United States of America

In the United States, the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) controls the classification of all films and trailers. Separate classifications apply to television programming however, more information about this can be found at TVGuidelines.org.

In 1968, the voluntary ratings system was introduced, and with this, the birth of 4 classifications: G, M, R and X. All of these were trademarked, except for the X. Under this system, anybody not submitting their film for rating, could apply for the X rating, or any other symbol as long as it wasn't one of the MPAA's trademarked icons.

None of these initial categories were legally restricted, this was in the view that parents should be able to accompany their children to any movie they desire, without the MPAA, the government, or any other groups interfering with their rights. However, NATO (National Association of Theater Owners, Inc.) insisted that an Adults Only classification was introduced, in fear that legal action could be taken towards them under local or state law.

Now, there are 5 major classifications:

G: G stands for General Audiences (All ages permitted). Nothing in theme, language, sex, nudity etc which would be inappropriate for a young child in the eyes of a parent. The G rating does not however signify that it is a children's film. Some of the language used my not be what is used in an everyday conversation, but they are common expressions.

PG: This stands for Parental Guidance Suggested (Some Material May Not Be Suitable For Children). Parents are advised to look into the film before they let their child attend, as some of the content may not be suitable for young children.

PG-13: Parents are strongly cautioned when it comes to allowing under 13's viewing films under the PG-13 category, as some material may be inappropriate for children under 13 years old. In the eyes of the MPAA, films rated PG-13 are beyond PG when it comes to language, sex, nudity etc, but not quite R classified. The lowest classification for any film with drug use, is PG-13. If nudity is sexual in context, or violence is frequent, generally the film will be raised to the R classification.

R: For Restricted. Those under 17 years of age are not permitted to see any film under this classification without an accompanying parent / adult guardian. It may include course violence

NC-17: Nobody under 17 years of age will be permitted into a cinema to watch films under this classification.

The other two categories, are not classifications as such:

UR: These films are unrated, and are presented uncut and intact.

NR: NR is to show that a film has not yet been rated.

Related Links:

Motion Pictures Association of America (MPAA)