Movies Rating System Explained

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Movies are created in the sole pursuit of entertaining humans through one’s vision and picturization. However, a movie may not be suitable for every audience in the world. The audience constitutes of different age groups that shall not be exposed to specific visuals or concepts. Movie rating is required for parents to understand and select movies that they find suitable for their children to watch. It was not until the late twentieth century that the realization crept in to create a board that would allow ratings to movies according to age group and the type of content. Based on the ratings allotted to a movie, a person can be aware of what they are about to watch. It is also a suitable method to adjust and determine what movie rating is acceptable in a family when watching a movie. A movie rating system is essential to keep track of what type of content you are consuming and the type of content you want to avoid in case of any inherent difficulties you have.

Where Do Film Ratings Come From?

If we look into the history of Hollywood and censorship, it can be dated back to 1897. Enoch J. Rector in Nevada filmed a boxing match between Bob Fitzsimmons and James Corbett. Boxing was banned throughout the United States, yet this film emerged as the first documentary feature film titled ‘The Corbett-Fitzsimmons Fight.’ The documentary premiered in the summer of 1897, right in New York. The censorship was in bad shape because the law enacted had fined those who showed the documentary film.

Soon, Chicago entered the zone and regulated the laws to be the first to censor and regulate the content of movies that got enacted in 1907. A series of issues cropped up due to the strict regulations in the first two decades of the twentieth century. Later in 1927, a censorship committee was formed by Will H. Hays, the Republican National Committee. They resigned from his position to form and become the president of Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America. The guidelines were known as ‘The Formula.’ A list of eleven subjects to not be used and twenty-five topics sensitive were approved by the Federal Trade Commission, leading to the Studio Relations Committee’s creation.

In the 1930s, the Rating system was revolutionized and reformed as the Motion Picture Production Code was introduced. Alas, with the evolution of media, televisions changed and almost eradicated the role played by the MPPC. Later, the movie ratings given to movies made today were created by the Motion Picture Association of America in November 1st, 1968. The Committee needs to be bias-free to allot such movie ratings when watching the movies and allot ratings for them. There are separate guidelines for the method of the movie rating system and tv rating system.

Little-known Facts about Movie Ratings

  • Earlier, several rating systems had designations like G or general, M or mature, X or sexually explicit, and rated R or restricted.
  • The PG rating system emerged in 1972.
  • The NC-17 or No Children Under 17 Admitted rating system emerged in 1990.
  • PG-13 was introduced and added on July 1, 1984. This happened as Steven Spielberg’s movies Indiana Jones and Gremlins required a new rating system. It led to the first movie ever to get a PG-13 movie rating called ‘The Flamingo Kid’
  • Smoking warnings were introduced in 2007.
  • Quentin Tarantino played cleverly by turning violent or bloody scenes into black and white to avoid the NC-17 rating.
  • The tv rating systems also included the same guidelines as the MPAA.

The Meaning of movie rating

According to the Motion Picture Association of America or MPAA, we follow the rating system since the sixties of the twentieth century. The movie rating system has helped viewers differentiate between the nature of the content they view when watching a movie. Movies are always made to keep maximum viewership in their ability. If a movie has specific attributes like violence, strong language, drug abuse, sex, serious themes, nudity, the rating will be a limiting one that keeps only adults as viewers who are willing to watch all of the above. IF the content has none of those mentioned above characteristics, the movie is easily viewed by a wider audience group. Let us look at the different types of movie rating available-

  • G- G-rated movies permit all ages to watch. It does not contain any violence, sex, drugs, nudity, language, themes, or anything related to these topics. Thus, the general audience could view such movies.
  • PG rating- Parental Guidance or PG-rated movies require parents to be careful where children watch. Some content in the movie may not be suitable for children’s viewing. PG rating is considered the most ideal for children to watch under their parent’s guidance.
  • PG-13- This rating states ‘parents strongly cautioned’ as the material can be inappropriate for anybody below 13.
  • R-rated- This movie rating rated R strictly states that a parent or a guardian needs to accompany the child while viewing the content. The restricted rating or rated R movies does not admit anyone under 17 without an adult to the movie with an R-rating.
  • NC-17- It is the rating in which none at the age of seventeen and below can view the movie.


Thus, the movie rating system and the tv rating system had evolved by the time television and cinema halls became a principal source of entertainment. The movie and tv rating system may be restricted for today’s audience, yet, the availability of content online has stopped many restrictions that occurred in the early eras of movies and television. Thus, parents must use the movie rating system to their advantage and thoroughly check on the content their little ones are consuming. The most recommended movie rating for children is the G-rating and well as the PG rating. You can further up the movie rating as your child grows old enough to watch PG 13 movies and television shows.  Avoid rated R movies if you do not want to watch violence.

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