The problem cited in Richard Natale's article on PG-13 and R ("Rated C for Confusing," March 11) goes back to the introduction of the ratings system in 1968 and stems from the decision to lump all adolescents together rather than have a separate category for 15- to 17-year-olds. The British and Scandinavian systems include a separate category for these ages, yet although our system is based on theirs, it didn't incorporate this category.
Many of the films mentioned in the article, while questionable for 12- to 14-year-olds, are perfectly acceptable for 15- to 17-year-olds.
In those countries with the 15-to-17 category, which also include Japan and Australia, filmmakers have had no problem with their films getting that rating. Since the majority of films made today are aimed at the 16-to-24-year-old audience that goes to the movies regularly, the introduction of such a category here would ease a lot of these problems. But the Directors Guild committee referred to in the article will need backup from the government to get Jack Valenti and the Motion Picture Assn. of America to agree to it, as they were forced to agree to PG-13 and NC-17.
Film editor, director, historian
Probably the easiest way to see that the current MPAA ratings system is an ad hoc, patchwork absurdity is to notice that "drug use" is always vetted carefully for a potential R rating, while "bomb use" and "machine gun use" are (like murder, espionage and treason) ordinary, everyday components of PG-13 action-adventure and spy films.
Jack Valenti and others who defend the present movie ratings system are not living in the real world. Most 13- and 14-year-olds don't see movies with Mom and Dad. They are dropped off at a multiplex with their same-aged friends. Since PG-13 only has an inadequate warning and no restrictions, they are free to see anything not rated R.
If they see a really offensive movie, they probably tell Mom and Dad they saw a G movie in the same building.
Today's motion picture ratings almost guarantee that I will not show any of this year's films in my high school classroom. In the past, a PG-13 film could be shown, while an R-rated film was probably not appropriate for the classroom.
Today's PG-13 films are so full of gross humor and sexual innuendoes that they have no place in a secondary classroom. The few films with redeeming social value are rated R.
Teachers will have to continue the tried and true films such as "To Kill a Mockingbird" and forget about including any new films in their lessons.
Judging today's movies is simple: (1) Remind yourself that 90% of what Hollywood shoves our way is worthless trash, (2) check the ratings, (3) go from there.