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Entertainment ratings get an 'F'

A government official in Australia is trying to have a concert tour by American rap singer Eminem rated "R."

Rock concerts in Australia, or in the United States for that matter, don't carry ratings labels. But the official wants to extend the current ratings system there for books, musical recordings, and movies to apply to live concerts.

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Here in the US, some groups and politicians are calling for a uniform ratings system across all the entertainment media: movies, TV, recordings, and video games. Right now, each has its own system, creating an "alphabet soup" of confusion. Movies have G, PG, PG-13, R, and NC-17 designations. But television uses terms like TV-Y and TV-MA, while video games are rated from E for Everyone to M for Mature. Musical recordings don't have ratings, though some labels put warnings on recordings with explicit lyrics.

Even the familiar movie ratings are under attack. A crackdown on underage teens sneaking into R-rated films has had an unintended consequence: New PG-13 movies are pushing the boundaries of that category with graphic scenes of sex, drug use, and violence.

This week Michael Medved, in a USA Today opinion column, proposed that the industry change the category from PG-13 to R-13, to better alert parents that strong doses of material inappropriate for teens can be in these films.

A new survey by the National Institute on Media and the Family has found that parents would rate movies, TV shows, and video games much more strictly than any of the current systems do.

A healthy discussion among citizens, politicians, and Hollywood moguls should be able to yield a system that better protects teens.

Write to entertainment@csps.com.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor