Remember when James Cameron’s Titantic made waves in your middle school?

I do.

Kelly Bartlett kept talking bragging about how HER parents let her watch PG-13 movies, even though she was only ELEVEN.

Darnit Kelly! I wasn’t so lucky. I didn’t see the film until I was 13, and believe me. By that time, it was totally passe. Forget Leo – Josh Hartnett was IT!

I needed a scape goat for my sorry state of un-coolness, so I tried the Motion Picture Association of America. Who were they to deem some films PG and others PG-13?

Well, as it turns out, they were a group of 10 parents, unassociated with the film industry, trying to prevent middle-school eyes and ears from being sullied.

Their ring leader? Joan Graves.

Joan Graves, a mother of two, and head of the movie ratings system for the Motion Picture Association of America, rates over 700 movies a year. Originally in real estate, Graves became a part-time rater for the MPAA in 1988, and slowly made her way up the ranks.

Recently, Joan has made her way into the press – she has redesigned the MPAA ratings website so parents can get information about ratings, read descriptions about content, and decide for themselves what is appropriate or not. As Ms. Graves puts it, “Before we were in the dark ages” but now, “you can pretty much click and be happy.”

If you want to try the “click and be happy” option, visit the website here:


This is a victory for middle school children everywhere.

Once, the MPAA ruined the lives of middle-schoolers on a daily basis, issuing infallible decrees on DIRTY-ness. Now, middle-school children can engage in a democratic process, bring their parents to the website, boggle them with a million well-constructed arguments in favor of irreverent humor and prove that the PG-13 movie their friends are watching is not that bad.

Rosie duPont, BC ’10

ArtsLink Associate

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