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The MPAA's new "Check the Box" campaign will highlight descriptions of why a movie received a certain rating.

The Motion Picture Association of America's forthcoming “Check the Box” campaign will enlarge the existing "explanation boxes" on movie posters and film trailers that detail what types of content caused a given film to receive its rating, according to an address MPAA chairman and CEO Christopher Todd gave Tuesday in Las Vegas.

"While ratings featured in movie trailers, posters, and display ads already feature a box that summarizes the criteria that determined the movie's rating, Dodd said the 'Check The Box' campaign will make these descriptions more prominent," Mark Deming reported for Yahoo's Movie Talk blog.

“The new ‘Check the Box’ campaign will highlight descriptions of why a movie received a certain rating,” Pamela McClintock wrote for The Hollywood Reporter. “Also, there will be a tag attached to trailers explaining that the trailer is approved to play with the feature they came to see. The campaign also includes a new (public service announcement) as well as a new poster that will be displayed at theaters nationwide. … ‘Throughout its existence, the goal of the rating system has never changed: to inform parents and allow them to make their own decisions, considering their children’s sensibilities and unique sensitivities,’ Dodd said during his keynote address.”

In contrast to Dodd’s sunny optimism, The Atlantic film critic Noah Gittell predicts “Check the Box” will do more harm than good.

“It's an awful idea,” Gittell wrote Friday. “Not only will it do nothing to prevent gun violence, but it could lead to more children and teenagers seeing violent films because it highlights the elements that are most tantalizing — the adult content.

“It shouldn't be a surprise that the plan is ineffectual; the MPAA is funded by six major Hollywood studios, and it is their mission to promote the industry and ensure profits. It follows that the aim of the ratings system has never been to prevent anyone's admittance to a movie. … The MPAA's new labels will not stop anyone from seeing movies with adult content; it will only save children the trouble of squinting.”

Jamshid Ghazi Askar is a graduate of BYU's J. Reuben Clark Law School and member of the Utah State Bar. Contact him at jaskar@desnews.com or 801-236-6051.