Donations Appreciated!

WTF Happened to PG-13?

51 Responses to “WTF Happened to PG-13?”

  • Cristiona:

    Uf. As soon as I saw the Poltergeist poster, I knew what scene you were going to show. I think that and the maggot-meat scene scarred me for life. And I didn’t see it as a kid.

    And, of course, don’t forget about the original Planet of the Apes. Bare asses, peek-a-boo tits, plenty of violence (and blood), some rather adult themes, etc. etc. etc. Rated: G.

    Of course, as plenty of people point out over and over again, Americans are pretty fine with violence, but swearing and nudity are just the most awful thing ever. They really skewer that tendency in the South Park movie. Which is a giant circumcision joke.

    • MH:

      It was worse with the sequel, “Beneath the Planet of the Apes–a bloody fight that left blood on the walls and a man getting shot in the head in a bloody fashion… rated G.

    • Cecil:

      The scene in Poltergeist got me but I think the one that freaked me out the most as a kid was that damn bed clown.

      South Park, as always, nails it. It is funny how other countries have movies like the King’s Speech pretty much rated PG but here in the US we freak out over salty language.

  • Jr.:

    Great Video, Cecil! Another one to spur change in our movies that we take for granted.

    This is an interesting one, I must say. I introduced my girlfriend to Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom a couple of weeks back. During the movie, I had told her the story of the PG-13 rating and how that movie and Gremlins spurred on its creation. She shrugged and continued to watch the movie until we go to the infamous Dinner scene with the monkey brains and snakes. She yells, “THIS WAS PG???” much to my amazement. I think because of her I got a first hand look at how parents got in an uproar over these ratings and just how flawed they are.

    Even more amazing that its her favorite Indiana Jones movie. I asked why and she said it was because of Short Round. No arguing there. Keep em coming!

    • Cecil:

      Thanks! Chilled monkey brains…I think I fainted like Willy.

      The character of Short Round got a lot of flak for being sterotypical but I always liked him. He wasn’t an annoying kid like they are in most movies and he actually helped Indy, instead of being a constant pain for him to rescue.

  • MH:

    I think you contradicted your arguments with the examples you used. “Cursed” and “Stay Alive” were disliked regardless of their version and the R-Rated fifth “Die Hard” was disliked much more than the PG-13 fourth one. “Poltergiest” was rated R, and Spielberg appealed it to the MPAA, which resulted in a PG. This is evidence that it is the quality of the filmmakers that determine the quality of the film; not the level of objectionable content.
    I think a better example would be George Lucas’ “THX 1138”. When it was first released, it got a PG, but when it was more recently released, it got an R. The objectionable content had not been altered. Some other examples would be films such as “Doctor Zhivago”, which had been rated PG (on VHS), but is now PG-13.
    Much of what is allowed is due to intensity and context, which is why “terror” is a reason given for some PG-13 and R films (such as “The Hills Have Eyes”), and which is why you can see a closeup of a hatchet penetrating a man’s chest in “Dances With Wolves”, but not see the impact of an axe in the PG-13 rated “Storm of the Century”, why “Frailty” with its off-screen axe murders had an R, and why the stabbing in the beginning of “Goodfellas” had to be reduced (according to the director) to keep an R. Other examples could include a woman getting shot had to be removed from “Chicago” to keep the PG-13, while a gunshot could be seen in the beginning of the movie.
    I like how you distinguished between the difference in guns being fired and gun violence.
    I do think some PG-13 films of the past were very violent, such as “1492: the Conquest of Paradise”, but I think they are also that way today with now allowing headshots with blood to be shown (such as “Captain Phillips” and “The Host”)… something that used to put a movie in danger of an X. “Star Wars Episode 2” had one of the highest number of mutulations I had seen in a movie, but was PG, and “The Hobbitt” and “The Lord of the Rings” had a high number of mutulations, including decapitation and severed human heads being used as projectiles, but still having a PG-13. Again, that goes back to context and intensity, since all these were fantasies.

    • Cecil:

      We’ll never know if the audience would have liked Cursed or not because the original version was never released to the public. We only got the completely overhauled version, which includes the “unrated” cut. It was the unrated version of the new cut. I was pointing it out to show the lengths the studios were willing to go through to get the film they thought it should be, instead of listening to the director and writer’s vision.

      Many people have seen the unrated cut of Stay Alive and liked it far better than the PG-13 cut. The argument still stands.

      Fantasy also plays into ratings, even in some video games. Change the color of the blood to green and its ok!

  • Its insightful to see the Pg-13 vs R violence montage. So many groups say that movies are influencing the violence we see in the world right now, and they may be more right than they realize. Once you’ve taken out blood from a gunfight, you’ve removed consequences from action and creates this sterile illusion of reality which can be taken as “harmless” by a casual viewer.

    • Roy:

      The late, brilliant, badass director Sam Peckinpah would definitely agree with you, Erik. Go watch his work, especially “The Wild Bunch”.

      Hey, Cecil? Can I give you a hug? 

      I don’t think “Nipplegate” in 2003 was the sole cause, but the “last straw” in terms of societal breakdowns, especially in terms of the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal, school shootings and the Sept 11. attacks (I was a temp file clerk for a flight instruction school at LaGuardia Airport in NYC on that day, and I find it hypocritical over what’s truly offensive: an mammary gland or instant genocide?). There’s definitely an aura of social cowardice in the air, and, instead of maintaining the line of free expression, the MPAA have let themselves devolve into being their previous incarnation, the Production Code from Hollywood’s Golden Age.

      Have you seen the doc “This Film is Not Yet Rated”? I know I should because, according to what I’ve read about the film, it looks at the inconsistences of how the MPAA rates films because some of their members are either childless or have adult children (!). It’s bad enough that NC-17 films (the rating came along when “Indiana Jones” co-creator Phil Kaufman fought against the X rating branded on his film “Henry & June”) are barely made. If they do, they don’t get advertised as much as an R-rated one, let shown in multiplexes. Hardcore adult films go WAY over the hill, since they don’t adhere to the MPAA. That goes into context. Just because a film’s rated R, it doesn’t mean it has no merit (“The King’s Speech”, “Clerks”, “The Wild Bunch”, “Network”, “Stand By Me”, “Schlinder’s List”, “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest”, ”Watchmen”, “Taxi Driver”, et al).

      I also blame bad parenting. Some years ago, I’ve read an article about how a film critic received an angry letter from a woman who went to see “Fargo” with her husband and their kids, based on the critic’s favorable review.


      I have a BIG problem when parents think any film is supposed to be baby-sit their kids, when they should educated enough to know what a film is all about. Hell, I almost told a woman, who brought her daughter (must have been five) to see “Watchmen”, to leave. They did before I could. I know we’re all “connected” in this society, but our anxieties, hypocrisies, inanities and whatnot are tripping the people who have a sense of imagination, both filmmakers and audiences. I’m an adult, and I like to watch film that appeal to my adult sensibilities.

      Well, that’s it from me. Excellent work, and remember. . .”DODGEKAH!”

      P.S. “Nest”, despite being edited on broadcast TV, was the first R-rated film I’ve saw.

      P.P.S. If you want to talk to me about my Sept 11. Feelings, just email me.

      • demonknight:

        It should be mentioned that one of the films that you mentioned (“Clerks”) was nearly given an NC-17 strictly for dialogue. The same happened with Orgazmo, but unlike Clerks, it got the rating.

        I also think that “have to be 17” thing is total bullshit. This leads to piracy and sneaking in. If you feel you’re mature enough to handle a movie of any rating, you should be able to see it on your own. If your child sees something that they weren’t supposed to, how is that everyone else’s fault. Be a better parent, make a better world.

        • Cecil:

          NC17 is stupid. I’m with Kevin Smith. (I’m paraphrasing) “Unless it has penetration, it should be R”.

          I think its stupid that as an adult, there are other adults telling me what I can and can’t see.

      • Cecil:

        Hugs welcome. lol

        Nipplegate was just the big turned point that almost everyone at the time noticed. All of the sudden, radio stations were being hit with obscenity charges more frequently, movies and tv were censored, etc. All this after we as a country were so joined together as one nation after 9/11. The MPAA and every interest group only became worse after that.

        Yep, great documentary. It’s where I got the Jack Valenti footage. So ridiculous how things are rated. They have this super secret ratings board so that they can’t be influenced by outside sources…only to be even more influenced by outside sources over what they feel is “appropriate”.

        Bad parents yes. I was a in a theater with a mom who brought 2 kids under 10 to see South Park. Needless to say, she ran out of there when they starting singing “Uncle Fucker”.

        Riker will most likely watch a lot of the old classics (Ghostbusters, Raiders, Jaws) when I think he is old enough to understand that it is fantasy and it won’t give him nightmares. Although he recently watched Alien vs Predator with me but I’m sure he had no idea what was going on. 🙂

        I may have to make DODGEKAH shirts.

        The Nest gets extra creepy points from me because bugs.

        I will.

    • Cecil:

      Exactly. They’ve taken away any consequence, which makes every gunfight look like children playing cops and robbers.

  • Keith:

    A blind man can see that the ratings board system has lost it’s way over the years, and has forgotten the original intent of the PG13 rating. I remember as a kid in the late 70s/early 80s my parents would pre-screen movies my brother and I wanted to see regardless of how the MPAA rated it. They were our ratings board…and if something was objectionable, the best censor in the world was utilized: My mother’s hand over my eyes, or my dad’s wallet never opened to spend the money on tickets for us kids. We saw R rated films like Revenge of the Nerds, but weren’t allowed to see PG movies like Gremlins…crass humor and nudity was more acceptable to my folks than gory violence. Benefits of having hippy parents, I guess.

    Excellent video Cecil…I really enjoy these editorials you create and it’s nice that you don’t have to shout over JH to express your opinions. 🙂

    • Cecil:


      My folks were pretty good about making sure that what I was going to watch was appropriate. Although I circumnavigated that by bribing my older sister to rent me R rated movies. lol

      I really enjoy doing these, I just wish they didn’t take so long to produce! Its funny, I think I remain even about these and present them with evidence to back up my statements. With that, there was a site that still said I was speaking in “whinese”.

      • Cristiona:

        Hey, bribing older siblings is part of growing up! As is figuring out the cable box and knowing how it works better than your parents. And borrowing copies of I’m Gonna Git Ya Sucka from friends with more laid back parents.

        Part of being old enough to see R movies always used to be being able to find ways around restrictions!

  • I remember the big hoopla when PG-13 was first introduced and definitely agree that it has been misused over the years. The standards of the MPAA are maddening, to say the least. That King’s Speech re-edit was total nonsense, not to mention the hassle the documentary Bully received over it’s rating a couple of years ago for similar reasons.

    I applaud you,Cecil, for the tremendous amount of editing you had to do here! Well worth the wait and then some:)

    • Cecil:

      The Bully thing was ridiculous. Same with many coming of age “teen” movies. They included things that teens were doing but rated the movie so they couldn’t see it!

      Thank you! It was tons of work but I’m happy it all paid off.

  • demonknight:

    I would love:
    (A) a top 10 favorite movies list from you done in this style
    and (B) a GBF on Vulgar or Red State for when Tusk comes out (two more weeks! It’s like Kevin Smith’s birthday present to me.)

    • Cecil:

      I’ve been tinkering with the idea of a really lengthy top 10 (or maybe even 100) of all time. I’ll probably be crucified over some of my choices.

      Tusk is that soon? Wow, I thought it was further out. I do want to give some love to Kevin’s movies but I don’t have anything planned…yet.

      • demonknight:

        My top 10 is a bunch of movies people I know have never heard of as well as some childhood classics, so I can understand you…

        Sad nothing is planned for Tusk. Oh well. But Kevin’s got two next year for us (Yoga Hosers in June & Anti Claus in December).

        • Cecil:

          Riker kinda changed my ability to be able to go to see movies in the theater every other weekend or so. Since I refuse to be one of those jerks that brings an infant to a theater, it will be a little while before I can get back to it.

  • Anon:

    Oh yes, one of my pet peeves. “Ratings creep.” PG-13 is so meaningless; I would argue PG-13 has been a terribly vague rating even before Janet-gate. Almost no movie released recently is rated PG except for maybe The Incredibles and a few similar Dreamworks animated movies.

    I have believed for at least the past 10 years that the current MPAA ratings system is BS and should either been done away with entirely on the grounds it undermines free speech or, at the very least, significantly modified to work in the manner that the ESRB rates video games. Either way, no more favoritism to the major studios, certain moguls, certain interest groups (looking at you anti-tobacco wackos among others), or any other politicking.

    I would request that you follow up on other BS the MPAA has been up to in the last 10-15 years. There’s a lot of material there. Copyright/DMCA trolling, SOPA/PIPA, the current MPAA Chairman/CEO’s corrupt past life in politics, etc. There was a documentary called This Film is Not Yet Rated, might be a good place to start.

    • Cecil:

      I kind of stuck with PG-13 because venturing into other turf would have people saying I’m ripping off “This Film is Not Yet Rated” which was a fantastic doc. They do show how indie films get treated poorly vs how the studios are treated by the ratings board. Insane.

  • Gary O'B:

    It seems to me that studios realise that the R rated Die Hards, Expendables, Alien and Predator movies(and others) will have been seen at home, on DVD and on demand, by the younger audience that could not see them at the cinema. So in theory, to release a new entry in a series as PG13 will get that younger audience into the cinema and therefore add greatly to the box office.
    Trouble is the very thing that makes the R rated movies so appealing to those who enjoy them is lost when they make a watered down PG13 version, so you lose a lot of the audience who made the first films so damn successful.
    If an R rated film makes a shit load of money, keep making the sequels R rated !! It ain’t rocket science.
    I saw the first three Terminator movies at the cinema but didn’t bother with Salvation because it’s U.K. 12A rating (children under 12 can see it with an adult) made it a kids film.

    • Cecil:

      There was a time when R rated blockbusters were a thing but now they panic so much they don’t give them nearly the marketing budget they deserve. Although we do occasionally get a sleeper hit, the studios just dump everything into PG-13/

      Also, I find it funny that they are so strict on theatrical releases but then its always unrated on DVD. Like kids have no idea how to work a DVD player.

  • Mitch:

    You raised a lot of really good points. I was one lucky kid growning up my family ran a video store in the days when you still could find laser discs, beta max, vhs and the early days of dvds just before internet became a source of entertainment. I loved it all the B horror movies and random finds going to flea markets now bring it all the memories flooding back. the best part was the staff picks and the “now playing” section where we could put on any movie in the store that would be linked up to 4 tvs in the corners and most rewarding feeling was finding an old Pg 13 movie putting it on and having a customer come up and ask if they could rent it that night since it looked Awesome …. Most of my friends were never aloud to watch south park or other “violent” action movies … I never forget the first time I saw the movie Cobra or Invasion USA .

    Now I don’t get excited about movies like I use to and rather spend the price of a movie ticket and popcorn at some big theatre I prefer buying old vhs cassettes and microwaveable popcorn and having a months worth of entertainment.

  • Logan:

    This video was so well done. It finally prompted me to support you on Patreon. In addition to more film reviews, I hope to see you make more videos which discuss good / bad policies within the film industry. The “behind-the-scenes” information was always my favorite part of your film reviews.

    Also, since you mentioned Jack Valenti, I was hoping your video would include his appearance on an episode of Freakazoid.

    My home is made of adobe.

    • Cecil:

      Thanks for the support!

      I have more lined up but like I said, these take the longest to produce.

      Wow Freakazoid, that takes me back.

      All hail Adobe!

  • Viewer:

    Pretty good analysis, but then a properly made R movies like Dredd and Sin City 2 flop hard and I don’t know what to think anymore… I mean, if an R movie is not available at your local theater, today there’s so many legal (and illegal) ways to see it over the internet that simply local theatrical unavailability can’t be an excuse anymore… You give the audience PG, they bitch that it’s neutered. You give them R, they don’t go see it, or rent it. What the hell?

  • jack:

    I’m afraid you are wrong Cecil The Expendables 2 sucked and was a bad sequel especially disappointing as it had both Van Damme and Scott Adkins as the villains.

    Problem I have with modern blockbusters is that they are too long at around the 2 hour or 2+ hour mark and they have to include big trailer bait disaster action sequences that might it look more like a video game than an actual video game and constant fight sequences to pad out the story that become tedious and boring like Captain America the Winter Soldier that just seems that they are compensating for lazy script writing.

    • bastardjackyll:

      Expendables 2 didn’t suck, and was TONS more fun than the first movie. And Van Damme’s turn as the villain is pretty widely regarded as the high point in the series so far.

      • jack:

        C’mon the 2nd movie sucked with the forced cameo, dull gun fights that they repeated in the 3rd film and weak ass story that they ditched Jet Lee near the start of the film and essentially is a cameo in the 3rd film so he is becoming an Ex-Expendable.

        The first film was infinitely better.

        • bastardjackyll:

          LOL, the first ten minutes of Expendables 2 kicks everything in 1 & 3 right in the nuts. We’re just gonna have to agree to disagree on this one, even though you’re wrong. : )

        • Cecil:

          Jet Lee had to leave because he had a scheduling conflict. Not sure about why he wasn’t in 3 more. I know he prefers to make movies in his native land, so maybe doing these just isn’t worth it for him to travel across the globe and be away from his family.

    • Cecil:

      Regardless of your feelings on Expendables 2 (I liked it a lot) the movie made 305 million. In the studio’s eyes that is a hit.

      To quote Roger Ebert “No good movie is too long and no bad movie is short enough.”

      • jack:

        True but it set the direction in which the franchise is going that might have led to the disappointing box office of 3 that I am sure they will blame on the leaked DVDSCR.

        I understand some movies given the genre and story especially epic films like Lord of the Rings have to be long films but did Prisoners that is a good movie need to be 2 1/2 hours long or A Million Ways to Die in the West a 1 hour 56 minute comedy or Transformers 4 an excruciating 2 hours and 45 minutes?

        I don’t think the main problem with The Expendables 3 was the PG-13 rating that would have been better if it was R but that it introduces these new characters and story involving them because they want to establish a spin off franchise. There planning on shooting an all-female Expendabelles movie.

        Stallone’s mom could be in it but I think she is shooting the next Halloween film. 😉

        • Cecil:

          Prisoners was long but I felt the pacing of that made it so it never felt that way. Transformers 2 on the other hand…

          I feel the leaked screener of EX3 is a major scapegoat. I know a lot of people who, lets say, are constantly getting bootlegs. None of them had EX3 and didn’t even know it was out there. These were people who had 1-2, which they also saw in theaters.

    • jack:


      .”..big trailer bait disaster action sequences that make it look more like a video game than an actual video game..”

  • bastardjackyll:

    Dude, brilliant.

    The movie reviews are always great, but it’s well researched, produced, and polished content like this that sets you apart from the pack. I’ll be kicking down a few bucks (again), if it keeps you going!

  • Pingback: Why They Wrecked “World War Z”

    “I’d like to take several weeks and produce a cool video, showcasing the history of the PG-13 rating, what passed for PG before it, and how modern ratings decisions have caused a big problem. I’d include cool clips…”

    • Cecil:

      Great minds think alike. 🙂

      I’m thinking of doing a follow up video with more shots comparing the rated and unrated versions of scenes.

  • Mike:

    You are so right. PG-13 went from the bad boy PG movie to the teachers pet R movie. Die Hard 4 is my watershed moment of fuck this shit.

  • Egil Hellá:

    Nice video and I am weary curious to know if you are interested in doing a episode about What Happened to Non CGI Movie Special Effects and by the way are you interested in doing a review of World War Z ?

    • Cecil:

      Thanks! Working on something related to practical effects but it won’t be ready for some time. Not doing WWZ, I really didn’t like it.

      • Egil Hellá:

        Yeah but the Peter Capaldi parts were pretty good for one reason and it is also the one reason people IL remember this movie

  • Egil:

    Hie buddy how is work going with the practical effects episode ?

Leave a Reply