'Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness' Reignites The Controversy Of PG-13 Ratings
Moral panic-infused backlashes are obviously nothing new for superhero-based content – hence why an old lady randomly moved in with Batman and Robin in the 1960s. This time, some folks are expressing dismay that the newly-released Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is rated PG-13, and not R, because … it’s kind of spooky? There are several bloodless deaths? How is this an issue, exactly?
This argument really only makes sense if the entirety of your cinematic intake is Marvel-centric, because while Multiverse of Madness is directed by Evil Dead legend Sam Raimi, and it may be more grisly than the average MCU movie, it’s far less intense than loads of other PG-13-rated movies like Raimi’s Drag Me To Hell. Maybe people should just be glad that no Marvel character was forced to barf up bloody cat guts.
The puritanical opposition to the PG-13 rating is also not a recent development by any stretch of the imagination; obviously it’s happened in the past with movies like Batman Returns, but people were literally complaining about the content of PG-13 movies in the first month they existed, back in 1984.
Religious groups immediately protested that the PG-13 rating wasn’t restrictive enough – and to be totally fair, the very first PG-13 movie was Red Dawn, a paranoid right wing fantasy engineered by Alexander Haig, Reagan’s Secretary of State – which is an assuredly terrible thing to show small children. But most of the vocal criticisms seemingly had more to do with Hollywood’s penchant for sex and violence. And these groups didn’t just want a change to the ratings system, some wanted “local censorship.”
But ultimately, it seems as though these complaints have always been more about ceding parental responsibility. One Catholic film critic claimed in ‘84 that: “This new rating will make parents' jobs harder.” And sure, the PG-13 rating is ultimately kind of meaningless since kids don’t carry ID and aren’t really prevented from seeing these movies. But that’s just another reason why parents need to exercise a modicum of effort instead of letting a small handful of anonymous strangers determine what their children should watch no questions asked.
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Top Image: Marvel Studios