It's kind of funny to think back and realize that the PG-13 rating was created because of a pair of Steven Spielberg flicks. Boiled down to its essence, the new rating was invented because of A) the heart-ripping sequence from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and B) the microwave oven explosion in Gremlins. (Yes, I know Joe Dante directed Gremlins, but it was a Spielberg production.) I remember thinking it was a very smart move: This way movies could get a little more violent / sexy / nasty -- without overdoing it -- and the youthful movie fans could still enjoy the mayhem. But we should have known something was out of whack from the very first flick: The debut of the PG-13 was on John Milius' Red Dawn ... which quickly made its way into the record books as one of the most violent films ever made.
So what began as a simple warning for parents -- "This rating is not 'enforced' like the Restricted is, but we thought you'd want to know that this movie is just a little bit rougher than your typical PG fare" -- quickly became something else: an oasis of profitability wedged between the now-kiddified PG rating and the oh-so-alluring R. Basically, a new rating tailor-made for Hollywood's most coveted demographic: the teenager. (You tell a 15-year-old that this movie is too scary or too sexy for a 13-year old, but not for a 15-year-old, and you're halfway to getting that kid in the door, regardless of what the movie is.)