30 Years of Watching PG-13 Movies

Harrison Ford in the 1984 film Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, directed by Steven Spielberg.
Harrison Ford in the 1984 film Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, directed by Steven Spielberg. –PARAMOUNT PICTURES

Were you a 12-year-old whose parents wouldn’t let them watch PG-13 movies? Or are you that parent?

On July 1, 1984, according to The History Channel, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), introduced PG-13 as a new rating, and tweens everywhere grumbled.

The initial ratings, which went into place in 1968, weren’t too different than they are today, but there was a big age gap between movie ratings for kids and movies for adults, The History Channel said.

“The initial rating categories were G (appropriate for all ages), M (for mature audiences, but all ages admitted), R (persons under 16 not admitted without an accompanying adult) and X (no one under 17 admitted).’’

M moved to PG, R was raised to 17 years old and PG-13 was added, “to indicate film content with a ‘higher level of intensity.’’’


“Red Dawn,’’ starring Patrick Swayze and Charlie Sheen, went into theaters in August 1984. It was the first movie to get the new PG-13 rating.

What famous movie series sparked this change in the MPAA?

Da da da dada da da da dadadada! “Indiana Jones!’’

According to Business Insider, “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom,’’ released June 15, 1984, was rated PG. Being the darkest of the Indian Jones films, many parents who took their children to see it were horrified. (There is a pretty graphic human sacrifice scene.)

The AP reported in 2004 that Steven Spielberg, the “Indiana Jones’’ director, said “I created the problem and I also supplied the solution…I invented the rating.’’

Thirteen seemed to be an age where kids developed an awareness of the difference between fantasy and reality, the AP said.

PG-13, the AP reports, was seen as positive and not constricting for movie makers.

Spielberg told the AP, “In a way it’s better to get a PG-13 than a PG for certain movies. Sometimes PG, unless it’s for an animated movie, it turns a lot of young people off. They think it’s going to be too below their radar and they tend to want to say, ‘Well, PG-13 might have a little bit of hot sauce on it.’’’


According to Business Insider, six of the top ten highest grossing domestic films of all time are rated PG-13.

Loading Comments...

5 beers to drink right now
January 20, 2018 | 5:00 AM
Love Letters
Love Letters Chat
January 18, 2018 | 11:44 AM