MPAA censorship has got to stop

by Paul William Tenny

kevin-smith-bsg.jpgIf you've never seen This Film Is Not Yet Rated, do yourself a favor and learn a little (ok a lot) about how the MPAA creates ratings for feature films.

It's a surprisingly fascist and conservative system that rewards safe, boring stories, while punishing movies that have perfectly normal sexual content that wouldn't so much as raise an eyebrow in most other countries. I make that suggestion now because there is no better example of how painfully obvious it is that the MPAA is in the business of moral censorship than when they exert authority over material placed on the web by the films writer and director that doesn't even appear in the film itself.
I read a few days ago on Kevin Smith's blog that he had released a "teaser" for his new comedy -- Zack & Miri Make A porno -- made up entirely of scenes that were cut from the film. It wasn't a trailer, I don't think it had music or narration of any kind. This thing was exactly what you'd expect it to be, just a bunch of scenes from the movie that were left on the cutting room floor for one reason or another. Now I'm severely regretting not having watched it when I had the chance, because the moral minority over at the MPAA declared that this teaser was considered promotional material, which naturally gave them purview over it, and demanded that it be taken offline -- even though it was Smith's own material and not theirs -- until they could rate the stupid thing.

I get that the somebody in the chain should be responsible for looking at promotional material to make sure it's safe for all ages (including infants as picky and morally conservative as these people can be) but this is just ridiculous. We're talking about rules meant to encompass official movie trailers, posters, radio spots, and stuff like that. It was never meant to cover material that isn't in the movie, put on a production companies website by its damn owner.

At this point I can't help but wonder why nobody has sued the MPAA over things like this. Regardless of what any contract between them and the studios may say, they are clearly acting as a censorship organization in this instance (since the material in question is not in the film) and as a matter of law, it sounds an awful lot like illegal collusion on the MPAA's behalf anyway.

I'm not a lawyer so I can't say that for sure, but it shouldn't matter either way. This is going too far, and somebody needs to push back against this before the MPAA suddenly decides it has jurisdiction over private blogs (like Kevin Smith's) since anything he writes about (his own) films could be considered "promotional material." Maybe only in their twisted view, but if they've reached this far, they can reach a little further and snuff out anything not bearing the moral minority's stamp of approval.
in Digital Media, Film


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Almost as bad, the MPAA told all the online fan fiction sites that they could no longer use the G, PG, PG13, R and NC17 ratings for their fan stories. Those ratings were copyrighted by the MPAA and they didn't want to share them with fan fiction.

So all the fan fiction sites had to take down their stories, create their own version of ratings, insert them into the stories, and then upload them again.

Nice, eh?

For what it's worth, there is a trailer up on YouTube. It's certainly got some adult content, so I would imagine it's the trailer that got yanked.

And I agree. Someone needs to put the MPAA in their place. This is out of control.

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