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Thread: MPAA: Censorship?

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    MPAA: Censorship?

    I just watched a documentary titled "This Film Is Not Yet Rated". It is about the Motion Picture Association of America, the people who decide if the movie is labeled G, PG, PG-13, R, NC-17. I guess I was kind of blind to the whole process. I didn't think movies were negatively affected by it, and more so, I really did think it was some kind of government sanctioned entity.

    Now, I don't fully agree that the MPAA is basically censorship, but it did open my eyes to this bull$#@! organization. I agree it's helpful to let parents know if they are tits and bush in a movie, or violence, or bad language. But this thing controls what you see almost. It makes people cut their movies almost arbitrarily, and if you don't get under the NC-17 rating, basically no company will release your movie. Which is kind of censorship, and at least very very un-american. There is no transparency, and what really shocked me is that there are two clergy members on the appeals board and they get a vote. wtf?

    Also, the almost bull$#@! favortism they show towards big picture movies versus independents. Like Sharon Stone showing her bush in a big budget movie is okay, but maria bello showing her bush in the independent movie The Cooler.

    and, pretty much any depiction of woman showing pleasure related to sex is NC-17, which I am VERY against. I want to see women getting off, who doesn't. I don't think that is evil.

    and of course, any gay stuff is immediately NC-17, even if clothed, while any straight nude sex scenes are totally cool for R.

    it's a bunch of bull$#@!. Un-American.

    I think a rating system needs to be in place, but one with i don't know, a set of rules that may be followed, and not some arbitrary opinion of 8 super conservatives. And also, i think showing people get mutilated with violence is way worse than some thrusting, but we live in puritan america.

  2. #2
    First of all:

    Quote Originally Posted by neonmoon44 View Post
    and, pretty much any depiction of woman showing pleasure related to sex is NC-17, which I am VERY against. I want to see women getting off, who doesn't. I don't think that is evil.
    That's not true at all.

    Second of all, when considering the MPAA and ratings, how much do you take into account that its self-censorship? Like you said, its not the government so the first amendment isn't even a factor. I don't know how to feel about this because its the movie industry keeping check on itself, but it definitely seems arbitrary at times.

  3. #3
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    Sounds like a very subjective process, which I don't really agree with for several (but not all ) of the reasons you mentioned. Although, I'm not really sure how you could take the subjectivity out of rating a movie.

  4. #4
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    It is subjective, but it is the industry policing itself. I have no problems.

  5. #5
    Admittedly, I don't know much about the MPAA and how movie ratings are determined. And I would personally like the rules to be slightly more relaxed when it comes to sex scenes being rated R. However, I mostly disagree with the following 2 statements:

    Quote Originally Posted by neonmoon44 View Post
    and, pretty much any depiction of woman showing pleasure related to sex is NC-17, which I am VERY against. I want to see women getting off, who doesn't. I don't think that is evil.
    Mulholland Dr
    American Pie
    Monster's Ball
    Unfaithful
    The Reader

    and of course, any gay stuff is immediately NC-17, even if clothed, while any straight nude sex scenes are totally cool for R.
    Brokeback Mountain
    American Beauty
    Mulholland Dr
    Wild Things

  6. #6
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    it's pretty much true. there aren't that many movies of a girl having an orgasm that isn't given a high rating. But a woman being brutalized by a man is totally cool.

    The Last House on the Left - R (contains a brutal rape scene but still given an R)

    But I'm a Cheerleader - NC-17 (girl masturbates over her clothes, no nudity)

    seems fair.

  7. #7
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    Yes, I agree that policing oneself is nice, but I think a better system could be implemented to make everyone happy. The parents and the artists. Okay, I was generalizing a little in the first post, and I apologize for that. But I think the points I want to make are:

    1. There are no rules. It is extremely subjective, which allows them to control culture in a way by suppressing two chicks doing it, because gay is wrong according to bible, but seeing a woman raped or seeing any of the gore in Saw movies is fine. I think that is wrong, unfair, un-american, etc.

    2. "Studio" movies have certain relationships with the MPAA, as the big 7 fund the MPAA, and have lawyers and such to negotiate a lower rating. Independents get screwed because they don't have the money to lobby, etc. That is wrong.

    3. Having the church decide what movie is appropriate for my children to watch may seem okay at first, but isn't this America? I don't want some Islamic person saying women without a berka is bad for movies, so why would I want some Catholic priest saying chick making out is bad. I believe in Freedom and would like to be free of these moral handcuffs.

    4. There is no accountability. No review, and yes an NC-17 rating does kill your movie. The highest grossing NC-17 movie was Showgirls that made 20.7 million. While even some crappy gore fest movie like Saw made a ton more. So the MPAA word is law. You cannot use other movies as precedence in your appeal. The 8 reviewers are influenced by the ulta-conservative chairman, so if you don't follow the group you will lose your job. I would just like a fair system. Not some secret voodoo $#@!.

  8. #8
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    Do you think the MPAA has an agenda?

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by neonmoon44 View Post
    it's pretty much true. there aren't that many movies of a girl having an orgasm that isn't given a high rating. But a woman being brutalized by a man is totally cool.
    I still mostly disagree with this. You're providing a few examples to support this point, just like I provided a few examples to refute it. I think it goes both ways and there is probably a lot more considered than whether or not a girl gets off in the movie. The manner in which it's done, etc.

    I do agree with you that movie ratings are very political. I've occasionally read articles about upcoming movies that are not yet rated, where the studio is trying to achieve a certain rating they think will help appeal to their target market. And it makes sense that the big studios are more successful than the independents, but I guess that's the same with everything in life.

    I also wish our society was more tolerant of sex in general. Not just in the movies and TV, but everywhere. Like you said, it's a little odd that we show violence all over network TV, but if anyone shows a boobie, everyone throws a fit. When it comes to movies though, there seems to be this line drawn at boobs and ass. You can show those parts and get an R rating, but full frontal is just crossing the line (in most cases). It doesn't make sense to me, and the strategic concealment of certain body parts gets a little monotonous at times. If the movie is rated R already, and especially if the studio discloses that sex/nudity are involved, then I don't see why this limit is in place. I'm not advocating they show penetration on the big screen, but it seems like there is a reasonable boundary somewhere in the middle there. Maybe like what's shown on late night movie channels (or what I assume they show), only in smaller doses.

  10. #10
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    I saw that movie a few days ago. I thought it sucked but there were some interesting points. I agree with the OP that it is really weird that violence is much more acceptable than sex in movies, and that sex usually gets a higher rating before violence does. But isn't that more a reflection on our country than an indictment on the raters? Seems like that's most of America feels, for some reason. Not saying it's right, or that I agree with it, but I'm guessing that most people would agree with the raters on that one.

  11. #11
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    The fact a movie will get an R rating for showing a tit, and PG for blowing one up says a lot about our $#@!ed up society.

  12. #12
    It's getting worse not better

    80s PG > PG13

  13. #13
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    Just because it is not the government censoring does not make it right, nobody censors the internet (aside from a few dictatorships) and it will be hell if it ever happens, private or public.

    As for the MPAA, force them to nuke the static ratings, make them add context of what you should look out for.

  14. #14
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    Boys Don't Cry with Hilary Swank was NC-17 for several reasons. One in particular was after hilary swank goes down on her girlfriend, she wipes her mouth. They had to pull that to make it R.

    It really is a bull$#@! system. I would have to think long and hard about a good alternative, but leaving 8 uber-conservative parents up to what we watch is ridiculous.

    It especially bothers me that violence is so readily accepted (so what if it gets an R rating, people will see it), but good sex is frowned upon. I remember all the rape scenes and discussions in The General's Daughter and that movie wasn't NC-17.

  15. #15
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    Most movies that get an NC-17 rating take out scenes to make it Rated R. The reason is because the studios are not going to make very much money on an NC-17 movie. If they make it rated R, they open themselves up to a larger audience. That's just the way it is.

  16. #16
    A lot of directors contracts specify they only get paid for R rated or less. An every few years the standard moves.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by linux View Post
    Just because it is not the government censoring does not make it right, nobody censors the internet (aside from a few dictatorships) and it will be hell if it ever happens, private or public.
    Yeah, it sucks when governments screw with the internet. That would never happen in, say, Hugo's Workers Paradise

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    Quote Originally Posted by r2k3982 View Post
    Most movies that get an NC-17 rating take out scenes to make it Rated R. The reason is because the studios are not going to make very much money on an NC-17 movie. If they make it rated R, they open themselves up to a larger audience. That's just the way it is.
    This is pretty much the same situation with video games and the ESRB, because no brick and mortar retailer in the US will stock a game rated Adults-Only. Of course, with video games, sexual content is about the ONLY thing that will generate an AO rating so the double standard of violence being considered more acceptable is even more apparent...

  19. #19
    I agree with the OP that it is really weird that violence is much more acceptable than sex in movies,
    Well this is a Christian nation you know.

  20. #20
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    My take on the whole deal is this: of course the movie industry needs to be able to police itself via ratings. However, the fact that the MPAA is not accountable to anyone, and the board is totally secret really would kind of piss me off. It seems like an arbitrary system that has no guidelines that it follows, it's more like a toss up on what gets rated what. I did not like that there was no feedback given on many of these movies as to how to alter them to receive an R rating.

    I think the system is extremely biased, and a joke, but it's probably not going anywhere anytime soon.

  21. #21
    People should watch the documentary before they say the industry polices itself. It does no such thing. The movie was an eye opening experience.

  22. #22
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  23. #23
    asshat dedalus can play the whole course with a 4 iron. At night. dedalus can play the whole course with a 4 iron. At night. dedalus can play the whole course with a 4 iron. At night. dedalus can play the whole course with a 4 iron. At night. dedalus can play the whole course with a 4 iron. At night. dedalus can play the whole course with a 4 iron. At night. dedalus can play the whole course with a 4 iron. At night. dedalus can play the whole course with a 4 iron. At night. dedalus can play the whole course with a 4 iron. At night. dedalus can play the whole course with a 4 iron. At night. dedalus can play the whole course with a 4 iron. At night. dedalus's Avatar
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    I guess by policing themselves I meant basically they need to have a way to assess the content of the movie to determine it's proper audience.

  24. #24

  25. #25
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    meh, saw it. it is either this or the government would have done it. i prefer this independent body.

    i agree that transparency and specific policies would be better but it is an inherently subjective process so it makes it near impossible to be rule based. also, it isn't censorship because you can still buy your nc-17 movie. blah blah blah
    Last edited by carrera; 04-17-2010 at 07:10 PM.

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by linux View Post
    Did you even read the link?
    You mean the part where Hugo worries that his foes are plotting against him via the internet?

    "We have to act. We are going to ask the attorney general for help, because this is a crime. I have information that this page periodically publishes stories calling for a coup d'etat. That cannot be permitted."

  27. #27
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    It makes people cut their movies almost arbitrarily, and if you don't get under the NC-17 rating, basically no company will release your movie.
    it's not as much about censorship as it is money. Generally speaking, NC-17 movies do not make for big box office successes.

  28. #28
    Quote Originally Posted by neonmoon44 View Post
    Yes, I agree that policing oneself is nice, but I think a better system could be implemented to make everyone happy. The parents and the artists. Okay, I was generalizing a little in the first post, and I apologize for that. But I think the points I want to make are:

    1. There are no rules. It is extremely subjective, which allows them to control culture in a way by suppressing two chicks doing it, because gay is wrong according to bible, but seeing a woman raped or seeing any of the gore in Saw movies is fine. I think that is wrong, unfair, un-american, etc.

    2. "Studio" movies have certain relationships with the MPAA, as the big 7 fund the MPAA, and have lawyers and such to negotiate a lower rating. Independents get screwed because they don't have the money to lobby, etc. That is wrong.

    3. Having the church decide what movie is appropriate for my children to watch may seem okay at first, but isn't this America? I don't want some Islamic person saying women without a berka is bad for movies, so why would I want some Catholic priest saying chick making out is bad. I believe in Freedom and would like to be free of these moral handcuffs.

    4. There is no accountability. No review, and yes an NC-17 rating does kill your movie. The highest grossing NC-17 movie was Showgirls that made 20.7 million. While even some crappy gore fest movie like Saw made a ton more. So the MPAA word is law. You cannot use other movies as precedence in your appeal. The 8 reviewers are influenced by the ulta-conservative chairman, so if you don't follow the group you will lose your job. I would just like a fair system. Not some secret voodoo $#@!.
    Your first post was a little incoherent. I've watched the documentary you speak of. Bottom line is that the MPAA provides a guideline, not the law. It's up to local communities to decide what their standard is. It's a shame that the MPAA determines a film's success and that there are so many idiots behind it, but at the end of the day, it's up to us as individuals to buck the system.

    And Showgirls would've been a much bigger flop if it hadn't been NC-17.

  29. #29
    How are individuals supposed to "buck the system?"

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