MPAA Rates Film About MPAA Ratings As NC-17

from the this-film-is-now-rated-nc-17 dept

Back in January we noted the MPAA’s double standard, when it came to unauthorized copies of movies. The same MPAA that goes around telling schoolchildren if you haven’t paid for it, you’ve stolen it and once said that fair use doesn’t exist. Well, it turns out (of course) they meant for other people. That’s why they made unauthorized copies of the movie “This Film Is Not Yet Rated” — a documentary about (aha!) the MPAA itself. You see, when it’s about them, suddenly things like fair use and unauthorized copies are perfectly fine. Well, not surprisingly the MPAA wasn’t too happy with the movie, and has given it an NC-17 rating.

Salon has a piece reviewing the movie and shedding a little light on the secretive MPAA as described in the movie. Movie ratings, despite what many people believe, are a voluntary thing — and not government run. However, it’s pretty difficult to find a theater or a studio who doesn’t feel compelled to live by the MPAA’s rating system. With so much power, it’s interesting to note that the people on the MPAA’s ratings board have all been secret, until the movie “outed” them. The movie also discovered that the MPAA’s “appeals board” is made up a combination of movie execs and two representatives from religious groups. For a group so powerful, you would think they’d have a bit more accountability. Unfortunately, as the review points out, there are some weaknesses and somewhat dishonest parts to the movie as well — which take away from its overall credibility. However, it still sounds like it sheds a lot of light on how the MPAA goes about its movie ratings business. Of course, it may be difficult for you to see, since very few movie theaters will actually show NC-17 movies… which pretty much explains why the MPAA rated it that way.

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Comments on “MPAA Rates Film About MPAA Ratings As NC-17”

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MPAA Hater says:

They think this help's thier cause?

So they’re trying to come off as friendly and understanding to the common consumer, yet they blatantly lable a movie as not appropriate for the common consumer based solely on the grounds that it has material the MPAA dissagrees with? As previously stated, with the intention of making it less appealing to anyone that might see it on a store shelf. Sickening.

Since when did the Chinese take over? Will we start seeing people who badmouth the MPAA and RIAA on large public scales, like websites, start to get executed?

If this keeps up, I actually think so. Remind me to knock out the first MPAA employee I meet while having it videotaped, so I can make it into a movie for them to rate.

rated ARGH says:

Re: Religous Groups.

What separates us from Iran is that we can technically still bear our arms in public, women don’t have to wear veils, and we’re not obligated to pray multiple times a day. … I’m much more worried about the US being like the PRC, with censorship.
The other day I was told at school: be careful what you say and do, ’cause you don’t want to get in trouble. (this was after I was caught talking about male-male romance comics in the (girls’) locker rooms, and it offended some of the christian girls.) The US is like the new PRC, to me. >_

Neal says:

Get real

Come on, let’s get real now. How many people in the U.S., no… make that the world, would even bother to watch this movie on tv at their leisure much less go to see it at a theater?

If anything the nc-17 rating will boost the number of viewers, because some slightly more greater number of people will think there’s something worth seeing in a movie with that rating.

No matter the rating, for a movie like this the number of viewers will be statistically insignificant.

Bad Neal says:

The Reality Is...

The people that jump at NC-17 ratings aren’t those that already know the message being made by this very movie, and aren’t likely to be those that would somehow be enlightened by it. Furthermore, if you examine those who are drawn to NC17 ratings, you’ll tend to find a lot of under-educated people that don’t know the “Start” button from thier a-hole, and sure, they might rent it, but then stop it 5min later because it’s not all tits and ass.

I still see your point, if you add shock value by a lable (NC17), it will draw a crowd, but that won’t make it memorable to that crowd, and in this very case I would wager it would bore the hell out of the NC17 crowd. Either way, you said it best yourself….

“No matter the rating, for a movie like this the number of viewers will be statistically insignificant.”

Pat Aufderheide (user link) says:

fair use

Kirby Dick’s film is terrific, and it’s also terrific that he employed fair use to clear the more than a hundred film clips in the film! He did so with the help of the Documentary Filmmakers’ Statement of Best Practices in Fair Use (at Finally, doc filmmakers are able to know what the standards in their profession are, and that makes it possible for them to actually use their rights insteading of having to live in fear!

Anonymous Coward says:

It’s rated NC-17 because it depicts how F***ED up the MPAA is.

But in all seriousness how are they going to explain why it is rated NC-17. Underneath
or next to the rating, there is usually a list of what “bad things” the movie has:

|             | No drugs, no violence, |
| NC – 17 | no sexual content,      |
|             | truth      


Tyshaun says:

Did anyone actually read the article?

The movie got an N-17 rating because it contains scenes that were NC-17 rated originally. That kind of follows logically, not some MPAA conspiracy.

Don’t get me wrong, the current rating system is horrible inacurrate, biased toward accepting violence and limitiing sexuality, but in this case the explanation isn’t conspiracy, just the doumentary writers getting duped by their own zeal. If you’re going to write a critique of the ratings systems, don’t be surprised if you include NC-17 rated clips and your documentary gets an NC-17 rating.

BTW, I wish people on techDirt would start reading the linked articles and not just the techDirt bloggers summations, because those summations have been getting more and more off center lately.

Larry Wilson says:

Who didn't see that one coming...

The MPAA is a total joke. They’re only a slight improvement over the old Hays Office, and the way things are going, we may be headed back to those days.

He should really consider releasing his film unrated, and use the MPAA’s actions as part of the ad campaign. That’d really piss them off.

Then again, I suspect the majority of people don’t even know what the MPAA is for, other than going after pirates.

As a beginning director, I personally think that the MPAA should either make the ratings system mandatory or get out of the way of films that decide to bypass it. Wouldn’t this be considered restraint of trade?

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