Hey, Head Geek...
I’ve recently instigated a vigorous program of random hypnosis as a method of developing spy material for AICN, and I’m delighted by the results so far. My method is simple and direct. I walk into a restaurant or a bar or a store or an office and I decide who I want to hypnotize. I walk up and introduce myself, and then use a particularly agressive hypnotic trick I picked up while traveling in India that snaps them into a deeply suggestive trance. I ask a few pointed questions, tell them to forget the last five minutes and walk away. It’s almost surgically effective, man.
Well, yesterday it paid off when I was having lunch. Some Stooge sitting one table over from me kept talking loudly about how they had something to do with the MPAA. I had no choice but to lean over and give the technique a try. Once I had them stunned and willing to talk, we spit out the following exchange:
MORIARTY: Are you guys mad at the way you’re treated in SOUTH PARK?
MPAA STOOGE: You bet. Trey Parker, Matt Stone, Scott Rudin... we’re pissed at the whole bunch of them.
MORIARTY: Are you going to get back at them?
MPAA STOOGE: We already are. Ask Scott Rudin about his SLEEPY HOLLOW poster.
Just then, the waiter walked up and interrupted us, startling the Stooge from the trance, and I had to flee the scene while the Stooge was trying to figure out what was going on. Still, I had a lead, and I figured I’d go straight to the people in the story and see where it led.
As you know, Harry, I retreated to the Labs and called you immediately. I began to spill the events of the morning to you, and you stopped me mid-story. "Ah, Professor... I have my sources inside CARA and the MPAA, too." You proceeded to fill in the blanks, telling me how the SLEEPY HOLLOW poster was rejected Tuesday morning by the MPAA because of its “graphic depiction of decapitation."
Wait a minute. You can’t use the Headless Horseman on a poster for SLEEPY HOLLOW? That’s like telling Warner Bros. they can’t use Superman on the poster for SUPERMAN. The Headless Horseman is a classic American literary figure, as recognizable as Sherlock Holmes, Tom Sawyer, or Tarzan. If the MPAA wants to argue that this is a move to cut down on movie violence, they’re cracked. This film is not about guns or kids killing parents or anything that could even remotely be linked to any real-life situation in recent or current America. This is a film about a giant supernatural demon who beheads select citizens of a small town in New York.
Besides, you told me... you were pretty sure there had been similar poster images in the past. Of the two of us, I’d defer to you in poster knowledge any day of the week, so why don’t you jump in?
Alright my dear professor, don't mind if I do. Ya know folks, Sometimes it's just eerie how Moriarty and I simply seem to appear on the same page. It wasn't but 2 hours before the old man called that I received via pnuematic tube a report from a spy, purporting to be from within the MPAA, who had thrown his/her hands up in the air in disgust with the whole spineless affair. The report detailed in cut out newspaper type that apparently the MPAA had just rejected a poster for SLEEPY HOLLOW based on the fact that it suggested decapitation. According to this source, the poster is all art, and has the headless horseman with a head tucked under it's arm like a football.
Now, I'm a huge fan of the world of poster art and motion picture advertisments. Panicked, I contacted a source at Paramount to give me a clue what was going to happen. Turns out they are contemplating using a photographic image of 'THE TREE' if they can't use the headless horseman motif.
Now, I'm sorry, but this just plain sucks. I've been attempting to secure the 'offensive poster' in question, but so far to no avail. But I can give you a brief history of the decaptitated poster world as I am familiar with it. First up is the 3-sheet gracing the wall behind my computer for BLACK SABBATH...
Alright, now this poster is taller than you are and depicts a gigantic disembodied head with blood drenching from the neck wound. It's Karloff and ya know what... This poster and image come from those 'innocent days of yesteryear' when the Beaver walked by the Bijou and asked Wally for a dime to see the picture show. I mean, this poor child might have seen this one-sheet for BLACK SABBATH framed on the outside of the theater...
Or he might have seen this image from THE HEADLESS GHOST...
Or even worse, it may have been this ghastly image from THE THING THAT COULDN'T DIE...
Now ya see folks. From what I have been told, these posters above actually depict harsher forms of decapitation than the currently offensive un-sanctioned by the MPAA SLEEPY HOLLOW poster. So... What is the problem? I mean, it wasn't too long ago that this PREDATOR 2 poster graced our theaters..
And that even had a spinal column attached, dangling from the scrubbed clean skull recently harvested from an ex-human being. Did children die of fright? Was there social mayhem? Hell, it wasn't even a terribly effective poster, though I loved it... Sigh... Here's Moriarty...
As Harry was putting together this exhaustive comparision of past approved images, I was still trying to find out exactly what was on the offending poster. My first call was to the MPAA, looking for an official explanation. They bounced me around from office to office, finally bouncing me to an office in Washington, where I was told that the MPAA never comments on decisions they've made "and we certainly aren't going to start with you." I'd say that was a pretty clear message sent and received.
Since they weren't interested in discussing the matter, I decided to try and contact the producers of the film, Scott Rudin and Adam Schroeder. We're still in the process of that, though. Rudin, being an Evil Genius himself, is even busier than I am and has been impossible to nail down. I'm hoping we have a chance to talk to him about the poster image. I've heard rumors about what it is, and it sounds breathtaking. It sounds like it is truly poster art, the kind that becomes a classic image immediately, and the fact that we're not going to get to see it is ridiculous.
I dare CARA and the MPAA to reconsider their decision. I know it hurts when you're beat up publicly the way you were in the SOUTH PARK film, but you need to be above it all. You need to contextualize your decisions. SLEEPY HOLLOW is one of America's great pieces of folklore. Keeping the key image from the story from us doesn't protect. All it does is punish the artist who created the image. Valenti and his crew claim that they're protecting kids, and that's all the ratings are for. They say that's what guides their decisions in what can and can't be shown on posters. So, fine... prove it. Regulate extreme imagery or blatant drug use or nudity... but only when it makes sense.
And this time, the only kind of sense it makes is the kind that makes you look small, petty, and wrong.
We'll keep you posted as the story develops, everyone, and if we're lucky, maybe we'll even be able to show you the image you're being protected from. Until then...