Movie Rating Differences Between The Netherlands and America

Yesterday I went to The Transformers: Age of Extinction at the theater.

We were there pretty early, because it was my friends birthday and she could choose the Movie.  We had a perfect spot, right in the middle and it wasn't crowded at all. That changed fast, within no time it was getting busier and busier. That didn't really surprise me, because the movie just got released two days before.


What did surprise me, were all the very small children that people brought to the movie. One couple even carried in a sleeping toddler!  The movie rating was PG13. I didn't exactly know what that meant, so I looked it up when I came home (people from America will already know this, but I want to be sure my Dutch readers get it too).


PG-13 Rating
PG-13 indicates there's material in the film that may not be suitable for children under the age of 13. A PG-13 movie could go "beyond the PG rating in theme, violence, nudity, sensuality, language, adult activities or other elements, but does not reach the restricted R category." The MPAA will give this rating to films with drug use or more than brief nudity, although the nudity in a PG-13 is not sexual in nature. In addition, the MPAA states "there may be depictions of violence in a PG-13 movie, but generally not both realistic and extreme or persistent violence. A motion picture's single use of one of the harsher sexually-derived words, though only as an expletive, initially requires at least a PG-13 rating. More than one such expletive requires an R rating, as must even one of those words used in a sexual context."

After reading this I was even more unpleasantly surprised than I was before. So people take their children to a movie that isn't age appropiate and they know it?! Not every PG13 movie is the same of course. However, I still think a child aged three shouldn't be there at all!

In the Netherlands the movie rating is different. It is called 'Kijkwijzer'.


Dutch Film Ratings

Dutch Film Ratings


The Dutch 'Kijkwijzer' describes this about the influence of television on children. (Unfortunately it is in Dutch, sorry).

And this is the American rating:


American Film Ratings

American Film Ratings

Similarities between the Dutch rating system and the American rating system are:

- G & AL are exactly the same.

- MG6 and PG are almost the same too. They talk about 'young children' in America and they give an age of 6 on this in the Netherlands.

Differences between the Dutch rating system and the American rating system are:

- The Dutch also have a 'not for children younger than 9' icon.

- The Dutch system has the age of 12 as the next level and states 'not for children younger than 12', while the American system says 13 and with Parental Guidance. I am not sure what this PG should be?

- Then the next level in the Netherlands is 'not for children younger than 16', while the next level in America is 'R'. This means 'restricted - 'contains some adult material. Parents are urged to learn more about the film before taking their young children with them'. I am not sure what is a 'young child' in their opinion?

- In the Netherlands there is no next level, like in America. The next American level is 'no one 17 and under admitted'.

- In the Netherlands you have icons that tell you more about 'violence', 'sex', 'fear', 'drugs & alcohol', 'discrimination' and 'offensive language'. You can search for every movie and it will tell you what they think about these topics in that specific movie.

- In the Netherlands you can bring your 10 year old to a movie for 12 and older, under parental guidance. They cannot be younger than that. In America this applies only if for the 'NC-17' rating.

I found this on the following website:

'The fact is, however, that while the current system does not serve consumers well, it works perfectly for the filmmakers, the studios and the theater chains. It is based on a cozy relationship between the MPAA, the film industry, and the theater chains. It is a malleable system that can be altered at will to accommodate changes in the market. For instance, the rating of choice right now is PG-13. A movie with a PG-13 rating is just easier to market: parents like it better than the more adult R-rating, and kids like it better than the more juvenile PG rating; plus, a PG-13 rating is merely a "cautionary" rating, as opposed to the more restrictive R rating (although, of course, anybody, of any age, can watch any R-rated movie as long as he's accompanied by an "adult guardian"; in some locales any 17-year-old will do).

So, in order to accommodate the marketing demands of studios and theaters, the MPAA has been slowly but surely changing its criteria so that a PG-13 movie today contains far more violence, sexual content and profanity than a few years ago (for example, it used to be that one F-word would garner a film an R rating; now it takes 3 or more F-words).'

Read more:

So I think I can conclude that the Dutch rating system is more cautious than the American rating system.


If you search for the Transformers in America, you will see this:

Transformers: Age Of Extinction (2014)
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, language and brief innuendo.
Paramount Pictures Corporation
'E74'Transformers 4
('Brief Innuendo'  means 'korte toespelingen' in Dutch. I don't understand what that means here?!)
While this is what you get when you search in the Netherlands:


Productietype: Speelfilm
Genre: Actie,Avontuur,Science fiction

Mogelijk schadelijk tot 12 jaar Geweld Angst Grof taalgebruik (Possibly harmful up to 12 / Violence / Fear / Offensive Language)

Uitleg classificatieresultaat:

Geweld 12
Angst 12
Seks AL
Grof taalgebruik
Discriminatie AL
Drugs en/of alcoholmisbruik AL
Mogelijk schadelijk tot 12 jaar Geweld Angst Grof taalgebruik

Releasedatum / uitzenddatum: 10-07-2014

Regisseur: Michael Bay
Producent: Paramount Pictures
Productiejaar: 2014
Organisatie: Universal Pictures International Netherlands

I know some children are wiser than their age tells you, but I wouldn't take my 9 year old to this movie. And my son sure is wiser than the 9 years that he is.  It is full off violence: fighting, shooting, death and blood. I did like to movie though, but I could understand the difference between fantasy and real life. I don't think a three-year-old knows the difference between real life and fantasy.

In my opinion parents should watch the trailer at home first and search for the film rating, before taking their children to a (PG13) movie. I also think it is wise to talk with your children about the movie afterwards. You can check the box as a parent in America. And you can check the Kijkwijzer as a Dutch parent. I found another, special webpage for parents to search before you go. It is called Kids in Mind and at this website they describe very clear what happens in a movie.

What does Parental Guidance exactly mean? If there is a parent next to you or even four seats further (because one parent took four children to the movies) what do they expect this parent to do during the film?

I don't think that parents think about their kids when they bring them to a PG13 movie. Why would people do that? I can think of some reasons, but that is just speculating. Would parents really do it because it saves them money that they would have to spend on a babysitter? Or because they think their child will like the movie? Or because they didn't have any one to babysit? Or because they don't think about their children at all and want to see the movie themselves?
I really hope the Transformers movie that I saw didn't harm the children that saw it, in any way.
But I bet some of them had nightmares that night...

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    I think the point that is missed, is that there's a huge cultural difference between what's accepted and what's not in the Netherlands with regards to violence and sex. For the record, I am Dutch, and grew up there, like the writer of this artilce. However, I've lived in the US for 26 years and I am raising 4 kids here.

    Here is my opinion...

    Most Americans are very prude and as soon as a the movie shows skin, the rating go up, just for that purpose alone. As a Dutch mom, I'd rather they see skin than violence.

    As the rating system in the US is created by Americans, probably conservative Americans, maybe conservative Americans who aren't even parents maybe, the whole idea of PG13 starts to make more sense to me.

    In the Netherlands, kids have co-ed changing rooms in sporting clubs when they are young and in general, the Dutch are more open about sexuality and their bodies. However, the Dutch are non-violent for the most part.

    Keeping these differences in mind, the whole rating system makes a whole lot more sense.

    The most important thing to remember is that anyone can become a parent...! You need no license or test and thus you've got idiot parents parenting kids.

    Just my 2 cents.

  • Hi Dorien,
    Thanks for your '2 cents'. I love when people comment.
    I share your opinion that I 'd rather see skin than violence. How ever, it still depends on how much skin. The reviewers in America say most of them are actually parents. I don't know how conservative they are.
    You are right about the Dutch being more open about sex. I am glad 'we' are. Still, it shouldn't go too far either. It should be age appropriate. In the Netherlands they use a list with questions about the movie to rate it. There is one chapter about sex. The questions that are asked there are really clear and have nothing to do with the open minded culture of the Dutch. So, the Dutch ratings are very to the point about sex too. As a Dutch parent you can be sure the ratings regarding sex are age appropiate. ( you can view this list at de Kijkwijzer website)
    However I do think violence appears to be more normal in the US.
    What do you mean by 'anyone can become a parent'? That all those people in the theater were the 'idiots'? I don't think so. But I am quite curious about their thoughts! Maybe some of them were shocked too about all the violence?
    I do think that the piece about the reason the current system does not serve consumers well is important. Moviemakers like PG 13 the best, simply because more people will visit and that means more money. So parents in America please be aware of this!

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