Sensitive Content and Movie Ratings

I sincerely recommend anyone who views movies and other media knows as much as possible about the content beforehand to decide if it’s right for them.

Here are five places where you can start:

1. Start with Yourself. You’re the best judge of what you can and cannot watch and that’s okay. No one gets to tell you otherwise. Take a risk, and look out for yourself.
2. Ask a Friend. If they’ve seen it, and if they know you, they can likely help you out.
3. - Each title has a “Parents Guide” where volunteer users, following a set of moderated guidelines, list content based on 5 categories: sex and nudity, violence and gore, profanity, alcohol/drugs/smoking, and frightening/intense scenes.
4. - This is a crowdsourced hub tracking 100+ categories of what they call “emotional spoilers.” If you’re the sort of person who does best with “trigger warnings,” I think you’ll find the categories very helpful.
5. - This company has a goal to help families take charge of their digital choices. Their staff and reviewers (including children and teenagers) write reviews based on age and stage of life. They do very thorough work.

No rating system is perfect. Not the crowdsourced or staffed ratings listed above. Not the oft-controversial MPA and its current system of G, PG, PG-13, R, and NC-17. And definitely not our subjective selves. While the first moving pictures came in 1878, the MPA’s R rating didn’t exist until 1968, and their publicly-listed reasons for ratings have only appeared for the last few decades. Some ratings make sense, others leave you scratching your head. Ultimately, what you watch - and read about - is up to you.

Our understanding of the world, ourselves, and each other is ever-evolving, thankfully. Along the way, we make art and tell stories, and that includes through the movies. Snapshots of their time and place, the movies always have and always will reflect the cultural norms, societal trends of when they were created, especially the dominant and often oppressive ideas propagated by those in positions of power.

These reflections can include problematic representations of character tropes, stereotypes, and caricatures. They can include sensitive content involving many forms of violence, various depictions of sexuality, and graphic or intense situations. And they can include content that ranges from to disgusting to controversial to offensive.

Moviegoers today, including you and me, do well to remember the time and place in which a movie was created, take responsibility to get informed about potentially sensitive content, and self-determine what to watch and/or read about.

Plus, movies aren’t the only art with sensitive content.

There’s this book called the Bible…