Why movie ratings are inconsistent

The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) is responsible for rating movies and they are doing it very inconsistently. Movies must pay a fee to be rated by the MPAA and since almost no mainstream theater will show an unrated movie, most big movies are rated.

The MPAA gathers a group of eight to thirteen random people with no connections to the movie industry and shows them a movie.  Those random strangers give the movie a rating based on their own morals, and twelve people cannot represent the ideas of the entire population.

These ratings are horribly inconsistent because of preconceived ideas about sex, profanity and violence.  The MPAA is more lenient towards unnecessary violence than it is towards profanity and sex.  Movies that have massive amounts of blood and gore might receive a PG-13 rating because they have no profanity. While a movie with one sex scene that shows no nudity and still has no profanity will probably receive an R rating.

The 2012 Batman movie “The Dark Knight Rises” is a very dark and ominous movie.  Bane and Batman have a violent fight and Bane ends up breaking Batman’s back over his knee.  There were many more scenes of violent fights yet this movie only received a PG-13 rating.

The context of profanity and violence is also important to consider.  A movie that has unnecessary blood should be more harshly rated than a movie that violence is an important part of the story.  The movie “Bully” which was released in 2011 depicts school age children spitting profanities at other kids.  The context of this profanity was meant to teach a lesson to kids about how hurtful words can be, but kids could not go see this movie because it was rated R.

Movies should be rated based on three different categories: profanity, violence, and sexual content.  The context of all these categories should be taken into consideration when rating movies.  If a movie is using unnecessary violence, profanity, or sexual content, it should be rated more harshly, but if it is important to the plot it should be given some leeway.

For example, war movies that require gruesome violence to show the horrors of wars should have some exceptions from a harsh rating in the violence category.  Without violence, war movies that are trying to show how terrible war is would not be able to get their message across as easily.

Ultimately the decision on whether to let kids watch a certain movie should be determined by the parents of that child.  If parents think a movie is too inappropriate for their kids to see, then they should not allow them to see the movie.  It is the parents’ responsibility to do research about a movie and deem whether their kids could mentally and emotionally handle it.