Movieguide Explanation of Ratings
** AN EXPLANATION OF OUR RATINGS **
Many people ask us for an explanation of our ratings for movies. The information below should help answer most questions they and other people may have about MOVIEGUIDE®: A Family Guide to Movies and Entertainment. Please write or call us for any further information.
Quality Ratings: * to * * * *
* * * * EXCELLENT
* * * GOOD
* * FAIR
Our Quality Ratings refer to the production values in the movie, the entertainment and artistic quality of the production, and whether the movie fulfills what it tries to do. A four-star rating does not guarantee that the movie will meet our criteria for what makes a truly fine, much less great, work of art. That kind of criteria depends a lot on one’s moral and spiritual values, issues that our Acceptability Ratings (see below) are meant to address.
Acceptability Ratings: +4 to -4
+4 EXEMPLARY: Biblical, usually Christian, worldview, with no questionable elements whatsoever.
+3 MORAL: Some minor questionable elements.
+2 GOOD: Moderately questionable elements.
+1 WORTHWHILE: Discernment required for young children.
-1 CAUTION: Discretion advised for older children.
-2 EXTREME CAUTION: Discretion advised for adults.
-3 EXCESSIVE: Excessive sex, violence, immorality, and/or worldview problems.
-4 ABHORRENT: Intentional blasphemy, evil, gross immorality, falsehood, evil worldviews, and/or destructive, horrendous worldview problems.
Acceptability Ratings take into account cognitive stages of development, moral issues and theological issues. Acceptability Ratings help parents with children and the media-wise adult viewer. Acceptability Ratings are based on a traditional view of the Bible and Christianity. Some movies receive positive ratings because they fit a biblical worldview of ethical monotheism, even though there is little specific Christian content in them. The ultimate evaluation of a movie depends on one’s moral and spiritual values. Those values depend on one’s worldview or total philosophy of life, humanity, the universe, and the supernatural.
CONTENT: (in the following order) 1) Dominant worldview (B-biblical, C-Christian, E-Environmentalist, H-Humanist or socialist, Ho-homosexual, FR-false religion, Pa – New Age or Pagan, etc.); 2) other elements which could be minor occurrences of b-biblical morality, c-Christian elements, E-Environmentalism, Pa – New Age and pagan elements, H-Humanism or socialism, Ho-homosexuality, FR-false religions, etc; 3) L-foul language; 4) V-violence; 5) S-sex; 6) N-nudity; 7) A-alcohol; 8) D-smoking and drugs; and, 9) M-miscellaneous immorality and miscellaneous philosophical and/or theological problems.
Traditional literary genres (5-step scale):
1. Mythic: The triumph of God or gods (May also be called Apocalyptic, because some myths are heroic, ironic or even demonic).
2. Heroic: The triumph of man by his own means.
3. High Ironic: The triumph of man by a quirk of fate.
4. Low Ironic: The failure of man by a quirk of fate.
5. Demonic: The triumph of evil, demons, etc.
Aristotle’s Four Basic Plots:
1. Man Against Man
2. Man Against Nature
3. Man Against Himself
4. Man Against the Supernatural or Subnatural
To which we might add, for our science fiction fans, Man Against Aliens. There are also other basic genre plots for genres like science fiction, westerns, mysteries, horror movies, police procedurals, musicals, comedies, suspense thrillers, etc. See Dr. Tom Snyder, MOVIEGUIDE® Editor/Producer, for a list of some of these.
** POSITIVE WORLDVIEWS **
There are basically two positive worldviews that we use. The first one accounts for the fact that some movies are about the Old Testament (e.g., THE TEN COMMANDMENTS), rather than Christian history or theology per se, and some movies have strong or very strong moral worldviews that reflect basic biblical values, virtues and principles in both the Old Testament and the New.
Moral/Biblical Worldview: Any worldview that implicitly or explicitly reflects and/or promotes the moral principles, values and virtues of the Bible (charity, love, compassion, justice, sexual purity, mercy, truthfulness, faithfulness, honoring one’s parents, the ubiquity of sin, etc.), that rebukes evil (such as hatred, envy, greed, lust, sexual immorality, drunkenness, cruelty), that refers to the God of the Bible or a Creator God who is personal and benevolent rather than impersonal (as in the paganism and pantheism of the Buddhists and New Age), or that tells a story or a group of stories that directly come from the Bible, such as THE TEN COMMANDMENTS or THE NATIVITY STORY.
Christian Worldview: Any worldview that implicitly or explicitly reflects and/or promotes specific Christian principles, values and virtues (such as repentance, forgiveness, sacrifice, the deity of Christ, the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, etc.) that are not just part of a basic moral worldview, that refers in a positive way to the New Testament or a passage from the New Testament, and, especially, that refers to Jesus Christ and/or His Gospel in a positive way. A Christian worldview can be allegorical (as in SUPERMAN RETURNS) but it must be accompanied by some positive Christian principles, values and virtues, like sacrifice (which is what Superman does in SUPERMAN RETURNS).
** ANTI-CHRISTIAN WORLDVIEWS **
(See Dr. Ted Baehr’s book, THE MEDIA-WISE FAMILY, pages 248-268)
Humanism: Humanism posits man as the measure of all things; however, modern humanism is not just an anthropocentric or man-centered system. Accepting (as a matter of good faith!) the definition of humanism posited by THE HUMANIST MANIFESTO, modern humanism (unlike traditional or Christian humanism) believes that only the material world exists; there is no supernatural or nonmaterial world, no God, no gods, and usually no alien “others.” Man has no soul. He is just a meat machine that has “evolved” according to some form of Darwinism. Modern humanism always has a strong anti-supernatural bias. Marx said that his Communism was the ultimate Humanism and advocated that a humanist society should abolish religion, abolish family, abolish nation, and abolish private property.
Romanticism: Man is essentially good and noble, and civilization (by which Rousseau, the “father” of Romanticism, meant Christianity) corrupts man. Man is controlled by his “heart” and emotions, not by his intellect or logical mind. Paganism and mob rule are related to Romanticism, though Romanticism is more consistent and avoids totemism. Romanticism is not related to the idea of romance, but is an idealistic worldview.
Paganism: Eclectic, “anything goes” worship of whatever gods or non-traditional belief system anyone so desires to worship (or a mixture of belief systems), without Christian or biblical values, in contrast to an organized system such as shintoism. Sensual pleasures and material goods are often, but not always, the main goal in life. Often paganism leads to hedonism, anarchy or a fascist dictatorship. Often involves spiritism, use of magic or worship of many false gods (or polytheism), with one of the gods sometimes being singled out for special worship or particular lifelong devotion. Includes what is sometimes called the New Age, as well as basic forms of Buddhism and Hinduism.
Profanity — Language which desecrates the sacred. Usually, profanity refers to taking God’s Name & the Lord Jesus Christ’s Name in vain.
Obscenity — Foul, disgusting, offensive, lewd, and filthy language.
Blasphemy — Language or actions which curse, revile, mock or blaspheme God, His Holy Spirit, the Lord Jesus, or His Church.
Ab – Mild or light anti-biblical, anti-Christian or anti-Jewish worldview or elements
AbAb – Strong anti-biblical, anti-Christian or anti-Jewish worldview or elements
AbAbAb – Very strong anti-biblical, anti-Christian or anti-Jewish worldview or elements
AC – Anti-Communist element worldview (may be increased to ACAC or ACACAC)
ACap – Anti-capitalism, anti-wealth, politics of envy (may be increased)
AP – Anti-patriotism or anti-Americanism (may be increased to APAP pr APAPAP)
A – Light, brief or some alcohol use
AA – Alcohol use and drunkenness or light abuse
AAA – Heavy drunkenness, alcoholism and/or abuse
B – Mild or light biblical or moral worldview, principles, perspective, or character
BB – Strong biblical or moral worldview, principles, perspective, or character
BBB – Very strong biblical or moral worldview, principles, perspective, or character
C – Mild or light Christian worldview or elements, Gospel witness, redemptive elements, or positive reference to Jesus Christ, Christianity or a Christian church or service
CC – Strong Christian worldview or elements, Gospel witness, redemptive elements, or positive reference to Jesus Christ, Christianity or a Christian church or service
CCC – Very strong Christian worldview or elements, Gospel witness, redemptive elements, or positive reference to Jesus Christ, Christianity or a Christian church or service
Cap – Capitalism (may also be increased to CapCap or CapCapCap)
Co – Communism (may also be increased to CoCo or CoCoCo)
D – Light, brief or some smoking
DD – Smoking and light illegal drug use and/or illegal drug selling
DDD – Smoking and heavy illegal drug use and/or illegal drug sales
E – Environmentalism or environmentalist worldview (may be increased)
Ev – Evolutionary worldview or elements (may be increased)
Fe – Feminist worldview or elements (may be increased to FeFe or FeFeFe
FR – Light Non-Christian worldview, or false religions, such as Mormonism or Legalism
FRFR – Strong Non-Christian worldview, heresy or false religious elements
FRFRFR – Very strong Non-Christian, heresy or false religious elements
H – Light humanist worldview or humanism (incl. Marxism, communism, socialism, etc.)
HH – Strong humanist worldview or humanist elements
HHH – Very strong humanist worldview or humanist elements
Ho – Light homosexual worldview or homosexuality (incl. sodomy & lesbianism)
HoHo – Strong homosexual worldview or homosexual elements
HoHoHo – Very strong homosexual worldview or homosexual elements
L – Few obscenities and profanities (1-9)
LL – Several obscenities and profanities (10-25)
LLL – Numerous obscenities and profanities (more than 25)
M – Light miscellaneous immorality (gambling, revenge, theft, blackmail, etc.)
MM – Strong or much miscellaneous immorality
MMM – Very strong or extreme miscellaneous immorality
N – Naturalistic nudity (not in a sexual context)
NN – Partial or brief nudity
NNN – Extensive, graphic, or full in your face nudity
O – Occult worldview, occult elements or Satanism (may be increased to OO or OOO)
P – Patriotic worldview or elements (may be increased to PP or PPP)
Pa – Mild or light pagan worldview or elements
PaPa – Strong pagan worldview or pagan elements
PaPaPa – Very strong pagan worldview or pagan elements
PC – Politically correct worldview or elements (may be increased to PCPC or PCPCPC)
Ro – Light Romantic, idealistic worldview or Romantic elements
RoRo – Strong Romantic, idealistic worldview or Romantic elements
RoRoRo – Very strong Romantic, idealistic worldview or Romantic elements
RH – Revisionist history (may be increased to RHRH or RHRHRH)
S – Implied adultery, promiscuity, sexual perversion or sexual immorality
SS – Depicted adultery, promiscuity, sexual perversion, or sexual immorality
SSS – Graphic adultery, promiscuity, sexual perversion, or sexual immorality
So – Socialist worldview or elements (may be increased to SoSo or SoSoSo)
V – Brief or action violence
VV – Moderate violence (may include some blood)
VVV – Very strong, extreme or graphic violence
Please Note: MOVIEGUIDE®: A Family Guide to Movies and Entertainment is published by the Christian Film & Television Commission® and Good News Communications, Inc. (GNC). GNC is a non-profit 501(c)3 ministry dedicated to redeeming the values of the mass media according to biblical principles by influencing media executives and by informing and equipping moral people. We are a donor-supported ministry. Donations are tax deductible and can be made on this website or by calling 1-800-899-6684 or 1-800-577-6684.
Let us know if you’d like a copy of all our charts/analyses for 2008.
Tom Snyder, Editor