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Did 'Eighth Grade' Receive a Fair Rating?


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Aug 12, 2018

Did 'Eighth Grade' Receive a Fair Rating?

A recent movie, entitled “Eighth Grade”, is fighting their R-rating from the Motion Picture Association of America. This movie follows the lives of eighth-grade students during their period of adolescence.  Many contributors to the film are disapproving of their harsh rating and believe it would be beneficial to actual eighth grade students to watch this film; hence, they called for a free screening of “Eighth Grade” on Wednesday night where “Moviegoers of all ages can experience Eighth Grade with free screenings in all 50 states. No ratings enforced.” 

The MPAA would probably disagree with these nation-wide free screenings.  The R-rating steps from “explicitly language and a sexually charged scene.” The MPAA has a set of guidelines in which they use to rate movies.  A line of them says, “A motion picture’s single use of one of the harsher sexually-derived words, though only as an expletive, initially requires a PG-13 rating.  More than one such expletive requires an R rating, as must even one of those words used in a sexual context.”  The guidelines continue to say that some films may have exceptions from this rule (if decided upon by the organization).  However, unfortunately for them, “Eighth Grade” was not one of these films.  The use of 5 “f-words” was not exempt.  Based off of the MPAA’s guidelines and procedures, it seems like the film logically falls into the R-rated category due to its use of explicit language in addition to sexual content.

Since the movie title refers to a specific group of students/teenagers, it is assumed that this movie is made for them and documents their experiences in an, often difficult, transitional time.  Bo Burnham, the writer and director of “Eighth Grade”, disagrees with their R-rating as he wants the movie to be for all ages.  Hence, he announced the free showing on Wednesday night: “This Wednesday night. No ratings enforced.  If you’ve been through eighth grade, ‘Eighth Grade’ is for you.  This is not just adult content.  This is Eighth Grade.”  This announcement hoped to encourage younger viewers to attend without consequences.  It has already received some positive reviews, such as from Molly Ringwald, who claims “I just saw @eigthgrademov and thought it was the best film about adolescence I’ve seen in a long time. Maybe ever.” 

In the past, similar movies have received harsh ratings for the MPAA.  The movie “Bully” (2012) was rated R, but students from across the country did not accept that rating as they believed the content of the film was important to show. Led by Katy Butler, a student-led group acquired 200,000 signatures and changed the rating. reviewer, Christy Lemire, encourages parents to go to this film with their kids, regardless of its rating: “Like ‘The Breakfast Club’ and ‘Fast Times at Ridgemont High’ before it, ‘Eighth Grade’ carries a rating that may make it seems too mature for your kids, but it’s probably exactly what they need to see right now as they figure out their place in the world.  I highly recommend it for viewers who are in eighth grade themselves – and maybe even sixth or seventh – and older.”





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