MPAA Under Attack After a Study is Published
A few days ago, a study conducted by the Annenberg Public Policy Center and the Ohio State University was discussed in and around Hollywood because it had an interesting finding. Especially gun violence surfaced at least in the same amount if not more often in PG-13 films compared to R-rated films. The usage of guns has tripled within films rated PG-13 since 1985.
The MPAA issued a statement that addressed the study's findings and emphasized once more that the age ratings are made for parents and that criticism doesn't come from them but from researchers. The MPAA ratings are supposed to be guidelines for parents and judge films from their point of view. And the PG-13 would represent a first warning ("strong warning") that parents should look at the film's content before they show it to their children.
This position is understandable. The MPAA serves the parents and assists them in their choice of films. Unfortunately, that has the grave consequence for adults that many films that are not really targeting children are striving towards a PG-13 because an "R" rating somehow scares off many cinemagoers. And this way, a PG-13 is safer. See the latest example Philomena.
The MPAA probably won't be able to solve this conflict. The industry, the parents and self-deciding cinemagoers just have differing interests and someone is always left behind.