Roger Ebert on the Ratings System

Roger Ebert insists it’s time to alter the ratings system from the current classifications of G, PG, PG-13, R, and NC-17 to something like G for general audiences, T for teenagers and A for adults.

It’s time to get pragmatic about this. The current ratings system is useful primarily for the parents of small children who are concerned that images or situations may be disturbing for young minds. They know a G film is harmless and a PG almost certainly is, and a PG-13 may or may not be. It’s an open secret that some naturally PG movies have an element or two thrown in to earn a PG-13, so teenagers aren’t scared off. That’s not a step forward. […]

Mr. Valenti was correct that the MPAA should not evaluate a film as a critic might. In theory, the ratings board should have no opinion on whether “Blue Valentine” is good or not. It should stick to bean counting. But counting beans has led to another controversy that the Weinsteins are currently embroiled in. Their film “The King’s Speech,” the fascinating personal and historical story of George VI’s work with a therapist to overcome a stutter, was rated R because of one scene involving use of the f-word. To be sure, it was used a lot, but probably not more often than the average teenager hears it in a day. Once you’ve heard one f-word, you’ve heard them all.

Ebert’s notion that the only two ratings that matter, R and Not-R, is pretty spot on.  It seems like most movie studios push for PG-13, with either a watered down R movie or a spiced up PG one.  PG-13 attracts the broadest audience possible.

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