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Movie Ratings

Final Film lecture

Drew Hamilton

on 3 January 2013

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Transcript of Movie Ratings

Movie Ratings Beginning of Ratings Local Ratings
Until the 1920s, there was no uniform ratings system for films
Cities and communities passed their own laws to regulate which films they would allow to be shown in its theaters
1907; Chicago was the first city to do this; created a local board to regulate or sometimes censor films
Motion picture industry tired of this and began what has become the current movie rating system Universal Standards In 1922, the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors Association was formed
Created to develop standards to keep cities and towns from controlling the content of movies
All Hollywood productions needed the stamp of approval from the MPPDA in order to be seen The Hays Office Will Hays was one of the founders of the MPPDA and its chief censor
In 1924, Hays issued a Code of Standards which stipulated what types of movies could be made and which couldn’t
In 1924, 67 books and plays were prevented from becoming movies because of the Code of Standards
As talkies came about, more issues arose regarding content and potential censorship, Hays introduced the “Don’ts and Be Carefuls” list in 1927 The Don'ts
11 Things You Can NEVER have in a film 1. Profanity, including “God,” “Lord,” “Jesus Christ” used in a profane way
2. Nudity, on screen or even in silhouette
3. The illegal traffic in drugs
4. Any inference of sex perversion
5. White slavery
6. Miscegenation (interracial relationships)
7. Sex hygiene and venereal diseases
8. Scenes of childbirth, on screen or silhouette
9. Children’s sex organs
10. Ridicule of the clergy
11. Willful offense to any nation, race or creed The Be Carefuls
25 Subjects to Be Handled with Care 1. The use of the flag
2. International relations (Don’t insult other countries)
3. Arson
4. The use of firearms
5. Theft, robbery, safe-cracking, and dynamiting
6. Brutality and possible gruesomeness
7. Technique of committing murder
8. Methods of smuggling
9. Third-degree methods (torture)
10. Hangings or electrocutions as legal punishment
11. Sympathy for criminals The Be Carefuls25 Subjects to Be Handled with Care 12. Attitude toward public characters and institutions
13. Sedition (treason)
14. Cruelty to children and animals
15. Branding of people or animals
16. The sale of women, or a woman selling her “virtue”
17. Rape or attempted rape
18. First-night scenes
19. Man and woman in bed together
20. Deliberate seduction of girls
21. The institution of marriage
22. Surgical operations The Be Carefuls
25 Subjects to Be Handled with Care 23. The use of drugs
24. Titles or scenes having to do with law enforcement or law-enforcing officers
25. Excessive or lustful kissing

Later on, the Hays Office amended codes, including a list of words that were banned. Including such words as: “broad,” “cripes,” “hot,” and “in your hat” Examples of Hays Film Changes These movies were changed because of changes suggested by the Hays Office:
A cow’s udders were removed in a Disney cartoon
Joan Crawford film title, Infidelity, was changed to Fidelity
Scarface, a movie based on Al Capone was forced to remove all references to Chicago and the title was changed to Scarface: Shame of the Nation
Adultery could not be directly mention in the movie Anna Karenina, even though adultery is the subject of the book it was based on From Codes to Ratings The MPPDA eventually became the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA)
The code was used until 1968, when the MPAA developed the first rating system
Ratings basically eliminated censorship; Gave people the information needed to determine whether a movie was appropriate for they or their children to watch 1968 Ratings System G Rating- General Audiences, all ages admitted
M Rating- Mature Audiences, all ages are admitted, but parental guidance is suggested
R Rating – Restricted Audiences, children under 16 had to be accompanied by a parent or guardian
X Rating – No one under 17 years of age admitted

In 1970, M Rating was replaced by GP Rating, then in 1972, GP was replaced by:PG Rating – Parental Guidance suggested, all ages admitted A Buffer Between PG and R From 1972 through to the 80s, a lot of films straddled the line between PG and R ratings. Some movies had violence and some profanity, so it was hard to determine whether they should be Rated R or PG. A middle ground was needed. PG-13 The breaking point was 2 films: "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom" and "Gremlins"; both were rated PG, but feature scenes not really appropriate for young children
Steven Spielberg directed "Temple" and produced "Gremlins"; he received so many complaints he suggested the MPAA add a PG-13 Rating
1984, PG-13 rating added to system: PARENTS STRONGLY CAUTIONED—Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13
First PG-13 rated movie was "Red Dawn" in 1984 NC-17: Let's Act Like Adults People From 1968 to 1990, the X Rating was given to films that featured extreme violence of nudity/sexuality
However, what does anyone think of when they hear the term Rated X?
Pornographers seldom released their films to the MPAA for rating, they just self-applied the X (or 3 of them) on their films, so porn audiences would know what they were getting
Several films have been Rated X that are still considered good movies…"Midnight Cowboy", "Fritz the Cat", "Last Tango in Paris", but suffered financially because of their X rating;
"Midnight Cowboy" only X rated movie to win Oscar for Best Picture
In 1990, the MPAA introduced the rating NC-17, to separate legitimate films with adult themes and pornography Current Ratings System G Rating- General Audiences, all ages admitted
PG Rating- Mature Audiences, all ages are admitted, but parental guidance is suggested
PG-13 Rating- PARENTS STRONGLY CAUTIONED—Some material may be inappropriate for those under the age of 13
R Rating – Restricted Audiences, children under 17 have to be accompanied by a parent or guardian
NC-17 Rating – No one 17 and under admitted

The MPAA does NOT rate movies
The Classification and Ratings Administration’s (CRA) ratings board does. Film producers pay a fee to have their film’s rated.
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