Censorship

Disney/Pixar

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Martyrs Movie

In a country of 62 million, 35 people are about to alter the way the public sees movies. Not even 35 people either — more like interpretations of their open-ended responses to a faulty screening process disguised as research. You see, earlier in the year, the British Board of Film Classification commissioned a study on sexual and sadistic violence in films [PDF], but instead of consulting experts or surveying thousands of people to get a meaningful understanding of what the public is thinking, they asked 35 people leading questions to decide that everyone’s against what the censor board wants them to be against. It wouldn’t be such a big deal, but now the BBFC has announced they’ll be reviewing their attitudes regarding films with sexual and sadistic violence based on this bogus study. Talk about a self-fulfilling policy.

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After weeks and weeks of controversy, manufactured or otherwise, the tumultuous story of The Weinstein Company’s anti-bullying documentary Bully has finally come to a close. For those who haven’t been following all of the hullabaloo, the fun all started when the MPAA ridiculously gave a Lee Hirsch-directed documentary meant to expose the escalating problem of bullying in U.S. schools an R-rating. Even though the movie taught a good lesson, the fact that it used the F word a few too many times deemed it unsuitable for our children’s bruised little ears. Never one to take a chance at free publicity lying down, the film’s producer Harvey Weinstein made a big stink about how unjust the rating was, and vowed to have it appealed. He did as much, and he even brought one of the bullied kids from the film, Alex Libby, to speak during the appeals process. Nonetheless, the MPAA decided that the rating would stand. This, of course, led to further outrage on the part of everyone. Weinstein put the film out unrated, the PTC threatened to picket any theaters that would show it, and the MPAA continued to sit behind closed doors and do whatever evil things they do that we don’t know about. The whole situation was a mess, and in some serious need of mediation. Which must have eventually happened, because at some point they re-edited the film, re-submitted it to the MPAA, and it now has a PG-13 rating. Apparently the issue was that they […]

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Boiling Point

They say laughter is the best medicine and well, world, I’m dying here. I need my medicine. I need to laugh. I need to be entertained, but it seems every time I try to chuckle these days, someones standing right there to make me feel bad about it. Over the last few weeks in this column, I’ve mostly pointed the finger at big corporate entities bowing to some outside force, whether it’s a perceived notion that they must be politically correct to the point of being historically incorrect or whether it’s removing a joke that probably cost thousands of dollars to animate to not offend a small handful of people in a far off land with a disease that’s rapidly disappearing. Today, I point my finger elsewhere. I point it at you. I point it at them. I point it at us, a society that has lost its sense of humor – and that is a damn shame.

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The Motion Picture Association of America must die. It’s a monopolistic behemoth that poisons creativity and commerce while hiding behind the failed task of educating parents about film content, and the time has come to call for its dissolution. The above logo is what we, as movie fans, are most familiar with when it comes to the MPAA because we see it on trailers and home video, but that symbol is really a trick of PR. The goal of the MPAA is not to rate movies, even if that’s the product we know and loathe best. The MPAA’s founding, fundamental aim is to maintain the corporate dominance of its members – the six largest studios. It does not serve fans. It does not serve families. It does not serve filmmakers.

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Boiling Point

As much fun as it would be to pick on SOPA/PIPA some more and make some jokes about how “SOPA,” when said aloud, is Spanish for soup, this is something entirely different. Oh, it still has to deal with censorship, but this is some self-imposed completely idiotic and maddening censorship. On air, movies and television have to play by a set of rules. These rules aren’t totally set in stone, but basically there are some words you can say and some you can’t say. Then there are some you can sort of say, but mostly only in the right context. An example? Pretty much any show on at any time could say “bitch” meaning female dog, because that’s just the definition of the word. If you want to call someone a bitch, generally that’s kept to after 8pm. Cable gets a bigger break than network, as it’s a paid service, but that doesn’t mean they’re immune to fines and more importantly, advertiser backlash, so everyone kind of plays with kid gloves. Of course, it’s parents who should be responsible for policing the television. If a show wants to say bad words, let them. Put it on after 8pm, put a “Language” notice on it, and parents can set their TVs to block it. Easy cakes. I mean, I still don’t understand why HBO, Showtime, and Cinemax won’t show hardcore porn, because why not, amirite? But I’m getting distracted by the thoughts of boobies. This boiling point is specifically about language. […]

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In October of 2011, Representative Lamar S. Smith (of the great state of Texas) introduced the Stop Online Piracy Act to Congress. The bill’s aim was to bolster copyright holders in fights against those that infringe upon them, and that’s an important task. Intellectual property theft can be incredibly injurious to the victim. In fact, FSR had to cut through red tape in the fall of last year to stop a Chinese-based website from stealing its content and republishing it wholesale. Plagiarism is despicable, and stealing the hard creative work of others is too. However, SOPA is tantamount to drinking drain cleaner because your nose itches. The bill is unduly generic – granting massive powers to the government and entities who would wield it like a plaything to shut down websites for spurious reasons and to keep them down throughout what would inevitably be a drawn-out legal process. In short, for an accusation with no meat on it, some of your favorite sites could be shut down on a whim, creating both temporary and possibly permanent damage. As you can see from our masthead today, we’re in full support of the protest against SOPA (and PIPA, it’s cousin in the Senate). While we don’t know how powerful the SOPA blackout might be, we genuinely wish we could go dark as well, but it’s just not feasible for a site like ours that operates on a smile and a shoestring. Losing a day of revenue is just too much of a […]

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Unfortunate rhyming headlines aside, the trailer for Slackistan makes it look like the Reality Bites of Islamabad. The movie from newcomer Hammad Khan features the restlessness of 20-somethings in Pakistan’s capital city as they go from being talented students to being unemployed and without direction. Pakistan has effectively banned the movie’s release (even as it rocks its way around UK theaters and international festivals) by not allowing it passage through the hallowed Central Board of Film Censors (the only body that could make us appreciate the MPAA). Check out the trailer for yourself and the list of sins perpetrated by this banned movie:

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According to the LA Times, Harvey Weinstein has said that for a post-Oscar theatrical re-release of The King’s Speech he is, “talking with director Tom Hooper about trimming the profanity that earned the film an R rating in order to attain a PG-13 or even PG.” Apparently he wants to copy the British model for the film’s success where less harsh restriction let children over 12 in to see the movie. This is a good idea from where I’m sitting. Just the other day I overheard a group of fifteen year-old boys talking about how they got turned away from seeing The King’s Speech on a Saturday night and had to resort to breaking bottles in the alley behind the 7-11 and smoking cigarettes they stole from their mom instead. And with a PG rating, The Weinstein Co. could also take advantage of the potential market that comes from all of actor Colin Firth’s “Tiger Beat” pin-up spreads. I know more than one tween girl who was disappointed that they haven’t been able to see the movie. The only problem lies in the compromises that may be made in trimming the film. Seeing as how the use of profanity is a pretty important plot point as to how Firth’s George VI overcomes his stammering, I can only imagine that dubbing would have to take the place of huge scene cuts. If they take a page out of the broadcast version of The Big Lebowski and work in the phrase “find […]

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While it’s not the media witch hunt of the mid-90s, it needs to be reiterated that movies and other pieces of art are not to blame for violent acts. A national tragedy has both left us numb and stirred up the slumbering emotions of a fevered national discourse, and while it’s important to air those grievances (no matter what end of the spectrum we fall on), it’s imperative that pundits of all stripes keep a level head and avoid irresponsibly throwing art under the bus for the sobering acts of one individual. Unfortunately, several media outlets have – in their hurry to toss more examples onto the argumentative fire – evoked the name of a four-year-old festival film from Britain (that few people saw) in order to help prove a trend in filmmaking of inciting violence against public officials. A trend, of course, that does not exist. To callously toss Death of a President out into a sea of negative context and to suggest that public entities of varying types should have decried the film as hateful is to tacitly champion censorship of the worst kind. It’s to quietly claim that some subject matter is off limits, and that’s unacceptable.

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The MPAA, coming under heavy fire from the media recently that will never amount to anything or change their internal policies, has had a long-standing record of inequality in their ratings. The most graphic example has been doling out or threatening NC-17 ratings for sexuality on screen between same sex couples even if the scene is far tamer than the typical man on woman sex act. In fact, looking back, it really is sex that has the MPAA’s knickers in a twist. Violence seems to get a pass alongside whatever Adult Situations are, but if someone is enjoying another person (or themselves) carnally, the MPAA picks up its ball and goes home. Speaking of balls, the MPAA is now discriminating further in their fear of sex. It’s important to give parents a guideline, sure, but it’s overkill for the MPAA to point out whether the nudity in a film is male or female. Fortunately, that’s exactly what they’re doing.

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bp-jerseyshore

Robert Fure gets teased by the tale of violence on MTV, then lashes out when he’s denied his blood lust.

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At Film School Rejects, we like to have the final word, even when we’re arguing with ourselves. Although mostly, we just like to yell the loudest. This week’s point of contention: The MPAA.

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Robert Fure hates a lot of things, and first among them are censorship and those who are far, far too easily offended.

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