Excursions

by Amit Gawande

Rating the film rating systems

Isn't it odd that we can't decide on a consistent content rating system across all the countries? I know I have ranted about this a many times before this. But I just can't wrap my head around the fact that we, supposedly smart humans, haven't figured out a way yet to addresses such a trivial aspect of our film watching experience.

How difficult is it to say that this content is made for children 6 years and above? Or 13 years and above?

I know. I'm ignoring the fact that all nations are not governed the same. They have individual definitions and expectations of freedom. Oversimplifying the problem at hand may not take us anywhere. The least I can do at least is to check which countries handle this rating problem the best.

I find it fascinating that Turkey has the simplest content rating system. These are the rating — General Audience, 6+, 10+, 13+, 16+, 18+. Austria is in the same league — Unrestricted, 6, 10, 12, 14, 16. Russia's not too far behind, too — 0+, 6+, 12+, 16+, 18+.

India has a simple range — U, UA, A, S. But those characters are meaningless. How is one to map them to the age of the child?

United States follows an even more muddled system — G, PG, PG-13, R, NC-17. That's complication is unnecessary. It's unfortunate that those are the ratings that are most widely followed.

A couple of curious cases. South Africa has these categories — A, PG, 7–9PG, 10–12PG, 13, 16, 18, X18, XX. Plus these sub-descriptors — S, L, V, P, N, H, D, SV. Wow! I am sure a significant post-production budget goes towards arriving at the right rating for a film.

And finally, of course, China. It has no official rating system. There are only two categories — suitable for all ages and banned.

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Here are a few additional observations and a proposal. 6, 16 and 18 are the most commonly agreed boundaries for the films. Only a few countries have any ranges beyond 18.

So, if we manage to find an agreeable boundary between 6 ad 16, we should be able to cover major countries with these ratings — 0+, 6+, 12+, 16+, 18+ . I am sure folks smarter than me will find a better way of conveying all why this system should work. Or convince me why this will never work.