Consumer Basics

Motion Picture Association of America

The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) is a trade association comprised of six well-known Hollywood studios – Walt Disney, Sony, Paramount, 20th Century Fox, Universal, and Warner Brothers.  Like some other trade associations, the MPAA actively lobbies the government to protect and further its interests, and engages in some self-regulation activities.

The MPAA’s self-regulation system is pretty familiar to all of us, and has informed our movie-going experience since 1968: the film ratings that are designed to offer parents some indication as to the amount of adult content their children will be exposed to when viewing the movie.  We all know the “G,” “PG,” “PG-13,” and “R” ratings (with the occasional “NC-17” thrown in for good measure), and have a pretty good understanding of what each one means.

Or do we?  Critics have commented that the MPAA ratings are often arbitrary and doled out by people who are not experts.  Other critics have said that the MPAA is biased against certain movies, such as independent films, while giving big-budget films with extreme violence or lots of sexual content a lot more leeway.

In addition to the movie ratings, the MPAA has set-up an Advertising Administration in order to review and approve motion picture ads.  The stated goal of the Advertising Administration is to ensure that such ads are suitable for their intended audiences.  For example, some movie trailers are approved for “all audiences,” and others trailers (for the same movie) are approved only for “appropriate audiences.”

So . . . just because you’re viewing what appears to be a pretty “G”-rated trailer, don’t always assume that the movie itself is appropriate for children.

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