MPAA

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The best movie culture writing from around the internet-o-sphere. There will be a quiz later. Just leave a tab open for us, will ya?

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Movie Audience

Today in studies, science, and just a whole mess of numbers, the MPAA has released their annual Theatrical Market Statistics report, and the numbers show something that’s both quite heartening and deeply upsetting. Women, who make up 51% of the population (a very slim majority), are also the majority when it comes to actual movie-going (52%). Good news, right? Sure, but that consistent interest – and actual purchase power, as women are reportedly responsible for actually buying 50% of all movie tickets – doesn’t seem to have shifted what that majority audience is seeing, as Women and Hollywood reminds us that only 15% of films star women. But just because women are the majority in the audience but not on the actual screen, does that automatically mean they’re not getting to see the things they want to see? In short, does the majority of the movie audience want to see more women portrayed in their movies, or are they happy with how things are?

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Blue Valentine Oral Scene

The best movie culture writing from around the internet-o-sphere. Just leave a tab open for us, will ya?

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trailer youre next

The best movie culture writing from around the internet-o-sphere. Just leave a tab open for us, will ya?

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Wouldnt Steal a Car

The MPAA was wrong in 2004 when it launched its wonderfully mockable “You Wouldn’t Steal a Car” campaign to fight piracy because they elevated a grossly uneven analogy to slogan status. Even with all other things being equal, comparing a movie ticket to something you take out a loan for is pretty moronic. The truth is that downloading a movie or TV show is closer in spirit to speeding in that car you wouldn’t steal: driving over the speed limit is an easy crime to commit; a lot of people do it without qualms; and although it happens regularly without incident, it sometimes leads to catastrophic consequences. Admittedly even that analogy fails because of the uncomfortable equation of loss of life and limb to loss of livelihood, but it’s streets ahead of the MPAA’s now-abandoned scare tactic. Still, just as people are going to text while driving despite dozens of poignantly disfigured warnings, online piracy is (and always was) here to stay. In the past few weeks, three things have happened that highlight this pointless battle again and prove that the pirate chant, “We’d pay if you let us!” was right.

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Chris Dodd

At this year’s CinemaCon, MPAA Chairman Chris Dodd announced his organization’s new ratings system that looks a lot like the old ratings system. The key difference is that they’ll be more prominently featuring the reasons that each film got its rating in an effort to give parents as much information as possible when choosing the right movies for their children. Appropriately called “Check the Box,” the program hopes to get parents to look beyond the incredibly easy, shorthand letter rating in order to see whether a movie is PG-13 because of “implied Medieval violence” or “spectral glimpses of sideboob.” For example. As Mark Deming points out, the increased visibility of specific judgment calls comes on the heels of the MPAA’s meeting with Joe Biden following the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School. During the loudest calls for censorship, Dodd repeated the MPAA’s “vehement” resistance to any kind of content oversight for filmmakers when it comes to violence.

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Michael Clarke Duncan

What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly movie news column that begins on a sad note this evening, then explodes into an exploration of some of the best long-form writing on the entertainment blogosphere. Every single link is worth a click. We’re quite proud of this accomplishment. Good job, team. We begin tonight with some sad news, that of Michael Clarke Duncan passing away at age 54. The Oscar-nominated actor was known best for his role in The Green Mile, but also stole scenes in everything from Armageddon to The Slammin’ Salmon. In person, he was described as a friendly, gentle man, quite the opposite of his intimidating stature. He died as a result of a heart attack, his fiancé confirmed today. Our thoughts go out to his friends and family. He will be missed.

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Boiling Point

Much of the on-line film community has a fairly strong anti-MPAA lean to it. Hell, we here at FSR even pushed to have the “governing” body disbanded seeing as how they serve no real purpose. Unfortunately they still exist, and while they’re not in the news today every so often they make a splash by screwing over a film with an unnecessarily restrictive rating. It may be a film like Bully, initially Rated-R for language when its intended audience were those under the age of 17, and that should be a PG-13 flick (it eventually was after toning down the language). Or it can be something very assuredly more adult getting really boned. Blue Valentine was initially smacked with the kiss of death, an NC-17 rating, because of an act of cunnilingus. Sex is a killer at the ratings. Violence can bring you an NC-17 rating as well with films like Killer Joe and A Serbian Film getting the dreaded rating. In 2010, at least four films were initially rated NC-17 and forced to be re-cut, with two more crippled in 2011. Thus far in 2012 no film has been effectively banned from theaters due to the rating, but I’m still pissed about it anyways. The rating itself is unnecessary and actually redundant, but beyond that, the rating is offensive.

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It’s taken 33 Commentary Commentaries, 33 different movies we’ve heard all kinds of people from directors to actors to whatever was going on with Cannibal: The Musical, but we’ve finally gotten to AH-NOLD. That’s right. This week we’re looking into Total Recall, that mind-melting actioner from 1990 wherein Arnold Schwarzenegger uses a completely innocent bystander as a human shield, loses his memory, and saves just about every mutant living on Mars. He doesn’t save the girl with three breasts, though. That probably deserves a spoiler alert. But it’s time to hear what Schwarzenegger and director Paul Verhoeven have to say about the whole experience. With the remake headed our way this Summer, we felt it was time to find out everything we could about this modern classic. Maybe this time next year we’ll have a Total Recall 2012 commentary from Colin Farrell and Len Wiseman. Wiseman has already offered a commentary for his film’s trailer, but there’s no way in the world it’s going to be as entertaining as listening to Verhoeven and Schwarzenegger. No way. Let’s get our asses to Mars, shall we?

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Earlier this year, the internet (including this site) responded aggressively to the Stop Online Piracy Act pushed into Congress by Representative Lamar S. Smith. In response, SOPA died. It was important to reject it, and it will be even more important to reject it when it comes up again. Because it will, Romero-like, inevitably rise again. In fact, MPAA Chairman Chris Dodd publicly told The Hollywood Reporter that negotiations were taking place currently behind closed doors. Of all the smug comments Dodd makes, the boldest seems the most banal: “Between now and sometime next year [after the presidential election], the two industries need to come to an understanding.” By that, he means Entertainment and Technology. Obvious? Sure. But “the two industries”? This is the kind of obtuse, hidden control that SOPA needs because it doesn’t have any real public support. Less than that, it’s actively hated. It’s not the two industries that need to come to an understanding. It’s these two industries that need to work with the people to come to a reasonable solution that doesn’t trash privacy and personal freedom.

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Drew Goddard’s highly anticipated horror film The Cabin in the Woods goes into wide release this weekend, and everyone should make a point to see it. Forget The Hunger Games; this is the cinematic experience of the spring that should drive people to the theaters. By now, you’ve read a lot – possibly too much – about The Cabin in the Woods, and everyone from the director and studio to fans on Twitter are complaining about spoilers flying through the interwebs. In the interest of keeping secrets secret, here are seven spoiler-free reasons to see The Cabin in the Woods this weekend.

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There are least two sides to this whole Bully MPAA rating mess. Maybe it’s a valiant outcry against the hypocrisy of an organization that treats sex and language differently than violence. Maybe it’s a huge public relations stunt orchestrated by Harvey Weinstein in order to get more butts into seats. Maybe it’s both. Either way, Lee Hirsch‘s movie is caught in the balance, and it looks like he’s ready to cut off his entire head to spite his face. Shortly before the Los Angeles premiere of the movie, he made the decision to release it unrated into theaters. Because if your goal is to make sure as many children see it as possible, the best move would be to make it impossible for them to see it, right?

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Hot on the heels of winning a slew of awards at the Oscars, Harvey Weinstein has decided to go to war with the MPAA over the new documentary Bully, which was “slapped” with an R rating for language and lost an appeal to have it changed to PG-13. I’m not going to spend all my time pointing out the irony that Harvey Weinstein is a big bully himself, leveraging the tragic events in this new film to orchestrate a publicity stunt. Suffice it to say, if he were interested in actually having as many students as possible watch this film instead of making money, he could easily distribute censored screeners to schools with any offending language bleeped out. And why is he doing a little song-and-dance about releasing it “unrated” when he knows full well that the National Association of Theatre Owners will have to treat it like an NC-17 film (under the yoke and obligation of the MPAA)? Make no mistake… Weinstein’s in it for the money and not the cause. But let’s leave his personal bullying out of the argument and consider the possibility that an R rating might, in fact, be the right thing for Bully.

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A couple of days ago we reported that Harvey Weinstein intended to once again heroically take on the MPAA. This time it was because they had seemingly ridiculously stuck the upcoming documentary Bully with an R-rating due to some nasty language. The kerfuffle with that comes from the fact that director Lee Hirsch’s work is an important look at a terrible behavioral plague that has the American school system in its grip, and has already lead to an unacceptable amount of violence and death. This movie deals with the lives of bullies and those that are bullied; it’s theoretically an eye-opening experience meant to preach an anti-bullying message to a generation of people who are growing increasingly more callous in the way they treat one another. But, you know, that doesn’t work if the movie gets an R-rating and none of the kids who are supposed to go see it are able to buy a ticket. Just a few days ago this didn’t seem like such a big deal. Weinstein had successfully argued down the rating of one of his films before, so there was no reason to believe he wouldn’t be able to do it again; especially in such a cut and dry situation where a movie was made for didactic purposes, and a little bit of language could probably be excused under the grounds of the film needing an air of realness in order to reach the younger generation who most need to hear the message. The MPAA isn’t […]

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There’s nothing like a loaded question to start the day, especially when tensions are consistently high about the piracy issue. Both sides are so committed to their positions that even people on the sideline and in the stands are feeling the heat rise off the field. SOPA was crushed by the sheer force of populism on the internet, and as the MPAA and internet service providers ready slower downloads for suspected pirates, the folks over at Paralegal (obvious movie fans judging by their name) are concerned with another question: doesn’t the movie industry have a hypocritical position toward piracy? They’ve created an infographic answering that question with a resounding, “Yes,” and since they included an image of the Borg, it qualifies for posting. There’s a ton of information here. Check it out for yourself:

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The discussion about movie and television show piracy is raging right now, which makes sense given the tension between a massive online movement and the conglomerated studios seeking to curb their enthusiasm for downloading without paying. The bottom line is that when The Oatmeal makes a comic about it, you know things are getting serious. And after a crushing defeat over SOPA/PIPA, groups like the MPAA and RIAA are getting serious about firing back. Their latest weapon took three years to build and involved the cooperation of the leading Internet Service Providers (including AT&T, Cablevision, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, and Verizon). According to Variety, the Copyright Alert System will go into place this Spring. So what is it?

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The Motion Picture Association of America has a history of questionable practices when it comes to their content rating of film releases. And Harvey Weinstein has a history of going up against the organization when he doesn’t agree with harsh ratings they’ve slapped on Weinstein movies. In October of 2010, his indie project Blue Valentine got slapped with an NC-17 rating due to an oral sex scene, and Harvey successfully appealed the decision, arguing that nothing in the film was exploitative or unessential, and that the rating would be financially harming a great work of art if it was left to stand. It looks like it’s time for round 2 in the Weinstein/MPAA war. This time the fight is over a documentary called Bully, which takes a look at schoolyard bullying in the United States. The MPAA has deemed that the film should be R-rated due to “some language,” and Weinstein is pissed because a restrictive rating would prohibit the youths who need to see a movie like this most from being able to buy a ticket.

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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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Reel Sex

People were up in arms Tuesday after the announcement of nominees for the 84th Annual Academy Awards. So many seem to forget that every year they are disappointed with the nominees and every year there is some film or performer who was left off or included on the prestigious list. I may have spent the final weeks of 2011 lamenting my utter ennui with last year’s films, but I never in a million years expected some of the Oscar outcomes. No Supporting Actor nomination for Albert Brooks, whose performance in Drive unnerved audiences to the core? Or the blatant disregard for solid documentary filmmaking in The Interrupters, Buck, or Project Nim, three entries into filmmaking that will forever impact the way we view the world around us? No, the Academy seemed to forget the impressive and daring offerings in favor of an adorable dog in a silent film. What is this, 1920? Last I checked The Jazz Singer pushed us into the land of the talkies. I could spend all day gnawing my tongue over which films shouldn’t have been included in this year’s awards recognition, but just like arguing the virtues and evils of the MPAA, our time is better used talking about some of the sexy pieces of work that the Academy felt were too provocative to include (for reasons I have completely made up in my mind. Hey, they have their prerogative, I have mine.). Going along with the Academy’s new voodoo math rules of deciding the […]

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The MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America)’s website is live now, but it went down for a brief time alongside the websites for the US Department of Justice, Universal Music Group, RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America), the US Copyright Office, BMI (Broadcast Music, Inc.), and the French copyright enforcer HADOPI. The attack is thanks to Anonymous, who is taking credit and citing the shut down of Megaupload.com and the arrest of its founder, Kim Dotcom, and several other executives as the catalyst for its work here. [Time] This comes in the wake of the SOPA Blackout and may prove that the fight for internet neutrality is just getting warmed up. The hack is, of course, hilarious (and it’s fun to imagine that they did it from phone booths while navigating through a visualization of a mainframe until they found a garbage file), but its effect was short-lived. A hassle for the MPAA and other agencies, but perhaps it’s just a shot across the bow, proving what the group is capable of. It’s just a prank, though, like signing the MPAA up on a sex-seeking site or convincing it that there’s a pool on the roof. It’s a nice, chaotic gesture, but it’s time to organize such that it forces the MPAA to restructure in a way that’s far more transparent, meaningful, and productive. There’s a way to deliver content information to concerned parents without overstepping the boundaries of economic censorship, and it’s imperative that the public pressure the government […]

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