Nov 032008
 

>We’ve been so pins-and-needles over tomorrow’s election thing, we’re totally late to the party for the 40th birthday of the MPAA’s rating system. Oh, well–it’s not like they bothered to show up for our 40th shindig.

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Founded in 1968, largely as a way for industry to stave off government intervention in the movie business, the ratings were/are intended as a way to help parents decide which titles are appropriate for the precious youngsters, but have tended to be a bit, er, capricious over the years.

In a fitting birthday gift to the MPAA, Defamer has come up with a very special list of questionable rulings made over the years, “40 Reasons to Wish the MPAA Ratings System an Unhappy 40th Birthday.”

Be sure to check out the rest, but just a few of the hits:

Boys Don’t Cry: Threatened with an NC-17 for a lingering shot of a topless Chloe Sevigny experiencing an orgasm, but allowed to keep the climactic rape scene and gunshot to Brondon Teena’s head.

and, of course…

Waiting For Guffman: A classic example of the “Fuck Rule”; a Christopher Guest mockumentary with no sex or violence but featuring the F-word used one too many times in an actor’s audition using the scene from Raging Bull. Its R-rating was upheld on appeal. (You can use “fuck” in a non-sexual way up to four times in and retain a PG-13 — maybe.)

And in an interesting coincidence (or is it?!), Zack and Miri Make a Porno, which barely squeaked away from it’s own NC-17 rating, opened on the MPAA’s birthday to not-so-spectacular results. At work might have been a skittering away from the the film’s title and subject matter by mainstream newspapers and venues… though several reports underlined the odd hypocrisy of limiting the sex-themed feature while glorifying such torture-porn fare as Saw V.

Then again, going back to Defamer, it could just be bad marketing on the part of the distributing Weinstein brothers. Shocking, indeed!

  One Response to “>Oh, yeah, happy belated birthday.”

  1. >“Founded in 1968, largely as a way for industry to stave off government intervention in the movie business,”

    This is pretty much completely wrong.

    The production code, instituted in the thirties, was put in place to stave off government interference in Hollywood. But by the 60s films made outside of the Hollywood system, and outside the constraints of the production code, were finding favor with American audiences.

    Under pressure from these financially successful, independent and unrated films, the MPAA revised it’s rating system to the familiar G, PG, R, X system, with X being a self-applied replacement for the previious rating of AO (adults only). X was later replaced with a trademarked NC-17 rating.

    In other words, people made money making movies outside of the MPAA system and that, not the threat government interference of censorship, led to the system that has now been in place for 40 years.

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