documentary by kirby dick, who did chain camera, derrida and sick; in other words, by a guy who’s done good stuff that most people haven’t even heard of, but is fairly good nonetheless. this documentary tackles the mpaa which is the body responsible for film ratings. it’s a secretive group in that the members are unknown to the public, yet they are extremely influential in a monetary sense because the difference between an r-rated and nc-17 film is huge. they don’t mention this, but according to my research the highest-grossing nc-17 movie of all-time is showgirls and it only did $20.4 million. they look a bit into the history of film censorship by bringing on david l. robb (author of operation hollywood) and talking about the hays production code. it’s compelling stuff overall, and i think that can be said for even the casual film fan, in part because it sheds light on free speech and censorship issues. the film also looks at the inconsistency of the rating system and the way in which the board gives tougher ratings to films with gratuitous sex than those with gratuitous violence.
i did find one misrepresentation which portrayed the scene in american pie where jason biggs pleasures himself with the pie. the film showed the unrated version of that scene and portrayed it as the r-rated, theater version when making a comparison to another film which initially received an nc-17 rating for a similar scene. in the r-rated version he’s got the pie against his crotch while he’s standing, in the un-rated version he’s on the island humping the pie; this is the version that the board rejected and this is the scene that kirby dick depicted as “being okay” with the mpaa.