July 1 marks an important anniversary in the history of movies: The day the Motion Picture Association of America introduced the PG-13 rating. Prior to the PG-13, there was no rating for films that fell in the gray area between PG (movies where parental guidance was merely suggested) and R (movies that required adult supervision for admittance to the theater).
Don’t worry #teens, you’ll all be able to see Rogue One: A Star Wars Story when it hits theaters next month, as the MPAA has officially decided all those explosions and laser gun battles aren’t too scary for the youths. Rogue One got its PG-13 rating today, for “extended sequences of sci-fi violence and action,” which shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, since The Force Awakens was rated the same for similar reasons.
As times change, standards change, and we occasionally find ourselves bumping up against old traditions that need to retire. Even some of our most beloved childhood movies feature behavior and activities — smoking, strong language, casual misogyny — that went unnoticed and unappreciated by our older selves. Given the well-established health risks that smoking poses, one person recently took it upon himself to sue Hollywood in an attempt to get onscreen smoking banned. I’ll give a moment to guess who won.
When you go to the theater this weekend, you’ll have a few movies to choose from, including Suicide Squad and Mike Birbiglia’s Don’t Think Twice. If you didn’t know the rating for either of these films, and we were to tell you that only one of them is rated R, which one would you guess? The gritty and violent comic book movie featuring characters with names like Deadshot, Killer Croc and Katana, or the humorous dramedy featuring a cast of funny people in the world of improv?