MPAA’s Censorship Sends All The Wrong Messages

“the MPAA is basically supervising the vulgarization of America by hoisting all this violence on us with its approval of the R-rating while at the same time restricting any mature or thought provoking look at sexuality”
-Roger Ebert

The Motion Picture Association of America is a self-governing organization in charge of supervising what the people of America see in theatres. While it cannot ban a film from the public outright as the organization is not government run, it still has the ability to restrict the mainstream viewing of a film.

As we saw with last week’s outrageous decision to give Blue Valentine an NC-17 rating, the MPAA is not looking out for the best interests of American filmgoers but rather what makes its members personally uncomfortable.

Derek Cianfrance’s Blue Valentine is a bleak, realistic look at the highs and lows of a relationship, starring Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams. It may seem strange that a film which features basically no nudity or violence would receive the feared NC-17 rating, however, anyone acquainted with the MPAA’s seemingly nonsensical decision making it should not be surprised.

The scene to which the MPAA objected was one in which the married couple, played by Gosling and Williams, spends a drunken night in a hotel in an ultimately futile attempt to save their marriage. In the scene, Gosling’s character pushes for sex and Williams’ character gives in. While sad and disturbing, the scene is also a realistic look at a failing marriage. In no way does it deserve this radical rating which will keep the film from wide distribution. Not surprisingly, the Weinstein Company is lawyering up in hopes of changing the MPAA’s decision.

The problem is not with an R-rating as that usually means no major change in box-office intake, but rather the issue is with the NC-17 rating. When a film receives an NC-17 rating it usually means no major theatres will run the film, cutting the audience to a fraction of what it could have been.

While the films that it targets usually do not feature anything more graphic than most teen comedies, it is the way they tackle the topic of sexuality that gets them in trouble. In 2001, Alfonso Cuaron’s Y Tu Mama Tambien had to be released unrated due to it receiving an NC-17 rating. This also greatly reduces potential distribution.

Cuaron’s film follows two teenagers as they take a road trip with an older woman and explores the realistic sexual discovery that teenagers face. The MPAA took great offence from a film which is actually beneficial to a teenager’s growth yet has had no problems putting its stamp of approval on the hyperbolic bloodbath that is Zack Snyder’s 300.

Similarly, Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Dreamers received an NC-17 rating for its frank depiction of sex and sexuality. These films should not be any more shocking than any R-rated film but due to the conditioning that the MPAA has created by allowing extreme violence to become normal and realistic sex to be demonized, these images seem shocking.

We can be grateful that the MPAA does not have the ability to ban a film, yet their ability to stop a film from being widely seen is just as damaging. Some guidance is needed but the MPAA has proven it is as useful as a movie usher without a flashlight.

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47 Responses to MPAA’s Censorship Sends All The Wrong Messages

  1. John says:

    Is there any chance at all that the NC17 rating helps, as it creates free publicity and awareness that wasn’t already there? Or am I overthinking it? Here in St. Louis, for instance, I can think of at least three theaters that might run it, NC17 and all.

    • You are right that it can help with publicity for a film, but the problem is that often that added publicity will not surpass the damage of the chains not carrying the film. Many small theatres will run NC-17, but that small percentage doesn’t come close to the theatres that won’t run a NC-17 film.

  2. gbaribo says:

    Great post! Check out the documentary “This Film Has Not Yet Been Rated”.

  3. Calum says:

    Great post. Thankfully, censorship is practically non-existent here in Australia. However, if something is too strong, and is unrated, it is simply banned. (Most banned films have been unbanned, however – Faces of Death and I Spit On Your Grave are two examples that come to mind). However, GTA IV WAS censored – and we recently had a public vote on an R18+ rating for games – I haven’t heard anything about the outcome, and if I haven’t it probably didn’t go through. I’ll need to look that up.

    Speaking of horror films, my father loathes the Child’s Play films because back in England, two young boys, mentally ill without treatment, of course, killed a young girl (I believe) by throwing her into the path of an oncoming train and told authorities they were inspired by Chucky (the murderous doll in the Child’s Play films). Now, that is actually not cool – the film-makers had nothing to do with it. The boys’ parents should have known they had seen these movies and talked to them about how unreal (and preposterous) they actually are. I remember constantly my parents telling me when I was a lot younger (when I watched stuff like Star Trek or The Practice, as well as any gritty British drama) what was on screen was all pretend, and once I knew what I was watching wasn’t real, I could enjoy it more. I watch some demented stuff – but I know it’s all silly and pretend.

    The idea of censorship is ridiculous to begin with, really. This all about protecting children. If anything, children need to know about sex, sexual references, and the connotations linked to sex – the MPAA is obviously full of conservatives who want to pretend sex doesn’t exist to protect “the people’s” eyes.

    Sex is something that is important to people – it creates bonds in couples, it creates babies, it confirms and/or denies sexual orientation, and hell – if it wasn’t for sex, the pornography business would not exist. I’m not advocating porn – I’m simply saying that the MPAA should fuck itself and parents should talk to their children about ideas and concepts presented in films – all concepts, not just sexual ones. Parents are just too scared, which ends up with their kids having early pregnancies, doing hard drugs like cocaine and heroin, and basically ending their lives at seventeen. A bit of an overstatement? I’d like to think not.

    The MPAA is effectively parenting the world, not just America, because whatever is alright in America is alright the world over (except for some Muslim countries – refer to Sex and the City 2). It’s time for parents to watch films their kids are watching and have an open commentary on the concepts and content of those films. The more informed and educated children are, the happier they, and their parents, will be.

    Plus, artists need to express themselves. If they need two people to have sex onscreen, or someone to have his arms and legs twisted off by a machine, let them. Art isn’t censored, music (from its source ie album) is usually not censored, just on radio – so why films and games? Because they’re readily accessible. Parents need to pick up the slack and be involved with their kid’s and teens entertainment choices. I’m not saying parents need to agree with their kids’ choice in film/games or what those films/games represent, I’m just saying talk to your kids – you’ll both learn a lot more about each other, and both feel a lot more relaxed. End rant.

    • Barloq says:

      America isn’t exactly parenting the world. Other countries have their own rating systems, and film industries to boot. However, it does limit what filmmakers aiming for a mass American market will be able to put in their works.

    • Richard says:

      Can you even find porn on the internet in Australia? Not that it is the same thing as ‘regular film’ but Australia censors way more things than in America.

  4. TCat says:

    As an exchange student from Sweden I found the rating system in the US hilarious and inconsistent. And it’s just not at the theater that the movies are treated harshly, because it trickles down. Movies are constantly cut and re-dubbed for TV viewing and it’s weird what TV companies find offensive.

    For instances, you can watch any horror movie with all its blood and gore intact (Scene wise) at noon but if a character ever utters a curse word or shows a boob then its all “Oh Noes!” and they re-cut it (And don’t get me started on “Comedy Central Uncut and Unrated at 1am on Saturdays” only thing).

    In my country we only have PG, which means everyone can see it,
    PG-7, every kid with a parent can see it or if they are above 7yrs old,
    PG-11, Every kid above 7 can see it with their parents or if they’re above 11
    and then lastly PG-15, every kid above 11 can see it with a parent or if they’re 15.
    And that’s it! In Sweden if you’ve turned 15 you can see what ever movie you want to see and a movie is more likely to get a PG-15 rating because of violence than sexual content, but then Sweden is known for being open about the subject of sex.

    This can be seen when comparing Fucking Åmal, which is a movie about homosexual love, which was rated PG-11 in Sweden, but the Movie Låt den Rätta komma in (Let the Right One in), which contains violence and a bit of gore, was rated PG-15.

    Anyway, sorry for babbling all over your blog but this topic really fascinates me.

    • Jacob says:

      I came across this comparison of ratings in different European countries. It lists over 200 movies and the ratings they got in cinemas.

      Some interesting finds: Britain gave Zack and Miri Make a Porno and Brüno an 18 rating, while Holland rated both 12 and Sweden 11.
      Sweden, meanwhile, gave Predators the same rating it did Coraline: PG-11.
      And then there’s France. Ah, France, where the following movies were rated ‘all ages’:
      Inception, Clash of the Titans, Robin Hood, Terminator: Salvation, Hellboy II, Quantum of Solace, The Dark Knight, There Will Be Blood, Death Race, The Crazies and Kick-Ass.

  5. Lm says:

    In reference to TCat’s post, network censorship is a major problem here in the US. Some of the scenes they edit are crucial to the films momentum and in many cases, the plot itself.

    What a great direct article! None of that mundane, read between the lines BS.
    If only this scripture could make it to the Puritans desk.
    “makes its members personally uncomfortable” – Right on the nosey!!!

  6. Matthew Paul says:

    DAWN OF THE DEAD, circa 1978 must have been the exception

    Supposedly it got an unrated release with the notice tagged onto the trailer that “there is no explicit sex but contains graphic violence”

  7. Richard Williams says:

    The thing that people like you don’t seem to get is that most of the country does not live by Hollywood standards.
    A lot…a whole lot…of people can barely go see a movie now because of how in-your-face all the nudity and sexuality is placed in films.
    The whole debate of: violence versus sexuality is one that Hollywood left-wingers just do not get either. You see, my child is very, very…very unlikely to shoot Hans Gruber or jump off Nakatomi Tower with a fire hose around his waist. On the other hand, it is highly possible that my child will pick up on the idea that you have casual sex with anyone and everyone you meet at a party or bar.
    Why don’t you start your own chain of NC-17 theaters? You can make a billion dollars and help increase the spread of teen pregnancies and STD’s all at once.

    • The problem is with the films that show sexuality immaturely. The MPAA doesn’t have a problem with those films but rather films that have an intelligent look at sexuality that can actually help a teenager’s growth.

      • Yeah, the MPAA is full of it. And their stance has been consistently (1) all the violence you want (2) all the immature sex you want and (3) nothing deeper. But to state that a film would “help a teenager’s growth” is — at best — incredibly subjective and — at worst — (James) Cameron-esque narcissism. Going so far over the top simply weakens the argument against the MPAA’s weird ideas.

        There is, however, one thing weirder. While the MPAA is inconsistent in its views of violence vs sex (or even immature sex vs something deeper), it is amazingly consistent in its views on “something deeper”. And yet we continue to get films that anyone with more than 3 brain cells will know will get slapped with an NC-17, accompanied by shock and surprise by the actors and filmmakers when the blatantly obvious actually happens.

        It has been said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. By that standard ….

    • Emerald1234S says:

      I’m interested to know whether you actually believe films inspire young people to have sex, and do you believe that without them that a 15 year old might go “I have a penis, she has a vagina, hmmmm, I don’t get it.”

      Marilyn Manson killed the kids in Columbine, Grand Theft Auto encourages murdering prostitues, NWA inspired cop-killing, Alfonso Cuaron inspired teenagers to have sex. Seriously! Teenagers? Sex? I bet there’s not a single teenager on the planet who even knew what sex was until they saw that thought-provoking film on sexuality. Now it’s all they think about. Little Timmy used to play with a firetruck, now he plays with himself, and he’s developed a strange fascination with mommy’s women magazines. It must be the movies; only logical explanation

    • Mark says:

      So you support labeling horror movies with decapitaton and gore like Saw and Hostage as being more acceptable for children than movies that depict an honest portrayal of sexuality? What a sad and depraved sense of morality you have.

      Personally, I avoid those bloodbaths you accept (although I would not want them banned) because I find them disgusting and without social merit. And I would not care if some of the movies I DO want to see, films like Blue Valentine, were rated NC-17, but the NC-17 rating is the kiss of death, which is why so few films, American anyway, are ever allowed to be released with that rating. A filmmaker like Catherine Brellait (not sure of the spelling) would never make it here, because here films ARE sexually explicit, but also thought-provoking. I, for one, wish that this country WOULD JUST GROW UP. But with people like you with your attitude I suppose it never will.

      • Her film Fat Girl is a perfect example, as it is a very interesting look at a child’s warped view of sexuality and it had no chance of being released with anything less than NC-17. Moments of that film are very shocking but never exploitative. She is a great filmmaker but certainly has no chance for any commercial success, especially not in America. In Ontario, Fat Girl was banned for about two years! Ridiculous.

  8. CC says:

    Here in Germany we have the ratings: 0, 6, 12, 16, 18. And quite some movies/series got the 18 rating either for sex or violence (the same applies for video games). For example: Californication got 18, Supernatural Season 3 got the 18 ratings. There are horror movies which got the 18 rating and so they often get cut down to rating 16 and you can only buy the 18-version on a DVD. We aren’t even the strictest country here in Europe. And frankly: I don’t have a problem with it.

    It really makes me wonder that in Sweden you only have PG-15. I have heard there is a lot of common unofficial rating like “prohibited for minors” or “only for 18 years old”.

    The last film I did see that left me really uncomfortable was “The girl with the dragon tattoo”. The film ist rated 16 here. I watched the film with some swedish friends and we were all really uncomfortable and some scenes were hard to watch (the rape scenes and the general issues in the movie). By the way, we are all adults. I would have given this film the 18 rating.

    Today we have the problem of “over-sexed” teenagers here in Germany. A lot of teens are watching those films/series or porn but they don’t even know how to contracept right. They take what they see in the tv/cinema for real. And that’s really a problem. We even have a help programme for those teens where they should learn how sex/love is supposed to be, how to use contraception, etc. (there are really 16-years old who think that it’s normal to gang-bang girls -that the girls like it- and that women aren’t supposed feel good while haveing sex)
    Not every teenager is immature but there are a lot of them who are. I think some things are just not suitable for teenagers to see. Hell, I’m grown up and have to struggle with things they sometimes show but perhaps I’m more sensitive and didn’t see “enough” of such things to be indifferent.

    Nowadays there seems to be a contest between films/series – which can be the most shocking. More violence, more sex, more everything – only then it’s a good drama and people will watch. I wonder how the filmmakers were doing all those good dramas 50-70 years ago when they didn’t use a lot of violence and sex to “show the real raw and realisitic drama”. I have enough “fantasy” left to understand the seriousness of a scene without getting constantly thrown violence and sex in my face. I really enjoy it today when a filmmaker can show these things in quiet nuances (it’s rarely seen today – perhaps the people don’t know any longer how to do it). As a adult i find this far more challenging than showing everything what happens explicit to the audience. There’s nothing left to my imagination.

    As for “Blue Valentine”, I think it will get the 16 rating in Germany. Why all the fuss about the Nc-17 rating in the US (it’s good publicity)? The people who are interested in this movie will find a opportunity to watch it, even when it’s not played in the big cinemas.

    • TCat says:

      It really makes me wonder that in Sweden you only have PG-15. I have heard there is a lot of common unofficial rating like “prohibited for minors” or “only for 18 years old”.
      There is no such thing as unofficial rating in Sweden at all. How would you enforce it? We used to have 18 and we have banned movies but not since the early 80s.

      The last film I did see that left me really uncomfortable was “The girl with the dragon tattoo”. The film ist rated 16 here. I watched the film with some swedish friends and we were all really uncomfortable and some scenes were hard to watch (the rape scenes and the general issues in the movie). By the way, we are all adults. I would have given this film the 18 rating.

      I can’t really comment on The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo since I haven’t personally seen the movie yet but aren’t you suppose to feel uncomfortable watching a rape scene in a movie?
      And the whole 15 rating issue might be connected to the fact that 15 yr olds in Sweden are considered young adults and are legally allowed to have sex with whomever they want. Basically a “If you can have sex shouldn’t you also be able to see it” kind of attitude.
      However, you have to realize that parents themselves also set limits, I had a lot of friends at 15 whose parents wouldn’t let them see certain movies while my parents pretty much let my siblings and I police ourselves. It’s basically a parental issue not a government issue.

  9. jizoshula says:

    “…but rather the issue is with the NC-17 rating. When a film receives an NC-17 rating it usually means no major theatres will run the film…”

    Any rating system will result in controversy, as there will always be those who disagree with the “sensibilities” of others. The theater restrictions are just as big a problem. Anytime the MPAA rating system is discussed, the theaters seem to be only mentioned in passing. Why don’t the studios tell theaters they won’t get any movies until they stop “banning” NC-17 movies?

  10. Richard Williams says:

    What Hollywood always says to people like me is, “If you don’t like it…then don’t watch it.”

    Right back at ya. The theaters say (about the glut of sex and nudity), “We don’t like it, and we are NOT going to show it.”

    Works both ways.

    • Sam says:

      I’m sorry, but I don’t think it does work both ways. The theater isn’t “watching” the movie. They are playing it for other people to watch. It is not that hard to not watch something if you don’t like it. But saying a theater shouldn’t show a movie because some people might not like it is flat out stupid. Your opinion should not determine what I can or can’t see.

  11. Ann says:

    Sorry, but there are a lot of good indie film I want to see (that don’t have a NC-17 rating) which are neither showed in big movie theaters nor in small movie theaters around my place (only a few selected theaters are showing them). I have to wait for the DVD to watch the movie.
    And isn’t “Blue Valentine” also an indie film? Would this movie really be showed in a lot of movie theaters if it hadn’t the NC-17 rating? At least this movie got a lot of attention now.
    The movies I want to see don’t get this attention and I can’t complain every time because the movie theaters don’t show it! Stop whining about it! For the theaters it’s all about money – if they fear the movie will not attract enough people, they don’t show it. When the theaters fear the NC-17 rating will prevent people to come and watch the film, they don’t show it. But with all this publicity I think quite a lot theaters will show “Blue Valentine”.
    For the last indie film I wanted to see, I had to wait 2! years until a few theaters were showing it (and it’s wasn’t released on DVD either).
    The way some people complain about it, it seems the world is going under if this movie isn’t shown in a lot of theaters.

  12. bob says:

    Oh wahh . . . . this same old argument!? “I’d rather show my kids a sex scene than a violence scene . . . ” Umm, who says you have to choose one over the other? Why not bar them from BOTH!?

    Look, here’s the deal . . . violence is fake, graphic sex is not. That’s the end of the story. When Jason lops off the girls head, it’s a fake machete, fake head, fake blood. But when Chole Sevigny goes down on Gus Van Sant, it’s a real penis, a real mouth . . . THAT’S what is being objected to.

    Now, I haven’t seen this particular scene, so maybe in this one case it goes to far. But generally, what the whiners aren’t getting is the difference between real and fake, and the fact that violence is nowhere near as likely to be influential as sexual imagery is. Honestly, ask yourself if you teen is more likely to try to simulate throwing his buddy into a wood chipper ala FARGO, or simulate the hot moves he saw in BASIC INSTINCT on his date?

    Just get over it – I think the best solution is to let the MPAA do what it does, but lift the restrictions placed on marketing and distributing NC-17 films – I think that would please both sides of the argument.

    • Firstly you are thinking of Chloe Sevigny and Vincent Gallo, not Gus Van Sant, and that film is an exception. Sex in film is almost always not real.

    • Kevin Klawitter says:

      Yeah, sex is movies is almost always simulated. Ever hear of the “cock sock”? Look it up.

      In fact, Ang Lee’s movie, “Lust, Caution”, which received an NC-17 for graphic sex scenes, received a tad of controversy over speculation that the sex scenes in question were not simulated. When asked about this, Lee replied that he at times WISHED the sex was unsimulated, because then it would have been more realistic and therefore easier to direct. In simulated ones, he said, you have to keep going with take after take after take until you get what you want, and by the end they’re all exhausted and feeling awkward. If they were really having sex, that wouldn’t have been necessary.

    • Jim says:

      It is extremely likely that your children will one day have sex, probably many times throughout their life. Violence on the other hand, will probably be extremely rare in their life.

      Hence, violence can be abstracted since it basically doesn’t exist in the lives of the reviewers and general public. On the other hand, sex brings up all kinds of powerful and often uncomfortable emotions in almost everybody.

      So Bob, do you really think that teenagers won’t think about sex unless given ideas by Hollywood? Seriously?

  13. Bicycle Bill says:

    “….the MPAA has proven it is as useful as a movie usher without a flashlight.”</strong?

    Movie usher? What’s that? ;^)

    Seriously, movies depicting sexuality, whether real or simulated, is hardly going to turn a non-sexually-active teenager into a raging libertine.

    I also question the conventional wisdom that playing violent video games turns a 14-year-old into a raging, slavering killer. Juan Corona was convicted of killing 25 migrant farm workers in California in 1971, Richard Speck systematically slaughtered eight student nurses in Chicago in 1968, and dozens of people remained aloof and uninvolved while Kitty Genovese was stabbed to death in NYC in 1964. What video games were people playing back then?

    -“BB”-

    • Oh I certainly do not believe that video games cause violence, or that films do the same. It is not violence I have a problem with in film, it is the way that the MPAA censors sex but not violence.

    • A movie usher is someone who goes into the theatres and checks to make sure no one is talking, disturbing other people, if there’s a problem with sound or picture, etc. They also clean the theatres when the movie is over.

  14. William says:

    Keep in mind that this is the same organization that tried to issue an NC-17 rating to “Clerks” a film with no blood, no violence, no nudity and no sex. Why? Because they “cursed too much”.
    The MPAA is a dinosaur that needs to be replaced with a more consistant and modern rating system.

  15. Great post. The MPAA is archaic and uses absolutely ridiculous, biased standards to shield their eyes from interesting work. I’m glad that they can deem people’s heads getting chopped off and other grotesque violence appropriate, but sex or curse words are out of line. It’s laughable, but terribly sad.

  16. Jenny says:

    This has nothing to do with your argument, which I happen to agree with, and I don’t know who actually transcribed the opening quote from Roger Ebert, but I’m fairly certain the word he used was “foisting”, not “hoisting”.

  17. Snoogans122 says:

    How about Hatchet 2 everyone? The MPAA slapped it with an NC-17 so they went around them and put it out unrated.

    It was pulled from Canada within 24 HOURS. Some theaters there didn’t play it at all there. 2 days later, it was pulled from all (68) US theaters. Why pull a movie that’s in so few theaters? So even the fans can’t see it? I went Monday and it was gone, so I couldn’t even give it my money if I wanted to. The MPAA effectively took money from the movie.

    Anyone ever remember a movie being pulled after 3 days before? Me neither. Especially one where the director publicly had words with the MPAA. So yes, the MPAA can control how money your movie makes, and that’s NOT how it should be.

    They are an outdated system and not relevant anymore… sorry. And yes, everyone watch ‘this film is not yet rated’, the MPAA is run by ‘family centered people’ and religious types… there’s even a priest who gets to have a say in the voting for it’s rating…

  18. Whirljack says:

    Of course, it’s very easy to get angry at one group — the MPAA — instead of focusing on those really responsible for this issue: the thousands of TV stations and newspapers who refuse to run ads for NC-17 or unrated movies, and the theaters that refuse to show them. All of these folks are what really stand in the way of theatrical showings of challenging films. An MPAA rating is and always will be optional.

    But, since the advent of uncensored releases on DVD and BD… I really don’t think any of this is much of a concern anymore. The uncensored version will always be released in some form.

  19. sw says:

    Interesting post and discussion. However the MPAA does not censor movies. They are not restricting content. They give a movie a rating. It is newspapers that refuse to run ads for NC-17 films and theaters who refuse to screen them. Some of these policies go back to when the MPAA used the X rating and that became associated with pornography. It is the distribution channels right to refuse to run ads or show certain movies. That is not censorship.

    I agree the MPAA rating system doesn’t do what it says it is supposed to do. It is run by major Hollywood studios. I am glad that the MPAA exists and that it isn’t the government getting involved, like California trying to restrict the sale of violent video games to minors. In my opinion, the rating system now is all about marketing. The new Aliens movie is aiming for a PG-13 movie even before they begin shooting, because PG-13 generally make more money than R, so they can justify a bigger budget. There are very few G movies anymore because they don’t make money like a PG or PG-13. Hollywood has adjusted their movies and ratings help them make money.

    Thank you to the comments from people with experience with European rating systems, because I’m sick of hearing people say that the European rating systems are better. Any ratings are going to have flaws, there has to be a level of subjectivity.

    I’m not saying I like the MPAA, or that it even works. I just think the blame in these discussions is misplaced. I think the MPAA ratings need to be adjusted to give viewers, especially parents, more information about the films. And parents need to take more responsibility for what their children are watching.

    Sorry for the rambling.

  20. tbrittreid says:

    The article states: “Bernardo Bertolucci’s ‘The Dreamers’ received an NC-17 rating for its frank depiction of sex and sexuality.”

    Wrong. It received that rating for its full-frontal nudity of both sexes–clear views of the genitals, not merely pubic hair–on top of its mentioned subject matter. I can’t see giving it an R if I’d had a vote. Makes me wonder how much else is here that I shouldn’t believe.

    • M. R. says:

      Though I do agree with you if you want to get specific, full-frontal nudity can easily be included under ‘frank depiction of sex and sexuality’. Now we’re just splitting hairs.

      You still feel like it’s okay, however, to make the connection that if you disagree with one thing written here, there’s suddenly a possibility that everything in the article is lies, lies, lies! Don’t believe a word of it!

      Ridiculous.

    • Kevin Klawitter says:

      What makes full-frontal nudity so much more horrible than graphically pantomimed sex? Just about all of Judd Apatow’s films have full frontal nudity, but none of them have NC-17. That is because, as previously mentioned, the MPAA is just fine with graphic nudity and sex if it’s not taken seriously. If it’s just seen as a game or contest by those involved (unless they’re gay and/or female of course), you can have as much of it as you want without risking your R rating. However, make the sex seriously mean something about the relationship and how people feel about each other, direct it like it’s actually happening and causing people to feel pleasure, and you’ll get an NC-17 so fast it’ll make your head spin.

  21. Zach says:

    I think 300 getting the R rating has more to do with studio pull. Look at the movies that are getting the NC-17, they are very low budget and do not have the pushy producers behind it that a blockbuster like 300 does. Kevin Smith once mentioned in something I read about how one of his films (I believe It was Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back) was receiving a NC-17 rating. So he called up the old battle axe Harvey Weinstein who then placed one phone call and the NC-17 was changed to R with nothing changed in the film. Just another example of how far money can take you in show business.

    • M. R. says:

      This is an interesting point….but now Harvey Weinstein is working like crazy to get Blue Valentine changed to an R and no success yet! I hope he changes their minds.

  22. Sam says:

    The Kevin Smith movie was Zack and Miri Make a Porno, bee tee dubs.

  23. Keith says:

    The MPAA is staffed by religious fundamentalists and like all of their kind violence gets them hard and they want their troops to see it so they will use it when they need to. It’s called indoctrination. As for sex, it’s liberating and makes all sorts of people like all sorts of people. That’s very bad for your population control, free-thinking people don’t make good foot-soldiers or gullible consumers.

  24. Lloyd says:

    The question here is not sex versus violence and which is worse. Nor is it the debate of whether or not the MPAA is a censorship body. Furthermore, the question is not whether or not the MPAA affects the econmic prosperity of a given film. The question is how does the MPAA affect society with the way it chooses to rate certain films. The general concensus here seems to be that films dipicting violence graphically (and when I use “graphically,” I do not mean in the sense that this depiction is good or bad, but that it is clear or vivid) are generally more well-recieved by the MPAA, that is they are given a rating of R or below more often than films that depict sexuality graphically.

    This seems to be evidence that American society, in particular, (since the MPAA affects America more directly than other countries,) is more accepting to see images of violence rather than images of sex. This being the case, does it not seem to be a problem that our comfortability with seeing images of violence makes us more comfortable with violence itself? If we are being exposed to so much violence, at which point does this violence have no effect on us? Is it the point in which we as a country allow thousands of innocent people to be killed in a country half way accross the globe because we’ve been desensitized to images of violence, especially real violence that can be stopped?

    Does watching a film like “300,” for example, glorify war and violence, making the audience okay with seeing blood slattered and limbs chopped off? Yes, we know that this depiction of violence and war is “not real,” so when we shut off our DVD players at night we can sleep well knowing that all is right with the world. But, guess what, there are people at war right now and we’re are not seeing these images and we are not seeing the REAL affect that the REAL violence is having on people. But what do we do about it? Nothing. We turn off our TV’s when anything unnerving comes on, then everything is okay again. Seeing this violence, and saying that “Hey, it’s not real. It has no affect on me.” is absurd. It affects us. It causes us to turn of the TV and ignore the real problems in the world.

    As it goes for sexuality in film, there is an appropriate way of displaying it; however, restricting it to be shown this way causes, say, the pornography industry, which glorifies the “unreality” of sex, to flourish. If less films like “American Pie,” for example, were shown, where it instills in peoples mind that foreign exchange women all WANT to have sex, and more films like “Irreversible” were shown, where the rape of a woman is shown in in the most horrifying way that you would never want to make inappropriate sexual advances towards a foreign woman again.

    Films depicting sexuality in a “realistic” way can be beneficial rather than showing sexuality as a game, in which there are no consequenses for your actions and you can sleep with whomever you want and there are no emotional ties or realistic awkward moments. It’s all just fun and games. We see images of drunken parties and easy women, and we can’t help but think that that is how you go about meeting someone with whom to have sex. And sex is all that there is, no emotional connection. Well in reality, there are emotions involved and people do get hurt when we treat them like a piece of meat. They don’t just disappear into the nothingness of the plot.

    Films do have an effect on us. Not only do Hollywood or Independent films, but and the video clip that you see on TV or the internet as well. If we are filling our minds with the idea that what we’re seeing in “not real” therefore it does not afffect us then our society is in grave danger. What will we allow to happen next out of ignorance? Will we just turn off our TV’s, will we close our doors to what is really happening outside? Will we turn our backs to someone who is desperately in need?

    • Snoogans122 says:

      Hey Lloyd, interesting post. Gotta say some of what you said is silly in my opinion. Blaming a war on violent media? You know war has been around since the beginning of time, and movies are only a few hundred years old, right? Or that it desensitizes us to war? Again, war was around before media, so obviously people were desensitized to it before then.

      When I was a kid my parents let me watch whatever, but they ALWAYS repeated that it was fake and just for entertainment. And guess what ? I’ve never killed anyone, and I think war is horrible! Real videos of war and death literally bring me to tears, but watching these fake violent movies and games had no effect on me. I have no record with the police (even for small things), and I go to a university to get my masters in teaching. And my favorite flicks are gory horror movies… so… obviously there’s no correlation.

      Also I would say the same goes for the sexuality in movies. It’s the parents job to put it in context for younger viewers. And older viewers are adult enough to realize it’s all Hollywood crap (i would hope!) Oh, and for ‘turning our back to someone in need’, a lady was stabbed to death in the 60s in public and nobody helped… and that’s before media got violent and blood hungry…so…

      And I apologize if I misinterpreted any of what you wrote, it’s still early…

      • Lloyd says:

        Firstly, the statement that war has been around since the beginning of time is debatable, and films have only been around since 1895ish (roughly 115 years.)

        Secondly and more improtant, it is simple sociology. If one person has been exposed to certain type of lifestyle, one is going to act in accordance with this lifestyle. In France, for example, people generally eat dinner at around 8:00pm; in the USA, people generally eat dinner around 6:00pm. If some from the USA visited France they might think that the French eat late in the eneving; whereas, someone from France might think that people from the USA eat quite early in the evening. This is a case of “social conditioning,” which is the process of training individuals in a society to act or respond in a manner generally approved by the society. People from France don’t find it wrong or bad that they eat later in the evening, nor do Americans feel that way about when they eat. The point here is that society in general has trained them to eat at around these times. (Granted not everyone abides stricktly by these times.)

        This works for the same with film. If you have been exposed to images of violence more often than images of sexuality than you would be more desensitized to these images of violence and would find images of sexuality more shocking or surprising. Clearly, cinema and media are not the only influences that affect our psyche. If one were to watch films or videos on theinternet all day, this would have the only affect on this person. However, the fact is that people have many different types of interactions and influences throughout their everyday life. Some positive, some negative.

        Your parents raised you, it seems, not to be a violent person, even though you were exposed to these violent images. Their (your parents’) influence seemed to have a greater affect on you than did these violent images in film. However, acces to media outlets, like film and the internet, are increasing. The number of hours a day a given person watches some sort of media is increasing. Therefore, the media is having a greater affect on people. If these forms of media contain more and more violent images, our sensitivity to these images will decrease. Fortunely, not everone has besome a psychotic killer in America, which means that people in general are still overcome this influence for the most part.

        How many times do you say thank you in a day when someone does something generous for you because your parents taught you to do this? How many times do you open the door for a lady in day because you were taught that this was the proper thing to do? Now, how many times have you quoted a line from a film or TV series because you’ve seen this film or episode a few times? These are all forms of conditioning that have an effect on us, but when you say “thank you” or you open the door for someone, how many times do you think “I do this because I’ve always doen this.” You probably don’t say or even think this. It just happens out of habbit.

        If we habitually watch images of violence is that not still going to have some affect on us? Granted it may not be the major influence, it will still affect us. So if we are used to hearing that people are dying half way accross the world, and each time we hear this and we think or say, “oh, someone else is dealing with this,” or “that has no affect on me,” then how many times are we going to react to this? None.

        My point is that film and media does have and effect on people. It may not be the only thing that causes us to act violently, but with the influx of violent images in film, it sure doesn’t seem to be helping the problem.

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