Glickman highlighted the system’s enduring value to American parents and to the creative freedoms afforded filmmakers, while also spotlighting efforts to keep ratings current with modern society. The world’s only voluntary film rating system formally known as the Classification and Rating Administration marks its fourth decade this November.
The American movie rating system is synonymous with the First Amendment with political, artistic and creative expression in the United States, Glickman stated. For 40 years, the ratings system has thrived, allowing diverse voices and visions to be heard and seen, protecting freedom of expression, all while respecting parents’ desire for the information they need to raise their kids according to their beliefs, not those of whoever happens to be in power at the time in Washington or Hollywood.
Glickman noted that since its formation in the late 1960s by his predecessor Jack Valenti, the rating system has endured by continuously adapting with societal changes, reflecting the concerns of modern parents. He added that raters themselves are parents and that their job is to rate films as they believe a majority of their fellow American parents would rate a film.
With the addition of the PG-13 rating in 1984, the inclusion of the ratings descriptors in the 1990s and the announcement last spring to include smoking as a factor in ratings, the system has evolved, echoing the majority view of parents. While the system has its critics, it has consistently maintained near 80% approval ratings among those it exists to serve parents of young children. Glickman also discussed the addition of Red Carpet Ratings, a free weekly email service with ratings information on current films. "We understand that parents lead busy lives, so we’ve made a commitment to making it easy to get this ratings information," he said.
In his keynote remarks, Glickman lauded MPAA’s partnership with the National Association of Theatre Owners, which jointly oversees the rating system, and other vital industry stakeholders, led by the Directors Guild of America. He also described the MPAA’s ongoing commitment to ensuring greater transparency for independent filmmakers who submit a majority of the roughly 850 films the rating administration reviews each year.
"Movies demonstrate to the world that here in America we have the democratic right to speak truth to power and express ourselves openly," Glickman said. "This is a profound and still-rare freedom in the world today. I firmly believe that this is the bedrock of American liberty, and I am proud to commemorate 40 years of freedom for American filmmaking.