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Definition Of Movie Ratings: How Are Movies Rated And What Are Their Meanings?

You must have wondered how are the movies rated and on what basis are the ratings given. The ratings that you see on a movie are given to provide information to parents of the world about the content of the movie. This helps them decide in advance whether or not the movie is appropriate for their children. As parents know best how well their children react to the media. Ratings do not tell you if the movie is good or bad, they are just there to give an idea about the content of the movie to the parents.

The Current System Of Movie Ratings

Definition Of Movie Ratings

As of 2022 there are 5 categories for movie ratings which are General Audiences, Parental Guidance Suggested, Parents Strongly Cautioned, Restricted, and NC-17 Adults Only.

  • General Audience– This is a general category that nothing in the movie will offend anyone watching the movie. Anyone from any age group is permitted to watch a G-rated movie. These movies are mild and do not contain rude language and violence. A G-rated movie is not specifically made for kids rather it is made for everyone.
  • PG: Parental Guidance Suggested– Movies rated PG may have some scenes which are not suitable for kids. It might have stuff that parents don’t want their children to watch. The movies are again mid but may hold stuff that is not suitable for children under 10. They may contain swear words, mild violence or horror. A PG-Rated movie will not have scenes showing drugs.
Definition Of Movie Ratings
  • PG-13: Parental Guidance Cautioned– This category of movies may have content that is inappropriate for preteenagers and all parents are advised that they check the movie before they let their kids watch it. These movies may have sec references, drug use, extreme horror, suggestive humor, and extreme violence which is not suitable for children under 13 years of age. Pg-13 is also known as TV-14.

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  • R: Restricted– It is suggested that viewers must be aged 17 or above to watch an R-rated movie as some scenes could be extreme. They may have some scenes for the adult audience. Children under 17 are allowed if they are accompanied by a parent. These movies might have mild sex scenes, drug use, nudity, extreme violence with realistic graphics, and extreme horror. Most producers prefer to stay in this category since the audience for this is the largest.
Definition Of Movie Ratings
  • NC-17: Adult Only– Movies rated NC-17 are strictly for people above the age of 18. These are adult movies and anyone below 18 is strictly forbidden to watch these even if accompanied. The NC-17 rating does not mean it has pornographic content it means that it contains very extreme Violence, assault, death, explicit language, sex scenes, and sexual nudity which is not for children.
  • UR and NR: There may be movies which are not submitted for rating and such movies are tagged unrated (UR) or not rated (NR). And there is also a tag for movies which are currently being rated and are not released they are labelled This Film Is Not Yet Rated.
Definition Of Movie Ratings

Movies have a content description which allows them to explain their rating and what type of content is there in the movie. It is a description of the rating that they received. The Rating system needs a better age-segregated rating category. It is important to rate movies since we never know how the young ones are affected and how they perceive the movie.

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Understanding The Ratings

In a movie rating, there is one big rating box that has letters representing the Category of the movie (G, PG, PG-13, R, NC-17) along with this there is a descriptor to the right of the rating box.  The movies use this space to explain the reason for their ratings. Last, there is a rating definition that is below the rating and explains what the rating means.

On What Basis Are These Movies Rates?

Definition Of Movie Ratings
  1. Violence- The amount and the type of violence that is in a movie affect the rating of a movie. G PG and PG-13 movies are advised to keep the violence to a minimum and should not be disturbing. If the graphics of the violence is realistic and there is extreme violence then the movie has to be at least R or NC-17 as extreme violence can be disturbing for teenagers as well. It’s not about the amount of violence how it is portrayed is important.
  2. Nudity and Sex– Movies having a depiction of nudity or nudity that is sexually related will have to be at least R-rated. Though PG-rated movies can too have nudity or brief nudity. There could be no sex scenes or even nudity in G-rated films.
  3. Language– just like violence the use of language is also moderated in movies. A G-rated movie has little to no curse words. Movies rated PG or PG-13 may have profanity present. There are more rules that the movies have to follow regarding the language that they use in the movies. Movies rated PG-13 try to avoid the F-bomb to get R-rated due to the language used.
  4. Use of Drugs– If a movie has any scenes showing the use of Drugs, then it must be pg-13 or R. Any type of addictive substance (even cigarettes) is to be taken into account while evaluating the movie.

Taking into account all the factors above the final rating for a movie is decided by the board.

The Process Of Rating Movies

When the producers finalise a movie, they send the movie to MPAA to get their rating. As MPAA is a self-funded organisation the producers have to pay a price to get a rating. The movie is then reviewed by the board. The people on this board are parents and are chosen by the MPAA to represent the majority of parents. This process that two weeks and after that the directors are given their ratings. If the director is unhappy with the receiver rating they generally cut or reshoot some scenes and resubmit their movie to get the desired rating.

Why Is The Rating System Criticized?

There has never been a case when a movie is satisfied with the rating it received. People have criticised the rating board for falsely rating their movie R due to sexual content and giving other movies pg-13 ratings even with extreme violence.

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Who Is Responsible For Rating These Movies?

The movies are rated by a board of members and all these members are parents. They are chosen by CARA Classification and Rating Administration which is a self-funded organisation established in 1968.

Do Ratings Indicate If A Movie Is Good Or Bad?

No. The movie ratings are not an indication as if the movie is good to watch or not it is just a reference for parents. It gives parents an idea about the type of content that the movie holds and if they feel it is okay for their children to watch.

Do The Ratings Affect A Movie’s Performance?

The ratings given to a movie affect the movie in one way or the other. There have been cases where the ratings given had an economic effect. As for an NC-17 movie, the options for advertisement decrease as some refuse to play the movie and many newspapers don’t advertise them. As a result of this producers don’t submit movies for getting rated. Generally, they cut and edit movie scenes to avoid getting an NC-17 rating.

As A Parent, Where Can I Find A Movie’s Rating?

You can check IMDb or Rotten tomatoes for the ratings of the movies. You can even find the rating of a movie on google. There is also an email service from the MPAA that gives you all the ratings of the latest movies.

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Rating Of Advertisement And Trailers

It’s not just the movie that is rated, along with the movie all the trailers and posters and other promotional media is examined and rated. Trailers are allotted rating cards which are shown at the start of the trailer.

  1. Green band rating card: means that the trailer has been accepted by MPAA for all the people to view something similar to G rated movie.
  2. Yellow band rating card: a yellow band trailer refers that a trailer that has restricted content, it is like a PG-rated movie which has moderately explicit scenes in it.
  3. Red band rating card: A red band trailer is like an R-rated trailer as they are designed for adults and contain explicit scenes which are not safe for children.

Which Is The X Rating?

The X rating has been replaced by the NC-17 rating in 1990. Since the X rating became synonymous with Pornography It had to be replaced.

The rating system is bound to be a hot topic as long as there are people who are concerned about how the media affects the youth and children. So, check the rating of a movie beforehand and then decide if it is okay for the children to watch or not.

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