AP Lang 1B
November 20, 2013
Media Exposure and Limitation
One of the fastest evolving mediums for communication that has been made available to those in almost all financial situations is televised media. Television is viewed every day by millions of people in America. Blockbuster movies grace the screens of thousands of movie theaters, television shows run out new episodes every week at eight. Nearly every United States citizen watches TV every day, but do any of them stop to think about the effect? Do television shows or games send a negative message? Are they influencing the behavior of the impressionable? Odds are that many citizens ponder these questions, and then decide that the rating system currently in place shields society from these issues. That assumption would be incorrect. Society is under the influence of media ideas and messages, and the current systems in place to prevent abuse of media simply do not work anymore. I propose that the current rating systems of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) be refined and more heavily enforced in order to stop the behavioral change in society generated by media influence.
As it stands, the current media rating system has been fairly lenient with enforcement of said ratings. The MPAA divides movies into five categories: “G” for general audiences, “PG” for suggested parental guidance, “PG-13” for parents cautioned for children under 13, “R” for restricted to 17 and older without parental accompaniment, and “NC-17” for no one 17 and under admitted at all. The ESRB imposes a similar system, albiet with more specific age groups: “eC” for early childhood, “E” for all ages, “E10” for everyone 10 and older, “T” for teens 13 and up, “M” for mature teens 17 and older, and “AO” adults only 18 and up. Within both rating systems, the top two ranks remain the most heavily enforced, with theaters and stores actively checking the IDs of patrons, but the other ratings are currently almost vestigial. If a child looks thirteen, he could easily enter a PG-13 movie, despite being a tall eleven year old. He could buy a T rated game without having to prove his age. This rating system cannot be effective if it is not wholly enforced. Children are psychologically impressionable at a young age, and many fear that any exposure to negative ideas may cause lasting effects that continue throughout adulthood. Censorship of media has already been the cause of a heated dispute between parents in America and the Supreme Court, as an attempt to censor media material violates the First Amendment, freedom of press. By limiting distribution and availability instead of changing the material being distributed, the First Amendment remains untouched and children are still relieved of some negative messages.
The effects of these messages manifested in a spike in the violent crime rate of the United States which occurred in 1965, “when...