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Family advocacy group gives Hollywood studios a new tool

Parents can struggle to find movies that are appropriate for their children. Some so-called family films are loaded with inappropriate sex jokes. And sometimes there’s a great film for kids — think Billy Elliott" — that is inexplicably rated R.

For more than 10 years, a group called Common Sense Media has tried to give parents detailed and non-dogmatic guidance about what’s worth seeing, and what’s best to avoid. And now the organization has decided to start giving seals of approval to about 10 films a year. Jim Steyer, the CEO of Common Sense Media, spoke to The Frame about the policy shift.

Interview Highlights

On what prompted the decision to offer a seal of approval to selected films:

Even though many of the studios and entertainment companies have wanted to use our ratings and reviews in their promotions, up until now we thought it was most important as a not-for profit — if you will, as Switzerland — to try and remain in a non-promotional manner. 

On how Common Sense Media's approach differs from the ratings issued by the Motion Picture Association of America: 

Quite frankly, we believe that our ratings system and the info we provide to parents is quite superior to what the MPAA does. First of all, we drill down and give families and educators and kids themselves much more info about individual films. Second, we give much more specific age recommendations. We know that we have families out there in America that are going to use our ratings, but that doesn't mean that all of them see them the same way. That said, we provide age guidance, we base our reviews on strict child development principles. That was another very important aspect of our efforts at  Common Ssnse from the beginning.