As someone who has been a part of MANY ESRB submissions, let me tell you: Their system for rating is flawed. Sure, I don't like it any more than you do when a senator tries to tell me what to play on my own console, but the fact of the matter is that the ESRB is a load of crap.
1) The ESRB pays people off the street to rate your games! They try to get people that can spare an hour and have some sort of relations with children either as a parent or a teacher, etc. Then, they sit them down for an hour and make them watch a video of gameplay! No one ever plays the game before it is rated!!!
2) A typical ESRB rating costs $2500! This means that taking the game back in and trimming parts out to get a lower rating will cost $2500 per attempt!!! Don't like the fact that "soccer mom" doesn't like the "gore" or "blood" found in a game and now it's rated higher than anticipated? Tell the ESRB.
3) There are a number of things that the ESRB doesn't take into account. For instance, Morality. The ESRB is not concerned with lying, cheating, right or wrong or just about anything else that has moral or questionable implications. Instead, they focus 100% of their efforts on graphics and sound. They care more about whether or not one of the songs on the soundtrack uses the f-word than whether or not the only gameplay option is to lie to people.
4) The ESRB does not care what your game is about! They care about the content of said game. You could make a game that is all about killing people, slicing them up, eating them, etc. but do it off-screen, do it with green blood or with a loveable main character and suddenly the game is E for Everyone.
The fact of the matter is that we have created the ESRB to police our video games for us but the whole system is run along the premise of the movies, "What you see is what you get."
The really sad thing is that the ESRB rating isn't even mandatory! The only reason that developers and publishers put up with the flawed system is because NOT having a rating is market suicide because Wal-Mart and other retailers won't touch your game without it. Sadly, we've dug this hole for ourselves.
I'm in the wrong business... I should rate games at $2500 a pop. Hell, you don't even have to play the game. Just sit down and watch a "No longer than 45 minute" video and read the 8 pages of accompanying paperwork then cash the check.