November 1 - 1968 - The Motion Picture Association of America Introduces the Film Ratings System.
The Motion Picture Association of America was formed as a trade organization for the largest movie studios in America. As such, it was founded with the idea of putting together a respectable face to society and government. It did two things to advance this idea, first by hiring the former Postmaster General Will Hays, and second by introducing a Production Code. Although there were always guidelines for content in film, from 1930 forward there was a specific list of what could be in movies and from 1934 it was strictly enforced. Banning sexual content, celebrations of criminal activity, and anything that "lowered moral standards," the Production Code allowed for censorship of content produced in Hollywood. After World War II, movies increasingly were pushing the boundaries of the Code, and by the 1950s foreign films were being shown that never were put under the code. By the mid-1960s, the Code seemed outdated. When Jack Valenti, a former advertising man and adviser to President Lyndon Johnson, became president of the MPAA, one of his first goals was to eliminate the Production Code. What Valenti and the MPAA did was create a ratings system that told audiences what kind of content was in a specific movie.