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Hi, everyone. "Moriarty" here with some Rumblings From The Lab...

I may not be in Utah, but that doesn’t mean I’m sitting Sundance out completely this year.

Early this afternoon, I drove over to Silverlake, to the offices of Chain Camera Productions, where I met Kirby Dick for the first time. I’ve been writing about his work here on AICN since at least 2001, and I really admire his approach as a documentarian. TWIST OF FAITH was one of last year’s most wrenching movies, a stark film about a survivor of childhood molestation coming to terms with his feelings about the church and family and other issues as an adult. CHAIN CAMERA still strikes me as one of the best films about modern adolescence, a spy’s view of what it’s like to grow up right now. SICK, his film about Bob Flanagan, should be required viewing for anyone who wants to make documentaries, right up there with CRUMB or GATES OF HEAVEN in my book.

When I first ran some news about THIS FILM IS NOT YET RATED last month here on the site, you guys responded quite vocally. It spurred a pretty long debate in talkback, and I got bombarded with tons of e-mail from you guys about your personal impressions on the MPAA and the CARA and the ratings system in general. I can see now why Dick had to make his film under a cloak of secrecy, and the result isn’t the movie I expected at all. For one thing, it’s a lot more playful than any other film he’s made so far, particularly coming on the heels of TWIST OF FAITH, which was so difficult, so emotionally draining. This is a serious subject that Dick’s dealing with here, and he’s not making fun of it, but he also seems well aware of how easy it is for a filmmaker complaining about the ratings system to sound like a crybaby. This film never whines; instead, it remembers to entertain as it illuminates, and it keeps its anger focused in a way that’s never preachy.

The film does two separate things, intercutting the two. First, it’s a history of the MPAA and the CARA (which is the actual ratings division, a distinction that is frequently misunderstood or ignored), and this is the part of the film where Dick’s smoldering indignation is most evident. I don’t blame him. Jack Valenti is, simply put, one of the most successful flim-flam men in history, a big government con artist who sold Hollywood a big lie that feathered his nest for 35 years. He was a professional politico, a guy who had been cozy with the Nixon and Johnson administrations, and when he came to Hollywood, he had a mission. He convinced the studios that they were about to come under attack from Washington. He scared them with the notion of a government-controlled censor board, or even worse, a nationwide spate of local censor boards that would make it nearly impossible to distribute controversial films. He created the MPAA as a solution, a way for the studios to watchdog themselves so no one else had to do it, and ever since then, the major studios have happily played along with the ratings game.

But was there ever really a threat? That’s one of the questions I’m curious about now that I’ve seen the film, and I don’t think I’ve ever heard any persuasive argument or seen any evidence that Valenti was right. To me, he’s The Music Man, a guy who rolled into a town and sold them something they didn’t need. The ratings system depends on any number of carefully constructed and distributed lies to maintain the power it has. One of the lies is that the people who actually give the films their ratings are regular people, chosen based on only one criteria: that they are all parents of children between the ages of 5 and 17. Another lie they depend on is the lie that the ratings are only in place to help parents, and they don’t ever censor filmmakers. If you want to understand that second lie, just talk to the filmmakers who have fought major ratings battles over the years, and listen to the differences in the way that indie filmmakers and studio filmmakers were handled. Talk to people who tackled tough subjects like gay relationships, frank sexual material, or anything that falls outside the narrow definition of mainstream morality. But to understand just how insidious the first lie is, you’d have to take a look at the people who make up the ratings board... and that’s something the MPAA has always worked vigorously to make sure you can’t do. At all. Ever.

Think about that. The people who decide what entertainment is allowed to be distributed to mainstream theaters and advertised in major media outlets... arguably the most powerful force in American film today... and it’s a complete secret as to who is actually making those decisions. No one is accountable. No one has to justify the decisions they make. No one has to answer to the artists whose work is ruined by these choices. No one ever has to explain anything. They can just take something that someone has invested years of their life into and they can slap a rating on it that guarantees that it never plays in 90% of the theaters in this country and that it won’t be carried by major retail chains when it goes to home video, and they can make sure that the film never really gets a chance to be seen by the general public, and they don’t ever have to answer for that. Does that strike anyone as fair or just or even rational?

Here’s where Dick’s film manages to be both genuinely investigative but also sly and playful and funny all at the same time. He hires a private investigator to find out who all the raters working for the CARA are. Slowly, methodically, they start to put names together, then put faces to those names, then put together profiles of these raters. Many of them have been on the ratings board for a long time, decades even, and have children who are grown and have moved away. In a few cases, it’s not even clear if the raters have children at all. These are not average people, chosen randomly, either. They appear to be a tight-knit group of people, a couple of them even living next door to one another, making good money at a cushy job and staying much longer than the myth that Valenti has always pushed. Dick doesn’t stop there, though. His investigator manages to get hold of some of the actual reports filled out by the raters when they’re watching films, something I’ve never seen before anywhere. And when he’s put together a fairly damning look at the process and the people behind it, he does something genuinely crazy: he submits the film to the ratings board for their approval.

As Eddie Schmidt, the film’s producer, puts it, “I think they had their ETERNAL SUNSHINE moment, when life folds in on itself. The ultimate voyeurs watching a film about themselves, the ultimate voyeurs.”

Which brings us back to the news story I initially ran on this site last month, when the film was given an NC-17 for “some sexual content.” And, sure enough, Dick’s film features a barrage of clips that earned other movies the dreaded rating. I have to believe that context makes a difference, though, and in a documentary where you’re discussing how ratings are applied, it seems like you’d be given more leeway to show these clips than if you’re just including them in a dramatic film. This is not a movie designed to stimulate or titillate. This is a smart, somewhat rowdy academic piece. One of the most persuasive segments that discusses a double standard has to do with the way the NC-17 is routinely used to keep gay themed material out of mainstream theaters. Dick edits together a split-screen montage that consists of side-by-side comparisons of similar footage from different films. In each case, the film that has the R rating is the straight-themed film, while the film that got the NC-17 is the gay-themed film. And, seriously... no exaggeration... the shots look identical in every case. The same amount of exposed skin. The same positions. The same number of thrusts. The same framing. So how can you account for the disparity in the ratings without seeing some sort of concentrated effort to demonize gay behavior? Sexuality overall seems to be a major issue for the ratings board, something that they’ve been called on many times. The way they let cartoon violence pass with a PG-13 or even a PG in many cases while making sure that any hint of normal sexual dynamics between adults is slapped with a restricted rating is just asinine, and it’s got to have something to do with the way our culture gets hung up over its naughty bits while having no problem at all expressing its rage and aggression through violence.

After Dick gets the NC-17 on his film, he decides to appeal the decision instead of cutting his film, and when he asks to have the names of the people he’ll be dealing with at the appeal, he is told that, once again, no one is allowed to know that information. So he puts his private investigator on the job again, and what he comes up with this time is more unsettling. The members of the appeal board aren’t parents, and they can’t be called members of the public by any means. They’re members of NATO or bookers for major theater chains or high-level members of management at various studios. These are the people that decide the final fate of a film when the filmmaker feels mistreated? Seems fishy to me.

I could choose to be even more outraged by the revelation that two members of the clergy (one Catholic, one Episcopalian) are part of that appeals board as well, something that truly confuses me. How does that help parents? How are we supposed to believe that moralism doesn’t play a part in the decisions they make? And why is everyone associated with the process so afraid to be identified at all, even once they’ve left the MPAA behind? What Dick’s done won’t change anything immediately, but I suspect the film will get under the skin of anyone who sees it, especially if they didn’t know the way all of this works. There was a period of about two years where I worked in the same building as the MPAA, for another company, and it was amazing how much security there was around every aspect of the ratings process. You couldn’t turn the wrong corner in that building without expecting to get pounced on by hired guards. I commend Dick for getting this far inside the system, and for making himself a giant target for the MPAA in the future. And the same goes for any filmmaker who speaks on the record here... they have to expect that there will be retribution against them the next time they try to get a film rated. There’s a moment where we see the names of filmmakers who have either been given an NC-17 or who have had to change their films to avoid it, and as the names fill the screen, one after another, you realize that you’re looking at a who’s who of the most influential, important, and intelligent filmmakers of the last 30 years. I’d think anyone would be proud to be part of that club, and after seeing a film that exposes the dishonesty and absolute moral corruption at the heart of the system, I’d think filmmakers would realize that things are getting worse, not better. We’re really at a turning point, too, as the studios become more and more monolithic. There will come a day when you will not be able to reform the MPAA or to come up with a viable alternative system, and independent voices will be silenced completely. I don’t even think that day is too far away.

But for the moment, as long as there are guys like Kirby Dick out there willing to put their own necks on the chopping block, we’re not there yet. THIS FILM IS NOT YET RATED will make its premiere this week at Sundance, and then IFC will be showing it uncut later this year. I urge you to seek it out and make sure you see it. It’s a great way for me to start off this movie year, and a nice next step from one of our most interesting documentarians.

I’ll be back this weekend with my big fat 2005 end of the year list, and then I’m going to be kicking off a series of articles that will celebrate the tenth anniversary of Ain’t It Cool News. Until then...

"Moriarty" out.

Readers Talkback
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  • Jan. 21, 2006, 2:02 a.m. CST

    Good stuff.

    by Lenny Nero

    I like Dick. Kirby Dick.

  • Jan. 21, 2006, 2:29 a.m. CST

    yeah, I hope enough people see this. It only drives the point ho

    by IamNumber1

    Unlike us movie freaks, the casual film goer should know something about the unfair treatment the mpaa gives to movies. We should have a rating system to make sure parents know what their kids are watching, and to make sure people know what content is in a movie, but giving nearly every mainstream film a PG-13 rating only to have an uncut dvd come out later (which is usually a light R that hasn't been reviewed by said MPAA) is an outrage. Especially since anybody can buy an uncut dvd. Did you know Army of Darkness got an NC-17 rating at first because of all the "graphic skeletons"?

  • Jan. 21, 2006, 2:31 a.m. CST

    Let's just agree to keep conservatives out of every major de

    by IndustryKiller

    Cons bitching about how unfairly they are treated on a website dedicated to exhalting art, something their entire antiquated dying point of view seeks to censor, in 3....2...1...

  • Jan. 21, 2006, 2:31 a.m. CST

    "Censoring filmmakers"

    by JackRabbitSlim

    Wow - and here I thought that there were literally thousands of films that came out that were sexually explicit every year aka the porno industry that, last i checked, is thriving in this repressive totalitarian state of the USA. When are artists ever going to understand that "freedom of speech" does NOT equate to "I have a RIGHT for major corporations, whether they be Theater Chains or Video chains or Cable Outlets or whatever, to be forced to distribute my product"? When a grocery store refuses to carry "Penthouse" or "Henry and June" or "Assfuckers Volume 9" or any other thing they simply choose not to carry, that is NOT CENSORSHIP. Just my cheapass two cents

  • Jan. 21, 2006, 4:03 a.m. CST

    Assfuckers Volume 9 got NC-17 for graphic skeletons as well...

    by Alonzo Mosely

    Little known fact...

  • Jan. 21, 2006, 4:09 a.m. CST

    Why shouldnt Gay scenes be considered more adult?

    by Sakurai

    Most of america sees homosexuality as more wrong than casual sex between a man and a woman. What if i argued that the mpaa was simply reflecting the current state of society? Whats wrong with that? sounds like you have a problem with society, not the mpaa.

  • Jan. 21, 2006, 4:14 a.m. CST

    The Dreamers is NC-17 and is doing fine on dvd

    by Rant Breath

    Lower-budget movies have no reason not to go NC-17. If it's any good people will support it no matter the rating.

  • Jan. 21, 2006, 4:19 a.m. CST


    by Rant Breath


  • Jan. 21, 2006, 4:49 a.m. CST

    Dude you're both ridiculous

    by sinbad

    Films are made to be seen in theaters, and the MPAA is not necessarily expressing the wishes of the public. That's Kirby's whole point. Did you read the article?

  • Jan. 21, 2006, 5:38 a.m. CST

    Compare and contrast to Australia.

    by Shan

    Sorry if I don't get this completely correct, I'm doing this from memory ... Anyway, in Australia, the ratings board is very open. They even all featured on a cover of a magazine that came free with a major weekend newspaper, inside was an article that interviewed them and went into great detail about the system and how it works. Also, I think the members are limited to two 3 year terms, in theory it's open to any member of the public to apply (I've seen advertisements in the newspaper often) and they're very approachable (I've rung them up a few times - once to ask why Texas Chainsaw Massacre II is not available in Australia [slow day, I was bored] - they actually looked it up in the files for me and called me back). I think they have been accused of being more conservative lately and being influenced by the government but still, miles away from what's being described in the US.

  • Jan. 21, 2006, 9:27 a.m. CST

    RE: Sakurai

    by Kraken

    You're totally right Sakurai! Also, let's make sure that if those black men are making love to our white woman we slap that with a NC-17 as well! I mean, surely we haven't gotten THAT far from the 60's have we?

  • Jan. 21, 2006, 9:51 a.m. CST

    Overthrow the MPAA

    by Jerri Blank

    This is one of the best articles I have read on this site. Moriarty is spot-on in his assessment of Jack Valenti. I can't wait to see this film.

  • Jan. 21, 2006, 10:27 a.m. CST

    Why I won't join the AFS

    by bingo the clown

    In 2002 they gave that asshole Jack Valenti a lifetime achievement award. So rember, if you belong to the Austin Film Society, you're supporting an organization that supports censorship.

  • Jan. 21, 2006, 10:47 a.m. CST

    I remember when i was in high school i used to read Fangoria and

    by HypeEndsHere

    as for him being the Music Man, he's not to blame. as usual, it's the gullable and apathetic public that allows themselves to be sold something it doesn't need and doesn't work.

  • Jan. 21, 2006, 10:48 a.m. CST

    Hey, JackRabbitSlim

    by Theta

    That's not the point. The point is we have been lied to for thirty years about who assigns the ratings and why the ratings are assigned. Hollywood and the American public have been lied to and defrauded by a censorship board. That should bug any true conservative. All anybody making a film they submit to the board wants is a fair shake. That simple. An indie film should not be slapped with an NC-17 because it dares not to be made by a major studio.

  • Jan. 21, 2006, 11:02 a.m. CST

    MPAA is only half bad

    by monkeymafia

    I agree that the MPAA has too much objective power when it comes to the ratings that they give films but can anyone honestly say that not having an indicator for the level of "mature" is for the better? The truth is we need some kind of system that tells us if we should or shouldn't allow our children to see a film at OUR own discretion. Parenting is the job of parents, not the MPAA but without the MPAA parenting is a more difficult job. And the NC-17 stigma is OUR problem. Instead of letting these films be re-cut, we need to show support for NC-17 films and not let it be the scarlett letter of film. And have you ever noticed that lame films (Dukes of Hazzard, Eurotrip, etc.) boast the fact that the DVD's are unrated, but filmmakers have to bend over backwards to get a certain rating for theatrical release? And the gay thing is just inexcusable at this point, but complaining about past films is like protesting "Amos and Andy", we've grown up as a society and I feel that discrimination is not nearly as common nowadays, but I do live in Chelsea, so perhaps I'm just not seeing it as much.

  • Jan. 21, 2006, 11:48 a.m. CST

    The Internet: The Great Equalizer

    by Tony Mike Hall

    This film sounds fascinating, and good posts from the TBers so far. As a tangential issue, as content delivery improves over the Internet, the studios and MPAA (which appear to be closely tied as Mori's piece points out) will lose more and more control over how films get rated, promoted, packaged and distributed. Burn Hollywood burn. When was the last time you actually purchased music in a store? That's what I thought...

  • Jan. 21, 2006, 11:59 a.m. CST

    Mori, "it seems like you

    by Immortal_Fish

    I agree. Always said public schools should include actual footage of penetration and ejaculation in sex education films.

  • Jan. 21, 2006, 12:41 p.m. CST

    Immortal Fish

    by drew mcweeny

    Well, if any of the scenes included featured penetration or ejaculation, maybe you'd have a point. But since they don't, and since what you see in these scarrrrrrrry NC-17 clips is, oddly, no different than anything you see in the clips from the R rated films, then it seems patently absurd.

  • Jan. 21, 2006, 1:07 p.m. CST

    but what you see IS different. it's gay. that's frowne

    by HypeEndsHere

  • Jan. 21, 2006, 1:17 p.m. CST

    mpaa is on drugs

    by reckni

    According to their system, it would seem that some PG-13 flicks should be R rated and vica versa. I'm still attempting to think of one good reason Cronenberg's Crash was NC-17.

  • Jan. 21, 2006, 1:20 p.m. CST


    by blessedsloth

    The fact that clergymen are involved in the process (I don't suppose they have a rabbi, or a mullah involved) scares the crap out of me... Are you telling me that "What would Jesus watch?" actually figures into the ratings process? Sigh. To quote Mayor Quimby, "This stupid country."

  • Jan. 21, 2006, 1:31 p.m. CST

    The comparison is inconsequential

    by Immortal_Fish

    First things first -- Understand that I agree with you to that end. If it's the equivalent of watching BEAT IT and EAT IT side by side, then of course the films should have received the same rating. But that describes why this documentary should have been rated the same as the clips from R rated flicks, which is to say R and not NC-17. Of course, this presumes that one must disregard established precedent, whether you agree with it or not. After all, it is also patently absurd for this filmmaker to expect to get a lower rating than the films from which he extracted the raciest bits from. Where you mention that segments should be weighed independently from the originating film is where I part ways with you. The example I provided, while extreme, obviates that this can't be done with a broad brush as easily as you opine. Something I never understood dating back to the 80's was why a kid was not permitted to see any of the F13's in the theater, yet could easily pick up the latest Fangoria magazine at the local bookstore. The only way I see your suggestion working is to grade a re-edit with a higher rating, not lower. Edit together all the kill segments from every PG-13 horror movie from the last several years and perhaps you should get an R rating. Same thing if you edit together "love scenes".

  • Jan. 21, 2006, 1:47 p.m. CST

    Two words why I wouldn't worry

    by MolonLabe

    Robert Rodriguez. He's shown that with current technology you can produce any film you want for less than a studio can make it. With digital distribution, a film maker can distribute any new content they want regardless of what the MPAA/CARA says. In time, it will be directly to home theater systems just as good as the current multiplex. I agree that the Ratings Board's actions are arbitrary and capricious if not worse but they are dinosaurs and their days are numbered.

  • Jan. 21, 2006, 1:49 p.m. CST

    Excuse Me?

    by Matty-O

    The MPAA should reflect the current state of society which states that "gay sex" (a phrase which has alwys sounded odd to me) is more wrong? Well, in that case in light of last week's Golden Globes, I should hope that "gay sex" should no longer merit an NC-17 rating. Clearly the box office of Brokeback Mountain shows that there is a segment of the United States population that is not so ass backwards that they feel the need to hold on to some lingering fear that a gay-themed film at the local cinema is going to brainwash all their children. I'm not saying that I ever expect every straight person in the country to enjoy watching full on man-on-man anal sex, but clearly you know what you're getting into when you buy a movie ticket, so if you don't want to see it, don't go, but there's no need to prevent a mature adult (17, 18, or whatever boundary you want to set) from making that decision. There is certainly no reason why in today's current state we should not be able to have the gay equivalent of sex scenes just as explicit as those in Monster's Ball. If Jake Gyllenhaal was screaming "Make Me Feel Good" I'm sure that would have been in a different section of the video store...

  • Jan. 21, 2006, 1:55 p.m. CST

    Matty, while you are completely rational and reasonable, we live

    by HypeEndsHere

    i.e. one yahoo in Michigan calls the TV station to complain about a program and the whole viewing public is denied the show. advertisers are slaves and can't tell that person to fuck off so they cave when a single person under the guise of an 'organization' sends 9,000 e-mails and letters. yes, the squeaky wheels get the grease alright. what they need to get is a backbone and a time machine so they can join us in the now.

  • Jan. 21, 2006, 1:59 p.m. CST

    I can't wait for this, but come on...

    by rsamiches

    He knew damn well he'd get an NC-17 rating. And he *had* to, or he couldn't claim he was the victim of MPAA bias, nor would he have an appeals process to film, nor would it seem very controversial if his exposure of the ratings board only got an 'R' rating (or, even a PG rating). It sounds like a great film, but there's no way that he really believed that this should be rated R. He's playing up to his intended audience. It's not like this would've been at every Tinseltown in the country if the rating were lowered.

  • Jan. 21, 2006, 2:28 p.m. CST

    Definately have to see this.

    by Veraxus

    Although I think there is a very good reason that gay content gets higher ratings - it's not mainstream and many parents (indeed, not just parents) do their best to keep exposure to that kind of content to a minimum. I really hope that straight vs gay issue isn't the focal point of the movie because the list of injustices and double standards practiced by the MPAA/CARA is a mile long. My favorite two examples are The Dreamers (which IMO actually deserved the NC17) and Eyes Wide Shut (which absolutely did not). When it comes to "violent" content, the system is even worse and deteriorating fast.

  • Jan. 21, 2006, 3:03 p.m. CST

    Gay sex vs not gay sex

    by antonphd

    I am the last person who would give a higher rating to a film with a gay sex scene over a non gay sex scene. Having said that... I don't think it's about gay sex being 'more wrong'. I think the idea is that gay sex is a more mature subject, thus the more mature rating. Personally, I don't know why anyone puts sex in a non porn movie in the first place. What's the point? Tease? Artistically I mean. Business wise it's obvious. Thing is... most people in this country do not see gay sex and non gay sex as the same thing. Gay sex is either seen as ultra exotic or as innappropriate or bad. There may be an attempt to keep gay sex out of mainstream cinema. But also there is the fact that thinking about 2 chicks fucking is way more intense than a guy and a girl rolling in the hay. And 2 guys going at it?! Way more of a big deal for most people watching a movie. People forget this... while there is now a lot of exposure for gay people... they are still an incredibly small minority in this country. Many people who are not against gay sex may not be comfortable watching it. That doesn't make them bad people. It makes them human. And they probably don't want to be in the middle of a movie and out of the blue watch a guy stick his dick in another guys ass in the theater filled with a bunch of other people... there really is a reason why the ratings folks can get away with this... cause they are actually rating for the majority of viewers... not for the artists. Just my thoughts as I read about this. Not conclusive in any way of course.

  • Jan. 21, 2006, 3:15 p.m. CST

    sex in movies

    by antonphd

    thinking more about sex in movies. :P i understand why filmmakers have artistic reasons for putting sex scenes in movies. sex is very important and very worth making art about. thing is... maybe chicks enjoy a sex scene for it's emotional impact... but a guy is just trying to catch sight of the girls ass or tits. guys get turned on by seeing sex. i don't know any guys who watch a sex scene and think about anything but having sex or a naked chick fucking a guy. sorry, it may not be pretty, but it's the truth. top to bottom of the refined ladder guys still want to spank that ass not think about the feelings of the person it belongs to.

  • Jan. 21, 2006, 3:32 p.m. CST

    re: gay sex

    by Matty-O

    Before I respond, let me preface this by saying that the way the theater owners operate is complete bullshit. I am 22. If Eli Roth wants to show someone chopping off an erect penis and a fountain of blood shooting out of it, I should be able to see that on the big screen, because I'm an adult. My parents raised me well, and never allowed me to see inappropriate films growing up; I don't plan on having children, and what yours see are not my responsibility. In response to you, there's plenty of reasons why there should be sex in movies. Here's one that comes to mind: Kinsey. Liam Neeson and Laura Linney are shown having pretty explicit sex because they want to make a point of how uncomfortable it was for them to have intercourse at first. It was essential to the development of their relationship. Now, notice how explicit that scene was, but later in the film when he sleeps with Peter Saarsgaard(sp?) you only see them getting out of bed; no thrusting is shown. If the same noises, motions, were displayed between the two males, it would have been slapped with the rating. In response to your argument that Mommy Minivan might not want to be sitting in some theater in Wyoming and "boom" out of nowhere see Liam Neeson and Peter Saarsgaard going at it? Well, next to the R rating it usually says "for drug use, strong sex, etc." They can just write "for sodomy" or however the hell you want to word it, I don't really care, as long as it's there. Then it's her responsibility to read it, and determine whether she'll feel comfortable seeing that, and whether she wants her children to be exposed to it. It's clear to me that homosexuals are in the separate but equal phase of their integration into society right now, and that's not necessarily right, but it's just a fact. It will be documented in art, and forcing the ratings board to realize the "equal" part of the equation is absolutely necessary. It's ashame that this film isn't being released in theaters. Even if it was a very limited run before IFC, I'm sure a ton of people would go see it.

  • Jan. 21, 2006, 4:01 p.m. CST

    fuck your kids.

    by idon'tknow

    seriously, I'm sick and tired of hearing about how we always have to protect children to the cost of everyone else. That's bullshit propaganda used to hide the real truths of a matter, but even if it were true it's still bullshit. I don't have kids, but I'm still an equally important member of society as anyone with them. I shouldn't have to be forced to go out of my way to find good art because it might make someone's kids uncomfortable. And really that's all it would do: make them uncomfortable. It would have to take some Takeshi Miike shit to really fuck up a kid. Somehow I don't see a few gay dickthrusts warping little Timmy's fragile mind. And even if it did, you know what: Fuck little Timmy. In fact fuck all children. They're not more important then anyone else, and we should stop treating them like they are. P.s. Just to make another point about the hypocrisy this country shows in dealing with kids: A thirteen year old isn't mature enough to watch the Dreamers (or even say, The Matrix without an adult present), but when they fuck up, they can be tried as an adult and executed? Yeah, makes lots of fucking sex. To quote Blessedsloth quoting Mayor Quimby "This stupid country." Thisstupid country indeed.

  • Jan. 21, 2006, 4:03 p.m. CST

    "makes a lot of fucking SENSE"

    by idon'tknow

    Hehe, all this this sex talks got me hot and bothered.

  • Jan. 21, 2006, 4:23 p.m. CST

    oh man...

    by Annamaria

    idon'tknow, you're so right about "fuck the kids"... im 17, and i think it's total bullshit that everything gets censored in any medium, especially in TV and movies... this means that i wouldn't even be able to (legally) see this movie!!! FUCK THAT! the reason why everything gets slapped with high ratings IS because of the kids, i mean look how much money all those lame ass kiddy movies make the studios... those assholes know that if ratings weren't as harsh, or non-existant (in a perfect world), then when a parent takes their kid into the theater and sees something that they hoped they would have known about before, something they feel is "inappropriate", then that mom is telling all the rest of her soccer mom friends not to take their kids to see it, and that movie is screwed big time... so IT IS the kids' fault that the rest of society gets fucked over... thank god for cable or we'd really be in trouble... when i turned 17, the first thing that came to my mind was that now i can legally walk into an R movie by myself... how fucked up is that?!? if im mature enough to handle whatever is shown then that should be my decision and no one should tell me what i can and cannot watch... this may be a lame example, but when i was a little kid i would watch Saturday Night Fever all the time cause my mom is a disco freak... trust me, the only thing that really stuck with me was the music and dancing, the overall story, and that guy falling off the bridge... PERFECT example of how "violence" is more impacting than sex, cause i just saw the movie again like a few months ago after having not seen it for many years, and i did NOT realize how much sex was in that movie, i had no clue... and i used to watch that movie all the time as a little kid... kids cannot comprehend what sex is at that age... i think it might be a hormonal thing, where your brain isn't really thinking that way yet... but violence is always there... not to say anything against violence, i have no problem with it, but there you go... really fucked up... if you don't like what's being shown, then DON'T SEE IT!! DON'T SCREW EVERYONE ELSE OVER WHEN YOU CAN JUST CHANGE THE CHANNEL OR NOT PAY 10 BUCKS AT A THEATER... fucking conservatives...

  • Jan. 21, 2006, 5:50 p.m. CST

    Compare and Contrast to Australia 2

    by lmoose

    Moriarty mentions the prudish nature of the MPAA in ratings. Here in Australia we are more shocked by violence. Example: Both 'From Dusk Till Dawn' and 'Tin Cup' received an R rating in the USA where as in Australia 'Tin Cup' got an M rating (same as PG-13 in USA) and 'From Dusk Till Dawn' got an R rating (same as NC-17 in the USA). Something Shan didn't mention is that our classification board is government run and has the power to ban films. If anyone has read AICN Downunder they will know of the recent ban on 'Ken Park'.

  • I think you are looking in the right direction. good points. Is this an issue of the mpaa or one of the current state of society?

  • Jan. 21, 2006, 6:56 p.m. CST

    It's An Issue of The MPAA

    by Matty-O

    I understand your point Sakurai. Whether we're talking about sex from a broad perspective or homosexuality specifically... dicks or penetration... society is ignorant. But let's face it... mommy minivan isn't the target audience for Baise-Moi, The Devil's Rejects or David Cronenberg's Crash (just to name a random few)... and these films need to be accessible to those who have a desire to view them in their unedited form, whether we live in a big city or a small town. If I am over the age of 18 (which I am) I should be able to see these films even if I don't live right next door to a tiny little arthouse. With the current ratings system, this isn't often a possibility.

  • Jan. 21, 2006, 7:42 p.m. CST

    The BBFC changed their name from film CENSORS to film CLASSIFICA

    by ghekkomanic

    ... an important distinction for them, but to be fair they are doing a lot less censoring and a lot more classification nowadays. They have passed full hardcore sex at 18 with (among others) Micheal "appropriately innuendo-laden surname" Winterbottom's 9 Songs. The film may be tedious and self-indulgent, but at least in the UK we have the choice to waste our money seeing it. What I find interesting is that they won't give an "18" certificate to pornography, which mostly gets an "R-18", which means you can only buy it in a licensed sex shop. So the BBFC have to justify their arbitrary (and their will be some tough calls to make on what is porn and what isn't - apparently with 9 Songs a few arty shots of Antarctica and mind-numbingly boring improvised dialogue means the UK population will not be depraved or corrupted by seeing these two young actors sh*gging the ar*es off each other). And by the way Moriaty, the BBFC are just as secretive about their examiners' identities as the MPAA. The tabloid press (who are as doggedly determined as most PI's, I imahine) have tried getting hold of their details after certain controversial decisions (Cronenberg's Crash) and failed. The UK equivalent "This Film Has Not Yet Been Certified" anyone?

  • Jan. 21, 2006, 9:45 p.m. CST

    ghekko, i remember Ali G interviewing the head of the classifica

    by HypeEndsHere

    i have the region 2 DVD.

  • Jan. 21, 2006, 10:23 p.m. CST

    It's all about "the children"

    by Immortal_Fish

    Well, it is. First of all, it's always *very* telling when someone has a "fuck the kids" mindset and is childless or liberal, or both. Whether or not you like it, you will most likely pay for their education and possibly even their medical and living expenses in some cases. How they turn out as adults will also have an impact on you -- from what you pay in property taxes to car insurance. And more. There is a bigger world out there that involve more people than yourselves. Get over it. I'm all about choice. I may not agree -- and I'd like the right to say I don't agree -- but go on with your bad self otherwise. This attitude extends to film. That aside, some form of guide must exist to cue us individually what to expect, including parents burdened with making decisions for not only themselves but also for their children. Of course it is important for such a system to be fair and monitored. But focus on that instead of the potential chaos of no a "buffers all the time" system.

  • Jan. 21, 2006, 10:27 p.m. CST

    Hey IndustryKiller!

    by J-Dizzle

    And while we're at it let's keep the left wingers out too. Everybody knows that the centralists/moderates are the only rational thinking people in the world.

  • Jan. 21, 2006, 10:48 p.m. CST

    tinfoil hat alert

    by Sir Loin

    Come on. This film sounds like F9/11 or Super Size Me, intended to bolster the left to feel elitist and make them feel like there's yet another conspiracy out there to control your lives. Key word: "feel." Get mad! Get riled up about how films are suppressed and cheated by ratings! Yeah! Feel special because you know better! Keep drinking that Kool-Aid while these "documentaries" take your money. If Dick's so concerned, he would've released this online and for free, to spite the MPAA. Fork over that allowance kids, he's got money to make.

  • ... but what they can do (like they did with Ken Park) is give it a rating of RC, which = Refused Classification. It's against the law to show a film with such a rating. A technical point to be sure but yes, so it's effectively the same thing. As I have seen some representative or other proclaim once "We can't ban films!" They can only render it illegal to watch them anywhere in the country. They also can't force edits on a film but they can say why and which scenes in a film got it the rating it did and offer suggestions as to what the film submitter can do (ie what to cut/re-edit) to get their film into a lower classification bracket. In the case of Texas Chainsaw Massacre II, they told me it was refused release in Australia due to "its juxtaposition of sex and violence in the one film". If the distributor had submitted a recut version, it might be available but no-one bothered. Admittedly, our board has come under the influence of more conservative elements in society (just ask Latauro) some of whom do things like in the US (form organisations that bombard TV stations etc with protests). Sometimes it seems pressure succeeds, Ken Park was initially passed but a protest or appeal saw the full board reject it. Baise-Moi made it to cinema but was later reclassified and pulled and 9 Songs and The Anatomy of Hell were also attacked but I believe the board rejected the complaint (Ie all but told the complaints to go away).

  • Jan. 21, 2006, 11:19 p.m. CST

    hey wait a minute...

    by Annamaria

    look im not some extreme leftist (im actually a libertarian), but as a 17 year old, this kind of thing pisses me off... i dont mind if they put a rating on a movie, but telling me that i cant see it because im 17 and 2/3 as of today, and not 18, is complete bullshit.. im not gonna instantly become an "adult" in 4 months, i think i already am, at least mentally... so put your warnings, but dont deny me a movie... i find that unbelievable... let people make whatever movies they want to make, and if you dont like what's being shown, then DONT SEE IT!!! its that simple! but don't keep everyone else in the dark who might want to see it...

  • ... one of the former deputy heads went on to direct and/or produce a porn film called "Buffy Down Under". They even showed a bit on the national news - admittedly it was just a scene of a fully clothed person seated or lying near a beach or the Harbour Bridge or something like that but still ... can't see any MPAA members doing that.

  • Jan. 22, 2006, 3:25 a.m. CST

    Whats with all the comotion over the movie ratings system

    by Thirteen 13

    They don't mean shit and these days are NEVER enforced. When I went and saw Hostel literally 3/4 of the audience were kids not old enough to see it, yet they were sold tickets anyway and breezed right in. If I had a dime for everytime I've seen a group of brain-dead 12 year olds walk up and buy tickets for an "R" movie I would be able to afford one of John Kerry's foreign made limos. The movie ratings ystem is nothing but a dog and pony show, so you all can stop self-flagellating yourselves and screaming freedom of expression...blah blah blah.

  • Jan. 22, 2006, 4:52 a.m. CST

    The 'Kids' are all right...

    by bb6634

    I am not sure if this may be of interest to anyone here, but I just find it amusing and telling in how inconsequential and random rating systems can be

  • Jan. 22, 2006, 4:56 a.m. CST

    Sometimes I just can't understand you US-Americans

    by Bastian

    A film is rated NC-17 instead of R, just because one or more parts of the film are about homosexuality? WTF?! And what's the justification for such a rating: Our children must be protected? Wait a minute, I always thought that children shouldn't even be watching R rated movies in the first place, right? So if you raise your child properly, it shouldn't be exposed to violence and sex in movies anyway, wether the movie be Rated R or NC-17, right? And what's the point of the IMO biased treatment of gay themed material anyway? All I hear is that a child might be shocked if it was to see two men kissing each other on the big screen, yet no conservative has - to this day - proven the point that such a scene would actually be shocking for - let's say - a twelve year old. Unless, of course, the twelve year old was raised in the notion that all things gay are unnatural or even evil - and this are the true motives of this whole discussion: Not to protect any child, but to protect the unproven moral assumption of conservative minded people that homosexuality is 'wrong' and that the US people must be saved from it...

  • Jan. 22, 2006, 7:27 a.m. CST

    13, I know that in your town's one movie theatre, the rating

    by HypeEndsHere

    probably because the ticket taker is the brother of the kid that sold you the ticket and your cousin. but in the real world, it's very common for theatres to check IDs. as usual, congrats on the sweeping generalities. i shouldn't have expected any less.

  • Jan. 22, 2006, 10:34 a.m. CST

    Industry BIG SHOTS should just stop submitting their films to Th

    by Mike Nesmith

    Lucas should have done that with the STAR WARS prequels; Spielberg should do that with the final INDIANA JONES flick. So they are unrated...what theatre chain would pass up on those movies!!? SHREK 6 (or whatever number they are on) should go into the theatre with NO RATING. In fact, let the movie theatre decide. Make it a regional thing. If the idiots down south are afraid of fake gay sex in a movie, then don't let ANYONE down there see it. The dumb will suffer, but the rest of us will still get to see the films we want to see.

  • Jan. 22, 2006, 11:58 a.m. CST

    regarding theater carding

    by readyoufool

    I live in Columbus Ohio which is hardly a small town. There are movie theaters all over the place and more being built. I have never, ever seen anyone ever get carded for any movie purchase and I myself was carded only once, for going to see "The Aristocrats". I have to believe that particular carding was out of the whole sensationalism following the movie. If news media etc hadn't made such a big deal about a movie who's single nude shot was actually edited with a mosaic then the arena grand (for you cowtowners) wouldn't have bothered treating it as an NC-17 (note: went to see Sexo Y Lucia at this theater when it came out and was NOT carded for this NC-17 movie b/c there was no hype about it). And one more thing, about this whole "conservatives/liberals" thing going on in this thread and with the mpaa in general. Don't liberals/democrats usually believe in the government taking on more responsibility in protecting you from things like dangerous music (thank you Mr. & Mrs. Gore)? And aren't conservatives generally supposed to be of a "hands off" mentality for the most part when it comes to private industry believing that parents should fucking be parents and the rest of us should be individuals except in cases where actual, measurable, and usually, physical, harm is going to come to somone else? No one seems to be living up to their role here. Personally i'm a conservative with very libertarian feelings on this subject. I don't care if it's violence or sex, don't complain about your kids seeing it to the rest of us. You are the parent. If little Jon or Jen went to see a double feature of Baise-Moi and Dead Alive that is your problem to deal with. I don't care if Jon had a sandwich board sign reading "i'm only 12 years old" and still didn't get carded. Apparently you didn't know about Jon's penchant for Rape and murder and Jen's interest in the undead. Sounds like you need a conversation starter. how about that "apples to apples" game? So either you don't know about your kids interests, or you do know, and you told them not to go see it, and they went anyway. I'm pretty sure that you are the parent and that your kid just did something you expressly told him not to do. Don't discipline me for it, discipline him/her. Start parenting.

  • Jan. 22, 2006, 12:34 p.m. CST


    by ZombieSolutions


  • Jan. 22, 2006, 12:35 p.m. CST


    by ZombieSolutions


  • Jan. 22, 2006, 4:20 p.m. CST

    Kirby Dick is a cool guy. Cannot wait to see this one!

    by Doom II

    Had a chance to speak with him a few months ago at a Twist Of Fate screening in Tucson. Nice guy. He hinted about his "next project" and said he couldn't talk about it except to say that it is an investigative film about one of the most secretive organizations in the world. Had no idea it was the MPAA.

  • Jan. 22, 2006, 4:38 p.m. CST

    Bad Lietuenant....first NC-17 I ever saw in a theater.

    by Doom II

    Granted it was an art house theater in Phoenix, but I loved the movie. Later I recommended it to some friends who rented the R rated version from Blockbuster months later. A TON of footage was cut out and it lessened the message of the film. It actually sucked without some of the harder footage and I was forced to apologize and describe what was missing. The audience WILL FIND a movie they want to see. Regardless of the MPAA CIA or FBI. Who cares about "mainstream" audiences. I bought the NC-17 Dreamers and loved it. If there is an R and NC-17 version of a dvd on the shelf, I would NEVER rent the R version and never will.

  • Jan. 22, 2006, 9:59 p.m. CST

    Thank you, Kirby

    by Mafu

    I've never contemplated the makeup of the MPAA in my entire life. Honestly, I just thought it was some government agency created to make parents' lives easier and to fuck with artists who make films. Little did I know it was a Black OPs Social Enforcement Agency designed to give cushy jobs to clergy and similarly dysfunctional human beings. Super. I'm very interested to see this film now. Truth, I say, regardless of how ugly it is, is always better than a foggy sham of truth. Thanks, Kirby.

  • Jan. 23, 2006, 10:18 a.m. CST


    by KajiC

    "Ella Enchanted" was rated PG. So was "Raiders of the Lost Ark". 'Nuff said.

  • Jan. 23, 2006, 1:35 p.m. CST

    I could choose to be even more outraged by the revelation that t

    by Quin the Eskimo

    So clergy should be treated as second class citizans and be discrinated against? That underminds your entire argument in my mind.

  • Jan. 23, 2006, 2:03 p.m. CST

    if you are going to have a only handful of people represent the

    by HypeEndsHere

    what if congress were 1/3 priests? of course, we have "some" say in that, as they are in elections. but no one votes for these jagoffs.

  • Jan. 24, 2006, 8:05 a.m. CST

    Suddenly makes me grateful for the BBFC (British Board of Film C

    by raw_bean

    And I've never had a problem seeing something they rate '18' anywhere in the country over here, either; another thing to be thankful for when reading about what the US rating system is like.

  • Jan. 24, 2006, 3:38 p.m. CST

    The real problem isn't ratings -- it's newspapers refusi

    by abcdefz7

    -- and that's their prerogative, but what about this: Newspapers which accept a theater's advertising as a general rule have to accept advertising for NC-17 films (if the advertising isn't graphic/offensive, etc.)? Wouldn't that solve all of this?

  • Jan. 25, 2006, 6 a.m. CST


    by thegoldencalf

    the bbfc are the fairest and most open board of film classifers in the world. i know that the members regularly give lectures to university students on how they operate as i have sat in one. who said the british were reserved! what with the complete rule of the church and republican government in the states i wouldn't be surprised if Civil War 2 broke out. don't worry i'm sure bruce, sly and arnie will save you all. oh yeah, maybe not the last one.

  • Jan. 25, 2006, 6:34 a.m. CST

    Read this: MPAA illegally copied "This Film is Not Yet Rated"!

    by CurryIce

  • Jan. 26, 2006, 8:16 a.m. CST

    Violence v. Sex and Language

    by Aquatarkusman

    If I remember correctly, I think they tried to give Clerks an NC-17 rating (it was reduced to an R on appeal), but you can have limbs blown off and intestines hanging out (Saving Private Ryan) or extending torture scenes (take your pick) and get an R. We are really a ridiculous culture where this bought-out, secret board gets to decide commercial viability. I will commend them for one thing, though: rating a horror or action film PG-13 lets me know that the films will be useless.