Nov 032008

>We’ve been so pins-and-needles over tomorrow’s election thing, we’re totally late to the party for the 40th birthday of the MPAA’s rating system. Oh, well–it’s not like they bothered to show up for our 40th shindig.


Founded in 1968, largely as a way for industry to stave off government intervention in the movie business, the ratings were/are intended as a way to help parents decide which titles are appropriate for the precious youngsters, but have tended to be a bit, er, capricious over the years.

In a fitting birthday gift to the MPAA, Defamer has come up with a very special list of questionable rulings made over the years, “40 Reasons to Wish the MPAA Ratings System an Unhappy 40th Birthday.”

Be sure to check out the rest, but just a few of the hits:

Boys Don’t Cry: Threatened with an NC-17 for a lingering shot of a topless Chloe Sevigny experiencing an orgasm, but allowed to keep the climactic rape scene and gunshot to Brondon Teena’s head.

and, of course…

Waiting For Guffman: A classic example of the “Fuck Rule”; a Christopher Guest mockumentary with no sex or violence but featuring the F-word used one too many times in an actor’s audition using the scene from Raging Bull. Its R-rating was upheld on appeal. (You can use “fuck” in a non-sexual way up to four times in and retain a PG-13 — maybe.)

And in an interesting coincidence (or is it?!), Zack and Miri Make a Porno, which barely squeaked away from it’s own NC-17 rating, opened on the MPAA’s birthday to not-so-spectacular results. At work might have been a skittering away from the the film’s title and subject matter by mainstream newspapers and venues… though several reports underlined the odd hypocrisy of limiting the sex-themed feature while glorifying such torture-porn fare as Saw V.

Then again, going back to Defamer, it could just be bad marketing on the part of the distributing Weinstein brothers. Shocking, indeed!

Sep 102008

>In Kevin Smith’s ongoing struggle with the MPAA to get his latest film, Zack and Miri Make a Porno, out into the theaters and in front of an audience, comes news that the agency has rejected the original poster for the movie. Featuring the title characters, each fully clothed, you may also notice at the bottom edge of the poster the somewhat humorous suggestion that each is getting oral, er, attention from the other. Pretty innocuous–and banned by the MPAA!

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Interestingly, as noted on, the MPAA earlier approved very similar imagery for the Dane Cook-vehicle, Good Luck Chuck, for a poster that went even further–if you can call it that–featuring the actor more apparently in flagrante delitico.

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One might chalk up the discrepancy to mere bureaucratic inconsistency. Or, perhaps something more insidious, as it brings to mind contentions made in the documentary, This Film Is Not Yet Rated, that the MPAA regularly applies far more rigorous standards when a depiction includes female sexual pleasure–and not just some guy boffing a pie.

Hypocrisy much? Meanwhile, first reports on the film, which just premiered in Toronto, can be found here!

Aug 312007

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In a recent interview with The Reeler, director William Friedkin discusses his back-and-forths with the MPAA to get an R rating for the original release of Cruising in 1980. Sadly, for anyone hoping for a bit more detail on what ended up on the cutting room floor – and what apparently still isn’t being put back for the DVD release scheduled next month – Friedkin remains pretty mum:

What didn’t make it didn’t make it. I’m not about to circumvent the ratings board now and describe all the scenes that aren’t in the movie. There’s about a half-hour to 40 minutes. But I would have to say is was mostly just more of what was going on in the clubs, and they didn’t change or advance the story in any major way.

You know. Just more of what was going on in the clubs. That kinda stuff.

Much less the buzz-kill, this week’s episode of ReelerTV contains a clip of the film’s memorable hanky scene, along with host S.T. VanAirsdale’s revelation of which color he’s flagging these days. Who knew?!

Aug 032007

>Evan Shapiro of IFC, home to such bold programming as Indie Sex and This Film is Not Yet Rated, is – how shall we put it? – “…very interested in sex.”

Perhaps even obsessed.

Pinch hitting for The Reeler, he explains:

What I am obsessed with are the myriad sexual hang-ups ingrained in American society and how they continue to affect and constrain our culture. I don’t mean private penchants or fetishes practiced behind closed doors by everyday consenting citizens. I mean the sexual neuroses of those in positions of authority who constantly tell us that our own predilections are not “normal” or “acceptable.” These hang-ups are both interesting and important, because they who possess them often seem hellbent on inflicting them on the rest of us. Fact is, America is far more obsessed with sex than I am. By exploring sexuality, and exposing society’s sexual hang-ups, we’ve tried — in our way — to de-stigmatize sex in all its forms, and help treat America’s collective phobia.

This refreshingly straight-forward, activist-minded stance obviously make its presence known in much of IFC’s programming. And it carries through the rest of Shapiro’s post, ranging from the production of the Indie Sex series to the relevance of R Kelly’s Trapped in the Closest to challenging sexual stereotypes. (WTF? Just read it.)

Aug 022007

>If that’s the case, looks like we actually have a bit of catching up to do. Somehow in our July torpor we missed the announcement that the documentary series, Indie Sex, began airing this week on IFC.

Fortunately, it’s cable, so last night’s missed episode will be back around shortly (and again and again). But we’ll be watching closely to see if any of the footage the crew shot at last year’s CineKink kick-off gala with the fabulous Wet Spots made it past network censors and into the final production.

And, if we’re not lying somewhere on the cutting-room floor, would we be more likely considered the “Taboos” type – episode #2, airing tonight! – or a bit more an “Extremes” sort of girl?

Tune in and find out…

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