Open Forum Friday: Does the MPAA Need A New “Hard R” Rating?

Ever since Kirby Dick released his documentary This Film Is Not Yet Rated last year, it has sparked a lot of productive discussion and debate regarding the MPAA and the flaws with their current movie rating system in the U.S. As a direct result, they’ve already taken steps to improve some of their policies, but one big issue that keeps being brought up lately is the grey area between movies that are rated “R” and “NC-17″, with huge repercussions coming from falling into one category or the other despite their similarities.

Basically the problem is this: many parents feel that the MPAA is becoming too liberal with what they will allow in a Restricted film, particularly with the progressively gruesome horror movies hitting theatres lately. On the other hand, many movies that have just a little bit too much sexual content are being slapped with an NC-17, which means they will either have to be cut to make an “R”, or they will automatically be disqualified from being shown in most theatres, and will not be sold or rented at Blockbuster. Because of this, a lot of people are proposing a new rating of “A” for Adult: something that would encompass both the hard “R” movies with lots of gore and dismemberment, and also the risque NC-17 movies that contain sexual content without being pornography.

Personally I think this is probably a good idea. There seems to be a view that NC-17 films are no better than porn, and should not be supported by mainstream society. Perhaps giving this classification a new name will help remove the stigma attached to them. On the other hand, calling the new rating “A” for Adult is probably not good… if you ask me, that sounds even more like porn than NC-17! What do you think? Do you see a problem with the current rating system? Can a new rating help? Give us your thoughts here on Open Forum Friday.



  • I think you’ve hit the nail right on the head. Blending the overly graphic and violent R rated films with the sexually provocative NC-17 into one rating intended for those 18+ has a proven track record — after all, isn’t that more or less what the Ontario R rating is?

    Of course, doing this means that the old US R should probably be replaced by something a little more like our AA14.

  • Good point. I know people always said that rated R movies in the U.S. were often just 14A here, but I didn’t realize that our R rating equated more closely to their NC-17.

    Actually it seems like very few movies are rated R in Ontario. We have an 18A rating too right? I think 300 was 18A. I can remember getting ID’d a couple of times for ultra violent movies like Kill Bill Vol. 1, and those are probably the only ones that were actually a full blown “R”.

  • Henrik

    I’ve never been ID’ed because it’s up to the parents here, it’s just advisory ratings we have.

    However, I remember going to see Saving Private Ryan when it was in theatres. I was with my dad and when he went up to pick up the tickets the guy got this horrified look on his face when he saw me. He started talking to my dad saying this like “Are you sure? I saw this movie a couple of days ago and man… I would not want any kid of mine to ever see this thing. You don’t wanna bring him, unless you’re interested in ruining his childhood.”

    I was 11 years old, so eventually my dad thought it was best to go to another theatre and we wound up seeing Snake Eyes instead. I was disappointed, but nowhere near as disappointed as I was a year later when I finally got to see Saving Private Ryan and saw that not only was it pretty tame in it’s depiction of violence, it was also a boring movie overall.

    That stupid movie-clerk ruined it twice for me, once by convincing my dad not to go see it with me, and again by hyping it to that point when really there wasn’t anything to it.

  • In all honesty, I don’t think so.

    If the MPAA is worried about parents taking kids to inappropriate movies I don’t think a hard R is going to make any difference, after all they already have a rating that prohibits admittance to anyone under 17. Sounds to me like the MPAA is trying to teach parents how to parent. Stupid. Really stupid.

    Nearly every day I’m reminded of how quickly we’re approaching a reality not that far from the one in “Idiocracy”. It’s a scary, scary thing.

  • Liz

    Actually, I think even Kill Bill was only rated 18A on Ontario.

  • Jimmy

    Instead of a hard R rating why not just use the ones they have…

    G-anyone can see….family rating..may contain mild language, mild violence, brief nudity or none of the above
    PG-mild R…anyone can see…Parental Guildance Suggested…may contain some nudity, brief strong language and moderate violence
    PG-13..medium R material…no one under 13 admitted with out a parent or guardian…may contain nudity, strong language and strong violence
    R-hard R material..no one under 17 amditted without a guardian or parent…used for graphic language, graphic violence and graphic nudity, anything extreme…
    NC-17..adults only

    They play medium R rated material on t.v anyway…Schindler’s List or Scared Straight, etc….The MPAA’s rules on language, violence and nudity have left a too broad category with the R-rating….PG and PG-13 films before their new rules were in effect always had some adult material in them anyway…