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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Blue Valentine rating overturned by the MPAA!

I don't know if you guys were already following this story about how Blue Valentine received an NC-17 rating upon its first submission to the MPAA.  Deadline is now reporting that after Harvey Weinstein made a plea to the MPAA that the board have made a unanimous vote to reduce the film’s rating to an R.  Those that have seen the film claim that the original rating was obviously unjustified, but since I haven’t seen the film I can’t comment to the content to the film; and I’m not really interested in having another conversation about the odd rationalization in our country that allows us to casually accept graphic violence and abhor nudity or honest depictions of sex in our media. 

If you are wondering why you should care about this story then, I will give you two reasons.  The first is if you are half as excited as me to see this film, it must receive an R rating or lower to get a true wide release with national distribution.  Many theatre chains, as well as rental outlets, have strict zero tolerance guidelines regarding the showing of unrated or NC-17 rated films.  With increasingly corporate movie distribution any rating above an R will make it nearly impossible for a film to be financial viable. 

The second reason this story is important is that it once again shines a light on the archaic and self-important MPAA.  Don’t get me wrong, the MPAA offers a valuable and needed service, but it needs to come out of the shadows and be required to have some semblance of public accountability, oversight and transparency.  Did you know that the identities of all people who rate movies are a secret?  Did you know that there is no objective ratings system or guidelines?  Did you know they could literally give two movies with the same content different ratings and don’t have to justify it (and have)?  Did you know that the MPAA has changed the rating of a film based off of the removal of 3 frames from a film (about a tenth of a second)?  Did you know that a documentary that was released with an R rating was not allowed to use a quote from Richard Roeper on television ads saying “everyone in America should see this film” because that is considered marketing an R rated film to children? 

I am not advocating the end of film ratings or the MPAA, but the system badly needs to be reformed.  If you would like to learn more about why this issue is important you can check out Roger Ebert’s highly educational article here or you can see the eye-opening documentary This Film Is Not Yet Rated on the subject here.  Let me know what you guys think about this subject below. 


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