Media Observations- Ratings and Children

Movie rating has always been an important part in helping parents figure out what is appropriate for their families to watch. One of the first and most important group of movie reviewers was The Motion Picture Production Code, also known as the Hays Code. They quickly organized the Production Code Administration, which had the authority to review and delete morally objectionable material from the final script and film. Finally, films were forced to cut out all profanity, drug addiction, adultery, nudity, racial comments, and sexually suggestive dancing and costumes, as they were absolutely forbidden. This system lasted a while, before the more powerful Classification & Ratings Administration (CARA) started, which we continue to use today. The CARA is a rating board which is made up of a group of parents whose goal is to give other parents information about the film so they can make informed decisions. Each movie comes with the rating G, PG, PG-13, R, or NC-17, as well as a brief description of the content in the film that influenced its rating. The only problem with this system is that it is constantly evolving; as American parent’s sensitivities and standards change, so does the rating system. To combat the evolution and make sure the system is safe, elements of films, such as violence, language, drug use, and sexuality, are constantly re-evaluated through surveys.

One key focus group for advertisers is children; they have a much bigger influence on their parent’s buying power than most people realize. One of their best ways of advertising is through commercials on children channels. As long as the commercials are bright, fun, and contain action, kids will watch and remember. Then, as the child sees the product at the store, they will remember the fun the children on the commercial were having while playing with the product, and demand to have the product purchased. Grocery stores know this, and purposely place all children cereals (which are covered in bright colors and the words ‘prizes’ to draw attention) on the bottom shelves so they would be seen and bought. But it doesn’t stop at toys; the advertisements children see influences their food choices, clothing, which restaurant the family eats at together, and family trips and entertainment choices. All of this isn’t by accident. Advertising companies have gone so far as to pay researchers and psychologist to figure out the child’s developmental, emotional, and social needs at every age level. Even further, they analyze children’s behavior, their fantasy, and dreams, and warp their marketing strategies so they might create the biggest impact.


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