JUST THINKING: What does a PG-13 movie rating mean anymore?

Just Thinking | Julie Stafford

I learned an important lesson last week – don’t trust the movie rating system when it comes to your kids.

My youngest daughter, an upcoming seventh grader, asked if she could go to a movie with her friends. She said they were seeing “Rock of Ages” and that it was PG-13.

Granted, I didn’t know what the movie was about and should have Googled it. For some odd reason that makes no sense other than they both have the word “rock” in the title, I had the idea it would be something like “School of Rock,” which is a great kid movie starring Jack Black. I honestly also thought a PG-13 rating meant there might be a little adult language but nothing over-the-top.

Apparently that’s not true anymore. When my daughter got home after the movie, she had a dazed look on her face and even before I could ask how the movie was, she said, “That movie should have been rated R.” She explained that it showed a lot of sex and even described a few graphic scenes that don’t need to be rehashed here.

A little too late, I looked up a few reviews for the movie. One reads, “There is no drug use in this raunchy, PG-13 film, but there is considerable sex and drinking.”

To say I was mortified and embarrassed is an understatement. What’s happened to our overall judgment of what’s acceptable and what’s not for our kids?

According to the Classification and Rating Administration (CARA), a PG-13 rating means “parents are urged to be cautious. Some material may be inappropriate for pre-teenagers.”

Many of our favorite family movies are PG-13: “13 Going on 30”, “50 First Dates”, “500 Days of Summer”, “Miss Congeniality” and even the previously mentioned “School of Rock”. Somewhere between these movies being released and “Rock of Ages”, this formerly acceptable rating went from meaning there might be a steamy kissing scene and a few inappropriate words to strippers doing their thing on stage.

When I was young, my mom and dad had to think twice before letting me see “Grease”, which happens to be PG-13. Today that movie makes television and new films seem tame. Sometimes I just want to be able to trust that what the experts say is true. But I should know better because when it comes to my kids, I am the expert.

Apparently I needed “Rock of Ages” to remind me of that.

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