It's no secret that the MPAA's highly secretive
rating process doesn't make very much sense. Kevin Smith, the well known director (and sometimes actor) got some press recently when he convinced the MPAA to change its initial rating of his new movie, Zack and Miri Make a Porno
from an NC-17 to an R. There was also some buzz online about the MPAA's odd rejection
of a movie poster for the film that seems pretty harmless. However, perhaps much more interesting is the information hidden at the bottom of a Salon.com interview with Smith about the whole ratings process
, where Smith notes that he was surprised to find out that the MPAA now claims authority over not just posters, but any online ads for the movie as well -- even if they don't even include any footage from the movie:
I put up a teaser trailer [for "Zack and Miri"] back in April that had no footage from the actual movie in it. Just Seth and Elizabeth riffing. And the MPAA made us take it down. They said, "Look, we're in charge of all marketing materials as well, and we didn't approve this." So they made us take it down.
The MPAA's job is to rate the movies, not the ads
for the movies -- especially when they're appearing online. But since the whole thing is "voluntary" (and secretive) and no theater will show a film without an MPAA rating, basically filmmakers are forced to play ball with the MPAA's regulatory whims. And, those whims can be really bizarre sometimes. Remember the movie poster that wasn't approved because a gun
was aimed directly outward (and, the MPAA effectively argued, some people might think it will shoot them).
And it may get even worse. While Smith doesn't seem too worked up about the whole thing (or, rather, he's not worked up at all), he also wonders, as an aside, if the MPAA will also start regulating DVD extras. In noting that, these days, any content that the MPAA requires people to cut, will eventually make it onto the DVD anyway, he sort of wonders if the MPAA is going to expand its purview over DVD content also -- which is where he brings up the issue of the MPAA claiming control over movie trailers.