Rated R: Sex and violence, not drugs or cursing

January 13, 2014, 7:19 PM GMT+0

Most people still believe that sex or violence in movies warrants an R rating, but bad language and drug use less so.

Many of this year's blockbuster movies were not short on mature content - from cursing and sex to violence and gore. The winner of best movie drama at the Golden Globes, 12 Years A Slave, shows the violence and racism of slavery in the United States, while The Wolf of Wall Street broke the record for using "the f word" with characters using the word more often than in any other movie yet released. The Motion Picture Association (MPAA) strives to keep its ratings up to date, and changed its system as recently as last year to give parents a better understanding of the violence depicted on screen.

According to the latest YouGov research, Americans rate sexual and violent content as the most deserving of an R rating. Fifteen different categories that could be thought unsuitable for children were listed, ranging across foul language, nudity and sexual acts, violence, and drug and alcohol use. Out of these, sexual violence is seen as the most deserving of an 'R' rating (86%). Few Americans, however, thinking that tobacco use (17%) or blasphemy (29%) should lead a film to receive an 'R' rating.

Older people are stricter than younger people when it comes to everything except on screen alcohol use (28% to 26%). Older Americans disagree most with their younger counterparts when asked about bad language. Older Americans are much more likely to think that R-ratings should be given to movies with sexually explicit language, racially offensive language, blasphemy and more general cursing. Over-65s are also the only group where a majority think that movies with underage drinking should be rated 'R'.

Women are more restrictive than men in every category. Racially offensive and sexually explicit language are particularly offensive to women, but less so to men. Graphic violence and female nudity also had large discrepancies, with 15% more women than men thinking that films with these types of scenes should receive an 'R' rating.

According to the MPAA's website, R-rated films contain some adult themes, adult activity, hard language, intense or persistent violence, sexually-oriented nudity, drug abuse or other elements. Parents are counseled to take this rating very seriously. Children under 17 are not allowed to attend R-rated motion pictures unaccompanied by a parent or adult guardian.

Though The Wolf of Wall Street broke the record for cursing, less than half of Americans (46%) think that this, by itself, should warrant an 'R' rating. However, the movie does include hard drug use and sexual activity, both of which appeared higher on the survey's list of R-rated content.

Full poll results can be found here.

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