It was in 1968 when the Motion Picture Association of America decided to implement a film rating system with four categories: G for general audiences; M for mature audiences wherein all ages are admitted but parental guidance is suggested; R for restricted wherein children below 17 years old are not allowed without an accompanying guardian; and, X wherein no one below 17 is permitted to view the film. A Rating Board rates the movies voluntarily submitted by movie producers. The films are rated according to the theme, violence, language used, nudity, sensuality, and other elements.
Since 1968, the system has changed a lot. Despite the changes, however, the rationale of the system remains – to offer parents advance information about the movies so that they can choose the movies they want their children to see or not to see (http://www. mpaa. org) Logically, a film that gets a G rating has a higher chance of becoming a box office hit as it covers all ages. However, this does not mean that a film which receives an R rating can never be a hit. One controversial example was Mel Gibson’s “Passion of Christ. When the Board refused to award a gentler rating to the movie, Gibson released the re-cut version as NR (Not Rated) and it became a hit.
The rating system only determines who can and who cannot view the film; it is not a gauge of the success of the film. Same is true with television shows. Submission to the rating system must be strictly imposed as television is one of the most powerful media. Besides, it is but proper that the scenes seen on TV be suitable to young audiences. The bigger responsibility still lies on the parents who shall guide their children properly in determining what should be seen on TV.