For elderly people like me, in our 30s, it's sobering to realize that on any given Friday night, the majority of people in an average American movie theater do not remember a time when the PG-13 rating did not exist. Yes, it was 25 years ago this summer that the Motion Picture Association of America added PG-13 to its roster of ratings, joining G, PG, R, and X (which in 1990 was replaced by NC-17). Perhaps you already know some of the trivia involved. 'Tis no urban legend: Gremlins and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom really were the catalysts that brought about the new rating, and Steven Spielberg -- who produced one and directed the other -- was the mastermind.

"I created the problem and I also supplied the solution," Spielberg told the Associated Press in 2004. "I invented the rating." Temple of Doom was released May 23, 1984, and horrified parents immediately began complaining that the PG rating was too lax, citing the heart-ripping-out scene in particular. (I'd have cited Kate Capshaw's performance, but I guess that's more "irritating" than "horrifying.") Gremlins, with its microwaved monsters and general bloody mayhem, opened two weeks later, and the uproar grew louder. I remember my aunt, who took my cousin and me to see it (we were 9), saying she thought Stripe's melting at the end was too gross for a PG movie. We just thought it was awesome.

To parents, both films seemed too graphic to be rated PG. Logically, that meant they should have been rated R instead, as that was the only other choice. But they'd be kind of tame compared to other R-rated movies, especially considering the content was aimed at teenagers. Somehow neither rating seemed right.
categories Movies, Cinematical