Why is scary makeup allowed in PG-13 movies?

For example the orcs' faces in The Lord of the Rings are very scary, but the movies got a PG-13 rating. Another example would be The Mummy (1999), whose title character also has a very scary face but which is still PG-13 rated.

  • 5
    Why shouldn't it be allowed? How scary is too scary? A better question would probably be how much scariness is allowed, but I guess that's equally unanswerable specifically. But I admittedly also don't have any insight into the workings of the MPAA (if anyone has).
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Jan 27, 2015 at 13:53
  • You are asking a stream of purely opinion questions about MPAA ratings. None of these are answerable as they are all controlled by the MPAA ratings board which does not make clear their decision making process. These questions are also all heavily opinion based--in other words, in your opinion some things should be rated a certain way. They're not just not answerable questions.
    – DA.
    Jan 27, 2015 at 19:09
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    To ask it the other way around, why should the MPAA or other clarification/censorship agencies have any sway over my decision about whether my child is old / mature enough to see scary makeup or brief nudity (from your other question). Making it more restrictive than it currently is removes all my freedom to judge things for myself as a parent. I wanted to make this comment to show how 'opinions-based' any such process is. I like how the MPAA (or other agencies) provide some guidance, but really - I personally don't want them to censor any more heavily.
    – iandotkelly
    Jan 27, 2015 at 20:28

1 Answer 1


According to the wiki on the MPAA:

  • Rated PG: Parental guidance strongly suggested – some material may not be suitable for children

  • Rated PG-13: Parents strongly cautioned – some material may be inappropriate for children under 13

  • Rated R: Restricted – under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian

So why are LOTR and The Mummy rated as PG13 movies?

The violence and fear are intended to provide a small scare, there is no explicit violence really, and in fairness, the parents are strongly cautioned.

If a 13 year old can't handle a movie like The Mummy, I don't think the PG13 rating is the problem.

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