Count the Thrusts (what I learned from This Film Is Not Yet Rated)

Sunday, August 15, 2010 6:40 PM By Simon

-The MPAA was established in 1922 to help parents discern what might be appropriate for their children to see, without the government having to resort to censorship.

-This system worked without question five minutes.

-Because now the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America, which I totally did a report on in eighth grade) could censor films, under the guise of 'suggestions for resubmission'.

-Most theatres and DVD rental places will not carry anything rated NC-17, which is basically all the cool stuff/gay stuff/female orgasm stuff.

-This, as it turns out, is the vast majority of anything made in the 21st century.

-How many thrusts are involved in a sex scene is the difference between a safe-for-public-advertisement R rating and a Direct-to-DVD-late-night-TV-spot NC-17 rating.

-NC-17, in case you didn't know, used to be an X rating.

-Gay sex scenes are treated much more harshly than straight sex scenes, which, y'know, duh.

-Among the many split-screen examples of this, they show a clip of Mysterious Skin. Also, Colin Firth trying to get some Bacon action in Where The Truth Lies.

-Lady Pubic Hair is a no-no, especially if it's Maria Bello's Pubic Hair.

-Before this movie, nobody knew who the rating board was.

-Now they do.

-Most of them are 40-something married parents of two. One of them has served 9 years on the board, rather than the supposed 5-year limit.

-Both the head of the appeals board and that lady's lawyer are persnickity.

-This film really is not rated, but before it was, it had an NC-17, because they showed clips of movies that got those movies their NC-17 rating. I love irony.


Mike Lippert said...

I don't know why American's just can have a suitable rating for adult movies that doesn't connotate porn and be done with it. In Canada the ratings only got to R and although not many movies in Canada get that rating I know quite a few theaters that will still play them. It's sad that a movie like Bad Education will get an NC-17 rating with no nudity just because it is about gay people while Saw 3 has a woman hung in a freezer completely nude getting sprayed with cold water and that's fine for anyone along with an 18 year-old to see. I just don't get it.

August 15, 2010 at 7:36 PM
Darren said...

I did not know the "thrust" thing. That's crazy.

"Um, we need you to cut at least half of a thrust out in order to get that R rating."

August 16, 2010 at 12:31 AM
Film Intel said...

I've seen this fairly recently and had a similar reaction to Mike. In the UK our ratings are age limited (12, 15, 18) with a PG (Parental Guidance) being given to kid's movies with a bit of threat (think something like INKHEART) and a U (Universal) for anything very 'kiddie'. If anything goes over an 18 then it's basically porn but no feature film ever really does. BAD EDUCATION for instance was a 15 in the UK whilst Saw III was an 18. My problem with Dick's film was that, whilst it did a good job of mocking the MPAA and pointing out its problems, I didn't think it ever got around to suggesting how the system should/could work.

August 16, 2010 at 4:13 AM
Andreas said...

Fun post - I also enjoyed This Film Is Not Yet Rated; it should be essential viewing as documentaries about film go.

Being the anal film history student that I am, though, I have to point out that it was the MPPDA that was established in 1922; the MPAA itself did not exist until 1968. Also, the Production Code wasn't exactly so parents could protect their kids, though that was an element of it... mainly, blame the Catholics.

Anyway, that's just some nitpicking. The politics behind today's MPAA are full of pernicious bullshit, often privileging mainstream products over anything independent or adventurous. I can has some reform plz?

August 16, 2010 at 2:52 PM
Mike Lippert said...

Film Intel- I Agee that this film is flawed, too much Michael Mooreing if you will and not enough info. Surely John Waters has better to talk about in relation to the MPAA than A Dirty Shame, no?

August 16, 2010 at 5:10 PM