Media Matters

Letter-Writing Campaign: Movies


Media Matters
Despite the ratings system, children under 17 are able to rent and buy tickets to R-rated movies with relative ease. Although many movie theatres have started to check IDs for admission to R-rated movies, there is much more that can be done to prevent children from seeing potentially harmful violent or sexually explicit content. To call attention to this problem, and to generate more responsible practices at movie theatres and video stores across the country, the Academy has organized a letter-writing campaign.

You can help by personalizing the sample letters below and sending them to theatres and retailers in your community. A list of national theatre and video store chains has been posted on-line for your convenience.


Thank you for your participation.


SAMPLE LETTER TO MOVIE THEATRE

SAMPLE LETTER TO VIDEO STORE


SAMPLE LETTER TO MOVIE THEATRE

DATE

Name, Title
Company
Address
City, State Zip

Dear Name:

As the [Title] of [Name of Movie Theatre], you are to be applauded for enriching people's lives by providing quality family entertainment and enhancing the communities you serve. I am writing, however, to call your attention to the serious public health risks associated with the violence many children are exposed to at the movies. Research has consistently indicated that repeated exposure to violent acts leads to aggressive attitudes and behaviors, emotional desensitization toward real world violence, and increased fear of being victimized by violence, resulting in self-protective behaviors and mistrust of others. Equally disturbing is the graphic language, sexual and drug-related content that often appears in films children see.

There are many ways that [Name of Theatre] can make a difference in addressing this complicated issue. The following suggestions, while very simple and easy to implement, will send a resounding positive statement to your patrons that demonstrates you care about their communities.

  • Take special measures to ensure that the rule of not permitting children under 17 to NC-17 or R-rated films is strictly enforced at all your theatres. Do not permit parents to buy tickets for underage children and then leave them at the theatre alone.

  • Instruct box office employees to alert parents to objectionable content if they see that adults are bringing young children to R-rated and PG-13 films. Make sure your staff understands the dangers of repeated exposure to media violence and the consequences of letting children into violent films.

  • Help parents make responsible choices. Post the definitions of each of the ratings (G, PG-13, R, etc.) so that your employees and patrons understand what they mean.

  • Ratings on their own do not provide meaningful information with which to make educated decisions. Parents should know why a film was given a PG-13 rating. Was it explicit language, a scene with drug use, or repeated violent acts that warranted such a rating? The MPAA gives theatres specific information on every film that is released with the idea that they will make it available to their patrons. I ask that you post these expanded ratings in a highly visible and accessible location at your box office, announce them clearly in all your theatres? outgoing telephone messages, and display them prominently on your website.

I am sure you will find that adopting these socially responsible practices at your theatres will ultimately be good for business. By promoting healthy behavior, and taking action to help reduce violence, you are building a larger and happier viewing audience. Most importantly, your customers will be grateful for your efforts.

Thank you for the serious attention you will give this matter.

Sincerely,

Your Name

 
SAMPLE LETTER TO VIDEO STORE

DATE

Name, Title
Company
Address
City, State Zip

Dear Name:

As the [Title] of a major video rental retailer, you provide a tremendous service by bringing hours of entertainment to people of all ages. Having as enormous an impact as you do on the lives of so many people is an awesome responsibility. Protecting your consumers, particularly young children, from exposure to inappropriate materials is an important part of this responsibility.

I am writing to call your attention to the serious public health risk associated with children's easy access to violent videos. Research has indicated that repeated exposure to violent acts leads to aggressive attitudes and behaviors, emotional desensitization toward real world violence, and increased fear of being victimized by violence, resulting in self-protective behaviors and mistrust of others. Equally disturbing is the graphic language, sexual and drug-related content that often appears in films children see. Since there is no nationwide policy to restrict minors from obtaining or viewing adult material, I am urging you to take action on your own.

There are many ways that [Name of Company] can make a difference in addressing this complicated issue. The following suggestions, while very simple and easy to implement, will send a positive statement to your patrons that demonstrates you care about their communities.

  • Make it a policy to prohibit underage children from renting or buying films rated R or NC-17, and take measures to ensure this policy is strictly enforced at all your locations. Post signs in your stores explaining your policy for customers, so there is no confusion.

  • Make sure your employees are trained to understand the dangers of repeated exposure to media violence and the consequences of letting children see violent films. Post the definitions of each of the ratings (G, PG-13, R, etc.) so that your employees and patrons understand what they mean.

  • Help parents make responsible choices. While the ratings sytem provides basic guidelines, ratings on their own do not provide meaningful information with which to make educated decisions. Parents should know why a film was rated PG-13. Was it explicit language, a scene with drug use, or repeated violent acts that warranted such a rating? The MPAA sends retailers specific information on every film that is released with the idea that they will make it available to their customers. I ask that you print this film-specific information in easy to read large print on all your video boxes.

I am sure you will find that adopting these socially responsible practices at your stores will ultimately be good for business. By promoting healthy behavior, and taking action to reduce violence, you are building a larger and happier client base. Most importantly, your customers will be grateful for your efforts.

Thank you for the serious attention you will give this matter.

Sincerely,

Your Name

For additional information on the AAP Media Matters campaign, please contact: mediamatters@aap.org