The G rating has devolved into ambiguity, providing parents little clue of what's in store for their kids, Emily Bazelon writes in Slate. Take The Tale of Despereaux about a bookish mouse's fairy tale rescue of a princess from rats. It was entertaining and age-appropriate as a kids' book, she says, but the too-real animation—full of ominous music, a terrifying cat, and a "torture-obsessed" rat leader—rattled kids (including her 5-year-old son).
Cartoons historically got away with more violence than other films, but animation technology now makes the characters seem real. Mufasa's murder in The Lion King and the death of Nemo's mom in Finding Nemo keep kids up at night, Bazelon contends. It's time for a widespread rating system that gives parents more warning, she argues.