The MPAA (Movie Picture Association of America) has been rating movies since 1968. Over the years, the system has been changed (like adding in the PG-13 rating in 1984 thanks to Gremlins and Indian Jones and the Temple of Doom) to the system we now have. And over the years, there have been many complaints about the system.
Why do we have Ratings?
In 1984, there wasn't a rating between G and R. And like I mentioned before, with the releases of Gremlins and The Temple of Doom, parents demanded tht be changed. And later that year, Red Dawn was the first film to be rated PG-13.
PG-13 was added to help parents better understand what was appropriate for their children to see. And that honestly is what the rating system is for. It's to stop 12 year-olds from seeing certain movies without their parents permission. It doesn't mean that they can't see R-rated movies. If someone over eighteen is with them, kids can see any movie that is not rated NC-17 (which is a whole different story). Really, once you are eighteen, the rating system does not effect you. It just doesn't.
And I agree with protecting kids. I don't have kids, but if I did, I certainly wouldn't want them to see something like Fifty Shades of Grey or Kingsmen: The Secret Service without my permission. Without me there. And if it was a movie I thought they could handle, I can still take them to it. I just have to be there with them. Really not that complicated.
The Problem With the Ratings
I do agree with the basis of the system. But there is a problem with it. Today, many of the biggest movies are rated PG-13. There sometimes seems like there isn't much difference between PG and PG-13.
And sometimes there doesn't seem like much difference between PG-13 and R. Romy and Michele's High school Reunion (a movie that came out in '97) got a "R" rating for having two f-bombs. This was the same problem for the Best Picture Nominee Philomena in 2013. They had to appeal the "R" rating they were given because of a second f-bomb. You see, any movie that drops more than one f-bomb automatically gets a "R" rating. But, because of Philomena, that hard stance seems to be wavering.
But that was never the biggest problem people had with the rating.
The Main Controversy: Violence
You will be surprised how much violence you can fit into a PG-13 movie. As long as you don't show red blood and a lot of gore, you can do a lot. Expendables 3 was PG-13. Heck, Jaws was rated PG. Yes, that was before PG-13, but I can even imagine that not being rated "R" in today's rating system.
Transformers 4 got away with a lot of violence because most of it was against other alien robots. Terminator: Genisys did the same thing so they could get a PG-13 rating. World War Z cut out most of the blood that was in here so they could land a PG-13 rating. Many movies do this.
Why? Because money. Most of the top grossing movies are PG-13. American Sniper topped the box office in 2014. And it was the first rated "R" movie to do so since Saving Private Ryan did so in 1998.
So, Does it Need to be Changed?
Many people thinks so.The MPAA is so inconsistent with their ratings. A second f-bomb? R. Tearing an alien robot in two? PG-13. Toy Story 3? G. Frozen? PG. And I could go on and on with examples. But, as annoying as it is, I think it is the best system we have.
Let's face it. No matter what they do, the MPAA is going to piss some people off. They re never going to got it perfectly right. And if you are eighteen, it really doesn't affect you. And it would love if it could get more consistent. I would love if they were a little hard on violence. But neither of these things are going to happen anytime soon.
So, in the end, we just have to live with it.