Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Motion Picture Association of America

The Motion Picture Association of America is a trade organization that represents the major film studios. The MPAA has been a substantial player in American culture and politics. In the 1960’s there was an increase in the amount of sex, profanity, and violence seen in movies. This led to the Motion Picture association of America creating a voluntary rating system. The film industry decided to self-censor to avoid government regulation, which allowed people to make more informed decisions about which movies or films they chose to view. The MPAA also controls the content of movie advertising. The Advertising Administration of the MPAA reviews every piece of marketing that is used to promote any film rated by the classification and rating Administration.

In 1968, the MPAA had only four original ratings. They included G: general audience, M, mature audience, R: restricted, and X: adults only. There were revisions made over the years 1972 through 1984, such as taking out the M rating and adding PG and PG-13. Also, in 1990 the rating X was replaced by NC-17. The rating X was replaced because it became connected to pornography in mainstream America.

The MPAA uses violence, sex, and drug use as variables to determine rating categories films receive. Research has proven that the popular media influences adolescent's behaviors. This film industry tries to protect young children from being exposed to content that may not be suited for them or influence their behavior in a negative way. The control reach of the MPAA is not very far because rating restrictions are not strictly enforced by theater managers. Another option available to control the content that children are exposed is the technology of ClearPlay. This is a parental control DVD player that allows content filtering. There are some controversies that the public and filmmakers have with the MPAA rating system. The public argue that there are rating creeps which is a decrease in strictness of rating over a period of time. Filmmaker’s dispute is that the rating system restricts the freedom of speech that everyone is supposedly entitled to. The MPAA has a profound effect on its media audience by determining the content people are exposed to. I learned that the MPAA is helpful in some aspects but there are also ways to get around their set restrictions.

1 comment:

Brittany Bartlett said...

In class we discussed the question whether the MPAA rating system was a violation of Freedom of Speech or if it was a helpful warning to the public about the content of film. I agree with what most students responded, that it was not a violation of Freedom of Speech and that it was needed as a guide for parents to help them choose appropriate movies for their children. There are certain movies that have content that are inappropriate for children and young adults and I feel that it is the public right to be warned about the specific content. The MPAA and the rating system has a profound effect on the audience. If there were no rating system or an industry that controlled movie content there would be no limitations on what film studios are able to produce, which could have harmful effects on children and young adults.