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polkablues

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Re: MPAA Ratings
« Reply #75 on: January 20, 2007, 10:50:16 PM »
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Here's another article from the AP on the changes:

Changes planned to film-ratings system By DAVID GERMAIN, AP Movie Writer

PARK CITY, Utah - Hollywood's movie-ratings system, which critics call a secretive process that leaves filmmakers in the dark, will implement changes to make it more open and understandable to parents and filmmakers, its overseers said.

Dan Glickman, who heads the Motion Picture Association of America that manages the ratings system, plans to meet with filmmakers Monday at the Sundance Film Festival to discuss the plans.

The most substantive change for directors would be in the appeals process, allowing filmmakers to cite similar objectionable scenes in past movies when trying to overturn what they think is an overly harsh rating that restricts the ages of movie-goers.

The ratings system and its appeals process were harshly criticized in director Kirby Dick's documentary "This Film Is Not Yet Rated," which premiered at Sundance last year.

Dick's film said the ratings system was stacked in favor of big studios represented by the MPAA and against independent filmmakers such as those who attend Sundance. His documentary also accused movie raters of conducting an anonymous process in which filmmakers and the public do not know who rates the movies or what standards are used to judge the films.

Arriving in Utah on Saturday, Glickman said the changes to the system were not prompted by Dick's documentary. Glickman said the revisions had been in the works since 2004, when he took over the MPAA from Jack Valenti, who founded the ratings-system in the late 1960s.

"The system works very well. What's clear to us is we need to do a better job of explaining the system, of making sure people know it's transparent, it's not secret, it's open and it's accessible," Glickman said.

At Monday's meeting at Sundance, Glickman will be accompanied by Joan Graves, who heads the MPAA's Classification and Ratings Administration that uses panels of raters to decide if movies should get an NC-17, R, PG-13, PG or G rating.

Among other changes the MPAA plans:

• Posting the names of its three senior raters on the association's Web site. Other raters will remain anonymous, but details on their background, families and where they come from will be posted online.

• Enforcing a policy to ensure that raters have school-age children, which the association's overseers said was important so raters could give parents proper perspective on what might be inappropriate for kids.

• Putting information online about the association's standards for rating movies, along with forms and instructions to filmmakers for submitting movies for rating.

• Providing clearer definitions of movie ratings and sterner warnings to parents about films that might contain material inappropriate for younger children.

Dick said he was glad the association now would allow filmmakers to cite similar scenes from other films in the appeals process, but that other changes were cosmetic and would have little or no effect on making the ratings system more open.

"I don't think this is a decent first step," said Dick, whose "This Film Is Not Yet Rated" comes out on DVD on Tuesday. "A decent first step would be to create transparency around the whole system. Make known the names of all the raters and the people on the appeals board. They say the ratings system is for the public. Well, if it's for the public, the names should be public."

Glickman said he expects the changes to be implemented by March, when he and officials of the National Association of Theatre Owners hold an annual meeting with cinema operators at the ShoWest convention in Las Vegas.

The ratings system will remain under review, particularly as digital technology changes how consumers view movies, Glickman said. As they have for the past four decades, changes will be implemented as needed, he said.

"Like the U.S. Constitution — and I'm not saying we're the U.S. Constitution, of course — the basic framework, the basic document has lasted for over 200 years. It's been changed periodically but the fundamentals have remained," Glickman said. "I personally see no need for what I call revolutionary change."

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Re: MPAA Ratings
« Reply #76 on: January 22, 2007, 09:47:13 PM »
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MPAA wants NC-17 back
Glickman urges indies to embrace rating
Source: Variety
 
PARK CITY, Utah -- MPAA chairman-CEO Dan Glickman met with indie filmmakers and studio specialty execs Monday at Sundance, declaring he wants the movie biz to embrace the NC-17 rating and thereby provide a place for edgier fare.

He also delivered a gift during the closed-door sesh: The Classification & Ratings Administration has appointed a liaison to help filmmakers with questions about the ratings process.

Indie filmmakers have long felt frustrated by the ratings process, which has been shrouded in mystery. Glickman is trying to relieve some of that angst, saying the credibility of the ratings system is vital to the entire movie biz.

The morning meeting in Park City at the Lodges at Deer Valley officially kicked off Glickman's campaign to make the ratings system more transparent and user-friendly (Daily Variety, Jan. 17).

Ratings had already come up at Sundance, even before Glickman's roundtable with the indie community.

On Sunday, the Weinstein Co. and Lionsgate pacted to pick up "Teeth," a dark comedy about a girl who has teeth in her vagina. Harvey Weinstein said he doesn't want to cut the movie to ensure an R rating. Lionsgate can release an unrated movie since it's not a member studio of the MPAA.

Accompanying Glickman to Park City was Joan Graves, chair of the Classification & Ratings Administration. The National Assn. of Theater Owners (which administers the ratings board with the MPAA) also is a partner in the campaign.

In Park City, some attending the roundtable offered the idea of taking the stigma out of the NC-17 rating, which itself was created to take the stigma out of the X rating. But the NC-17 rating never caught on.

Studio marketing departments quickly encountered trouble when trying to place media buys, since various outlets think an NC-17 film is the same as an X-rated film. Also, exhibs have been reluctant to devote screens to NC-17 films.

Briefing reporters after the session, Glickman and Graves said they readily agreed something must be done.

"We are going to talk about this with the Directors Guild of America and NATO," Glickman said. "It's one of our ratings, and I'd like to see it used more."

Graves said parents are particularly concerned about the new generation of horror pics playing on the bigscreen, such as the "Saw" and "Hostel" franchises.

Glickman stressed the rating system itself is not being changed. The reforms being made are designed to make the process more public.

In the coming weeks, Glickman, Graves and NATO prexy John Fithian will meet with various stakeholders in the ratings process to talk about the proposed changes and to get input about other possible reforms.

For the first time, CARA plans to post the ratings rules, which describe the ratings and appeals process, and the standards for each.

In another first, CARA will allow a filmmaker to reference a scene from another movie during the appeals process, although the board still will put heavy emphasis on context.

There also will be a new ratings descriptor saying certain R-rated movies aren't appropriate for younger children.

Fithian will brief theater owners on these and other changes at ShoWest in March
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Re: MPAA Ratings
« Reply #77 on: January 24, 2007, 11:08:21 PM »
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The question is: where did the MPAA get this new openness from?

I remember years ago Roger Ebert was on a crusade to convice everyone that the film studios were dominated by the idea that a movie could only become a hit if children were allowed to also go see it. I remember his assumption seemed correct. R rated movies were being released, but they were never topping the box office. Any film that was a targeted money maker (like an action film) was doing all it could to acquire a PG-13 rating. That meant drowning the movies in innuendos and big explosions without grotesque killing. The only exceptions were movies of a certain credibility, like a Die Hard entry.

Now I notice that it is almost normal to see an R rated film make a lot of money. There seem to be bigger budgeted projects that are getting rated R with an easy acceptance. Good. It may make for riskier films to get widely released. I live in the outskirts of the country and a few years ago my only salvation was that I had a university nearby so my piece of shit film theater would get films like The Dreamers and other good stuff. Then they were bought out by a franchise and I've had to put up with seeing shit ever since. Since I'll be living in the sticks for a little while longer I'm hoping the effect of this trickles down to me. And please, sooner rather than later.

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Re: MPAA Ratings
« Reply #78 on: March 10, 2007, 12:27:19 PM »
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MPAA tries to remove NC-17 stigma
Glickman takes a hard look at ratings
Source: Variety

In the past three months, MPAA chairman-CEO Dan Glickman has been working to fine-tune the movie-ratings system. But this week at ShoWest, he will face his biggest hurdle yet: trying to make NC-17 respectable.

The awkwardly named rating, which originated in 1990, has become synonymous with tainted goods. Distributors and exhibitors blame each other for the fact that the category is virtually nonexistent for Hollywood product.

Parents have been pressuring Glickman and his cohorts at the Motion Picture Assn. of America, along with National Assn. of Theater Owners John Fithian, to find a solution to the dilemma. Naysayers claim that the R rating is too broad, encompassing everything from a few swear words or brief flashes of nudity to repeated scenes of stomach-churning mutilation and disembowelments.

The biggest complaint is that, with parental permission, children and teens are allowed to see R's, and parents think the definition of R is too wide-ranging to guide them.

The goal is to find a category for some films that are now informally called "hard R's" -- i.e., content so graphic that no one under the age of 17 should be allowed to see it at all in theaters. The new generation of horror pics, namely, the "Saw" and "Hostel" franchises, are pushing the limits of the "hard R" category.

While most sides agree that there is a need for a change, the big debate is whether to create a category or to revive -- and make respectable -- a rating that's been around since Universal's 1990 "Henry & June." Because of the realities of the marketplace, one idea that has been floated is to create a disclaimer for R-rated pics, saying it isn't appropriate for children, period. And there's been talk in the past of creating a rating between PG-13 and R.

Glickman, along with Fithian and Classification & Ratings Administration topper Joan Graves, will raise the subject of NC-17 when briefing exhibs at ShoWest this week on overall changes being proposed to the ratings system that are designed to make the system more transparent.

Also, the trio are expected to talk about somehow incorporating smoking into the ratings sytem. Watchdog groups have long complained that movies romanticize smoking.

When Jack Valenti debuted the ratings system in 1968, there was an X category, but it eventually became hijacked by the porn business.

Before porn took over, the X category yielded several Hollywood hits, including United Artists' 1969 best pic winner, "Midnight Cowboy."

But the major studios have released only 19 films rated NC-17. The highest grossing was MGM's 1995 "Showgirls," which took in $20 million at the domestic box office after costing well over $40 million.

As one studio exec puts it, "There really needs to be a good, commercial movie that can break through the tide. The problem is, most of the NC-17 films have been niche or arthouse. It's unclear whether the problem is the rating or the movie."

Glickman, Fithian and Graves face a tough task in trying to persuade a skittish film business to embrace NC-17. If hard R horror pics were rated NC-17, they would lose a large chunk of the teen audience.

"The ship has sailed on this one," says one top studio exec.

Studios say some exhibitors won't book NC-17 films, and some daily newspapers refuse to carry ads for such pics. (An unrated film, in contrast, is considered on a case-by-case basis.)

Exhibs deny a policy against NC-17, pointing to a NATO survey in which a majority of exhibs said they would give screen space to such a film, depending on the pic, of course.

Blockbuster, too, refuses to carry DVDs rated NC-17.

Studio execs doubt exhibs would really book NC-17 films, despite what they said in the NATO survey, and they aren't exactly rushing to test the waters. Studios consider the R rating restrictive enough, with its marketing limitations (e.g., no TV ads before 9 p.m.) and a proviso that kids aren't allowed in without an adult.

The studios' bread and butter comes from films rated PG-13, which in 2006 accounted for roughly 50% of box office receipts.

The ShoWest talks are a continuation of discussions that began in January. At Sundance, Glickman and Graves told independent filmmakers that directors would have more freedom to pursue edgier arthouse fare if the system were more viable.

Case in point: Buyers at Sundance were intrigued by "Teeth," about a girl with a toothy vagina, but steered clear because of the ratings implications. Harvey Weinstein partnered with Lionsgate in buying distrib rights, since Lionsgate isn't a member of the MPAA and can release unrated pics.

Indies have long claimed the MPAA has double standards, allowing major studios to get away with stuff an indie cannot. (Their other complaint is that the MPAA is tougher on sex than on violence.) But indies have one advantage over filmmakers at the majors: If a film gets an NC-17 rating, an indie (as a non-signatory to the MPAA) has the option of releasing the pic unrated.

"Many movies have tried to reinstate a level of validity to the NC-17 rating, but it's complicated," says one specialty distribution executive. "The rating does have a chilling effect on the marketplace."

The ultimate fear is that watchdog groups and Washington lawmakers could try to exert political pressure on the industry -- precisely the reason Valenti started the system in the 1960s.

And, of course, there is always the worry that the ratings system will somehow make its way into the 2008 election campaigns.

"It's better to self-regulate ourselves than for the government to do it for us," says another studio exec. "God knows, that would be worse. It is very important to have standards. It protects the system. It's good that Dan (Glickman) is trying to open a dialogue."
“Don't think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it's good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.” - Andy Warhol


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Re: MPAA Ratings
« Reply #79 on: March 17, 2007, 10:41:25 PM »
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ShoWest dispatch: More on ratings reform
Source: BoxOffice.com

A hot-button issue for the industry over the past year or so has been motion picture ratings. On the heels of the release of This Film Is Not Yet Rated, but actually in the works before the documentary saw the light of a projector, the Classification and Ratings Administration (CARA) has overhauled the system. John Fithian, president and CEO of the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO), used the occasion of his industry address at ShoWest 2007 to call out the studios on various issues related to the issue.

First, he said, “we ask that all movies be rated.” Expressing gratitude to Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) members who are committed to releasing only rated movies in theaters, Fithian called on non-members to also use the system. “No real benefit can be gained by releasing unrated pictures,” he said, “as theater operators generally treat unrated pictures as they would movies rated NC-17, by not allowing anyone under 18 to view those pictures.”

Fithian also called for the revitalization of NC-17. Countering the myths that exhibitors won’t play movies with the adult rating or that newspapers won’t run ads for them, he pointed out that NC-17 movies make an average of $3.9 million at the box office, while unrated films make less than half that. NC-17 should not be treated as a negative judgment of a film but rather “an integral part of the rating system that contemplates entertainment for both children and adults,” he said. “Serious filmmakers need to take NC-17 seriously.”

Finally, the NATO topper called on the studios to abandon the release of unrated DVDs, or at least the marketing campaigns that promote “unrated and uncensored” content. “That cheap shot at the rating system undermines everything we strive to accomplish in partnership with America’s parents,” he said.

At a press conference following his address, Fithian likened such promotional tactics to saying, “Kids, don’t go see the rated movie in cinemas. You’ll get the real stuff here.” “It’s bad for the rating system, and it’s bad for the cinema business,” he said.

“I hope that there is an understanding of the importance of supporting the integrity of the rating system,” Fithian added. “Because if we lose the integrity of the rating system and the government steps in, we have got much bigger problems.”

“We are working to keep the government censors at bay,” echoed Dan Glickman, chairman and CEO of the MPAA, in his convention address. “Whether the threat comes from Congress, the states, religious or other organizations, the specter of censorship always lurks at the fringes of the movie drapes.”

Later in the week at a panel discussion on the topic, Mary Ann Anderson, VP and executive director of NATO (and co-ShoWester of the Year) reviewed the history of the rating system, and Joan Graves, senior VP and chairman of CARA, provided an overview on how the system works. Explaining the new changes were Kendrick Macdowell, VP, general counsel and director of government affairs for NATO, and Greg Goeckner, executive VP and general counsel for the MPAA.

The changes, Macdowell assured, “are not anything that is going to require you as exhibitors to change what you’re doing.” However, enhancements such as the communication of information to parents could provide exhibitors additional tools to enforce the system.

“Sometimes it gets a little odd that things are not common sense,” Macdowell said. “You wouldn’t think of bringing your three-year-old to Saw III…. [But] the current system doesn’t have a way to tell parents you absolutely cannot do that.”

Some exhibitors are already experimenting with policies that keep young children out of adult movies, and now added to the description of the R rating is the suggestion, “Generally, it is not appropriate for parents to bring their young children in to R-rated motion pictures.”
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Re: MPAA Ratings
« Reply #80 on: May 11, 2007, 06:33:21 AM »
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MPAA Adds Smoking As Film-Rating Factor
By DAVID GERMAIN
AP Movie Writer

May 10, 2007, 9:56 PM EDT

LOS ANGELES -- Smoking will be a bigger factor in determining film ratings, the Motion Picture Association of America said Thursday, but critics said the move does not go far enough to discourage teens from taking up the habit.

MPAA Chairman Dan Glickman said his group's ratings board, which previously had considered underage smoking in assigning film ratings, now will take into account smoking by adults, as well.

That adds smoking to a list of such factors as sex, violence and language in determining the MPAA's G, PG, PG-13, R and NC-17 ratings.

Film raters will consider the pervasiveness of tobacco use, whether it glamorizes smoking and the context in which smoking appears, as in movies set in the past when smoking was more common.

Some critics of Hollywood's depictions of tobacco in films have urged that movies that show smoking be assigned an R rating, which would restrict those younger than 17 from seeing them.

"I'm glad it's finally an issue they're taking up, but what they're proposing does not go far enough and is not going to make a difference," said Kori Titus, spokeswoman for Breathe California, which opposes film images of tobacco use that might encourage young people to start smoking.

Glickman said a mandatory R rating for smoking would not "further the specific goal of providing information to parents on this issue."

Smoking in movies with a G, PG or PG-13 rating has been on the decline, and the "percentage of films that included even a fleeting glimpse of smoking" declined from 60 percent to 52 percent between July 2004 and July 2006," Glickman said.

Of those films, three-fourths received an R rating for other reasons, he said.

"That means there's not a great amount of films in the unrestricted category as it stands," said Joan Graves, who heads the ratings board. "We're not saying we're ignoring the issue. We're trying the best way possible according to what we've learned from parents to give them information about what's in a film."

Titus said smoking in films had declined in recent years but remains more prevalent than MPAA figures indicate.

Descriptions on sex, violence and language that accompany movie ratings now will include such phrases as "glamorized smoking" or "pervasive smoking," Glickman said.

If rated today, a film such as 2005's "Good Night, and Good Luck," about chain-smoking newsman Edward R. Murrow, would have carried a "pervasive smoking" tag but probably would have retained its PG rating because of its historical context in the 1950s, Graves said.

Titus said film raters should be as tough on smoking as they are on bad language to minimize the effects of on-screen smoking on children, including her own 5-year-old daughter.

"I don't want her using that language, but last time I checked, she's probably not going to die from that," Titus said. "If she starts smoking from these images she sees in movies, chances are she's probably going to die early from that."

While Titus' group wants tougher ratings restrictions, the MPAA released statements of support for its plan from John Seffrin, chief executive officer of the American Cancer Society, U.S. Sen. Joe Biden and filmmaker Rob Reiner, among others.

"By placing smoking on a par with considerations of violence and sex, the rating board has acknowledged the public-health dangers to children associated with glamorized images of a toxic and lethal addiction to tobacco," Barry Bloom, dean of the Harvard School of Public Health, said in a statement.

Pubrick

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Re: MPAA Ratings
« Reply #81 on: May 11, 2007, 07:26:19 AM »
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MPAA Adds Smoking As Film-Rating Factor

related thread: Coolest cigarette smoking in a movie, with Pedro the Alpaca providing proof why the rating may be necessary.. if useless.
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Re: MPAA Ratings
« Reply #82 on: May 11, 2007, 08:54:43 AM »
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Rated R for strong sexuality, language, brutal violence and graphic smoking.


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Pubrick

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Re: MPAA Ratings
« Reply #83 on: May 11, 2007, 10:44:04 AM »
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it's pervasive and/or glamorized.

and it's all your fault. you and fergie.
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polkablues

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Re: MPAA Ratings
« Reply #84 on: May 11, 2007, 07:06:46 PM »
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It's smokealicious.
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Re: MPAA Ratings
« Reply #85 on: June 18, 2007, 04:16:38 AM »
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Attention, Web Surfers: The Following Film Trailer May Be Racy or Graphic
Source: New York Times
 
LOS ANGELES, June 12 — Hollywood has been circulating movie trailers on the Web for years, but only now is the film industry retrofitting its rating system to give the studios a chance to showcase their racier material online.

No matter what the rating of the film, nearly all the trailers shown in theaters — and on the Web — have come with a so-called green band, or tag, saying they are approved for all audiences by the Motion Picture Association of America. For movies rated PG-13 or stronger, that often meant watering down the violence, sex, language and overall intensity of a trailer.

But in April a teaser trailer for Rob Zombie’s “Halloween” remake, set for release on Aug. 31, became the first to display a new yellow tag signaling that it was “approved only for age-appropriate Internet users” — defined by the Motion Picture Association as visitors to sites either frequented mainly by grown-ups or accessible only between 9 p.m. and 4 a.m.

And two raunchy comedies — “Knocked Up” and this August’s “Superbad” — are among a spate of recent films with R-rated, “red-tag” Internet trailers, which require viewers to pass an age-verification test, in which viewers 17 and older have to match their names, birthdays and ZIP codes against public records on file.

Together the yellow (for films rated PG-13 and above) and red (R or NC-17) tags amount to a colorful, albeit easily circumvented, attempt to adjust to a fast-changing advertising landscape where Internet audiences can do as much to build or hurt word of mouth as those watching the coming attractions with popcorn in hand.

“We want to protect children,” said Marilyn Gordon, head of the association’s advertising administration. “That is our job. We also want to be able to allow our distributors more flexibility in their marketing materials.”

The spike in red-tag trailers on the Web is a function of the surge in R-rated sex romps following the success of “Wedding Crashers” two summers ago, and the blessing the association gave in March to two companies offering age-verification services, which tap into public-records databases.

R-rated trailers have been permitted for decades, of course, but they all but disappeared from theaters in 2000, when the Federal Trade Commission blasted Hollywood for aiming violent and risqué content at children.

Many theater chains still refuse to run them, lest mistakes in the projection booth offend moviegoers. As a result, major studios like Warner Brothers won’t even make red-tag trailers. Universal Pictures, for one, last ran an R-rated trailer in cinemas in 1999 for “American Pie.”

Still, studio marketing executives acknowledge that they have been pushing the envelope on theatrical trailers — slipping stronger material into previews given green tags — for quite some time, and with the association’s help. They say the association has routinely worked to ensure that such trailers only run ahead of features with appropriately matched content.

A case of that envelope-pushing came in early April, when the Dimension label of the Weinstein Company worked out a deal to advertise “Halloween” as a green-tag teaser trailer ahead of “Grindhouse,” the retro exploitation thriller.

But when that trailer wound up on Yahoo, the film industry association insisted it be pulled. The “Halloween” trailer includes plenty of bare skin, slashing blades and women in peril — hardly worthy of a green tag in the context of a Web portal open to young children. Three days later the same trailer was back on the Web, though not on Yahoo and this time with a yellow tag.

Adam Fogelson, president of marketing at Universal, who pressed the association to adopt the new yellow tag, said he hoped it would be extended to theaters eventually. “There’s got to be something, if we’re being intellectually honest, between a trailer that’s appropriate for ‘Bambi’ and a trailer that would be appropriate to go up with ‘Hostel II,’ ” he said.

At Sony, Dwight Caines, an executive vice president for digital marketing, said yellow tags at least provided a way to show “some of the edgier PG-13 content we could never show before.”

A draft of the association’s guidelines reveals the middle ground it has staked out for yellow tags. Permitted, to name a few, are “some scenes of gunfire”; “some sexuality, some nudity, some less graphic sexual slang”; “some blood, wounds”; and “some limited depictions of minors using illegal drugs.”

Strictly off limits are “excessive scenes of violence or guns/weapons involving minors”; “graphic sexual scenes, including depictions of rape”; “stronger profanity”; and “excessive blood.”

That gunfire, slang and blood come at a price. For the studios’ movie sites, association guidelines limit access to yellow-tag trailers to the hours of 9 p.m. to 4 a.m. For third-party sites, the threshold is that at least 80 percent of users must be 18 and older, according to Nielsen’s Web demographic reports.

Not everyone is thrilled with the tweaks so far. Sanjeev Lamba, executive vice president of marketing at Dimension Films, praised the association for “stepping in to regulate the Internet,” but said the yellow tag for “Halloween” was doing little but “restricting my ability to reach an audience.”

“I can’t get it out in the major portals, and that’s where the major traffic is,” he said.

James Steyer, chief executive of Common Sense Media, which reviews entertainment products for parents, said the yellow-tag Web trailers represented a significant step, for the movie studios and for families. “Trailers have a huge impact,” he said. “The crux of it will be, how good are the safeguards?”

The association says it has asked software companies to improve the restrictions, but so far they are hardly foolproof. Beating the time-of-day limits requires adjusting a computer’s internal clock and time zone. The Nielsen ratings still won’t keep a youngster from Googling his or her way to a trailer on a site mainly frequented by grown-ups.

Even the R-rated, red-tag trailer for “Superbad” doesn’t pose much of a challenge, given that it requires users only to type in an adult’s name, zip code and birthdate to gain access. “It’s really an honor system today,” Mr. Caines of Sony said. Just as under-age moviegoers are expected not to switch auditoriums to R-rated films, he said, “the consumer’s agreeing that they’re being truthful in the process.”

That said, it took only a quick Web search to gain unfettered access to the R-rated “Superbad” and “Knocked Up” trailers at slashfilm.com, owned by Peter Sciretta of San Francisco, who said he was often sent studio-quality copies of trailers from people using Gmail accounts.

Twenty minutes later Mr. Sciretta called back. Sony, alerted by the association, had just asked him to remove the R-rated “Superbad” trailer. “We’ve been the top result on Google for months,” he said, “till the moment that you asked them about it.”
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Re: MPAA Ratings
« Reply #86 on: August 18, 2012, 07:14:02 PM »
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High hopes, low notes for film world's NC-17 rating
The designation had a promising start as a way to distinguish adult-only content, but 22 years later confusion reigns over rules and few have embraced it.
By Steven Zeitchik, Los Angeles Times

In the late '80s a thunderbolt of inspiration struck Jack Valenti, longtime chief of the Motion Picture Assn. of America: What if his organization got rid of the X rating, besmirched by years of misappropriation by hard-core exploitation films, and replaced it with a new marker that was both trademarked and respectable?

Thus was born the NC-17. Formally instituted in 1990, the restrictive rating aimed to signal moviegoers that a film included adult-oriented — but not necessarily pornographic — content and made those movies off-limits to anyone under 18.

Valenti had high hopes that the NC-17 — he called it "unstigmatized" — would usher in an era of mainstream acceptance for films with serious adult themes. But after some initial acceptance by directors, distributors, exhibitors and audiences, the rating fell deeply out of favor with filmmakers and moviegoers alike.

Now, even as basic cable is constantly pushing into ever-more steamy and violent territory and a wide variety of pornography is easily available on the Web, movie theaters are practically devoid of formally adults-only films. The number of movies released with the NC-17 rating has plummeted; those that do go out with that stamp do little business at the box office.

The reasons are clear: Some theater chains, including Cinemark, the nation's third-largest circuit, won't play them. A number of media outlets, particularly newspapers and television stations in more conservative states, won't accept advertising for them. Wal-Mart and other retailers won't sell copies on DVD.

Now at 22 years old — the same age as the X was when it was retired — the NC-17 is seen inside Hollywood and beyond as ineffective and broken. But no one can agree on how to fix it.

"There's no question there's a stigma," said Joan Graves, the head of the MPAA's ratings board. "If you have any ideas on how to break it, I'd love to hear them," she said, giving a small, not-entirely-happy laugh.

At issue is more than just what grade an industry trade group should assign to a particular movie, and more than questions of revenue and profit. At its core, the debate over NC-17 is a matter of what material society considers mainstream, who gets to make those determinations and what standards they use in doing so.

Out of favor

The NC-17's fall has been dramatic. Last year, just three such films arrived in theaters, and the highest-grossing, Fox Searchlight's sex-addiction drama "Shame," didn't even sell $4 million worth of tickets.

That's a far cry from the NC-17's promising beginnings in 1990, when more than a dozen films were released with the rating. Two of the first were serious art films: "Henry and June," about the romance between Henry Miller and Anais Nin, and "The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover." They grossed $21 million and $14 million, respectively, in today's dollars.

The advent of the NC-17 coincided with an ambitious moment in American cinema — young auteurs such as Steven Soderbergh, Quentin Tarantino and Spike Lee were coming into their own, making movies that were adult in theme but artistic in style. It was possible to imagine these directors making films for adult audiences that would solidify the NC-17 as a rating just as acceptable as an R.

(After all, in its early days, the X generated some sizable hits — 1969's "Midnight Cowboy," which won best picture, took in $45 million, or $281 million in today's dollars; 1973's "Last Tango in Paris" made $36 million, or $225 million today).

But the NC-17 soon faltered. As signatories to the MPAA, the six major studios must release their films with ratings, and they began to get nervous about the commercial limitations of the NC-17. Potential mainstream NC-17 releases such as Paramount's Sharon Stone thriller "Sliver" (1993) were edited to land an R rating (which means children under 17 can be admitted, if accompanied by a parent or guardian).

A year later, Oliver Stone was given an NC-17 for "Natural Born Killers," as was Quentin Tarantino for "Pulp Fiction." Both re-cut their films so that they would end up with an R. (Both cinema history and the history of the NC-17 may well have unfolded very differently had "Pulp Fiction" gone out with an NC-17.)

The movies that did come out with an NC-17 — most notably Paul Verhoeven's über-campfest "Showgirls" (1995) — were so sufficiently silly and skin-filled that they only confirmed the perception that it was not a rating to be taken seriously.

Around 2004, there was a brief renaissance of NC-17 films. Lionsgate chose to release a French horror film called "High Tension" as NC-17 instead of unrated and Fox Searchlight took out Bernardo Bertolucci's art house drama "The Dreamers" as NC-17.

But that proved short-lived. Tom Bernard, the Sony Pictures Classics executive who was in charge of releasing Pedro Almodovar's "Bad Education" that year, said he was surprised by the opposition from media outlets and theater owners when he sought to bring out the movie as an NC-17. "The rating certainly hurt the box office," he said.

Smaller distributors who are not MPAA members have the option of releasing films given NC-17 ratings without any rating at all. (Among such films to have gone that route are Darren Aronofsky's "Requiem for a Dream," Todd Solondz's "Happiness" and the Martin Lawrence concert film "You So Crazy." In 1995, Disney-owned Miramax set up an independent releasing entity for Larry Clark's "Kids" after it received an NC-17.) Increasingly, many filmmakers are choosing this course or are cutting their films to receive an R.

One recent film that stuck by its NC-17 was "Killer Joe," a revenge drama starring Matthew McConaughey and Emile Hirsch. The movie, directed by "The Exorcist" helmer William Friedkin, received the NC-17 primarily because of one graphic scene of violence tinged with an unconventional sexual act. Although McConaughey told The Times that he thought the film should wear the rating as a "badge of honor," the movie has had minimal commercial traction.

Director Jennifer Lynch, whose upcoming action thriller "Chained" was handed an NC-17 this year, grudgingly decided to cut her film so she could get an R. "I think it's clear by now that the NC-17 is not accomplishing what the MPAA hoped it would when they moved away from the X," she said. "If you know blue as blue, you'll always know it that way, whether you call it orange or any other color."

Confusion reigns

If theater chains and audiences have failed to embrace NC-17 films, it may be in part because there's no clear, specific set of rules about what type of violence, sex or language prompts the MPAA to award the rating. Though many moviegoers know, for instance, that multiple uses of the F-word can turn an otherwise PG-13 movie into an R film, the boundary between R and NC-17 is much less distinct.

The MPAA says NC-17 ratings can be based on "violence, sex, aberrational behavior, drug abuse or any other element that most parents would consider too strong and therefore off-limits for viewing by their children." The group says an NC-17 "does not mean 'obscene' or 'pornographic' in the common or legal meaning of those words, and should not be construed as a negative judgment in any sense. The rating simply signals that the content is appropriate only for an adult audience."

But many adults won't go to an NC-17 movie, convinced that they're going to watch smut.

Neither the public nor filmmakers are privy to how MPAA raters arrive at their decisions, and when a film is given an NC-17, the MPAA provides only a limited description.

In 2011, for instance, "Shame" got the marker for "some explicit sexual content" while another movie, "A Serbian Film," was given the rating for "extreme aberrant and sexual content including explicit dialogue." But descriptions of R-rated films can sound similar: A movie called "Arena," for instance, was described as having "strong brutal and bloody violence throughout, graphic nudity and language."

In 2001, the MPAA gave Solondz's "Storytelling" an NC-17 for a graphic sex scene. As it turned out, Solondz had a clause in his contract that allowed him to release the movie with the scene intact, providing a large red box was placed over the anatomy to allow the revised film to receive an R. Moviegoers were then given an unusual object lesson in the content that can prompt raters to jump a movie from an R to an NC-17.

In 2010, more confusion came when the Weinstein Co. and director Derek Cianfrance found themselves facing an NC-17 with their romantic drama "Blue Valentine," for an oral sex scene that featured no nudity.

They were eventually able to persuade an appeals board that the movie should be rated R. But the incident prompted head-scratching, particularly since an oral sex scene of about equal duration in that year's "Black Swan" received an R. Cianfrance called the NC-17 "a form of censorship" and said he was "confused and baffled" by what he saw as a double standard.

Debating a fix

Even some critics of the NC-17 acknowledge that the ratings group has been at the mercy of changes outside its control, such as cautious theater owners and media outlets.

"I don't think it's the MPAA's fault that the NC-17 has become what it is," said Ethan Noble, a consultant who aids filmmakers and distributors in their dealings with the MPAA. "But it is its responsibility that this is continuing. The MPAA needs to find another path."

Bernard of Sony Pictures Classics and others have suggested a new adult rating that specifically excludes exploitative pornographic content. Asked about this possibility, Graves replied with a familiar MPAA refrain: The group does not want to get into the business of adjudicating art. To split an NC-17 rating into a more serious rating versus a pornographic one, she said, is to wander into the choppy waters of aesthetic judgment.

(Graves said there has been no serious consideration of splitting the NC-17, though there has been discussion about dividing the territory now encompassed by the R rating — that is, creating two ratings that distinguish between "harder" and "softer" versions of the R. The R rating, after all, has become a catch-all, encompassing movies as wildly diverse as the über-violent "Saw," the racy comedies of Judd Apatow and the gentle drama of "The King's Speech.")

And then there's another, perhaps more fundamental question: whether any rating that bars filmgoers outright is a good idea. After all, the MPAA's own mantra is that it simply wants to guide parents, not legislate social policy.

"I suppose ratings will always be imperfect," Solondz said. "But when it comes to children, parents should be determining what's appropriate. I don't like the idea that if you're under 18 you're de facto not allowed to see a film."

The NC-17 seems to face a Catch-22: To produce more hits, the NC-17 needs to be on more movies. But few distributors want to release a movie with an NC-17 until there are established hits.

"Theoretically there's no reason the most restrictive rating should carry a scarlet letter," said John Fithian, president of the National Assn. of Theatre Owners. "But ... we have yet to have a big, serious commercial movie released as an NC-17."

Filmmakers and their advisers, however, say they'd be more willing to use it if they didn't feel theater owners had a resistance to playing it. "I've worked with hundreds of clients and have never counseled anyone to take an NC-17," Noble said. "It's simply not worth the risk."

Graves said that though she thinks the media is partly to blame — "Why do they always refer to it as 'slapping with an NC-17?'" she asked — she acknowledged that there were, at the least, failures of communication on the MPAA's part. "We need to be educational about it more than anything else," she said.

Others aren't convinced that would work. "We need a new system," Bernard said. "But I think it will be a long while before there's any will to do something about it."
“Don't think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it's good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.” - Andy Warhol


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Re: MPAA Ratings
« Reply #87 on: August 20, 2012, 11:04:47 AM »
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I think the larger problem is the R rating. It's basically a soft NC-17, except that kids are allowed in (with an adult). So you're basically saying "this film has sex, violence and other bad stuff but your kids can watch it if you say it's okay." Most people probably see an R-rated film, and then assume there is a huge leap between what that portrays and what an NC-17 portrays. Why not just abolish the R-rating, and classify the films which would have previously been classified as that as NC-17 instead? It lessens the taboo factor of a film being classified NC-17, and it makes the theater-going experience a lot more pleasurable for adults who don't want to be sitting next to someone's kid while there's an orgy or something on screen.

In the UK (at least while I was growing up) the ratings were U, PG, 15, 18. If you weren't 15, you couldn't go into a film rated 15. If you weren't 18, you couldn't go into a film rated 18. Just simply the fucking ratings and make it clear cut what's what.

As for Cinemark not showing NC-17 films right now, I can get that to an extent. They're in business to make money, so if they know a film isn't going to bring in much money, that's fair enough. For stores like WalMart not to sell those movies on DVD is bullshit though - but is that even relevant anymore?
Some people have a fear of snakes. That was a somewhat rational fear. And you could do something about it at least. Stay away from long grass and nature documentaries. Easy. Others have a fear of heights. That was manageable too. Avoid tall ladders. But how do you cope when your fear is something you can’t avoid? That you have no hope of staying away from? Being afraid of the sky, where are you going to go?

Sleepless

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Re: MPAA Ratings
« Reply #88 on: June 07, 2013, 12:04:30 PM »
+1
Very long article by Empire:

Sex And Censorship: A Day In The Life Of The BBFC
The British Board Of Film Classification opens its doors to Empire

Empire is on the hunt for porn.  Sat in an office on the executive floor of the BBFC building, we scroll nonchalantly through a list of increasingly filthy titles in an effort to track down one in particular. Our smut-seeking sidekick in this endeavour is BBFC assistant director, David Austin, who with a sigh of exasperation picks up the phone to a colleague down the corridor. "Murray, I'm looking for a clip called It's Just Wrong. Any ideas?" As we try to stifle a bout of puerile sniggering in favour of professional detachment, Murray from down the corridor offers some helpful pointers. "Right, I can see Buttman Goes To Montreal...", Austin matter-of-facts into the handset. "No... wait, there it is." A mouse hovers over the S drive, there's a click and we find ourselves watching a porno with one of Britain's most senior film classifiers.

A less bashful Empire started our day as a fly on the British Board Of Film Classification's wall one floor down. The austere body's small band of examiners is located on the second floor of 3 Soho Square, scrutinising the newest blockbusters, discussing the issues of the moment and, when needs must, grimacing through Buttman's other global adventures. We've been afforded an access-all-areas tour of the building that's housed the British Board Of Film Classification since a Luftwaffe bomb rated its previous West End HQ 'U' for uninhabitable. Not only that, but we've had the chance to spend some time with the people responsible for deciding what we can and can't watch on a daily basis. In short, we're here to watch the watchers.

Our preconceptions of the BBFC's offices — that it will be a Brazil-meets-Hudsucker bureaucracy of paperwork, probably transported around the building via tubes — are subverted straight away. Sure, there are filing cupboards for viewed discs and the odd discreet pile of paperwork, but the first impression is of a workplace of professional film fans rather than the British film industry's gatekeeper. The walls are lined with posters for Roman Holiday, Amarcord and other classics. There are Game Of Thrones box sets and an Argo DVD waiting for some after-hours downtime, and at no point does a faceless apparatchik thrust a 27B/6 form in our face.

The examiner we're riding shotgun with Caroline (her name has been changed because collective anonymity is everything here) does at least have a spreadsheet open. Her office walls are decorated with posters for Chinatown and Breathless, and there's a telly and Blu-ray player facing her desk. She's typical of BBFC examiners in arriving here via another career: a past life in TV production and acquisition that offered the kind of life experience prized in these parts. Among her colleagues are former media lawyers, an ex-policeman, a video-game developer, even a part-time film director who "disappears occasionally" to work on his own projects. Austin, their boss, is a former diplomat who served in conflict resolution at the sharp end of the Balkans conflict. It's a job, you'd argue, that makes him perfectly suited to stand between, say, The Human Centipede and a furious Daily Mail.

After chatting about her favourite film, Vertigo, Caroline kicks off her day's viewing with a pre-release copy of arthouse drama Hors Satan. At first glance, it seems to be an existential French piece featuring a man, a woman and a beach. There's no immediate sign of Satan. The film was rated 15 in cinemas for "strong sex, language and a brief gory image", but as she explains, there's a chance that additional material would shunt it into a different bracket on DVD. If so, it'll be spotted and logged in a spreadsheet. We're guessing that a gore-splashed Beelzebub building a giant sandpenis would do the trick, but after 25 minutes of sandy wanderings we're disappointed to encounter nothing of the sort.

Once Satan has been Hors'ed, there's a Shallow Hal DVD menu to be scoured and a One Hour Photo 'making-of' to watch. An examiner's day typically kicks off at 9am and involves exactly 340 minutes of viewing, an oddly precise timeframe that allows for report writing and recommendations filing. While the BBFC isn't a profit-making body, costs have to be covered and distributors are charged according to the length of their film. Classifying a two-hour theatrical feature will cost you £1128, while a 180-minute opus will set you back £1632. If you've made the next Berlin Alexanderplatz, you might want to talk to your bank manager.

For that outlay, distributors can be sure their release will be seen in its intended format. In the basement there's a 30-seat 3D screening room for theatrical releases, where pairs of examiners sit under the watchful gaze of Alan, the BBFC's long-serving projectionist. An IMAX release means a lonely vigil at the South Bank or Science Museum — "It's creepy," shudders Caroline of the near-solitary 70mm experience — while DVD and Blu-ray releases are viewed at desks. Like most movie watchers, BBFCers are partial to a snack — or at least they were until someone took the vending machine away, possibly for health reasons. "Everyone puts on about a stone in their first year," laughs Caroline. Out of hours, there are occasional beers at The Nellie Dean around the corner and a Friday night social in the in-house cinema. Stoker and Hansel & Gretel both screened recently.

It's a serious and often solitary profession, though. The examiners' guiding principle is that every movie should be seen by the widest possible audience and the BBFC ethos is that 'Every film starts at U'. While A Serbian Film and company don't stay there for very long, 18 ratings are never dished out for the sake of it. The BBFC publishes a glossy pamphlet of guidelines — these, along with detailed case-studies, can also be found online — breaking down the differences between ratings. Filmmakers wanting a 12A/12s (12A is for theatrical releases, 12 for DVDs) rather than a 15 will find major pointers here. "Nudity is allowed," runs the 12A guideline, "but in a sexual context [it] must be brief and discreet". In a 15, by minor contrast, "nudity may be allowed in a sexual context but without strong detail". With so much overlap and room for nuance — exactly how blurry should a nipple be? — it's easy to see why the individual judgment of examiners becomes so important, albeit with guidelines to work to and senior examiners to oversee recommendations.

A big intangible, and one not easily legislated for in the guidelines, is the issue of how a film makes its audience "feel". You may not see John Harrison crushing craniums with his bare hands in Star Trek Into Darkness, but you sure as heck feel it. By that token, the film that attracted the widest ire in recent years was The Dark Knight in 2008. The BBFC's widest-possible-audience edict guided it to a 12A rating, much to the chagrin of the 264 people whose angry missives barged through the Soho Square letterbox. Newspapers at the time were full of outraged op-eds and letters. One letter published had a 43 year-old complaining that when he'd taken his nine year-old son to see it, he'd "had his hands over his face a lot of the time because he was scared".

The BBFC would point out the 'A' part in '12A' leaves responsibility with the parent, although The Dark Knight, pencil scene and all, was contentious enough to prompt a public consultation. Only 69 per cent of people polled felt it received the right rating; a figure well below the normal 90 per cent mark. Still, despite that vanishing HB, Christopher Nolan's blockbuster adhered to all the criteria for a 12A, so if there is a problem, maybe it's with the guidelines. Maybe a lack of 'injury detail' and canny editing aren't enough to protect young minds? Last year, the 12A-rated Woman In Black drew more than 100 complaints, even after the BBFC insisted that certain shots be darkened, a rotting face and a hanging removed from the final cut and audio cues toned down.

These are the kind of subjects that get chewed over every Wednesday morning at the weekly examiners meeting. Over coffee, opinions are exchanged and issues tackled to ensure a unified approach, preferably without spoiling the movies in question for the people who haven't seen them.

Leaving Caroline to Robin Williams  and that One Hour Photo extra, Empire heads upstairs to discuss these issues with David Austin. He's the man responsible for overseeing the BBFC's day-to-day decision-making, and the best person to tackle recent BBFC controversies. The organisation rated 850 movies last year, including Ken Loach's The Angels' Share, a C-bomb-dropping, comedy/drama set in Scotland that caused a major rift between filmmakers and classifiers. "We were allowed seven 'cunts' but only two of them could be aggressive 'cunts'," Loach grumbled at Cannes last year. "Yes, we were criticised by Ken Loach," recalls Austin with some understatement ("tortured, middle-class and obsessed with language" is how the director summed it up), "and he eventually cut out uses of the word to get a 15".

So if seven C-words are acceptable, why not ten? Why any? "Our guidelines are always based on what the public tells us," explains Austin, "and in our last research the public told us that frequency [of swearing] was important to them. Many people really hate that word but the general attitude is that they know it exists, they know their kids hear it, and while they don't like it, there may be circumstances when it's OK at 15." If the C-bomb controversy gives the BBFC a chance to explain its remit, Austin bridles slightly at Loach's inference. "We're not just reflecting southern, middle-class, white attitudes", he explains. "We do this research all over the UK and we can see the differences."

The BBFC conducts regularly surveys to keep in tune with public sensibilities, and as attitudes shift, it tries to shift with them. "There's less concern with consensual sex between adults than 20 years ago", explains Austin, "but more with depictions of self-harm, suicide, racism and other discrimination". Regular liaison with The Samaritans and Self Harm UK, among other charities, also helps formulate guidelines in areas like copycat behaviour. Recently, an episode of House Of Cards, in which Kevin Spacey's character explicitly details a suicide technique, scored an 18 rating in line with concerns from The Samaritans. Gathering dust on the shelf behind Austin's desk is a row of unrated DVDs that includes a 'fitness' film demonstrating the best techniques for knifing someone, and a rip-off Pussycat Dolls exercise video that features a whole lot more bumping and grinding than is really acceptable for a tween audience. Currently exempt from classification, these are legally supplied to children, although government scrutiny could soon see them fall under the BBFC's keen eye.

Austin, like most here, is a self-professed film geek. Even a decade of Adam Sandler movies and low-budget porn hasn't changed that. During Empire's hour with him, he corrects us on Peeping Tom's release date, shares with us his wife's hair-raising response to a home viewing of [•REC] ("She woke up in the middle of the night and started wrenching a wrought-iron mirror off the wall!"), and enthuses about Apocalypse Now. There's a poster for Coppola's Vietnamasterpiece on his office wall, alongside promos for The Great Escape and the original Cape Fear, an auspicious case study for the organisation. "Gregory Peck sent a telegram saying that he preferred the BBFC-cut version to the US one," says Austin. "He really liked the cuts we made." There are hundreds of letters and telegrams from directors, producers and distributors squirreled away in the BBFC archives although most, he admits, aren't as flattering.

All of which brings us back to the porno  that's currently staring us in the face. No-one will be writing in about It's Just Wrong because it will never be released, and now that Austin has loaded it up, it's clear that it hasn't been squirreled away on the BBFC server for artistic reasons. This is one of the clips kept on file to demonstrate problem areas — in this case, performers being deliberately dressed to look underage — that makes you understand why the BBFC offers anonymous counselling to its staff.

Gathering dust on the shelf is a rip-off Pussycat Dolls exercise video that features a whole lot more bumping and grinding than is really acceptable for a tween audience.

It's safe to say that classifying pornography — or 'sex works' as they're known here — isn't exactly relished around these parts. "Luckily there isn't as much these days", explains Austin, alluding to the explosion in online porn that has undercut the DVD market. When he joined the austere body ten years ago there was "masses" of the stuff to either ban or pin 'R18' ratings to, and while the internet has lessened the load, there are still a thousand or so a year to wade through. Regular collaborations with the police keep policies aligned with changes to the law, but there are other considerations too. "Our research told us that people often watch porn with a view to copying it," he explains. "Sometimes you see penetration with power tools, and we won't pass that. You really don't want to be in A&E that evening." Obviously when you're scouring "sex works" for breaches in the Obscene Publications or Criminal Justice & Immigration Act, a little gallows humour goes a long way. Memories of rating a porno with a plotline borrowed from Vertigo also prompt a chuckle.

With Empire's time almost up, we're curious to know if there are any red flags on the BBFC's horizon. Explicit Palme-winning drama Blue Is The Warmest Colour is heading their way, as is Lars von Trier's Nymphomaniac. The Danish provocateur is releasing hardcore and softcore versions of the film, a prospect that will surely raise the BBFC's collective blood pressure? Of course, we'd forgotten that a Monday morning one-to-one with Willem Dafoe's scrotum is all in a day's work here. Austin gently bats the enquiry away, he's a von Trier fan, you see. "We always like his films," he explains mildly. The BBFC counselor is always there in case the Dane pulls out any seismic shocks — it's unlikely, granted, but more genital lopping may push the whole organisation over the edge — but we're not expecting the battle-hardened Austin to be involved in too many copycat incidents. "The only thing I've copied is from The Big Bang Theory where Sheldon knocks on Penny's door three times," he laughs. "I do that with my daughter."
Some people have a fear of snakes. That was a somewhat rational fear. And you could do something about it at least. Stay away from long grass and nature documentaries. Easy. Others have a fear of heights. That was manageable too. Avoid tall ladders. But how do you cope when your fear is something you can’t avoid? That you have no hope of staying away from? Being afraid of the sky, where are you going to go?

Pubrick

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Re: MPAA Ratings
« Reply #89 on: June 07, 2013, 01:08:19 PM »
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Very long article

you have obviously never read anything posted by wilderesque.

this is a seriously short article.
under the paving stones.

 

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