Sunday, September 17, 2006

This Film is Not Rated - must-see doc about MPAA ratings

published September 16, 2006

I just saw "This Film is Not Yet Rated" and boy, is it a fantastic piece of work. As you've no doubt heard, TFINYR is a documentary about the MPAA's censorious ratings system, whereby a secret group of "parents" meet to determine whether a given film is safe for kids to see. If they give a movie an NC-17 (no children under 17 admitted), it's a death-sentence: studios won't promote these movies (sometimes they don't even release them), most cinemas won't exhibit them, and Wal-Mart and Blockbuster won't carry them.

The MPAA's excuse for this is that it's an alternative to government censorship of films, but as director Kirby Dick shows, it's wildly implausible that such censorship would be found constitutional. The MPAA system treats independents as second-class citizens, issuing gnomic pronouncements about a film's suitability, while treating the big studios that own the MPAA with more solicitude, lavishing editorial suggestions on directors who've come under the thumb of the big six.



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