Monday, February 24, 2014

Time to Get Rid of the G Rating

At $268,492,764, Monsters University was the highest grossing G movie of 2013. Not that it had much competition. It was the only G rated film to hit theaters the entire year.
Adults assume G movies are childish, childish means inferior, and adult means ticket buyer, so Hollywood goes out of their way to avoid the dreaded G rating.
According to long standing Hollywood rumors, when Star Wars: A New Hope came back from the ratings board, it fell juuuuust between G and PG. Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru's skeletons were added to bump up the ratings. They're only on screen for a few seconds, but it worked.
Something similar happened with the movie Emma. In one scene, the characters talk about a dog, specifically a female dog, and refer to it as a bitch. In the Regency era, when the movie is set, that's what a bitch was. Go to any dictionary and that's still the first definition you'll find. But it was enough to boost Emma into PG territory.

Now let's look at Annie. The play: Cutesy story about a curly haired girl who charms everyone she meets and gets adopted by the Depression's only billionaire. The movie: Cutesy story about a curly haired girl who charms everyone she meets and gets adopted by the Depression's only billionaire. But in this time, two crooks call Annie "You goddamned kid!" to deliberately avoid a G.
G originally meant General Audiences. Now it stands for Grandmas and Goo-Goo babies. I don't know a single parent who keeps their children away from PG movies. While PG certainly includes some bloody, action packed films-especially if you go back to the pre-PG 13 era-you can usually count on them. Despicable Me 2 is PG. They worst they did was shoot off a few fart guns. Frozen is PG. They impaled a snowman who doesn't even have bones. Or a skull.
In 1939, Gone with the Wind became the first movie to swear aloud on screen. Rhett Butler tells Scarlett, "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn." The film takes place during the Civil War, so there's quiet a lot of death, including one scene where Scarlett shoots a Yankee soldier in the face.

When he gets blood everywhere, Scarlett's friend Melanie takes off her dress to mop it up. She's wearing petticoats underneath, naturally, and doesn't show much more than (gasp!) her ankles.
Let's see, what else happens? People drink alcohol in several scenes, we watch Melanie give birth (or at least her silhouette), and oh, yeah, that's right.
Scarlett, who is married to Rhett (after her last two husbands died), kisses Ashley, who is married to Melanie. Scarlett must be the Grim Reaper's pet project because, in addition to losing two husbands, two parents, and eventually Melanie, they managed to kill off her young daughter in a freak horseback accident. 
Don't worry, it's alright. He shoots the pony later.
It's rated G.That letter no longer means what it once did, so why do we keep it around? Filmmakers go out of their way to avoid it. Audiences automatically assume G equals low quality entertainment. Of the top ten highest grossing G movies, only two of them (Monsters University and Toy Story 3) were made in this decade. 

And while we're at it, why keep the other ratings around? I wasn't allowed to watch PG 13 movies until my thirteenth birthday, but I know very few other families who take that number seriously. I'm seventeen, I could go see an R rated movie if I felt like it, but I never have. Filmmakers don't bother putting teen actors, teen characters, or teen themes in them when we can't buy a ticket. Then there's my moral standards. There are PG 13 movies that aren't suitable for anyone, teenager, adult, or child. The MPAA's standards have changed so much that you can no longer draw a line. We need a system  that focuses more on content and less on age.


  1. At the same time, I would swear that PG-13 movies are what R used to be! I wouldn't dare see an R-rated movie because I even find some of the PG-13 movies offensive. I'm not sure ratings mean much. It's far better to carefully read reviews.

  2. There should be two 'PG' ratings PG-10,( the former G'rating) pg-12,(the former 'PG' rating) PG-13 should be rechristened as T-14(as in teen audiences 14 and up) the old'm' rating should be reintroduced as m-16(the cut off point at that age level) And finally NC-17 rating should be renamed R-18(under 18 not admitted) now thats a rating system that makes sense.