All PG-13s are not the same
BY COLLEEN ALMEIDA SMITH World Associate Editor
Monday, February 04, 2013
2/04/13 at 7:47 AM
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As my daughter approaches her 13th birthday, she may be under the impression that all PG-13 movies are now hers for the watching. She would be wrong.
While some movies aim to teach us about ourselves or history, other movies only want to teach us new curse words.
One of the harder parts of parenting is separating the wheat from the chaff.
PG-13 came into being in 1984. The new rating was created to separate films that might be appropriate for most youngsters from those more appropriate for teenagers or adults.
What started as a laudable effort by the Motion Picture Association of America to guide parents in their decision-making soon backfired as studios and directors purposely sought out the "edgier" PG-13 rating.
With a PG-13 rating, parents are "strongly cautioned" that material may be inappropriate for children under 13. Films with this rating can include some nonsexual nudity, drug use, violence and harsh language. A definition of each rating can be found at tulsaworld.com/mpaaratings
Parent Michelle Langston, director of social media strategies and a film publicist for Moroch Entertainment in Oklahoma City, has had to wrestle with the issue.
"More than the rating of a film, I have always tried to take the film's subject matter into consideration," she said in an email interview. "I try to balance what I know about my sons with what I know about the movie."
She cautioned, "What might be appropriate at a certain age for one child won't be appropriate for another child of the same age."
Langston said that because of her connection to the business, her sons - who are 22 and 15 - have seen more movies than their peers. But even they try to push the boundaries.
Her 15-year-old has always been interested in history and wanted to see "Saving Private Ryan" in grade school. She said she and her husband made him wait, and they all watched it together at the appropriate time.
"I really believe that watching a film together can be a wonderful opportunity to learn more about your kids, and also share your point-of-view in a way that they will be more vested in than parental 'lecturing,' " she said.
Over the years, my husband and I have watched many PG-13 movies with our daughters - mostly on DVD so we can stop and explain certain situations or answer questions. We recently saw the 1993 version of Shakespeare's "Much Ado About Nothing," and the small amount of (bathing) nudity and a brief sexual situation were of much less interest to my 12-year-old and 8-year-old than the language and the laughs.
PG-13 movies can cover a lot of ground, so it's important to know the reasons behind the ratings. The cartoon violence of "The Avengers" is far different from the battlefield scenes in "Lincoln"; and the sexually fueled musical "Rock of Ages" is a far from the coming-of-age moments in "The Perks of Being a Wallflower."
If you need help finding the exact reason for the ratings, check the easy-to-use website tulsaworld.com/filmratings
Like most parenting situations, being involved and maintaining open communications is key. Know your kids, do your research and trust your gut.
This is a scene from the World War II drama, "Saving Private Ryan." Shown are Tom Hanks (left), Matt Damon and Edward Burns. (AP PHOTO / David James-)