Documentary Exposes Movie Ratings Hypocrisies
Have you ever wondered why the people who rate American movies (i.e. “PG-13” vs. “R”) consider nudity and foul language so much more dangerous to children than graphic depictions of violence? So did the guy who made this new movie. Read about him.
The boys from “South Park” had it right when one of their characters said, “Just remember what the MPAA says: “Horrific, deplorable violence is okay, as long as people don’t say any naughty woids.”
In this golden age for film documentaries, directors are increasingly turning their cameras on the movie business itself. After Lost in La Mancha (2002), an account of Terry Gilliam’s struggle to get his project The Man Who Killed Don Quixote off the ground, and Overnight (2003), the true story of an aspiring film-maker, the latest addition to the genre is This Film is Not Yet Rated, a polemical exposé of the American film ratings system.
The documentary, which opens here and in America next month, is directed by Kirby Dick. Given that Dick’s work includes the Oscar-nominated Twist of Faith, which recounts abuse in the Catholic Church, and Sick: the life and death of Bob Flanagan, supermaso chist, it’s not surprising that he has clashed with the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), the organisation responsible for US ratings.
The American system runs along lines broadly similar to the UK’s until the upper categories. The US equivalents of the UK’s 15 and 18 ratings are either an R rating – meaning that all under-17s must be accompanied by an adult – or an NC-17, which bars anyone aged 16 or below from screenings of the film. An NC-17 certification, which excludes a large part of the lucrative teenage demographic, is seen in Hollywood as the kiss of commercial death. Many cinemas and home entertainment outlets refuse to screen or stock NC-17 films, and even getting advertising for such work is an uphill struggle.