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In the USA the MPAA rates movies according to the appropriate audiences on a scale of G, PG, PG-13, R or NC-17. Only the last two impose any constraint on who can see it (for R an adult must accompany the viewer, for NC-17 only people 18 or older can see it).

In the UK the ratings are U, PG, 12-A, 15, 18 and R18. The numeric ratings mean nobody under that age can see the movie (except for 12-A where an adult must accompany under 12s but they really shouldn't be shown to under 12s according to the advice; R-18 is reserved for, basically, porn shown in specially licensed premises). Other European systems are usually similar to the UK but with different details.

Many Europeans are mystified at the American system which seems very tolerant of violence but puritanical about anything sexual. They are also mystified that the American system's lax attitude to age restriction leaves a whole category (NC-17) which many cinemas won't show when the European mandatory age restriction avoids this by making the rating clearer so audiences can safely choose appropriate content.

But the criteria for putting movies in different categories also seem to be very different. What are the key differences between the movie content that generates the different categories in US-style and European-style ratings systems?

  • @Paulie_D I was hoping to see examples taken from actual movies with ratings so we don't need the explicit criteria form the MPAA. What are the broad determinants according to what actually movies show? – matt_black Jul 26 '18 at 12:00
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    @Paulie_D I think you are stretching the definition of "opinion" in this context. IF an analysis of features of movies shows that, for example, full frontal nudity only occurs in R-rated but never in PG-13, then it isn't an opinion but strong evidence that this is an important part of the criterion for an R-rating. – matt_black Jul 26 '18 at 12:10
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    The British Board of Film Classification has a very useful guide to its system on its webpage.bbfc.co.uk/what-classification/classification-guidelines .Click on the rating to see their criteria. – Sarriesfan Mar 16 at 14:07

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