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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
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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.


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; 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