What Happened to the G Rating?
Think about this question: when was the last time you saw a G-rated movie?
Let me ask a better question: when was the last time you actually wanted to see a G-rated movie? Your kids didn’t drag you there, you weren’t just trying to kill time on a Friday night — you actually wanted to see this particular movie.
If you’re like most people, you probably haven’t seen one in quite some time. Even more interesting, that film was most likely a Disney film, animated, or both.
It’s very hard to find a non-animated, non-Disney film that’s rated G. The only ones I can think of were all made before 1966: The Sound of Music (1965), Gone With The Wind (1939) (whose G rating is dubious), and The Wizard of Oz (1939).
Even most children’s animated films today earn at least a PG rating. Where did the elusive G rating disappear to?
Most Successful G-Rated Films
No surprise: the top 10 highest-grossing G-rated films (not adjusted for inflation) are all animated Disney films. From number 1 to number 10, the list is as follows: The Lion King (1994), Toy Story 3 (2010), Finding Nemo (2003), Monsters, Inc. (2001), Monsters University (2013), Toy Story 2 (1999), Cars (2006), WALL-E (2008), Beauty and the Beast (1991), and Aladdin (1992).
These movies were destined to succeed at the box office; Disney has the secret to make box-office hits by appealing to families with young children but also to adults. They’ve delicately mastered the art of making engaging stories without being too graphic. Not to mention that they are able to effectively utilize merchandise to appeal even more to audiences.
Hollywood is Becoming More Vulgar
While not all non-G-rated films are vulgar, the absence of the rating in most modern movies signals a change in Hollywood. Since the days of the Hays’ Code, movies have gotten away with more and more.
Showgirls (1995) is a movie all about the erotic showgirls of Vegas. Saw (2004) follows a serial killer who creatively tortures and kills people. For heaven’s sake, Pulp Fiction (1994) probably breaks every tenet of the once-revered Hays’ Code, not to mention a few commandments.
So, why the shift towards these more violent, sexy, gory films?
I’ve mentioned this before, but people are honestly just morbid ambulance-chasers. We love gawking at car accidents, pornography, and anything else that appeals to our crude interests. Movies that do not include any of those elements — G-rated movies — just don’t hold our attention anymore.
According to the MPAA official guidelines: “A G-rated motion picture contains nothing in theme, language, nudity, sex, violence or other matters that, in the view of the Rating Board, would offend parents whose younger children view the motion picture…Some language may go beyond polite conversation but it is common everyday expressions. No stronger words are present in G-rated motion pictures. Depictions of violence are minimal. No nudity, sex scenes or drug use are present in the motion picture.”
So, when faced with the choice of watching Olaf’s Frozen Adventure (2017) or something edgier like A Quiet Place (2018), we will most often choose the latter, simply because it includes those morbid elements that will capture and retain our attention.
Is It a Problem?
This is where we get to the most exciting part of the article: my opinion.
My opinion is this: the fact that we have fewer movies earning the G rating doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with the movie industry — it means there’s something wrong with the film rating industry. Standards have changed since 1985, the last time the film rating industry made an alteration to their system (adding the PG-13 rating after Jaws (1977) received a PG rating). Even the most tame films can earn PG ratings nowadays simply by failing one of the above requirements. Not to mention that much of what is seen on the news earns at least a PG rating anyway.
It’s a proposal heard by the MPAA probably daily, but I really think there needs to be a change. Either adding another rating or simply changing the standards for ratings could help people better decide what movies they want to see or they want their kids to see. After all, the ratings system was originally designed for parents to be able to decide what movies they want their kids to see.
The way we raise today’s children has changed significantly even in the last ten years, so it’s time the rating system we use to guide them changes too.
Thanks for reading! What are your thoughts on the G Rating and the ratings system? Comment down below!
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