. For that matter, what about those over 18 who, for instance, have a daily diet of be it gore or sex? 

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