The rating system used for movies has gone through more than a few changes since the early seventies. One of the bigger changes was the addition of the PG-13 rating in 1984 after some parents complained about violence and gore in “Gremlins” and “Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom.” It was these complaints that led Steven Spielberg to suggest a rating between PG and the R rating, and hence PG-13 was born. While this helped parents make a better decision on what their kids would be exposed to, it also caused a new one, one that has been steady showing itself more and more.
PG-13 has become the soft spot for studios to make money. While in some cases with films like “The Force Awakens” or “Mockingjay Part 2” it makes sense, as they have a larger demographic to meet and need those teen audiences. It’s mainly sci-fi and horror films like “Terminator Genisys”, “Krampus”, and “The Final Girls” that leave you scratching your head. While those are just three films I named, they are some of the best recent examples to illustrate what is wrong with certain films resorting to a PG-13 rating. Starting with “Terminator Genisys”, which many people were hoping was the rebirth of a beloved franchise. What we got was another nail in the coffin, because the filmmakers neutered the film with its rating. Gone were the things that made the franchise memorable and exciting, and it was all done to find a larger audience all while ignoring the one that made it one of the most successful franchises ever. With “Krampus” the film has a good story and had a “Gremlins” potential to it. If you recall “Gremlins” was one of the films that helped create this rating, but as a kid Gremlins did what it was supposed to do as a movie. With “Krampus” giving the film a PG-13 rating was like removing the claws and teeth and you were left with something you would rather cuddle with than be scared of.
I believe we should have PG-13 movies, I just think the studios need to think a little bit more about the movies they saddle it with. You can’t make a smart film like “The Final Girls”, a film that should revel in the “slasher” film genre of the eighties, and leave out the ingredients that made those movies so popular. Where the problem starts is that too often movies are made to make money, and that is the wrong way to go about things. Films, like most things in life don’t live in a “one size fits all” world. There are plenty of stories of films that were considered bombs, that went on to make money, because they found their audiences. It’s the idea that most films need to make money that pressures the studio to hamper it with its rating.
Whenever you point out a problem, you should always give a solution. In this case it’s simple, studios have to choose more wisely about what kind of film they intend to make. If it’s horror, go for the ‘R’, edgy dark sci-fi, ‘R’, Young Adult adaptation, by all means PG-13. Unfortunately, in corporate America, the all mighty dollar rules, and the way to give your movie the best chance to make it, is to give your film the largest possible audience, but don’t destroy your story just so it can fit into a certain size box. The question is does every film deserve that chance; are not some films better with the audience it can get? What I am asking is to give films the chance they deserve, we don’t wasn’t to see a “Terminator” movie with no blood, or a horror movie that might only scare small children. Instead give these films their teeth back, and let them find their audiences are their own. This could mean the difference between scary, seductive beasts with fangs, and emo teen-vamps who glitter and play baseball during thunderstorms.