MPAA Ratings Are Bulls@#$%

I can’t fathom how many times I’ve seen “The Breakfast Club.” It is THE quintessential film on the teenage experience. And yet, teenagers can’t see it. Why? Because it’s rated-R.

Yep, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) has a long history of shutting all teenagers under 17 out of movies about teenagers doing things normal teenagers do and say. “The Breakfast Club” is rated-R because they say “the F-word” just a little too much. About 30 times actually. But that’s not the only reason. See, any movie that uses the F-word more than once gets an automatic R-rating. Meaning, IF “The Breakfast Club” had only said the F-word just once, they could have garnered a PG-13 rating. But because Molly Ringwald says that magical word more than once — automatically rated-R.

PG-13 movies have an allowance of one F-word per film, as long as it is non-sexual reference. Can I just say — what is the point of that rule? Little Timmy has already heard the word? How does only hearing it once protect his under-17 sensibilities?

Now, to be fair, the teens do smoke marijuana in the film, but that’s still PG-13 territory by 1980s standards.

Since the violent nature of “Indiana Jones and the Temple Doom” inspired the MPAA to create the new rating, (by the way “Temple of Doom” is rated-PG) the rules of PG-13 movie have been vaguely defined. Largely, no explicit nudity, no sex and only one, repeat, ONE non-sexual use of the F-word. But violence? No problem. In fact, the more, the merrier.

As long it’s not too gory, a movie can basically kill as much as it wants. For some reason, *cough, money, cough* movie studios tend to skim over this one. Studios can’t alienate the demographic that funds these trillion dollar franchises. Films like “The Hunger Games,” “World War Z,” and “The Dark Knight” are all brutally violent, yet PG-13.

“The Hunger Games” depicts children murdering each other. You could argue that even though they were playing 16, Jennifer Lawrence was 22 and Josh Hutcherson was 20 and most of the ‘kids’ in the actual games, were over 18, that it’s okay for them to be violent; they’re technically adults. Except for Amandla Stenberg, she was 14-15 at the time of filming.

She is a part of, arguably, the most horrific scene in the film. Spoiler: Stenberg plays the 12-year-old Rue and in her death scene, she pulls a six foot spear out her own body and is left with a bloody torso. Granted, you don’t see the spear enter her body but it’s still a gruesome sight.


“World War Z” is your basic zombie movie, with the undead being mowed down with machine guns, fire and smashing their heads into windshields. These scenes are massacres. I guess since the ones beings taken are undead zombies, even though the violence on screen could rival “Die Hard.” I guess the MPAA left to go get popcorn during a grisly scene where an Israeli soldier cuts off her own arm in makeshift amputation and her blood-curdling screams were mistaken for joyous laughter?

And finally “The Dark Knight.” I love Batman. He’s Batman. And he’s going to be violent, but “The Dark Knight” REALLY pushes the boundaries of how much violence is acceptable in a PG-13 movie.

Most of the chaos is attributed to Heath Ledger’s Joker, where he hangs people, mauls people, burns people and even rigs a bomb to explode INSIDE a guy.

Oh, let’s not forget the “magic trick” where he impaled a guy with a pencil through the eye! Yay, Dark Knight. Fun for the whole family.

I’m not saying that kids under 13 can’t see these movies. Heck, I watched the Terminator films at age seven and I turned out fine. But when movies like “Hunger Games” and “Dark Knight” are PG-13, yet movies like “Breakfast Club” and “Boyhood” are rated-R, (yes, even “Boyhood” is rated-R, for “language including sexual references”) it just boggles the mind about how inconsistent the whole thing is.