Alert on films

It is good news that the movie industry appears to be taking a long-needed step - identifying for parents those movies rated PG that in fact are not suitable for young children.

In recent years parents and other critics of the current movie-rating system have called for such a step in view of the increasing violence in films that the industry rates PG. Now the industry is in the process of adopting a new rating - PG-13 - which would ban children under 13 unless a parent or guardian goes with them. The meaning of such a rating ought to be clear: Parents should take their pre-teen children to some other film.

The 16-year-old movie ratings have been deficient for years. As a generality, movies contain increasing amounts of violence and coarse language, not to mention nudity. Yet many films of this type fall into one huge rating category: PG. These are supposed to be suitable even for children to view, with parental guidance. They may be suitable for older children, though that is sometimes questionable, but many are not for younger ones.

Ironically, many teen and young-adult viewers are so conditioned to such tasteless features that makers of otherwise inoffensive movies gratuitously interject obscene language or violence so as to ''earn'' a PG rating. They fear that if the movie has a cleaner image - provided by a ''G'' rating - it will be a box office failure.

This is senseless. Needed are movies that not only are technically and dramatically better, but also that are more appropriate for adults and children of all ages.

That the movie industry should move to establish a PG-13 rating category is one step forward. Needed now is for the industry to clean up its films.

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