In the United States, motion pictures did not carry content ratings until 1968. Previously, movies were either approved or sent back for revisions. Parents and members of the public did not have any idea what their content was like, outside of a few independent bodies like the Catholic Legion of Decency, which reviewed movies on their own.
Canadians had ratings systems launched well before that. The Ontario Censor Board started operations in 1920 and still carries on to this day as the Ontario Film and Video Review Board. Outside of extreme pornography, movies are no longer censored or banned in Ontario. The emphasis has switched from censorship to classification, leaving people and parents to decide for themselves if a film is appropriate.
In the recent past, Ontario grew quite notorious for cutting and banning movies that were allowed intact in other parts of the country. Those days are behind us, thankfully, though some horror movies these days regularly boast graphic content that would never have been allowed even as little as 20 years ago.
The Ontario ratings system consists of G, PG, 14A (those under 14 must be accompanied by an adult), 18A (those under 18 must be accompanied by an adult), and R (18 and over only, used mostly for explicit sex films). Theatres can be somewhat lax in enforcing these ratings and many parents don’t bother to consult them.
What are your thoughts on movie ratings? Do they influence what you go to see or allow your kids to watch? With the rise of content on the internet, children have access to material that would have given board examiners a coronary even just a few years back. Do you trust your kids or do you police their viewing?
Click the comments and let me know. I’m of two minds. I want to trust young people, but some of the content out there is quite explicit and disturbing.