How 'PG-13' neutralized the discriminating teen's movie-going experience: Exhibit A

Second only to greed, the MPAA ratings system has been the bane of the U.S. film industry since its inception. Although the PG-13 rating was proposed as a logical solution to content occupying some sort of teen-appropriate gray area, I am presenting a very subjective theory that the addition of this intermediate advisory marker had a drastic and negative impact on the intellect, realism, and intensity of most movies aimed at a young-adult audience released thereafter. Beginning in the mid-80's, filmmakers no doubt battled over content and "target audience" with their studio execs. and distributors who had quickly latched on to the most lucrative demographic device since the talkie.

I seriously doubt this hypothesis has not already been addressed and explored to a more convincing extent. I am simply utilizing the tools provided here to maybe corroborate my supposition.

The following is a sample of U.S. films released in the ten years prior to the introduction of the PG-13 rating (including its inaugural year, 1984). I believe these movies would have been "edited down" to receive the more desirable tag had it been available at its release date. It should be noted here that I am not challenging the integrity of any specific filmmakers nor making claims that their principles would (or could) have been compromised. This presentation represents a meticulously selected list of reputable, R-rated movies with legitimate R-rated content that, with an age-13-17-market available, would have likely been altered to meet its standards. More importantly, a less-than-R rating on any of these films would have grievously diminished the overall quality, impact and visionary intent of its screenwriter(s) and/or director.

I have been attentive not to include films I believe would never have been swayed (e.g. "Blade Runner," "Caddyshack," "Assault On Precinct 13"); as well as films that would be considered PG-13 fare by 1985 standards ("Amadeus," "Birdy"); and films that could have easily received a PG-13 stamp had some slight, inconsequential or gratuitous content been re-worked ("The World According To Garp," "The Dead Zone").

Thanks for taking the time to review my latest list and consider its point-of-view. Please look for 'Exhibit B' in a future post.
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1.
Conan the Barbarian (1982)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
A barbarian warrior sets off to avenge his parents and his tribe whom were slain by an evil sorcerer and his henchmen when he was a boy. (129 mins.)
Director: John Milius
 
2.
Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
A group of Southern California high school students are enjoying their most important subjects: sex, drugs and rock n' roll. (90 mins.)
Director: Amy Heckerling
 
3.
Saturday Night Fever (1977)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
A Brooklyn teenager feels his only chance to succeed is as the king of the disco floor. His carefree youth and weekend dancing help him to forget the reality of his bleak life. (118 mins.)
Director: John Badham
 
4.
The Road Warrior (1981)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
In the post-apocalyptic Australian wasteland, a cynical drifter agrees to help a small, gasoline rich, community escape a band of bandits. (95 mins.)
Director: George Miller
 
5.
The Warriors (1979)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
In the near future, a charismatic leader summons the street gangs of New York City in a bid to take it over. When he is killed, The Warriors are falsely blamed and now must fight their way home while every other gang is hunting them down. (92 mins.)
Director: Walter Hill
 
6.
National Lampoon's Vacation (1983)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
The Griswold family's cross-country drive to the Walley World theme park proves to be much more arduous than they ever anticipated. (98 mins.)
Director: Harold Ramis
 
7.
Escape from New York (1981)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
In 1997, when the U.S. president crashes into Manhattan, now a giant maximum security prison, a convicted bank robber is sent in to rescue him. (99 mins.)
Director: John Carpenter
 
8.
Risky Business (1983)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
A Chicago teenager is looking for fun at home while his parents are away, but the situation quickly gets out of hand. (99 mins.)
Director: Paul Brickman
 
9.
Valley Girl (1983)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  
Julie, a girl from the valley, meets Randy, a punk from the city. They are from different worlds and find love... (99 mins.)
Director: Martha Coolidge
 
10.
American Pop (1981)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
The story of four generations of a Russian Jewish immigrant family of musicians whose careers parallel the history of American popular music in the 20th century. (96 mins.)
Director: Ralph Bakshi
 
11.
First Blood (1982)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
Former Green Beret John Rambo is pursued into the mountains surrounding a small town by a tyrannical sheriff and his deputies, forcing him to survive using his combat skills. (93 mins.)
Director: Ted Kotcheff
 
12.
Beverly Hills Cop (1984)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
A freewheeling Detroit cop pursuing a murder investigation finds himself dealing with the very different culture of Beverly Hills. (105 mins.)
Director: Martin Brest
 
13.
Animal House (1978)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
At a 1962 college, Dean Vernon Wormer is determined to expel the entire Delta Tau Chi Fraternity, but those troublemakers have other plans for him. (109 mins.)
Director: John Landis
 
14.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
A newly engaged couple have a breakdown in an isolated area and must pay a call to the bizarre residence of Dr. Frank-N-Furter. (100 mins.)
Director: Jim Sharman
 
15.
The Blues Brothers (1980)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
Jake Blues, just out from prison, puts together his old band to save the Catholic home where he and brother Elwood were raised. (133 mins.)
Director: John Landis
 
16.
The Thing (1982)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
A research facility in Antarctica comes across an alien force that can become anything it touches with 100% accuracy. The members must now find out who's human and who's not before it's too late. (109 mins.)
Director: John Carpenter
 
17.
Diner (1982)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
A group of college-age buddies struggle with their imminent passage into adulthood in 1959 Baltimore. (110 mins.)
Director: Barry Levinson
 
18.
Rumble Fish (1983)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
Rusty James, an absent-minded street thug struggles to live up to his legendary older brother's reputation, and longs for the days when gang warfare was going on. (94 mins.)
 
19.
Trading Places (1983)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
A snobbish investor and a wily street con artist find their positions reversed as part of a bet by two callous millionaires. (116 mins.)
Director: John Landis
 
20.
The Jerk (1979)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
An idiotic man struggles to make it through life on his own in St. Louis. (94 mins.)
Director: Carl Reiner
 
21.
48 Hrs. (1982)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
A hard-nosed cop reluctantly teams up with a wise-cracking criminal temporarily paroled to him, in order to track down a killer. (96 mins.)
Director: Walter Hill
 
22.
Slap Shot (1977)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
A failing ice hockey team finds success using constant fighting and violence during games. (123 mins.)
Director: George Roy Hill
 
23.
Death Race 2000 (1975)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  
In a dystopian future, a cross country automobile race requires contestants to run down innocent pedestrians to gain points that are tallied based on each kill's brutality. (80 mins.)
Director: Paul Bartel
 
24.
The Howling (1981)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  
After a bizarre and near fatal encounter with a serial killer, a television newswoman is sent to a remote mountain resort whose residents may not be what they seem. (91 mins.)
Director: Joe Dante
 
25.
Ordinary People (1980)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
The accidental death of the older son of an affluent family deeply strains the relationships among the bitter mother, the good-natured father, and the guilt-ridden younger son. (124 mins.)
Director: Robert Redford
 
26.
Quadrophenia (1979)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
Jimmy loathes his job and parents. He seeks solace with his mod clique, scooter riding, and drugs only to be disappointed. (120 mins.)
Director: Franc Roddam
 
27.
Private Benjamin (1980)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  
A sheltered young high society woman joins the United States Army on a whim and finds herself in a more difficult situation than she ever expected. (109 mins.)
Director: Howard Zieff
 
28.
Blow Out (1981)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
A movie sound recordist accidentally records the evidence that proves that a car accident was actually murder and consequently finds himself in danger. (107 mins.)
Director: Brian De Palma
 
29.
Easy Money (1983)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  
To inherit his mother-in-law's colossal fortune, a hard-living gambling addict must change his unhealthy ways before they get the best of him. (95 mins.)
 
30.
Outland (1981)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  
In the distant future, a police marshal stationed at a remote mining colony on the Jupiter moon of Io uncovers a drug-smuggling conspiracy, and gets no help from the populace when he later finds himself marked for murder. (112 mins.)
Director: Peter Hyams
 
31.
Used Cars (1980)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
When the owner of a struggling used car lot is killed, it's up to the lot's hot-shot salesman to save the property from falling into the hands of the owner's ruthless brother and used-car rival. (113 mins.)
Director: Robert Zemeckis
 
32.
Baby It's You (1983)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  
In a 1966 New Jersey high school, Jill and new student Sheik from the other side of the tracks make their way in a first love romance. (105 mins.)
Director: John Sayles
 
33.
Quest for Fire (1981)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
This story takes place in prehistoric time when three tribesmen search for a new fire source. (100 mins.)
 
34.
Repo Man (1984)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
Young punk Otto becomes a repo man after helping to steal a car, and stumbles into a world of wackiness as a result. (92 mins.)
Director: Alex Cox
 
35.
The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  
Thomas Jerome Newton is a humanoid alien who comes to Earth to get water for his dying planet. He starts... (139 mins.)
Director: Nicolas Roeg
 
36.
Marathon Man (1976)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
A graduate history student is unwittingly caught in the middle of an international conspiracy involving stolen diamonds, an exiled Nazi war criminal, and a rogue government agent. (125 mins.)