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MPAA Film Ratings

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Zugzwang
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#1

Posted 28 July 2013 - 09:37 AM

I recently watched a film called "This Film Is Not Yet Rated" (which I would recommend) and it gave me the idea to bring up the topic of the MPAA film ratings in D&D. While I realize, given the nature of this forum, there probably isn't a whole lot of support for restricting access to films I'm still curious to see what people's opinions are.

Personally, I view the MPAA as restricting what films can be made. Some premises can't even be explored at all because exploring them in any realistic way would yield an NC17 rating which is not commercially viable. Furthermore, even if one accepts the idea that films ought to be rated so the public can get an idea of what they're getting into, or what type of movie they're bringing their kid to, (an idea I do not accept) there's still the problem of a bunch of random people with sensibilities that don't necessarily reflect those of the general public putting labels films we all see.


Melchior
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#2

Posted 28 July 2013 - 10:37 AM

Film ratings are one of the most blatantly chauvinistic institutions there are. Good luck getting a female orgasm on screen, or worse, a gay sex scene. So yeah, f*ck them off.

sivispacem
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#3

Posted 28 July 2013 - 11:29 AM

Agreed. The attitude to nudity is somewhat the same. See a man's nude backside? Yeah, we can stick that in Disney cartoons. A woman's? 12A rating, if you're lucky. Same with frontal nudity.

Melchior
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#4

Posted 28 July 2013 - 01:12 PM

I'm surprised this issue doesn't get more attention tbh. Like whenever some politician or athlete comes out and says women should be abstinent or something, everybody is up and arms, but here's an institution that pretty much has the power to say "female and same-gender sexuality is wrong and we can't be exposed to it" and nobody lifts a finger.

Otter
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#5

Posted 28 July 2013 - 04:11 PM

That was a great film. I can't remember, did that include some stuff about the Comics Code Authority? Or was that another doc? Very interesting stuff all around. IT's a topic that's not likely to go away soon - especially given the recent silliness in the UK regarding internet pornography.

Zappa was always one of my favorite proponents of intellectual freedom and the dissolution of these groups. Here's a great look back through the window of time:



The good news, however, is that the MPAA is fast losing relevancy. I'd love to help speed that along.

Melchior
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#6

Posted 28 July 2013 - 04:24 PM

QUOTE (Otter @ Monday, Jul 29 2013, 02:11)
The good news, however, is that the MPAA is fast losing relevancy.

Is it, though? I mean, sure, there's the internet now, but movie theatres and stores that sell DVDs won't touch an unrated movie, or a movie that is rated too inappropriate, and those places are still how film studios make the bulk of their income, and being that film studios are the people that commission and finance most major movies, I'd say the MPAA is still very relevant.

Otter
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#7

Posted 28 July 2013 - 04:36 PM

I didn't say it was irrelevant, but that it is becoming less so. Many theaters will play an unrated film if it has enough demand - maybe not in lieu of a family friendly blockbuster, but to say that they won't touch them is an overstatement. And while you might have trouble getting a copy of Sapphic Vampyre Chainsaw Adventure at your local Walmart, it sells like hotcakes on iTunes, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, or Cinemax.

The landscape is changing in a huge way and the MPAA in its current form won't be able to keep up. So in that spirit, we're actually in the middle of a really exciting time, and conversations like this are increasingly more relevant. I guess what I'm rambling on about here is... the MPAA's throat is exposed; we should be going in for the kill.

Melchior
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#8

Posted 28 July 2013 - 04:53 PM

True, but places like Blockbuster and Target operate all over the world while those things you listed don't exist outside North America; I know that Hulu and Netflix are unavailable to me, I've never even heard of Cinemax and I can count the number of people I know who download things off iTunes on one hand. I think it's fair to say that the majority of the population has either brushed off paying for entertainment and never looked back (I know I've bought exactly two DVDs in the last three of four years... f*cking gift cards) or they're still locked into the old paradigm of renting from Blockbuster, going to theatres (who maybe don't all shy away from unrated films, but some chains have a policy of not showing them and it's a risky move either way) or buying from the shop.

I think the point I'm making is that the current system isn't going to change, so it needs to be done away with. Movie studios make their money from places that won't step outside of the rating system, therefore the people who control the rating system still have a stranglehold on the industry. It's all inextricably linked. This is just another reason to force the industry to evolve. Offer your sh*t for free, but make us watch ads and be done with it. It's time things became pro-consumers and pro-creators, rather than pro-soulless-middlemen-in-suits.

Zugzwang
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#9

Posted 29 July 2013 - 03:10 AM Edited by Zugzwang, 29 July 2013 - 04:43 AM.

I agree with Melchior, and in part with Otter. On one hand, it does seem like as sensibilities soften we'll start seeing more people get fed up with the MPAA. There's no question the top movie in 2012 was much more violent than the top movie in 1982, but this process of people becoming more accepting of more extreme films is a very, very slow one. Even as recently as 2000 'American Psycho' was slapped with an NC17 rating. Grindhouse got one in 2007. Even this year the Evil Dead reboot had to be edited to get into theaters.

That being said, I'd disagree with Otter in saying that NC17 films are commercially viable. A film doesn't make most of it's profits from things like iTunes and Hulu. A successful theatrical release is essential to a commercially successful movie (except perhaps in the case of some cult films). Cinemark, the third largest theater chain in the US, won't even carry an NC17 film and that's a pretty large dent alone. Besides that there's of course the problem of not letting anyone under 17 into the theater at all, even if they're accompanied by a parent like they would have to be for an R rated movie.

Rown
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#10

Posted 29 July 2013 - 04:47 AM

Is it really the MPAA's fault, though? I'd say the problem isn't the MPAA's rating system, but more the child-centric screen-media market in general. The MPAA's rating scale is really there to help parents determine if a movie is suitable for their kids. Theaters, likewise, expect that family friendly movies will dominate their earnings sheets because parents will take their kids to see them. In this way you could say that theaters don't show NC-17 movies because they are the antithesis of their core audience. When the theater industry collapses, ratings will collapse. But until then parents are going to want guidance in what to take their kids to, and so long as theaters make most of their money from parents they won't make openings for NC-17 material.

Rown rampage_ani.gif

I do agree, though, that the over-reliance on a single sometimes abused ratings system isn't probably in the best interest of creative freedom or even the market. I'd actually like to see a greater number of ratings groups. I actually saw a rating on the back of a DVD that I at first mistook for the soap brand "Dove" but was actually more of a faith based group called The Dove Foundation. In another vein, I can picture a more liberated ratings market having a Frat-based rating system from A to DD or having the film's theater score from rotten tomatoes on the back or even some excessively exclusionary ratings systems like a CryptNet level 1-33 for SciFi.

Otter
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#11

Posted 29 July 2013 - 04:57 PM Edited by Otter, 29 July 2013 - 05:02 PM.

Apologies for the brevity here, but I just wanted to point out that Blockbuster (which kind of doesn't exist in North America anymore; perhaps a sign of how different the market here has become) always carried NC-17, X, and Unrated films. At least up here in Canada, and we've always been a little socially conservative. In fact, that's where I rented This Film is Not Yet Rated. They have avenues. They just aren't as broadly marketable - but in a day and age where indy films can have a successful run in less than 200 theatres and make a killing on online distribution (or online DVD sales) the MPAA ratings are becoming less the word of rule, and more a "parental advisory". Which is great, really.

I'll reiterate - there's the myth of Hollywood profit, and then there's the truth. Box office gross is just one factor in a successful film these days. Do I mean to say that Paramount will spend $200 Million on a ClockWork Orange 3D reboot? Of course not. But we're arguably closer to that becoming a reality. Direct-to-download films are becoming more and more common. Sharknado, people, sharknado.

Rown - I think that's a bit simplistic. Theatres don't refuse to play NC-17 films because they don't think people will come in to watch them; the do so because there are powerful "morality" and faith-based groups that can and will create an absolute ruckus. So the MPAA has this responsibility to be fair in their judgements because they have been blessed with this absurd power of summary judgment with no transparency whatsoever. It's thuggy. I applaud efforts to classify work in terms that will inform parents but.... is that even relevant any longer? A quick google will send you in the right direction. So yeah, it is the result of a "censorship state" of sorts, but that's like treating cancer and ignoring the tumor. This thing needs to be cut out. tounge.gif

GTAforthe21thcentury
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#12

Posted 14 August 2013 - 03:39 AM Edited by sivispacem, 14 August 2013 - 06:53 AM.

My local family video carries porn.

-user reminded-




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