Hello all, long time no blog. Anyway, today class, we shall examine youth rights abuse in the form of Entertainment Industry Age Restrictions:

As the old saying goes, the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and it is these intentions that I have a problem with. Organizations such as the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) and the ESRB (Entertainment Software Rating Board) seek to rate the content in their genres, those being Film and Games respectively. And it is not the harmless rating that I take issue with, but both the pressure tactics used by the associations to mandate their ratings, and the way they are formed. These two rating organizations not only arbitrarily rate content, but try to push their views upon the distributors of said content.

Unlike the Televisions Ratings System, which rates programs, but in deference to free speech doesn’t outright restrict who can view them, the MPAA and the ERSB have restrictions on content they deem unacceptable. These arbitrary restrictions infringe on both the rights of a portion of the consumer (those below the mandated age limit) and on the rights of the parent or guardian to individually raise their offspring. The MPAA has made it a de facto requirement to conform to their rating system, by compelling the major motion picture studios to submit all their films for rating under fear of membership loss. Also, it is made a near-legal requirement for motion picture theaters to check IDs and gives them reason to deny admittance to age groups in regards to R and NC-17 pictures.

In fact, the NC-17 rating is an infringement on parental rights because even if a parent wanted to take their teenager to one, they would not be allowed. The ESRB rates games that they view as having “strong language” or “sexual content” as being mature, and thusly that they should not be sold to minors at all without parental presence and consent. These rating systems allow/force stores to “comply” and deny those under arbitrary age barriers the right to purchase as they please. The right to property is focal in The Lockesian Social Contract, upon which the ideals of our nation are constructed, and the inalienable right to the pursuit of happiness is enshrined in our Declaration of Independence, authored by President Thomas Jefferson. Yet these natural rights are constricted by these out-dated and arbitrary rating systems.

I am by no means against content descriptors for the purposes of making decisions but creating de facto restrictions, or even making de jure ones as the Family Entertainment Protection Act co-sponsored by Hillary Clinton, Joe Lieberman, Evan Bayh, and Tim Johnson, is simply a travesty and an appalling affront to the American system and to free speech. In the name of self-determination, freedom, and progress, the MPAA and the ESRB ratings must be made de jure only that, ratings on content and guidelines for youth and parents.