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Thursday, November 09, 2006

This blog is not yet rated

It will come as no surprise to readers that, as a leftist commie pinko (or whacked-out Tory freak, whichever you prefer), I am a fan of freedom of speech. Hence my interest in documentaries about censorship. It's either that or I am part of a massive right-wing conspiracy.

This Film Is Not Yet Rated
is about the Motion Picture Association of America. You know, the guys who decide whether a movie is rated G or R. (Not our friends at CAP with their yellow/red ratings for movies you thought were OK.)

The MPAA is not technically a censorship organization. It is a national ratings system that removes the need for local censor boards. Filmmakers do not have to submit their work for a rating, but without a rating it's hard to get cinemas to take your movie. It can also affect the advertising that can be done for a movie. (I must admit that I am not entirely clear on why this is: it would seem to me that anyone should be able to buy ads for legal products. But I am a simple woman with a simple mind.)

The MPAA says that its ratings help parents to decide which movies they should let their kids watch. And I'm all for it. In fact, I think we should expand the rating system so it covers all media. Books, for example. A book like You're Gonna Burn, Pagan! would probably get a PG for mildly scary images, while a book like The God Delusion would probably get an NC-17 for extreme damage to societal values. You could only get it in porn shops and by clicking on pop-up ads on online gambling sites. This wouldn't be censorship, of course. It would be helping parents decide what ideas their children could learn about. Right on, I say.

In fact, we could go all the way and slap ratings on music, too. Under my rating system, U2 would be G. You could play it anytime, with anyone around. PG would be Green Day. Some people wouldn't like it, and that would be OK, because sometimes people are different sometimes. R would be Guns 'N' Roses. Not because they are bad, but because you just can't go around telling everyone you like Guns 'N' Roses, you know? X would be Muskrat Love by the Captain and Tenille, as performed by the barking dogs.