family fun

Is The Rating System Keeping Its Promise?

family fun

Is the rating system keeping its promise to parents? The answer is both Yes and No. It all depends on who you ask.

People who were born prior to 1990 would say no. They are the ones who grew up in an era where ‘The Brady Bunch,’ ‘Growing Pains,’ ‘Family Ties,’ and ‘The Cosby Show’ were the standard for TV greatness. However those who were after 1990 would probably say yes. They are the ones who grew up with TV programming such as ‘Roseanne,’ ‘Married with Children,’ ‘The Simpsons,’ and now ‘Family Guy’ and ‘The Goldbergs.’ These shows sound similar on the surface, but they reflect two widely different perspectives of parenting, family values, and verbal/nonverbal communication in the home.

The same applies to movies. For instance, while the storyline remains the same, the 1978 theatrical version of Superman is a far cry from the ‘Man of Steel’ film that opened in theaters last year.

Original Superman film trailer (rated PG)

'Man of Steel' film trailer 2013 (rated PG-13)

 Find any message board about ‘Man of Steel’ and you will see that the majority of older generations may have rated the movie as too dark, too graphic, too edgy or overall disappointing. The younger generations may have viewed the movie was perfection and the original film as 'cheesy.'

I say all of this to prove a point: the answer to whether or not the ratings system is keeping its promise truly lies in the eyes and ears of the beholder.

The TV Parental Guidelines system is a television content rating system that went into effect in 1997 on most major U.S. broadcast and cable networks in response to concerns of increasingly explicit sexual content, graphic violence and strong profanity in television programs. The ratings are applied to most television series, television films and edited broadcast or basic cable versions of theatrically-released films. --

The rating system was not put in place to regulate the evolution of content in television, music, and film. It was established to simply forewarn about it. As society shifted throughout the years to a world where things such as violence, suggestive content, and profanity became more acceptable, the media and entertainment industries followed suit in an effort to stay relevant. They also found clever ways to ensure their bottom line stays intact, such as creating content featuring beloved child superheroes that would also greatly appeal to adults; or wrapping 'family-themed' programming in a cloak of coarse language, suggestive or violent actions, or crude humor. This makes older parents subconsciously question (or ignore) their definition of what’s 'okay' for children, while younger parents may view it as normal (or even say the content is ‘weak’ and ‘watered down’).


Being a product of the 70’s and a mother of 4 children ranging in age from 20 to 7, I see the ratings system from both sides, and raise my family as such. We love to binge on our deluxe box set of 'The Cosby Show' and my collection of classic black-and white DVDs. We also all wait with high anticipation for the next Marvel movie to hit theaters to see together.

Of course as Mom, I go see them first to pre-screen for any verbiage or action sequences that (I feel) may be too intense or unsuitable for the younger children. But after we arrive, they oftentimes are quick to remind me that what I thought was ‘violent’ or ‘too harsh’ is absolutely nothing new from what they see or hear elsewhere in the world every day.

As I said before: it’s all how you look at it. And your parenting style and individual children's personality. The lack of detail in the rating system has led to many parents referring to other review and media-awareness websites, such as Common Sense Media - a website which often includes more in-depth reviews for concerned parents.

What are your thoughts on the rating system? As a parent, do you believe it is keeping its promise? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Makeba Giles

Writer and Creative Director at MELISASource
Makeba Giles is Founder, Writer, and Creative Director of where she shares life, culture, and current events the positive way. A married mother of 4 ranging in age from college to elementary, Makeba uses her presence in social media to share inspiring news, advice, and entertainment. You can find Makeba on her blog, and as MELISASource on Facebook and Twitter.


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