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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    The truth behind Hollywood’s rating system

    The truth behind Hollywoods rating system

    “”This film is my little love letter to the MPAA,”” filmmaker Kirby Dick said of his eighth documentary now playing at the Loft Cinema. And what better way to profess your devotion to someone than to reveal their sinister side to America?

    Acclaimed as “”the film that Hollywood doesn’t want you to see”” and cited among relevant movies for anyone who plans to or has ever seen a movie, this documentary is a brave unveiling of a system that affects all American movies: the ratings of G, PG-13, R and NC-17.

    “”This Film Is Not Yet Rated”” is a film that director Kirby Dick thought would never get made because of the secrecy and paranoia in Hollywood behind the Motion Picture Association of America.

    When he came up with the idea to hire a private investigator to help him uncover the names of the unreleased members of the ratings committee, he knew that the movie would be a success, Dick said.

    The MPAA has been rating films since 1968, and today the rating system is largely swayed by the six multiconglomerate corporations that own and produce movies in the United States. These companies include Paramount Pictures, Walt Disney Pictures, Sony Pictures, 20th Century Fox, Warner Brothers and Universal Pictures.

    Kirby Dick’s film uncovers the secrecy behind the MPAA. His film highlights the fact that there is no determinant set of criteria for film ratings, and the unquestionable power of the rating system lies in the hands of people who are not experts and have no professional knowledge whatsoever.

    “”I’d like to see a consistent and concise system so adults and parents can decide for themselves which movies to attend,”” Dick said during the question-and-answer session that followed his movie screening at The Loft Cinema on Saturday. Dick presented his film to a full house of eager movie patrons.

    Dick also recommended that viewers stay tuned for “”The Naked Truth,”” a book written by UA Media Arts Assistant Professor Kevin Sandler. This book goes into further depth about the issues discussed in Dick’s documentary and will be released in April 2007.

    The MPAA employs descriptors that give vague reasons for the film rating, such as “”mild violence,”” “”brief nudity”” and “”strong language.”” Those are the same level of description and justification that filmmakers get when they are handed their film rating, the movie explains.

    The information that Dick uncovered in his documentary concluded that the MPAA does not employ a specific set of criteria for rating movies how they do. Basically, the raters (Dick found there to be between 8 and 9 of them) can rate movies however they please depending on the feeling they get from the movie.

    The film reveals the secrecy and strange policies of the MPAA. The intricacies of the MPAA and its system of operation are astounding, and this film details many aspects of this incredibly secretive organization and sheds light on a power and authority that has been publicly unquestioned. The movie argues that this is due to the fear of blacklisting by the large companies that work with the MPAA.

    “”The MPAA has no real accountability. They’re the only game in town,”” said Matt Stone, co-creator of “”Team America”” and “”South Park,”” in the documentary. The MPAA advertises that most parents love the institution and are glad to have movie ratings, but this is compared to no ratings at all.

    There is currently no competition for the MPAA in America, and although the MPAA claims that the ratings do not affect movie sales, they actually do. Most movie theaters will not show NC-17 films. Consequently, most large production companies will not buy your movie because it won’t be able to return enough capital if it is not widely distributed in theaters.

    When it comes to ratings, the MPAA is consistently more concerned with sexuality than with violence, whereas it is the opposite in European countries. Paradoxically, many studies have been conducted to test the effects of media on adolescents, and the results show that exposure to violence drastically affects children’s behavior, whereas exposure to sexuality does not.

    This unrated film is culturally important because director Kirby Dick uncovers a serious political issue while creating an entertaining and largely hilarious film similar to the work of Michael Moore. This is one of the few movies that should be seen by every American and by anyone who wants to know the truth behind the movies they watch and the rating system that has been in use with no alternative since the ’70s.

    “”This Film Is Not Yet Rated”” is playing at The Loft Cinema, 3233 E. Speedway Blvd. Dick is currently working on a documentary of a political nature that is scheduled to be released in 2008, just in time for the next presidential election.

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