ChildCare Action Project:
Christian Analysis of American Culture (CAP)

It Won't Likely Matter
What the Movies Are Rated!

Special Report-002

Thomas A. Carder
CAP President

In this report endnote numbers, e.g., [1], [2], etc., are linked to their text. Click on the endnote number to read the note, then use your browsers BACK feature to return to your place in the report.

Jesus is Lord Crossbar

Movie Marquee "Mom?"

"Yes. Joey."

"Mary Poppins is back at Cinema Bunch-o-Screens. It is rated G. Can I go to see it while you shop?"

"Okay. I'll drop you off and come back in an hour and a half."

if you drop off little Joey or Judy at a multiplex theater,
it won't likely matter what the movies are rated.

Joey is 11 years old. Mom (or Dad) knows that the other movies at the Cinema Bunch-o-Screens theater are rated PG-13, R, and NC-17. Mom might think Joey is safe because Mary Poppins is rated G. But little does mom know that usually no one is available in the multiplex (multiple screens) to control access into the various theater auditoriums. Unless mom attends the show with Joey, he can likely see any movie playing.

Uncontrolled access into auditoriums of multi-screen theaters is a problem. Staffing at many multi-screen theaters will not likely permit enough personnel to police entry into auditoriums. Usually, the visible theater staffing seems to be only

Even if the ticket you buy is specific to a movie, there is usually inadequate staff beyond the ticket-taker to police ingress to each auditorium. The ticket-taker usually just points you to the auditorium showing your movie. Even if you escort your child into the correct auditorium then leave, once you are out of sight the child can likely leave that auditorium and go to any other auditorium.

Now don't let your feathers get ruffled! I am not assuming a child will sneak into an auditorium showing a movie inappropriate for his/her age. After you are gone, your child can unintentionally enter any auditorium since there seem to be no controls preventing this. If Joey gets up to get a soda, he may mistakenly enter an auditorium showing sexual intercourse with panting and pulsing. Even if only for a brief moment, the contamination has been done! Some children will sneak though. It is indeed a blessing if your child will not stray from the proper auditorium, but the ChildCare Action Project is finding evidence that seems to indicate every child exposed to entertainment media is taught by example after example Kids are often further taught by example after example
I used "inappropriate" at the beginning of the previous paragraph. What is inappropriate for Joey? Some sources will say certain media material should not be presented to persons under a certain age. This leads one to beleive that as an adult, I have the capacity to separate material of poor influence from wholesome and righteous material. It also leads one to beleive that as a child, Joey does not have that capacity. Doctor Larry Gilliam of the Minirth-Meier New Life Clinic agrees with me that even a sixteen year old usually does not have the capacity to completely spearate fantasy from reality or to fully realize the consequences of his/her actions (see Endnote #3). If the material on the screen strikes close enough to home for me, I will be influenced by it, even if only for a short time and in a small way -- and I am 47 years old! If the influence was immoral or counterproductive, even if couched in a setting of warmth, love, and compassion, the next time something happens to me that was "just like I saw in the movies," I will have to battle to keep the immoral or counterproductive influence from clouding my judgement. Therefore, as an adult, I may watch some things Joey may not watch. [tthhwwwpppttt] It is the position of the ChildCare Action Project that if Joey shouldn't watch it, I shouldn't watch it. What is inappropriate for kids is inappropriate for me! As revealed in CAP Special Report-0001, CAP Investigational Area Scoring and Trend, corruption and counterproductive influences are no respecters of age, at least in accordance with the entertainment media.

So, once past the ticket-taker, your unescorted child is likely free to enter any auditorium, unintentionally or otherwise: free to see any movie playing. While you are trying on a new pair of shoes, your unescorted child may be watching a heterosexual couple doing "it" -- graphically. As you look over the new 10" radial arm saw, your child may be hearing the "F" word and other vulgar language every 1.5 minutes. While you sip your soda at the Five-n-Dime grill, your unescorted child may be witnessing a hollywood style knife murder: watching the steel of the blade disappear into human flesh then reappear for a new thrust-repeatedly; watching the helpless "victim's" body writhe with each new thrust until the body twitches no more; listening to the victim scream with fear and helplessness Joey has never heard before; watching blood spill onto the floor while he listens to the jeers of frenzied lust from the audience (remember the counterproductive influences?). Joey may be watching the victim's expression which conjures emotions in Joey he has not previously experienced, and while no one is with him to help him focus on reality rather than the larger-than-life fantasy of graphic hollywood murder...watching while Joey's values and morals are being corrupted...watching while his innocence and childhood are being torn from him...watching while he eats the fruit of the Tree of Life! And WE are giving him the apple!!! We who make the movies, we who project the movies, we who promote and make profit from the movies, and we who do nothing!

Movie producers are not required to have a Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) rating applied to their movies[1]. There used to be controls governing the content of movies, but no more. Movie producers used to be subject to fines by the now extinct Hays Office if their movie contained unacceptable material. But no longer. States and counties have the authority to censure programs shown in their jurisdictions and control access to them[2], but few if any seem to exercise the authority. Conversations with organizations and agencies such as the
  • Chamber of Commerce
  • State Comptroller's Office
  • State Legislative Reference Library
  • Film Commission
revealed that no one was certain of any law requiring theater owners to police entry into theater auditoriums.

The ChildCare Action Project conducted a telephone survey of several theater managers and asked "Do you police which auditorium children enter? Specifically, do you prevent an unescorted child from entering an auditorium showing a movie inappropriate for his/her age?" Of those who would talk,
  • one said "Yes, but only for NC-17."
  • another said "There's no way we could afford that."
  • one manager even said "Absolutely not. We are not a policing agent."
Certainly you can tell your children that everything on the screen is make-believe. But it is unusual for even a sixteen year old to be able to fully separate fantasy from reality or to fully anticipate the consequences of his/her actions[3]. It is asking too much of a pre-teen or teen to insulate him/herself from the invasive impact of extreme graphic expression which seems to saturate the entertainment industry.

Some people might feel "So what if my 11 year old wants to watch pornographic movies!. Fran Panzini, Supervisor of the Hood County Child Protective Services related that in many cases of sexual abuse involving children, pornographic material was available in the home[4].

While "pornographic" is typically associated with hardcore and extremely graphic sexual media, i.e., X-rated, understand that the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) has changed the X rating to "NC-17: No children under 17 admitted.[5]" And remember, movie ratings are entirely voluntary. Joe Moviemaker is not required by law to apply for a MPAA rating for his movie. Another alarming revelation was found by the ChildCare Action Project in "Not Rated" movies. During the compilation of our baseline database for the CAP Entertainment Media Analysis Model, one Not Rated rental movie was found to be a typical skin flick, a violent one at that. As far as I can tell anyone can rent a non-rated movie, even Joey!

Take caution if you think the entertainment media cannot alter or corrupt the way your child(ren) implement coping skills. A report on Mass Media and Violence from the American Sociological Review revealed a study which analyzed societal violence after nation-wide televised prize fights. And sure enough, the rate of violent crime and assault significantly increased nation-wide after televising the fight[6]. That some people suffer an increase in violent tendancies after viewing a violent spectre just might hint of tendancies toward increased sexual improprieties after viewing sexual material. The presence of pornoghraphic material in the homes of sexual abuse involving children may give credence to this postulation.

You might feel "A movie cannot cause my child to become bitter and arrogant." You might also think "Such arrogance" at seeing a teenage son physically throw his father against a wall. Or you might even wonder if the teen was justified in doing so. But whether justified will not likely matter to a child already confused and embittered by the state of our culture. A child will watch and likely remember the scene and figure out how to use what they saw and heard.

You may even believe "There is no way a movie can cause my child to become violent and aggressive." A pair of Denmark parents of a two-year old corpse do not agree. Some older kids were playing as though they were Power Rangers and killed the two year old with kicks and hits[7]. Quoting from The Violent Family Hour from Society Review, "The more people watch television [or the movies?], the more they tend to see the world as a mean and gloomy place[8]." What's the difference if children see influential material on TV on in the movies? The impact is the same-corruption of coping skills and lowering of the threshold of moral acceptability!

Just adding a few part-time employees to control access into multiplex auditoriums will greatly reduce the problem of unauthorized access. The use of title-specific tickets rather than generic tickets will aid in auditorium access control but only if someone is at the auditorium entrance to police ingress.

If it is important that your children not be negatively impacted by counterproductive influences implanted by unauthorized access to movies, please
  • write to our legislators and congress people and tell them of your concerns: that you want assurances your child will not be able to get into inappropriate movies
  • when visiting a multiplex theater, ask management if they control entry into and between auditoriums, then observe whether they do and whether for every auditorium
  • if theater management said they do control auditorium access and you observed noncompliance, remind the management of their commitment
  • if the management states they do provide entry control and you have observed them doing so, ask if the controller is just there at most expected times of infraction.
  • if the management consistently controls auditorium access at all times for all age-restricted movies, thank them for doing so and let them know you support them.
Finally consider taking action to make it unnecessary to rate movies. If all movies contained no unacceptable material, any age could watch them without restrictions.

Unless additional measures are exercised to control unauthorized access into theater auditoriums it won't likely matter what the movies are rated.

Since the ChildCare Action Project has found that any child of any age can "by law" watch any movie available, and has found that approximately 95% of all movies generally available are age-sensitive in some way, unless we take action to "clean up" the entertainment industry, it won't likely matter what the movies are rated.

Holy Cross bar


[1] The Voluntary Movie Rating System: How It Began, Its Puropose, The Public Reaction, ©1994. Jack Valenti, President/CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA).

[2] U. S. Supreme Court decision, 1968.

[3] Conversation with Dr. Larry Gilliam, Minirth-Meier New Life Clinic.

[4] Telecon with Fran Pansini, Supervisor, Child Protective Services, February 12, 1996.

[5] The Voluntary Movie Rating System: How It Began, Its Puropose, The Public Reaction, ç1994. Jack Valenti, President/CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA).

[6] "Mass Media and Violence," American Sociological Review, No. 48. pp 560 - 568. ©1983.

[7] Denmark Press, 1995. Source: API.

[8] "The Violent Family Hour," from Social Science and the Citizen, "Society Review," Vol. 24, No. 2, p. 2. ©1987, Transaction Publishers.

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In the sweet and holy name of Jesus:
Lord, Master, Teacher, Savior, God.

Thomas A. Carder
ChildCare Action Project: Christian Analysis of American Culture (CAP)

Copyright ChildCare Action Project (CAP) 1996