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Censorship - I must hereby bitchslap Oz.
by K-Dog

Well I am afraid that my latest feature is a bit of a retort against Oz. This whole censorship debacle needs to be put into perspective, so here goes some deconstruction of OZ's points

>If we're serious for a second, the censors have a tough job. >They, contrary to popular belief, are not old granny's with
>glasses on the end of their nose, who watch action movies while >knitting and hack at the negative with hedge clippers.
>They are 'representatives' of our community; parents and >retirees and respected businessmen and other people who
>have too much time on their hands and enjoy seeing free movies. >Pity them, for they have to see all the crap you can
>avoid. And whenever their friends go out to the movies, they've >already seen whatever is playing.

Actually most employees of a classification board are hired as employees from anything from new University graduates to retirees. None of them have other jobs, it IS their job. Sorry but I thought your paragraph above implied they did this in their spare time

>But I digress. Recently, when a fuss erupted over the US MPAA >ratings board giving the British feelgood family film,
>Billy Elliot, an R rating, the head of the MPAA, Jack Valenti, >said of his job that he gets way more letters about bad
>language than he gets about people getting shot in the face.
According the the US rating system Billy Elliott should get an R. There was a lot of course swearing in it, and according to the US reles, it should get an R. where as in the UK we have more classifications which made it a 15 certificate. Remember in the US you can see any rated film (bar NC-17) whatever age you are as long as you have someone there as a guardian. We do not. You have to be that age to see them.

>Ergo, a film like Billy Elliot will be rated R because someone
>says the word 'fuck', while a film like Nutty Professor 2, >complete with a grandmother giving implied oral sex (with teeth
>out) gets away with a PG-13. It's why Lost World, complete with >people being ripped apart by dinosaurs for our
>amusement, is rated PG-13, while a film like Requiem For A >Dream, with it's important message, is sent to unscreenable
>land when it gets an NC-17.

Sure Nutty Professor 2 got a PG-13 but family aimed films always get of less cut as they are taken in a different manner. If the implied oral scene was from a granny in something like leaving las vegas it would have probably been horrific, but in the context it was shot, it was fair to give it a PG-13. And Requiem for a dream is a disturbing graphic film, does it deserve and NC-17, yes. But dont blame the board, blame all the cinemas that refuse to show films with this classification. In the UK it is an 18, we have to be older to see it. So? Whatever the message, ratings should and do apply. Hence Schindlers list. It should have been an U in the UK and a G in the US as its message was of great importance, but it wasn't, it stuck to the rulings of the board. Basically its content in the context which is the ruling. The Klumps was a lighthearted comedy which shot it well enough to get a good rating. Billy Elliott is not a family film and is aimed at adults so the script and direction is tailored as such.

>See, the real problem with censorship isn't that some board says >'this is bad', it's that a lot of decisions come from what
>that board says. A rating should be a guide, given so we don't >accidentally stumble with mom into a porno film, but these
>days a rating dictates whether a film can be seen by the largest >slice of the audience (kids, teens and by extension,
>families), which dictates how many screens it goes on (suburban >cinemas don't want to have eight R rated films showing
>at once) and, in these days of video store monopolies, whether >you can even rent one of these films in your local
>Blockbuster. It's not a question of seeing that one cut second >of a guy getting a knife in the throat, it's a question of even
>seeing the movie.

Ratings are there as a guide, and if the company that distributes it dont like the guide, they cut and re-submit. The questions of the restriction of how many R rated films are on a cinema at one is not a question of censorship, but more of release times, film trends, and the general audience type in that locale.

So you feel that it isn't a question of seeing the cut scenes but of the movie as censorship restrict, but WHY does it restrict? It only restricts film fans. No-one reallys cares about a film they havent seen, the public aren't caring about getting to see the restricted films. Dont believe me? Look at box office trends, the films that succeed are not the R's its the PG-13's the family films are the most accessible as they are the most popular, this is a fact and not an opinion. Most people wait for the video of R and NC17 rated flicks, just because the minority of film fans want to see these flicks that are cut or restricted a cinema release doesn't mean anything. The companies opinion is that on DVD and Video these films are made more accessible so this should be enough, and it is, as the cinema is a family medium.

>Now filmmakers know this. And in fact, many filmmakers have to >sign a contract guaranteeing that they'll deliver a cut of
>the film to receive a certain rating, before even a scene is >shot. I know from experience, having worked on a film where
>scenes were changed on the day to avoid an NC-17 rating, that >what is supposed to be a guide for the viewer is
>becoming a guide for the filmmaker.

Yeah so? That is the companies fault for not getting behind the NC17 ruling and backing it. It is the ratings board that say that these are the rules, but it is not just them, ALL companies back the ratings system. Why? Are they doing it to annoy you and hide things? no. They are doing it to classify FOR the public. If a film gets an NC-17 it means it is too strong for under 17 year olds. And R means it is too strong for a 17 without a guardian. This is a fine ruling. It is the cinema owners fault for not showing these films. But most films that are 18 classified are not hampered in the cinema here. Why? Because the only films cinemas won't show are sex flicks. And they have their own cinemas. Banned films are really a thing of the past. Sure there are loads of unreleased films, but that is mainly films that the companies have not submitted. And when they do they are getting certified. Some with cuts but most without. Heck Passelinis SALO just got a cinema 18 release!

>And the worst thing is, these changes are completely arbitrary. >We all know the stories of Orgazmo being hit with an
>NC-17 even though there was less frontal nudity than in Boogie >Nights.

It got an NC-17 for graphic sexual descriptions. A film that has one or two implied sexual things is fine for a lower rating, but the thing that slapped that rating on was things like the 'Double Vaginal - Double Anal' description. The whole bad guy about to rape girl on camera bit etc.. etc.. despite being one of the funniest films ever made it still is no way for kids, and as the US rating system is fine for all ages as long as there is a guardian (This allows for the younger ages to see these flicks if they are mature enough according to the guardian) whereas in the UK Orgazmo got an 18 which is a higher rating than a NC-17, and it didn't get shown in the cinema, it came onto video (I said came heh heh) So what is the point that is being made, you are complaining that Blockbuster has a no NC-17 policy? Just don't rent them from them, theyre are other places if you are that desperate. Blockbuster dont stock porn either but you can go elsewhere! And so what if it doesn't get a cinema release, if it did would it be successful? Baseketball was and R and did very badly.

I think Im loosing my track here. Im trying to say that if a film is not shown in your local cinema, it is your cinemas fault for not picking it up. If a film is an NC-17 and you ahve to wait for video, does this kill you. If a film is cut, does it make the film you see awful? I say no.

>We've heard the tales of the South Park movie
>being told to remove the word 'motherfucker', replacing it with >'unclefucker' and having no further problems.

That aint true. Basically they submitted originally it with the scen of them on the net with them finding cartmans mom with a horse. The MPAA though that was over the R mark so they changed that to a schiezer film, why is it better? Children would not know what it is. Except German kid, but who cares about them. And in the UK South Park is a 15. Most ratings boards are lenient with comedies, as context is everything.

>And then there's American Psycho, which after submitting a film >full of chainsaw and sledgehammer murders was told to remove
>one shot from a sex scene.

Well what was cut was him saying the word 'Hole' from 'bend over and lick her asshole'. Why? It made it less graphic. There were many tales about what was cut, but it turns out it was this. Some said it was a scene Mary harron took out of Bateman forcing his girlfriend to watch whilst he jacked off in bed, but that was cut by her and not a ratings board, and later put on the UK DVD in a deleted scenes section. Some said it was a blood splash from Pauls murder, but it wasn't as that was in the R rated version. And the other murders with the chainsaw are all implied, you dont see anyone get the chainsaw or the sledgehammer. There was nothing to cut in them.

>It's ridiculous. And it doesn't save anyone from anything.

It saves the moral majority from complaining about sexual content.

>Sure, the big screen (and even the little screen) is a powerful >social manipulator. Hell, would Starbucks have been half
>as successful if halfwits the world over didn't want to pretend >they were on Friends? Clearly not, but there's a world of
>difference between sucking down double decafs and unleashing >dinosaurs on an unsuspecting population by extracting
>their DNA from fossilized mosquitoes.

Yeah but it's funny how many people actually believe it is possible just because of the film. Is this saying people are stupid, or films can manipulate the truth as fact.

>Yes, we need to be told what to look out for in the movies >playing at the cineplex. But for crying out loud, these ratings
>should not be treated as grades, rather as guides.

They are. And if a grade aint good enough for the company, they will cut it a bit. And 99% of the time you will never notice it of be any the wiser. and it wont detract from any enjoyment

>When we allow a movie to become polarized because a group of >people decide it's merit is overshadowed by a few
>words or a pair of buttocks in a mirror, we set a dangerous >precedent. We've all but banned Orgazmo because it's set
>in the world of porn and embraced Boogie Nights because of the >exact same thing. Where is the line?

Actually boogienights was set in the porn industry but did not discuss graphic fetish acts and did not show rabbis having an orgasm. Boogie nights was a drama and was a character drama at that, it was not a film that gloryfied anything, it treated everything with taste. Not something Orgazmo could have said to had. And hell it took the piss out of mormons to the extreme, And I think this is enough to have made it an NC-17. Do you really not see why these films are so different?

Also the films are different cos boogie nights is arse and Orgazmo isn't. But this doesn't detract from the fact Orgazmo had things in it which labelled it an NC-17. But it is still available, in R and NC-17 versions. so where is your quarrel?

>What happens when a movie comes out portraying George Bush Jr as >a conniving, scheming cokehead and it's suddenly NC-17'ed?

What is your point here? A film is only ever cut on content libleous or not. Same principal as if you showed the US finding the Enigma machine in WW2 when it was the UK. You can have lies, it doesn't alter the rating, unless the lies are of adult content.

>What if gay themed movies suddenly found themselves being >NC-17ed for inappropriate content?

What are you saying that the ratings board are meglomaniacal? This is paranoia to the extreme, this will NEVER happen. Why? People will not stand for it. People will however stand for a film being rated NC-17 meaning it misses a cinema release.

>When do we stop saying we're being protected and start worrying >about what we're being stopped from seeing?

I have NEVER not seen a film that I have not wanted to. Hell getting Roger Cormans Fantastic Four is easy, even though unavailable in the shops due to legal reasons. Dont you think you are being too paranoid? The ratings boards get more accepting year by year, not worse. Sure 'The Basket Ball Diaries' was withdrawn after Colombine, but that was not the rating board, it was the media that forced the distribution company and the stockists.

>No, censorship is bad. It doesn't work. Nobody shot up Columbine >High School because Leonardo DiCaprio wore a trenchcoat once, >they did it because they could drive downtown and pick up a >small sack of heavy weapons for $29.95. Sure, Leo dictated their >fashion choice, but he didn't load the cartridges for them.

No he didn't but the film had a degree of effect on them, and the media and parents needed to place blame, so they petitioned for the films withdrawl because they couldnt handle the fact their kids could be evil. This is not applicable in an argument about censorship, but is in one of how the media censors though scare tactics, a differant form of censorship than the one I am talking about.

>There's a bunch of movies that K-Dog can't legally go and see in >the UK. Next time he has to go find a bootleg of one of them to >see what he's being protected from, he should rethink his views >on censorship.

The films that are banned in this country are for the most part, cheap and nasty horrors or films with extreme violence to women. Faces of Death, I spit on your grave, SS experiment camp. But why arent they released? Well here is something that James Ferman the ex head of the BBFC wrote a while back:

'Films re-submitted to the board nowdays that were previously refused a certificate, would most likly be passed uncut, due to the publics tolerance growing. But the thing to remember is that they are rarely re-submitted as they are the types of films that would make no money for the distributor.'

I agree and I say those who would want to see it are the extreme film fan minority.

I love film like the next geek, but I am tired at the knee jerk reaction on censorship dictated throughout the fan community.

>DVD that, baby.

And so I have, I love a good debate.

Over to you OZ, shoot me down!


link directly to this feature at http://www.efilmcritic.com/feature.php?feature=300
originally posted: 12/21/00 01:38:16
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