Motion Picture Association of America film rating system

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The Motion Picture Association of America film rating system is a system used by the MPAA. It is meant to help parents and movie-goers which movie is suitable for their families and children.

Ratings[change | change source]

Current (since 1990) MPAA movie ratings are:

History of Movie Ratings[change | change source]

The MPA has made many changes to its movie rating system. When the film ratings were created in 1968, it consists of only four movie ratings. From 1968 to 1970, the four ratings were:

  • Rated G - Suggested for general audiences.
  • Rated M - Suggested for mature audiences. Parental discretion advised.
  • Rated R - Restricted. Persons under 16 are not admitted unless accompanied by parent or adult guardian.
  • Rated X - Persons under 16 will not be admitted.

In 1970, the M rating became replaced with "GP" because of the confusion as to whether "M-rated" movies would be appropriate for their children. In addition, the minimum age for R and X-rated movies were raised from 16 to 17. From 1970 to 1972, the movie ratings consisted of four new ratings:

  • Rated G - General Audiences. All ages admitted.
  • Rated GP - Guidance Parental. May contain some suggestive content.
  • Rated R - Restricted. Persons under 17 are not admitted unless accompanied by parent or adult guardian.
  • Rated X - Persons under 17 not admitted.

In 1972, the "GP" rating was renamed to "PG" and renamed to "Parental Guidance Suggested". From 1972 to 1984, the ratings were:

  • Rated G - General Audiences. All ages admitted.
  • Rated PG - Parental Guidance Suggested. Some material may not be suitable for pre-teenagers.
  • Rated R - Restricted. Persons under 17 are not admitted unless accompanied by parent or adult guardian.
  • Rated X - Persons under 17 not admitted.

In 1984, the "PG-13" rating was created after some parents were unhappy about some movies like Gremlins and Temple of Doom being rated PG and felt the content was given the wrong rating. They asked the MPAA to raise their ratings from PG to R. However, the MPAA felt neither films were strong enough to be given an R-rating so as a response, the MPAA introduced the PG-13 rating warning parents some material may be inappropriate for children under 13. From 1984 to 1990, the ratings were:

  • Rated G - General Audiences. All ages admitted.
  • Rated PG - Parental Guidance Suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.
  • Rated PG-13- Parents Strongly Cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.
  • Rated R - Restricted. Persons under 17 are not admitted unless accompanied by parent or adult guardian.
  • Rated X - Persons under 17 not admitted.

In 1990, the X rating had been discontinued and replaced with "NC-17" because some people incorrectly assumed "X" films meant the movie was pornographic. From 1990 to 1994, the ratings were:

  • Rated G - General Audiences. All ages admitted.
  • Rated PG - Parental Guidance Suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.
  • Rated PG-13- Parents Strongly Cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.
  • Rated R - Restricted. Persons under 17 are not admitted unless accompanied by parent or adult guardian.
  • Rated NC-17 - No one under 17 admitted.

In 1995, the minimum age for the NC-17 rating was raised from 17 to 18, and re-worded as "No one 17 and under" to exclude 17 year olds. In the late 2010s, the NC-17 rating was titled "Adults only".

From 1995 to 2014, the ratings were:

  • Rated G - General Audiences. All ages admitted.
  • Rated PG - Parental Guidance Suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.
  • Rated PG-13 - Parents Strongly Cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.
  • Rated R - Restricted. Persons under 17 are not admitted unless accompanied by parent or adult guardian.
  • Rated NC-17 - No one 17 and under admitted.

Since 2014, the rating are:

  • Rated G - General Audiences. All ages admitted.
  • Rated PG - Parental Guidance Suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.
  • Rated PG-13 - Parents Strongly Cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.
  • Rated R - Restricted. Persons under 17 are not admitted unless accompanied by parent or adult guardian.
  • Rated NC-17 - Adults Only. No one 17 and under admitted.

NC-17[change | change source]

The NC-17 rating is the highest rating (even higher than the R-rating) that a film can be given, and it means the movie is for adults only (ages 18 and older) and no one age 17 or younger will be admitted. This rating, prior to 1990, was previously rated X. As the 1980s was ending, the MPA announced that beginning in 1990, the X-rating will be replaced with NC-17.

The NC-17 rating is very rare because most retailers, newspapers, advertisers, streaming service providers (like HBO), and movie theaters refuse to stock, air, or premiere NC-17 rated content. For this reason, movie directors view the NC-17 rating as a death sentence because almost nobody will watch their film so what most directors do is they go back and edit their movies to which the MPAA told what scenes or content gave them the NC-17 rating so they would either cut the scene entirely or modify it to a lesser-form, and submit the movie for a classification again in which most of the time, they successfully get the R-rating. Some examples of NC-17 rated films include Henry & June (1990) and Showgirls (1995). Films are given the NC-17 rating primarily due to their use of sexual activity including nudity, whereas a few of them are given the classification because of their extreme violence that is too cruel to be allowed in an R-rated film.

Prior to 1995, NC-17 stood for "No Children under 17 admitted when 17 was the minimum age for admittance. In 1995, the MPA raised the minimum age from 17 to 18. Beginning with 1995, the rating was retitled for No one 17 and under admitted to exclude 17 year olds.

Difference between R and NC-17[change | change source]

The main difference between an R and NC-17 rating follows:

  • R-rated films allows viewers of any age to be admitted to the feature. However, patrons under the age of 17 are required to be accompanied by their parent or legal guardian to be admitted. Otherwise, they will not be allowed in.
  • NC-17 rated films only allow adults to be admitted to the feature. No one under the age of 18 is allowed admittance.

Related pages[change | change source]

References[change | change source]

  1. http://www.mpaa.org/FlmRat_Ratings.asp
Rating symbol Meaning[1]
G rating symbol
G- General Audiences
All ages admitted
(1968-present)
PG rating symbol
PG- Parental Guidance Suggested
Some material may not be suitable for children
(1972-present)
PG-13 rating symbol
PG-13- Parents Strongly Cautioned
Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13
(1984-present)
R rating symbol
R- Restricted
Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian
(1968-present)
NC-17 rating symbol
NC-17- No One 17 and Under Admitted
(1990–present)
RATED NR- Not Rated
(2008–present)