While they insist that last year's movie that blew the lid off the highly secretive process of movie ratings, This Film Is Not Yet Rated, (which of course received an NC-17 rating), it appears that the MPAA is finally willing to open up a little in the ratings process. The newly proposed system would name the three senior raters, rather than keep everyone totally secret. The other raters wouldn't be revealed, but there would be some more info on their backgrounds. They would also insist that raters have school-aged children so that they have a better feel for what's appropriate for children of that age range. They would also clarify some of the rules and the process for getting rated -- and what the ratings mean. Some of the other changes would include more stringent warnings against taking kids into R rated movies and finally allowing filmmakers who are appealing their ratings to cite other films as examples for why they feel their film was rated unfairly. Unfortunately, this seems pretty weak overall. Basically, they're letting people have a tiny peak in, but aren't really changing much at all behind the secretive process, and not doing anything to prevent the main problem the film outlined: that the system highly favors big studio productions, rather than independent films. It's also not at all clear why there should be 10 people who have the power to completely modify how a film can be marketed based on how they feel about the film. In an age where group-based rating systems are common, it seems like there could be a much more effective solution for movie ratings, perhaps even taking into account regional or local differences in community standards and tastes.
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