We live in a world dictated by labels: PG, PF-13, R. There are ratings slapped on to the cover of everything from video games, to music, to movies, each one dictating the age range for which said piece of entertainment is suitable. These ratings provide a valuable insight into the morals and values of our society and can help show what people value as being important to protect their children from.
Enter “The Hunger Games”, the recent blockbuster phenomenon that has had people lining up at midnight to see it in recent weeks. This innocuous phenomenon has been branded with a rather kid friendly PG-13 label, allowing for a very large audience range. However, this begs the question and the point of this article, is this movie truly acceptable for 13-year-olds? After all, the entire premise of the movie is based around the ritualized tradition of mortal combat to the death of 24 teens.
Which is interesting because almost any video game containing violence, and certainly any involving killing, is slapped with a mature (17+) rating almost indiscriminately. This is done because people believe that seeing this violence played out on their home televisions by their controllers may cause children to become desensitized towards violence or may cause them to commit violent acts. While it may be sound reasoning I have yet to see any 10-year-old, after playing Grand Theft Auto, carjack someone, run over pedestrians, and go on a killing spree.
Yet the video game’s rating provides an interesting foil to the ratings systems of the music and more importantly, the movie industry. For some reason in the movie industry killing is okay. Horror movies featuring gore and dismemberment is okay because, presumably, the children realize that what they are watching isn’t real. However, the moment the “f-bomb” or other crude and offensive language is used, the movie is slapped with an R rating. Such is the case with the movie “Bully”, which features a documentary on a young boy as he struggles with social stigmatization and bullying. Yet “The Hunger Games”, a movie about the ritualistic sport like killing of teenagers, is deemed appropriate for audiences of 13.
This is what I have contention with, is this irregularity. So to answer the point of this article, no I do not believe that “The Hunger Games” is acceptable for 13-year-olds to watch, not unless “Bully” is also deemed fit to be viewed by the same demographic. Currently we live in a society that will condone its children to watch teens be slaughtered in mass, yet we will not allow them to watch a documentary about bullying because it contains offensive language.
So, in short, if you are worried about the age-appropriateness of a movie in regards to your child, don’t blindly listen to the ratings board; view it yourself first, question your own morals, and then decide on your own whether the movie is appropriate for your children.