The MPAA announced in 2007 that the Members of the ratings board, now known as The Classification and Ratings Administration, would be made “public.” They also announced that the appeals process would be overhauled and streamlined with a more “fair” system put in practice to give filmmakers increased accessibility to the process as a whole. However, I challenge you to find the so-called “public” identities of the ratings board. Despite my efforts, I have not been able to find them listed anywhere. If you visit the MPAA or the CARA website, there is no mention of this whatsoever. My question is why?
- Why do they say one thing, then do another?
- Why the shroud of secrecy?
- Why do we put up with this shit?
- Why do we need them at all?
The answer is simple…follow the money! The MPAA supports and is run by the big six motion picture production studios. The only films that are given fair treatment in the process are films scheduled for release by one of these studios. Period. The rest of us are left with a GREAT BIG CENSORSHIP BOARD that shoves their own personal, political, and religious views down our throats through the film rating process. They have the independent studios by the BALLS because they know that an NC-17 rating is a kiss of death at the box office, and have virtually no chance of having widespread distribution.
It should be the role of the parents to decide what material can be seen by their children, not the CARA/MPAA. How do you define what content is objectionable, anyway? If you find something you don’t like, does that also mean that I won’t like it? What if my children are at a level of intellect to understand the content of a certain artistic work, and I, as a parent, grant them my blessing to view the material? Well, according to the MPAA/CARA, if a film receives an NC-17 rating, then that decision is taken out of the hands of the parents. If this is not censorship, then what is?
Below you will find excerpts from both the MPAA and the CARA websites. At least the MPAA admits it’s affiliation with the big six studios. Also, there is a “Special Message” from Joan Graves of the CARA. If you read very carefully, you can clearly see that the CARA knows what is best for “MOST” moviegoers, since we all can’t just decide for ourselves.
The Motion Picture Association of America
The Motion Picture Association of America, Inc. (MPAA), together with the Motion Picture Association (MPA) and MPAA’s other subsidiaries and affiliates, serves as the voice and advocate of the American motion picture, home video and television industries in the United States and around the world. MPAA’s members are the six major U.S. motion picture studios: The Walt Disney Studios; Paramount Pictures Corporation; Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc.; Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation; Universal City Studios LLLP; and Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. We are a proud champion of intellectual property rights, free and fair trade, innovative consumer choices, freedom of expression and the enduring power of movies to enrich and enhance people’s lives.
MPAA’s principal U.S. offices are located in Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles, California. We also have content protection teams in Chicago, Dallas and New York. The MPA, and other subsidiaries and affiliates of MPAA, have commercial and regional offices in Brussels, Singapore, Sao Paulo, Mexico City and Toronto. Along with our own subsidiaries and affiliates, we work with many content protection groups and other organizations in more than 30 countries around the world.
“About Us.” Motion Picture Association of America. Web. 14 Sept. 2010. <http://www.mpaa.org/about>.
SPECIAL MESSAGE FROM JOAN GRAVES
Welcome to our CARA website. If this is your first visit, I hope you find it easy to use and informative about our organization and the process by which we arrive at a film’s rating. For those of you who have visited us before, welcome back. We continue to strive to provide parents with the necessary, pertinent information regarding content in films so that they can make informed decisions about what they feel is appropriate viewing for their children.
Recently, there have been two issues regarding ratings in the news that I would like to discuss. The first deals with the portrayal of smoking in films. We were pleased to note that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported that from 2005 to 2009, the number of tobacco incidents in films dropped by approximately 50%. There is broad awareness of smoking as a unique public health concern due to nicotine’s highly addictive nature, and no parent wants their child to take up the habit. The appropriate response of the ratings system is to give more information to parents on this issue. CARA considers smoking as a factor — among many other factors, including violence, sexual situations, drugs and language — in the ratings of films.
Since May 2007, of all the films that contain even the slightest bit of smoking, over 73% are in the “R” category, 21% are “PG-13” and 6% are “PG.” Additionally, when a film’s rating is affected by the depiction of smoking, that rating appears with a modifier in the descriptor when appropriate. This ensures specific information on smoking is front and center for parents as they make decisions on viewing for their kids.
Moreover, our research shows that parents are very clear to us that they — not the industry and certainly not the government — should determine what is appropriate viewing for their kids. What they want is information, and that is what our ratings provide.
The second issue deals with the ratings given to two recent documentaries. Both received an “R” rating which was upheld during the appeals process (although one film subsequently chose to be released without a rating, as is their option.) The filmmakers felt strongly that these documentaries dealt with important issues that should be seen by a wide audience. Having seen both documentaries, which are excellent, I can certainly agree. But again, our job at CARA is not to pass judgment on the quality of any film — a “G” rating does not mean a film is good, and an “R” rating does not mean it’s rotten. Our job is to provide information to parents about the level of content, so that they can make an informed decision. In these cases, the “R” rating allows any parent the option to bring their child to see the movie if the parent decides it is appropriate viewing. I also know that certain “R” rated films have been shown in schools with appropriate approvals.
CARA continually undertakes user surveys to determine whether parents find our service useful, and I’m pleased to note that we find consistently that our approval rating is around 80%.
I hope that we continue to meet your needs and satisfaction. As always, we appreciate your feedback and encourage you to contact us with your questions.
Graves, Joan. “Reasons for Movie Ratings (CARA).” Movie Ratings. Web. 14 Sept. 2010. <http://www.filmratings.com/filmRatings_Cara/#/home/>.
- Censuring the Movie Censors (time.com)
- Weinsteins to fight MPAA over “Tillman Story” rating (hollywoodnews.com)
- Protest of MPAA Rating for New Holocaust Film (beliefnet.com)