No, the title is not a typographical error. I announce a new blogathon: the “flogathon”. It’s a portmanteau of “flog” and “blogathon.” Here, I ask you to rant–sarcastically and exaggeratedly spew–about something film-related you just can’t stand; post the rant, with a link back to my blog included; and email me the link to your post so I can list it below. Be as excessive, absurd, informal, and/or comical as you want. I know today’s Thanksgiving (and I wish you all a happy one, if you celebrate it), but we should be giving thanks every day. Just please, don’t flog anyone, including yourself. It’s a fun word, but I use it in the most comical and kidding sense as possible, just like “lobotomy.”
My rant regards the MPAA, whose logic seems to enjoy a day by day plummet. Every time I see a trailer, it’s always prefaced with this green title card:
…for a mere six seconds. Of course, the MPAA rating always differs in the most frivolous possible ways. Contrary to what the MPAA likely believes, that’s impossible to read word-for-word in such a short amount of time, especially with people crunching on popcorn and sipping soda in the background. So I always dart my eyes toward the MPAA rating itself. I’ll honor them for one thing: writing with a professional tone. They couldn’t do it back in the ’90s, when North was rated PG “for a few words” and Twister PG-13 for “intense depiction of very bad weather.” Clap–slowly and facetiously–for their improvement! Whenever I see a trailer prefaced with “rated R for strong sexual content, pervasive language, nudity, graphic violence and a scene of drug use” (just imitating their tone), I want to shout, “WHY DON’T YOU JUST WATERMARK WITH THE TRAILER ‘OFFENSIVE AND UNHOLY’!?” To which they would also take offense, as shouting is perhaps “mild violence” and the word “unholy” can be associated with religion.
Another pet peeve I have as far as the MPAA is concerned is how they’re able to pick up on nuances that the average, intelligible parent probably would not show much concern about. In Planes, Trains and Automobiles (a classic Thanksgiving movie, by the way), Steve Martin lets out a minute-long tirade that contain 17 or 18 words beginning with the letter “f”. The film earned the equivalents of PG and PG-13 ratings in most other countries, but because the “f-bombs” exceeded the MPAA’s limits (3 at most in a PG-13), they slapped it with an R rating. Another example: The King’s Speech, one of the finest movies of 2010, and the one that took home the Best Picture Oscar. The film is a phenomenal dramatization of the life of King George VI, whose speech impediment was an obstacle in his rule over England. Don’t you think this would be a perfect film for teenagers, historical value, entertainment, the whole nine yards? Clearly, the MPAA didn’t. ONE SINGLE SCENE features the King dropping the “f-bomb” eleven times, and the film earned an R rating. I don’t endorse sneaking into theaters, but for a film like that, a splendid motion picture that should be available for “unaccompanied minors,” it’s hard to not promote sneaking in. You want another? Lost in Translation. The film is one of the most atmospheric, vivid I’ve ever seen. Furthermore, the vast majority of it is wholesome. The only real noticeable threat is the consumption of cigarettes, which would earn a PG rating “for smoking”. But oh, dear Lord! There’s a scene…it’s forty seconds long…it features a crass song…it’s set in a strip club…there’s partial nudity…forty seconds! I think I’m going into shock! Alert the media! Plug it with an R rating! Sometimes, the MPAA just seems more harm than the content they accuse films of having. And I could go on in this area. School of Rock was a perfectly enjoyable movie for the whole family, but due to one instance each of the words “groupies” and “tequilas,” it earned a PG-13. Last year’s Rio was deemed mildly crude and initially earned a PG rating; about ten seconds were cut in order to maintain the almost nonexistent G rating. ETC.
You know what else irks me? What the MPAA considers over-the-top. How is it that films as explicitly violent as The Passion of the Christ, The Raid: Redemption, and Saw–as horrendously and gruesomely graphic as they are–can only earn an R rating, as opposed to an NC-17? The Passion of the Christ features extensive scenes of Jesus Christ being tortured and nailed to a cross during the final twelve hours of his life. “Rated R for sequences of graphic violence.” Save for the opening five minutes, The Raid is NOTHING but violence, violence, and more violence. “Rated R for strong brutal bloody violence throughout, and language.” Saw is a film that bears no restraints as it tells a story of a sick psychopath who cleverly confines people to traps, and gives them exactly sixty minutes to find a certain appreciation in life before they die. “Rated R for strong grisly violence and language.” Now let’s look at films that DID earn the NC-17: Shame, Henry & June, and Showgirls. Films that never have a single strip of clothing onscreen, and characters that just can’t make an inch of space between them, for two hours. Isn’t the whole point of the MPAA ratings to keep minors (and as I am one, I speak on a somewhat personal level) from taking influence from questionable material? I don’t mean to sound like Bill Cosby or SNL‘s “Church Lady,” but I wonder if there would be significantly less violence from those under eighteen if they were just a bit more restricted from “torture porn.” Perhaps this is for marketing purposes. Nah, scratch that: the MPAA gave X ratings (the NC-17 precursor) to Last Tango in Paris and A Clockwork Orange (initially, at least), and those two are today considered landmark filmmaking.
So, what about movies do YOU hate? Rant. Blog. Mention me. Send me the link. Let’s try and start an irate revolution like this one:
NOTE: If you send me your submissions on Thanksgiving or Black Friday (11/22 or 11/23), please note that the link may not appear until that Saturday (11/24). I’m away for Thanksgiving.