I have only recently been getting into the development and production side of films, instead of just watching them and not really understanding how it is created. As a media student at college, we have to learn about the film industry, and recently I learnt something interesting that I thought you guys might like to know and understand. This information I came across was about the MPAA. We were shown a BBC film called This Film is Not Yet Rated (2006); it follows Kirby Dick as he tries to expose the MPAA.
Now there are a few reasons why the MPAA is a farce. The first is the fact that its ratings are not law binding. For example a young child can go and see a PG-13 film. They don’t even have to have the company of a parent. Why do they even instate these regulations if they aren’t made mandatory? Parents are not necessarily going to listen to just “recommendations” and there have been many arguments as to how effective this rating system is.
The second problem is the secrecy of the whole process. The BBFC are very open about who rates the film you submit, what they say specifically and what can be changed to get a lower rating (the lower the rating, the bigger the audience.) However, the MPAA do not disclose any of their members, and are extremely vague when it comes to feedback. It was stated that the members are a secret as a matter of security, so they do not get harmed in any way. Because of some rather controversial decisions that have been known to make, they do give people reason to be annoyed. It is claimed that the board are all parents of young children, and so this then gives them the power to judge what their children can or cannot watch. However, Kirby Dick managed to uncover the identity of these members and discovered that this is not the case.
That all seems fine doesn’t it? It’s pretty much on par with Britain’s 18 rating. However, I remember something that took my notice when watching the film. They (the MPAA) would give a 17 rating to a film that has a lot of blood, and then give a lower rating to films that have the same sort of scene without the blood. Surely, it shouldn't be that way around? No one ever dies from a stab wound without there being blood and so surely a film that goes against this goes against realism. Exposure to a surreal moment such as this is not something kids can understand, and so therefore should be an NC-17, not the other way around.
Judge the MPAA however you want from this information. In my mind, not only should a rating system be a lawful thing instead of just a recommendation (otherwise why on earth have it) but we also need to know what is being said and by who. They also need to do a much better job of classifying films, have a clear line that should not be crossed, should not take their own personal opinions into account, or be prejudice towards other people.
I also extremely urge you to watch This Film is Not Yet Rated and see these things for yourself.
What do you think? Let us know!