It seems strange now, but when I was a kid, movies were not rated. Then they were almost all rated G. I recall going to a couple of films rating M, but I didn’t let my parents know. Turns out they didn’t mind. Now a G rating means that only little kids and their parents go to see it, and studios will fight to change an NC-17 to an R, when at one time not even an X rating was the kiss of death for a film. How did things get this way?
It all started as soon as movies were invented, with municipal bans to control what people saw on the big screen. In 1915, the Supreme Court ruled that movies were not protected as freedom of speech under the Constitution. The film industry decided to police its own product to keep government censors out of the business, but that still made waves at every turn. The system has evolved and changed a lot over the years, in steps that are outlined in an article at Gizmodo. -via Digg