Why the MPAA has no clue what is “appropriate” for kids

Got this email about “Whale Rider” as I’m making a list of movies centered on awesome girl characters:


This wouldn’t meet your criterion of ages 2 through 8.  But as your girls get older, you might consider Whale Rider:


Movie is a story of a young Maori girl in New Zealand who cannot become the tribal chief because she is female.  It was not only the best “children’s film” of that year (2002)–I thought it was the best film, period.  The young actress playing the lead was nominated for an Oscar.  Rated PG-13 because one of the girl’s older, male Maori relatives was clearly a drug addict, although kids might not even understand the message that was being conveyed about drug use.


I completely forgot about this movie. I loved it. I saw it before I had kids, so I will see it again before showing it to them, but the reason Tom gives for it being rated PG– a relative is a drug addict– is not something that would stop me. I’d have to see it of course, but I  doubt the drug addict relative is shown in a positive light.

But here is my question: Why is a supporting role of a guy who is probably messing up his life doing drugs supposedly damaging for my daughter to see, but it’s just great for her to watch another girl showing her belly button, brushing her hair, and literally giving up her voice to get a guy? I know one family visiting San Francisco and their kid saw an ad for a strip club on Broadway; she pointed and said, “Ariel!”

What is wrong with this picture? Cinderella, Snow White, invisible girls or girls only in supporting roles in G movie after G movie (that’s MPAA Gs, not Reel Girl Girlpower Gs) but never let your kid see anything with drugs in it! Or a cigarette! Or a swear word!

A lot of adults don’t get it. Liberal men in particular. I’ve gotten in many arguments with pacifist, peace loving men who complain about the rating system, and say something like: violence is OK in movies, but sex is not? That’s not right. Why are people so uptight about sex?

But for women, the question “sex or violence” doesn’t even make sense. So often, in movies, the sex is linked with violence. Women are being raped, attacked, murdered, imprisoned while they are in their wet T shirts and bikinis.

“Whale Rider” may be too old for my kids.They’re still mostly into animated films. But I imagine I will show it to them as soon as they can follow it. I’ll see it and rate it for you but my guess is it’ll have multiple Gs: lots of Girlpower and suitable for kids.