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Rated ‘R’ For Violence, Language, and… Traditional Gender Roles?

A new movie rating system could age-restrict movies because they portray traditional gender roles.

For decades, organizations like the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) have assigned films a rating (i.e. G, PG, PG-13, etc.) based on their age appropriateness level.

Screening films for themes like violence, sexuality, and language that could be considered inappropriate for certain age groups, the MPAA has made sure that parents can protect their children from age-inappropriate topics.

But one group is seeking to add a new criteria to those age-inappropriate themes: gender roles.

According to The Economist, Common Sense Media is attempting to evaluate films based on how well they portray progressive social goals:

In theory, the system is quite simple: a film will be awarded the organisation’s seal of approval if it presents characters that defy gender stereotypes. Films designed for early childhood (between the ages of two and six) should depict boys and girls as friends and equals. By the time of early adolescence (between 11 and 13), films must demonstrate that worth is based on more than just physical beauty. In foregrounding the lazy depictions of men and women on television and in films, the move is being hailed by some as a breakthrough. Geena Davis, an actor and the founder of an organisation dedicated to addressing gender imbalances in the media, told the New York Times that the CSM system increases accountability: “people making these products are sure they’re gender-balanced when they’re profoundly not.”

The system is still in its infancy, but CSM has chosen dozens of films and television shows that offer progressive depictions of gender roles. “Moonlight” gets the thumbs-up for its portrayal of being young, black and gay in America. “Mulan” (1998) makes the list thanks to its “strong female character” that fights the Huns. “Bend it Like Beckham” (2003), a romantic comedy, is also praised for its determined, ambitious, football-loving protagonist, Jess.

Despite their commitment to emphasizing progressive values, some on the left are apparently still not satisfied that their rating system goes far enough:

But some might argue that these are not unequivocally progressive characters. Mulan can only join the Chinese army by posing as a man—men are, it is repeated, superior to women—and when she is offered a high-ranking job, she turns it down in order to return to the homestead. Jess, too, is an unusual female lead, but one could argue that she relies heavily on the film’s male football coach for guidance and encouragement. These examples rather illustrate the problem: “gender-positive” is hardly a neutral concept.

With this sort of rating system, it’s hard to imagine that Common Sense Media would ever employ common sense and accurately give age-appropriate ratings to any of the top 25 movies of all time on IMBD’s list of the highest rated films of all time.

One person who’s happy, though? None other than Chelsea Clinton.