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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 160252 Find in a Library
Title: Movie Ratings Are Ineffective (From Violence in the Media, P 98-100, 1995, Carol Wekesser, ed. -- See NCJ-160238)
Corporate Author: Lancet
United Kingdom
Date Published: 1995
Page Count: 3
Sponsoring Agency: Greenhaven Press
Farmington Hills, MI 48333-9187
London, England
Sale Source: Greenhaven Press
P.O. Box 9187
Farmington Hills, MI 48333-9187
United States of America
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: The ratings system used by the American movie industry is ineffective and inaccurate, and the industry does nothing to improve the system or to reduce violence; only when the system is reformed will the public be able to determine which movies are excessively violent.
Abstract: More than half of American homes now receive cablecasts, and 40 percent have video-cassette recorders. As these numbers grow, television screens will increasingly show the severe type of violence once reserved for the local movie theater. A more informative rating system is needed to accommodate this new onslaught. The current system is a weak precedent. The only qualification for selection to the Ratings Board of the Motion Picture Association of America is "parenthood." Its 12 anonymous members are paid from fees charged to movie producers and distributors who use the Board to rate their work. Ratings are made on the basis of what is seen on screen "and not what is imagined or thought," and advisories and restrictions are delimited by ages 13 and 17. The task of the Board is to estimate how other American parents would rate the suitability of the same film for their children. The current ratings process ignores decades of research in childhood development; children's intellectual and emotional growth are not delimited by age 0-13 years, 13-17 years, and over 17 years. Moreover, the negative effects of program content do not necessarily diminish with maturity. Still, there are measures that can be taken. Children can be taught "media literacy," so that they understand both the fictions and the effects of broadcast violence. Parents and teachers can be taught to select programs appropriate for the ages of their children and to look for the untoward effects of exposure to television violence. New technologies that would allow parents to shield their homes from violent shows should also be considered. Finally, the ratings system must be made wholly independent of those who profit by its neglect.
Main Term(s): Juvenile delinquency prevention
Index Term(s): Censorship; Media violence; Violence causes; Violence on television; Violence prevention
Note: From "Reel Violence," The Lancet, V 343, N 8890, January 15, 1994.
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