Soapbox Rant: Movie Ratings are Bunk

Last weekend, Havarti and I went to see The King’s Speech. Great movie. A compelling true story, fabulous acting, interesting filming techniques, the works. I found myself wishing I’d brought our 10-year-old to see it. And that’s when I found out it was rated R.

Honestly, I racked my brain to find what on earth could possibly give that movie an R rating. The only – and I mean ONLY – inappropriate parts of that movie are some F-bombs, which aren’t even used in an offensive or crude way. The king finds that he doesn’t stutter when we swears, so he sometimes throws out profanity at random to get through his speech therapy sessions. It’s actually really funny, and not at all something I’d mind my 10-year-old seeing. She knows what the F-word is, and in this context it’s completely benign. It’s not describing copulation, not being used to demean anyone, and not being spewed in anger or vitriol or any other way that might be disturbing to young hearts and minds.

The only thing I can figure is that there’s a certain quota for F-bombs that can be allowed in a PG-13 movie, and this movie surpassed it. What a crappy system of rating.

I’ve seen PG-13 movies showing people having sex, without nudity but with full-on sound effect. Super sexual, crude humor that even makes me uncomfortable. Plenty of glorified drug and alcohol abuse. And let’s not even get started on violence.

(A bit of a side note: I actually thought the fifth Harry Potter movie deserved a PG-13 rating with Ron’s meaningless make-out sessions and some scary, bloody scenes that I’m sure would have disturbed my kids. Oh, and when that girl spun up in the air all wide-eyed and deathly after touching the Horcrux necklace? That was downright freaky. Perhaps barely PG-13, but I wouldn’t have pegged it PG with the likes of Shrek or The Princess Bride. End of side note.)

What is it that we’re trying to protect teens from with an R rating? Or preteens with PG-13? When You Don’t Mess with the Zohan is PG-13, and The King’s Speech is R, there’s something seriously wrong. Do formulaic ratings systems that don’t take into consideration the messages being digested by the viewers really do anyone any good?

Obviously, parents should use their own discretion, pay attention to what their kids are watching, and discuss things they find objectionable. But I worry about parents who don’t pay that much attention, and who don’t talk over these things with their kids. I worry that parents see a PG-13 rating and think that means it’s probably fine. It couldn’t be THAT bad, right? Should a 13-year-old be watching the likes of The Zohan or Couples Retreat without some parental guidance? I don’t have a 13-year-old yet, but I can’t imagine being comfortable with that.

Am I the only one who thinks this way?

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Annie writes about life, motherhood, world issues, beautiful places, and anything else that tickles her brain. On good days, she enjoys juggling life with her husband and homeschooling her children. On bad days, she binges on chocolate chips and dreams of traveling the world alone.

Comments 4

  1. There’s a documentary about this actually, called This Film is Not Yet Rated. It’s about the MPAA board that rates films and the wildly divergent criteria they use to rate films. It’s on Netflix Instant Play if you have that. Thank you for your blog!

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