Enforcing Movie Ratings: Is It The Cinema’s Right?

This past week on #MondayMovieMatters, we had a fun time surveying your general opinion of a Cinema’s right to enforce Movie Ratings within their premises……

While some felt it was out-rightly the cinema’s prerogative, considering the fact that it was their premises and they could face legal action, some felt the cinemas should only act in an advisory position to parents and others felt the cinemas should suck-it – parents and children should have their say in deciding what they consumed, in other words, ‘PARENTS ARE KING!’

I will attribute a percentage of the third class of the opinion poll to the fact that we wrongly used the term Parental Guidance to represent all movie ratings. This is actually not so.

Let’s explain a bit further:

Movie Ratings are a classification attached to movies with regard of the suitability of the film to audiences (stolen from wiki). Issues considered include sex, violence, substance abuse, profanity, impudence or other types of mature content. (also wiki stolen)

While all movie ratings act as a form of guide to Parents about what they expose their children to, Parental Guidance is just one of the movie rating classifications and usually comes with suggested ages that are suitable. Some of the ratings are rather very strict in their use of language and generally should not be ‘Parent-modifiable’.

Take a look at the standard American ratings and what they mean:

G — General Audiences. All Ages Admitted.

PG — Parental Guidance Suggested. Some Material May Not Be Suitable For Children.

PG-13 — Parents Strongly Cautioned. Some Material May Be Inappropriate For Children Under 13.

R — Restricted. Children Under 17 Require Accompanying Parent or Adult Guardian.

NC-17 — No One 17 and Under Admitted.



Now take a look at the standard Nigerian Ratings and what they mean:

G: General admittance.

PG: Parental Guidance suggested.

12: Suitable for children aged 12 years and older.

12A: Same as 12, but younger children can be admitted if accompanied. 

15: Only 15 and older admitted. Under 15s are not allowed. May contain mature themes, sex scenes, coarse language, nudity, and drug references which is inappropriate for viewers under 15.

18: Only adults are admitted. Children are not allowed. May contain adult themes, strong sexual content, very coarse language, graphic nudity and explicit drug use or graphic drug references which is inappropriate for children.

RE: Restricted Exhibition: can be shown only subject to certain restrictions.

(Sorry no fancy picture for this one)

So what is the Importance of these movie ratings?

Movies mimic reality, Reality in turn mimics them! That’s a saying we have here at MoviePencil as we believe a lot of human behaviour is transmitted via the media we consume especially movies…. A six year old child wants to learn how to play a musical instrument because he thinks the Jonas Brothers are cool, a four year old girl wants to be a singer because she likes Victoria Justice, two thirteen year olds think it’s OK to go around kissing because, ‘what’s the big deal, my mates in the US are doing it’ (the mates they only see in movies o).

It is kinda a lot easier to pick up a ‘bad’ habit than it is to embody a ‘good’ one, and not to sound like a prude or an overly obsessive parent, it is important that media consumption of kids be monitored as every parent endeavors to teach the kids the importance of ‘deciding the media to consume’.

Now unto the important question, ‘Do Cinemas have the right to monitor and enforce movie ratings on their premises?’

Well Ya! Considering all the research we have done on the matter, we believe every cinema should endeavor to duly enforce Movie Ratings on their premises…. Why

  1. It is their premises! They are King! Anyone who wants otherwise can as well watch the film in their homes.
  2. It’s their premises and I’m sure they can face legal action from parents who feel that the cinema has exposed their children to wrong content!
  3. I say again, IT IS THEIR PREMISES, and while the term Parental Guidance seems all ‘parental’ (even the poster above says ATTENTION PARENTS), the parents cannot always be there when the children visit the cinema. These days we tend to have Minors acting as guardians and accompanying mini-minors to the cinemas.

However, while all the above reasons seem ideal on paper, actual enforcement on the part of the cinemas may not be easily achieved.

Does that mean the cinemas then just throw away monitoring Movie Ratings?

No! No! No! It is the responsibility of EVERY cinema to teach their box office staff the importance of Movie Ratings and test out implementation scenarios that could occur from:

  • Out-rightly requesting for age defining identification for a movie rated 18 to
  • Providing advice to parents about the age restrictions of movies to…..
  • Using their discretion (including asking for the advice of managers) for specific situations.

Not doing so is actually a big irresponsibility on their part in our humble opinion. In fact, they should actually take it more seriously as this is not entirely the case currently.

At this point, we will CATEGORICALLY say that, ‘IT IS THE CINEMA’S RIGHT TO ENFORCE MOVIE RATINGS ON THEIR PREMISES’. Getting sued is not child’s play!

NOW, as for all you ‘Parents’ that like carrying babies to the cinema……

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