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Too young for R?

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With the recent release of movies catering to “young adults” such as “The Hunger Games,” “Beautiful Creatures,” and “The Mortal Instruments: City Of Bones,” Hollywood has been steadily roping in a teenage audience. That being said, there has been an ongoing controversy in the industry over movies marketed to teenagers that are rated R or PG-13. “The Hunger Games,” rated PG-13, is about kids killing kids for the entertainment of society and to ensure government control and oversight. Many viewers believe that “The Hunger Games” tests the line between PG-13 and R. In our culture today, does it matter if a movie is rated PG-13 or R?

Some people claim movies that are rated R lose an audience due to Hollywood’s reluctance to advertise adult themes to young people.

“Movie companies should market their movies to teenagers, as well as adults, because they will make money from both demographics,” said sophomore Jason Quackenbush,“Teenagers are responsible enough to make their own decisions.”

According to the MPAA, an R-rated movie “contains some adult material” and “may include adult themes, adult activity, hard language,sexually oriented nudity, and/or drug use.” This is a set criteria for specific ratings.
However, the MPAA also says “Generally, it is not appropriate for parents to bring their young children with them to R-rated motion pictures.”

Not only does the MPAA make the ratings, but they are also making judgments on what age group should be allowed to view what material. For instance, you must be 17 or older to buy the tickets for an R-rated movie. As a workaround, most teenagers get their parents to buy R-rated movie tickets for them, or else they buy a ticket for a PG-13 or lower rating, and sneak into the movie they want to see.

The MPAA claims that those who determine the ratings are parents, and that “the purpose of the ratings system is to provide clear, concise advance information to parents about film content so parents can determine what movies are appropriate for their kids while preserving the freedom of expression for filmmakers and the film industry.”

The issue, of course, isn’t the rating itself. The issue is the stigma that more restrictive ratings put on movies. Parents will often assume the worst upon reading that there is “sexual oriented nudity” in a movie their child wants to see. Furthermore, sales of R and NC-17 movies will be lower on average due to the limited prospective audience.
According to Boxofficemojo, “The Conjuring,” rated R, made over $136 million over the course of three months, while “Mama,” rated PG-13, made $71 million. Maybe, however, if the R-rated movie had advertised to teens, it would be an even $200 million; and if “Mama” had scored more than 6.5/10 on Internet Movie Database ratings, it would have appealed to a wider audience.

The MPAA evaluators aren’t claiming to take different opinions into account, they’re making judgments based on their own ideology.

“I personally would like a movie more if it was rated R, because there would be a more mature audience in the theater. At the same time, I wouldn’t because it would be harder for me to see the movie” said Ebise Abate, another sophomore at CHS.

The fact is, most teenagers will see an R-rated movie if they choose to, and therefore corporate movie companies usually do not lose money when a movie is rated R. This is due to the varying methods of promotion (trailers, posters, etc) production companies choose to make. This draws in the theoretical prospective audience for R and PG-13 rated movies: 17+ and 13+ viewers respectively.

Quality makes or breaks a movie, but advertising and rating induced stigma will determine the intended audience.

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