A mother in Tulsa, Oklahoma is suing the local movie theatre after her 12-year-old son was allowed to purchase a ticket to a PG-13 film without her consent. Mary Lambert, whose son Joe is only 12, says that she dropped her son off at the movie theatre to see the PG-rated film Minions with his friends, but instead they went to see the PG-13 rated film Pixels.
“My son knows that he is not allowed to watch those adult films until next year, and don’t you worry, he’s being punished at home, for sure,” said Lambert. “But someone has to be to blame for letting him into that movie, and that fault lies on the movie theatre itself. These ratings were put into law for a reason, and they’ve broken that law. They are going to pay for the warped mind my son will now have after seeing such adult content.”
“The movie ratings system is not a law, and this woman has no case whatsoever,” said Joe Goldsmith, owner of the Magic Lantern Cinema in Tulsa. “The MPAA, the group that gives these films their ratings, they only created this system to keep people, namely parents, informed about the content. They are not passed into law. Anyone can come in and buy a ticket to see any movie they’d like whenever they like. Our theatre, as well as most, do try and not allow children under 17 into R-rated movies, but that is a policy of our theatre, not a law. Even if the film was NC-17, that’s not law, that’s just a thought.”
Goldsmith is correct in his description of how the ratings system works, but Lambert is not alone in assuming that the MPAA ratings system – G for General Audiences, PG for Parental Guidance Suggest, PG-13 for Parents Strongly Cautioned (May Contain Content Inappropriate for Children Under 13), R for Restricted (Must be 17 or Have A Parent With You in the Theatre) and NC-17 for No Children 17 or Under Allowed – are laws that the movie theatres must follow. Over 85% of movie theatres, both independent and chain-cinemas, follow the rules of not allowing children under 17 to R-rated films, but that’s pretty much the only area the rules are enforced.
“We don’t play NC-17 films, like most movie theatres,” said Goldsmith. “If we did ever play one, we would not let anyone under 18 into that, either. Again, though – not because it’s a law, but because we feel that’s the right thing to do for the parents of this community.”
Lambert has said that she will take the case to the supreme court if necessary, and force them to uphold the MPAA ratings.
“Why make these ratings if you’re not going to enforce what they stand for?” said Lambert. “Why should I have to monitor what my kid watches? Do I actually need to get out of the car, stand in line with him, buy the ticket, and hold his hand all the way into the theatre? My God, next they’ll suggest I actually just watch a movie with him. Obviously these people have no idea that parents just don’t have time to pay that much attention to their kids. I should just expect them to monitor his films for me. He’s 12 – he is not allowed to see PG-13 films. End of story.”
Lambert has brought her case to a local attorney who will be filing the suit against the Magic Lantern at the end of the week.