Thursday, May 5, 2011


Last week I spoke about censorship in a broad sense, but as my deadline grew closer, I felt that I had more to say about the topic. Specifically, the MPAA.

The MPAA is not the most rational or democratic organization in the US. They keep their board members secret, and refuse to elaborate on why they gave a particular rating to a particular movie. They leave it up to the filmmaker to decide what parts of his movie to cut, which can lead to unnecessary and damaging deletions. They also, bizarrely enough, refuse to adhere to any standards.

The MPAA has never been consistent with their ratings, as I mentioned above. They’ll give an NC-17 to a film, then an R to a similar film. But, there have been patterns. According to the documentary “This Film Is Not Yet Rated”, they allow one ‘fuck’ in a PG-13 movie, as long as it’s in the sense of ‘fuck you’ or ‘I hope you fucking die’. However, if its in the sense of, ‘I fucked her’, its basically an automatic R. Also, a male orgasm, as well as oral sex performed on a male, thats only an R. Either of those two things on a woman? NC-17. Oh, and lets not forget homosexual sex. That gets their white, angel panties in a twist.

Why have patterns, and not just apply that to standards? It makes no sense. It would streamline the process and allow filmmakers the opportunity to make films without those things, and save valuable time. Why let a filmmaker create something that you then have to waste time reviewing when you can hand out a sheet of standards?

Why have a board that is secret? They say its to ensure that the raters aren’t swayed by public pressure. However, The Supreme Court is open, and they aren’t affected by public pressure due to their nature of being appointed instead of elected. Tell everyone the names, and let those raters actually interact with filmmakers and moviegoers. Let the raters understand what the filmmakers go through on a personal level, and allow them to deal with the pressures that filmmakers go through. That sounds more than fair.

I personally think that censorship is unnecessary, and that those kind of matters should be decided in the home. Yeah, thats what the MPAA professes to do, warn the parents, but what they end up doing is crippling fantastic movies when studios wont touch an NC-17. I’m not naive, though, and know that censorship will be around as long as there are people. Working within it, I think that the way to fix this is the things I said above; open board, list of standards, rater-filmmaker interaction. I truly think that with those things, that this will calm much of the problems.

Hopefully, one day, that’ll happen. Until then, however, we’ll still have movies such as Boys Don’t Cry and Natural Born Killers being cut down. Once we can figure out how to deal with who we are as people, we can figure out how to express who we are as people.


  1. Why do raters need to interact with filmmakers? They shouldn't. Interacting with someone to see "what the filmmakers go through on a personal level" and basing your rating on that interaction is a corruption. Ratings should only be based upon content. You're suggesting that raters have some sort of sympathy for a filmmaker. No.
    And why are names so important? They shouldn't be. No one needs to know the name of a movie rater. Why should they?
    And censorship is more than necessary. Number one, it helps you determine if it's appropriate for certain ages and levels of maturity. Number two, it's a way of sub categorizing a movie to help the audience better understand what they are getting into when they sit down to watch it.

  2. Imagine a board of librarians telling scientists what to do. They have no practical or academic experience with anything that the scientists do. It can only hurt.

    I didn't say sympathy. I'm suggesting fairness. I believe I said that they establish a system of standards, in order to allow filmmakers to make their films around that standard. This goes back to my earlier point. Raters need to know how difficult it is for filmmakers to make films and then decide, seemingly arbitrarily, to force them to change something.

    Censorship is not something I believe is necessary, but I recognize the social necessity of it.

    Why should people, who act as public officials in regards to 'protecting the public', not be known? Supreme Court Justicies are known. Raters cannot be taken off the board is the public dislikes them; its not an elected position, but an appointed one.

    All of this can be boiled down into having a set of standards for filmmakers to follow.