Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Why aren't movies rated by the government?

Why aren't movies rated by the government?

Image courtesy M4D Group.

They were, before the 1960s! Some states and big cities used to have movie ratings boards, like the Maryland State Board of Censors. Then the U.S. Supreme Court decided it was not such a good idea to allow this state board to continue weeding through what movies could be shown.

The reason? Unlike alcohol, films count as "speech" and are protected under the First Amendment. Without systems in place to protect the important Free Speech right involved, it is not OK to require films to be submitted for approval before a state or local board before they may be shown.

Since 1968, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), a trade association, is responsible for the G through NC-17 ratings you see at movie theaters. The ratings system is voluntary. If you are not allowed in to see a movie, it is because of theater policy.

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