In case you haven’t heard, there is an organization known as the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) that is responsible for the rating of films. These people have taken a job that seems pretty straight-forward (providing a system through which people can decide what films to watch depending on their varying levels of maturity) and screwed it around to a point where they now have seeming control over the output of a film.
The studios have become so afraid that the MPAA will brand a film rated R that they will cut, slice, edit, and scramble a film’s content in order to force it into the PG-13 rating. This can seriously degrade the quality of one’s viewing experience. Since theaters owners have been encouraged to keep those under 17 out of rated R films, one now has to sit in a theater packed with loud children, teenagers with their cell phones, ad angry parents.
The whole “broader audience” justifaction is also silly. I am pretty sure that most children would prefer to watch rated R films, as would most adults. Of course, the whole reason that we have this PG-13-for-the-theaters mentality is because the market for home theater has expanded so rapidly. And noting that the special editions, extended, and unrated cuts of films sell much better than the theatrical versions of films, the studios have decided that, rather than push or NC-17 and R rated films (or better yet UNRATED) reaching the theaters, they will jsut put out a cheap, cut-up and sloppy version in the theaters and make their money on the dvd market.
…And then they complain about giving percentages to these striking union members and whine about piracy. If you make expensive, half-assed products, people are not going to want to pay for them.
In any case, the MPAA should not be enforcing what people watch, rather than telling us the rating of said films. They’ve created a system that is destroying film experiences for everyone. It now has gone beyond just that.
The trailer for the Zack Snyder film The Watchmen was recently edited so that an assassin holding a gun was changed to an assassin holding a walkie-talkie. I also thought that it was a joke, but as Snyder explained (from MTV Movies Blog):
“[The assassin] has a gun,” Snyder explained. “So the MPAA said, ‘Look you can’t have him [holding the gun]‘ … I don’t even think it’s one second. I think it’s like 12 frames. He’s pointing the gun at the camera, and they said, ‘You can’t do that.’”
In 1903, when characters in the film The Great Train Robbery pointed their guns at the camera and began firing, people who had never seen a motion picture before flipped out and caused a panic. The MPAA is using a set of rules to regulate what we see that has its basis over a hundred years ago. I think it’s time to move on. Perhaps we need to replace the MPAA… if they are indeed needed at all anymore.
Watchmen trailer here.