Motion picture content rating system  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

A motion picture rating system categorizes films with regard to suitability for children and/or adults in terms of issues such as sex, violence and profanity. A particular issued rating is called a certification.

This helps people decide whether a movie is suitable for themselves and/or their children. Also, in some jurisdictions a rating may impose on movie theaters the legal obligation of refusing the entrance of children or minors to the movie. Furthermore, where movie theaters do not have this legal obligation, they may enforce restrictions on their own. Ratings are often given in lieu of censorship. There is often debate as to the usefulness, strictness and enforcement of such systems. The belief that a ratings system may tempt children to watch a film due to its high rating is known as the forbidden fruit phenomenon; this can also be the case with adults in countries where "unrated", "uncut", "uncensored", etc. versions are released on DVD.

In some countries (e.g. Australia), an official government body decides on ratings (i.e. de jure); in other countries (e.g. the US), it is done by industry bodies with no official government status (i.e. de facto). However, in most countries, movies that are considered morally offensive have been banned or restricted. Even if the film rating system has no legal consequences, and a film has not explicitly been banned or restricted, there are usually laws forbidding certain films, or forbidding to show them to minors.

The influence of specific factors in deciding a rating varies from country to country. For example, in countries such as the United States, films with mild sexual content are often restricted to adult viewers, whereas in countries such as France and Germany, sexual content is viewed much more leniently in films. On the other hand, films with violent content are often subject in countries such as Germany and Finland to high ratings and even censorship, whereas countries such as the United States are generally viewed to offer more lenient ratings to violent movies.

In the United States

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Motion picture content rating system" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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