September 4, 2009
MPAA Change a Concern to Parents
My colleague and dear friend Nell Minow of Beliefnet.com, wrote a story in today’s Chicago SunTimes about a policy change at the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) that many parents will want to be aware of, all the more so because that change has gone unannounced and unrecognized…until now.
As it turns out, movie previews are no longer approved for all audiences. The change, instituted by the MPAA’s Classification and Ratings Board, went into effect this April, but was not announced to the public.
It used to be that trailers led by a green screen were safe for general audiences (regardless of the rating of the film being advertised), but those trailers led by a red screen contained restricted content and were allowed to be shown only before R-rated films. (The so-called red-band trailers have risen sharply in popularity, especially online, where children can easily get around the age verification firewalls.)
While the green-band trailers used to be “approved for all audiences,” the new designation is a far more vague “approved for appropriate audiences” though there is no indication o f who that audience may be.
Before the switch, a green-band trailer could not include anything inappropriate for general (rated G) audiences and could only imply though not show examples of violence, profanity, sex or nudity, and drug use.
The new change is already apparent. For example, the trailer for Extract, a film which comes out today, was given green-band approval but contains references to male genitalia, sexual frustration and candid drug use.
Susan Linn, director of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood and a watchdog for inappropriate Hollywood marketing to children is quoted in the article as saying, "This is more evidence that the MPAA is not interested in the welfare of children or helping parents make better decisions about content." Linn feels that the MPAA ran afoul of parents when it made this change without their input, and is concerned that many parents will be "falsely reassured" when the word "appropriate" appears on the familiar green background.
While the MPAA has promised to make an effort to ensure that the content in a trailer matches that of the film it precedes, that does not guarantee that the audience being reached is the appropriate one, and parents will need to be extra vigilant to ensure that their children are not being exposed to content they deem inappropriate.
To read Nell’s article, click here.