Friday, March 30, 2007

Captivity Cornered

The Hollywood Reporter have detailed the MPAA's punishments for the Captivity billboard 'incident'.

Apparently, they've placed a month long freeze on any ratings action associated with the film itself. Essentially, this means the film can't be seen by the MPAA for a rating before May 1st - not long before the release date of May 18th.

Should the MPAA then demand cuts, it seems unlikely a new version of the film could be submitted and passed in time.

Something tells me the MPAA are going to demand cuts.

This all strikes me as somewhat draconian. Inhibiting advertising on the film makes more sense - these billboards were clearly irresponsible, and I can see that the MPAA have some grounds for action there - but cornering the filmmakers in this way and jeopardising the film's release date is, at best, somewhat extreme.

Some might even see this as an utterly unnecessary intervention.

Of course, the MPAA are always being framed as the bad guys when all they're trying to do is protect the young and innocent from seeing harmful material, right?

Wrong. No country that operates something like the R rating could ever make this claim. In America, I could legitimately take a fve year old child to see Hostel. I couldn't, however, go alone to see a film like Where the Truth Lies without quite some effort - it was awarded an NC-17 rating and the big chains therefore passed on booking it, I'd have to find a smaller place that took the risk. In some counties, if not states, that can prove to be very tricky.

The MPAA are pandering to some very disturbing moral and ethical biases that, thankfully, aren't shared by the majority of the American public.

The solution is quite clear to me, though: adopt a model closer to the BBFC's system in the UK. The equivalent of the R here, or more or less at least, is the 18 certificate. This means that nobody under 18 can see the film at all. We also have a 15 certificate - nobody under 15 admitted - and the more lenient 12A, PG and U, all of which allow children to attend screenings, with basic the basic proviso that an under 12 needs to be accompanied by an adult to a 12A screening.

That way, adults can see (more or less) what they wish, and the delicate little eyes of the kiddy-winkies don't get sullied by, for example, the incarceration and humiliation of Elisha Cuthbert.

(Oh, and by the way, no punishment like this was prescribed after the Aqua Teen Hunger Force bomb scare shenanigans. A perverse moral bias, as I said)

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