Movie ratings are a helpful tool in choosing which movies to watch and which movies to avoid, but occasionally their conclusions can be rather intriguing.
The new movie “Anna Karenina,” based on the Tolstoy novel, has been rated R for “some sexuality and violence,” according to the Motion Picture Association of America. Some say it didn’t deserve an R rating.
Teresa Arroyo, a recent Spanish graduate, has read the novel and said she would rate the book at a PG-13 level.
“It’s a really long book with a lot of details; however, the details aren’t the kind that would make it rated R,” Arroyo said. “My guess is that the movie visualized some of the things the book insinuated.”
While the movie does visualize some of the book’s racy storyline, the Parents Guide on IMDB says the movie doesn’t actually have any revealing nudity or exceptionally explicit language. It also adds that the movie’s two violent scenes are on about the same level as something a viewer would see on the TV show “The Walking Dead.”
The movie received a much lower rating in many countries around the world, according to IMDB. Ireland rated it the same as the “Twilight” films and “Skyfall.” Canada rated it the same as “The Dark Knight Rises,” and Hong Kong rated it the same as “The Hunger Games.” There is quite a disparity when one considers the content of the other films.
Stephanie Svanevik, a psychology major from Norway, said this is partly because America is much more strict with film ratings than are European countries.
“People don’t watch rated R movies here in Utah really, but in Norway it’s just normal,” Svanevik said. “Even Mormons would see a lot more rated R movies.”
Svanevik said the reason for a lower concern for movie content in Norway is Norway’s different culture. She said Norwegians are more open and liberal about sexuality, language and alcohol. Things that aren’t allowed on TV here are just normal there.
Perhaps then, as America becomes less traditional and conservative in values, more adult content will be allowed in TV and PG-13 movies.
“Part of the slide in ratings, of course, just reflects increasing permissiveness in society as a whole,” Cody Clark, a film writer for the Daily Herald, said in an email interview. “People in general are not as offended by certain kinds of content as they used to be, and the MPAA’s Classification and Ratings Administration (CARA) reflects that.”
Clark said that the use of language is the easiest form of content to see changing in movies. He said PG-13 movies used to only be allowed one use of the F-word, but in the last few years there have been a number of films that use it twice. However, he still thinks it will be a while before more pervasive use of the word is allowed in PG-13 movies.
“I’d guess that nudity and sexual content will be least affected by changing cultural mores,” Clark said. “I’m sure there will be some slippage, but American attitudes regarding sex and nudity in entertainment are actually pretty entrenched.”
Since it has been shown that movie ratings aren’t always equally consistent and everyone has different views on what is or isn’t offensive or obscene, the best way to judge if a movie is watchable or not is by reading a content review on websites such as IMDB, commonsensemedia.org or kids-in-mind.com.