Bullying Bully, Ctd

Andrew Sullivan —  Apr 6 2012 @ 7:36am

From a press release emailed last night:

Director Lee Hirsch and The Weinstein Company have announced that the documentary "Bully" will receive a "PG-13" rating from the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) in time for the film’s April 13 expansion to 55 markets, and that despite three minor edits, a major scene in the movie that had been at the forefront of the film’s ratings battle will be kept intact.

A reader continues the broader debate:

Granted, I think that your reader has a point about the MPAA being essentially a cartel, but the question becomes, who replaces them as rating reviewers? 

The only independent organization that has the manpower and resources to rate films on a regular basis right now is the Parents Television Council – and, well, that organization is not exactly known for nuance or subtlety.  God forbid the government get involved either, because they'll likely invoke a strategy similar to Apple's closed-garden approach: Any refusal to classify a film will invoke a ban from distribution (ie, censorship).  Such was the case with Australia, who only recently began implementing an R18+ rating into video games, all because a single moral crusader and high-ranking politician had the authority to prevent it from happening.  Prior to that, games that were more explicit than the MA15+ rating would simply be refused classification, and thus would not be available for sale at all in that country.  And you best not even ask to change the system, lest you want every family-values/Christianist organization hounding at you from multiple angles.

Granted, giving the MPAA cartel free reign over the ratings of films is like giving poultry factory farmers inspect their own shit-covered chicken.  But at least they're mostly on the ball.  I'd doubt that 95% of the films would even reach distribution, intact or with very heavy editing, if some moral guardians were controlling or influencing the ratings.