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A look at film ratings of teen content after ‘Eighth Grade’ sparks controversy with R-rating




MPAA Preview Trailer Rated R Rating
MPAA Preview Trailer Rated R Rating
Photo by8 bitmatt via Flickr Creative Commons

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What does it take for a movie to get an R rating? Sprinkle in some F-bombs and you’re in for a winner.

The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) classifies a movie with one of the harsher sexually-derived words in a PG-13 release, but a second places it in the R rating category. However, the Rating Board may rate a movie PG-13 by a two-thirds majority special vote.

This summer, MPAA slapped an R rating on the teen flick, “Eighth Grade” directed by Bo Burnham. The coming-of-age movie stars a 13-year-old socially awkward eighth grader who experiments subjects like hook-up culture and sharing nude photos. According to a study from the Journal of Adolescent Research, in a sample of seventh, ninth, and 11th graders, 32% of participants had experienced sexual intercourse and 61% of sexually experienced teenagers reported a sexual encounter not in a dating relationship. Perhaps teens can in fact handle the nature of certain films that illustrate reality for them, especially those with a 13-year-old protagonist.

Although “Eighth Grade” may contain profanity and sexual experimentation that can be inappropriate for young teenagers, is it time for a change in the ratings system? Teens under 17 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Do you think teenagers nowadays should be allowed to see movies with racy content by themselves? Call 866.893.5722.

With guest host Libby Denkmann.

Guests:

Joan Graves, the Senior Vice President and Chairman of The Classification and Rating Administration (CARA) for the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA)

Tim Cogshell, film critic for KPCC, Alt-Film Guide and CineGods.com; he tweets @CinemaInMind

Peter Rainer, film critic for KPCC and the Christian Science Monitor

Charles Solomon, film critic for KPCC, Animation Scoop and Animation Magazine