Why The Obsession With Rating Systems?

from the do-they-really-help? dept

Why are politicians so in love with ratings systems? It seems like you can’t go a day without some politician somewhere trying to enforce a more stringent “ratings” system on video games, and now we find out that Senator Ted Stevens is warning the adult entertainment industry that if they don’t come up with their own ratings system to designate online porn the government may have to do it for them. Despite the fact that any such government-mandated system would almost definitely be found unconstitutional (damn that First Amendment), a more important question is whether or not rating systems really are a good thing? People like to point to the movie rating system (which is voluntary, non-government enforced) as an example, but it hardly seems to have stopped many kids from seeing R-rated (or higher) movies. In many ways, it seems like the rating system is a lazy way out for parents who don’t want to bother understanding the actual nature of the content their kids are interacting with. Setting arbitrary age limits makes little sense when there are both kids who can appropriately handle more mature content as well as adults who can’t. Instead of trying to set up random rating and arbitrary limits, wouldn’t things be better if people learned how to respond appropriately to the content they came across? If the industry wants to set up an arbitrary rating system that people can adopt if they decide to, that’s fine. However, mandating from the government that everyone needs to adopt it is not only questionably legal, but also probably not particularly helpful.

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Comments on “Why The Obsession With Rating Systems?”

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Stephen Tillman (profile) says:

Re: Pro-Pedophile Editorial

“So Mike wants to allow kids to see porn with adults, is that his point? How dare the government stop his fetish.”

Your absolute misunderstanding of Mike’s statements aside… would a rating system keep kids out of porn? Has it done anything like that for movies or games? Hell, I found my dad’s porn stash when I was like 12. A rating printed on the side sure as hell wouldn’t have stopped me from watching/reading it.

anon says:

It's all a question of....

personal responsibility. No one is willing to take it, and the government is trying to help by forcing responsibility upon people who deliver content. If the content is legal (i.e. not child porn or the like) and the people who are in the content have signed some sort of agreement/waiver/release form, then that’s where their responsibility should stop. People should understand and check things out before letting their children view the content of just about anything.

My biggest gripe comes with the video game industry personally, but this can be applied to movies, the internet, television, or any other avalible media. I understand that you can’t watch your kids 100% of the time (nor would they want you to), but parents should check something out before believing someone elses word on the subject, including any rating system. They should take personal responsibility for their children.

cb says:

Re: It's all a question of....

Anon….. personal responsibility is right. I own a theatre and we struggle everytime we play a “R” movie. Why should the theatre owners be the ones that police the parents childern ? Who watches the kids when they go to the gas station or magazine shop and that they dont pick up a porn magazine ? or how about cable or satelite TV, Video rentals, DVD’s who monitors them ? or the internet ? Shouldn’t the internet have a rating system ? It’s up to the parents, take a little time and check out the media that the kids are going to watch. Follow up and see where your kids have been on the internet. Check out the movies before allowing them to see them. Stop using the rating system as a baby sitting service.

IanT says:


Saying that rating systems don’t work because they impose abritrary limits is much like saying the same thing about age of consent. Obviously some people under the arbitrary age limit will be capable of dealing with (sex/content/etc) but it’s put in place to best protect those who aren’t. The system is naturally flawed but far better than nothing. And not even the world’s best parent has time to screen every game, movie and CD their kid(s) pick up – that’s insane.

AC says:

A good parent...

doesn’t have to preview everything a kid might see or listen to, a good parent will hopefully have prepared their kid to act responsibly anyway. I lived overseas alot as a kid and didn’t watch much TV, so books became my substitute for TV. I read adult-level books from age eight on. Nothing too fancy at first, but that helped learn good grammar, spelling, and vocabulary and about life much better than all of my precollege schooling combined. I had read tons of swearwords, many horrific acts, lots of sex or romantic situations (many very modern and realistic) but I turned out much better for it because I understood these things more like an adult than most kids my age. I watched pr0n and violent movies, and still do (in moderation). I know parents that let their little kids see movies like Saving Private Ryan to show them a little about what life is actually like – violent, angry, ugly, scary, senseless, but sometimes noble and brave and wonderful as well. Movies like Crash, Black Hawk Down, Full Metal Jacket, and other mature but not excessive (like Kill Bill) influences are good. Hayao Miyazaki’s work (Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, Nausicaa, etc.)is especially good because they are mostly children’s movies without being stupidly simple like Disney – they involve moral grays, environmentalism, war, and other situations presented perfectly for children and even adults (Princess Mononoke is the all-time highest grossing film in Japan behind Titanic).

Ashitaka says:

Re: A good parent...

The comment about Hayao Miyazaki’s work is so true. It shows a lot of people how, in the simple sense, to act and not to act. To elaborate a bit more. I would say it teachs right and wrong. How what Eboshi did the forest was wrong, and how noble Prince Ashitaka and Princess Mononoke (San) were.

This was the first anime I had scene at the age of 8. It’s a worthwhile film for any ages. Proof of that is my fellow co-worker borrowed Princess Mononoke and watched it with her 2 daughters. Age 3 and Age 6. Both loved it, and the 6 year old grasped the concept that the producer was trying to show everyone. The 3 year old understand a bit from what the mother was saying.

So all in all. It’s a worth while film to see for anyone.
Along with Hayao Miyazaki’s other movies because I own them.

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