Monday, April 02, 2007

I'm Feeling a Little Pro-Censorship Today

This was a site you could see if you were driving through downtown L.A. a couple of weeks ago. It was an ad for an upcoming horror film for After Dark films; a low budget "Hostel" rip-off that is coming out this May. It's been taken down since and replaced with a blank billboard that spouts "Captivity Was Here."
The reason it got removed is because it never should have been fucking up there in the first place. When After Dark head, Courtney Solomon, submitted his ad campaign, the MPAA turned it down quickly, and I don't think it's hard to understand why. But he put it up anyways, and now he is paying the price. The MPAA is refusing to give the film itself any kind of rating, and is basically saying good luck getting this shit a decent release now.
I'm not about to say that censorship is okay, and to be honest, my sarcastic title to this post aside, I don't think this is censorship. I think the MPAA looked at this as a lot of us would look at this. You can't put a billboard up like this where everyone and their mother can see. People want to go see this movie when it comes out, be my guest. I might check it out if it looks decent; I haven't seen a preview yet for it. However, that is a person's choice to go sit in a theater and watch it with other people that have made the same decision. Do I think you should have a billboard up for children along with anyone else who doesn't need to or want to see a depiction of torture leading to death? HELL FUCKING NO!!!
And what's even more important here is that the MPAA said no, and you did it anyway, and now you want to go back on it and bitch about the circumstances. Give me a break, Mr. Solomon; you're a fucking moron if you think that will fly. And I'm not alone here; many people in the film industry including Joss Whedon and screenwriter and regular aintitcoolnews contributor, Drew McWeeny (Moriarty) are protesting the hell out of this and actually sanctioning the MPAA's decision for once. And I don't blame them.
A lot of filmmakers have tried to get certain things past the MPAA that didnt' fly, and have changed their material accordingly. So, why in the hell should Courtney Solomon get a pass? The simple answer is, he shouldn't.
The MPAA can be a bunch of fucking morons a lot of the time. Chris pointed out on his movie review site that "Hills Have Eyes II" got an R rated release with depictions of violence and torture that should have easily given the thing an NC-17. This upcoming weekend's "Grindhouse" has also been given an R rating, and I'm really curious to see if that's the rating it deserved as well. This weekend I got to see Eli Roth's faux trailer on-line that will be played during "Grindhouse's" intermission sequence. It's for a holiday themed slasher film called "Thanksgving," and it pays homage to the 80's slasher genre very well. However, there is one scene involving a cheerleader doing the splits on a trampoline and lands smack down on the blade of a knife. I have a strong feeling this did not make it into the R rated version, or at least it will be edited in a different way. But if it's not, for that reason alone, the thing should get an NC-17. I have no issue with the fact that he filmed this, but from everything I've ever understood about the rating system, it's not a scene that belongs in an R rated film.
And I know some people out there are going to think that I'm talking like the moral watchdogs that we accuse the MPAA of being. And I'm here to tell you I'm not. I have no problem with people making whatever the hell movies they want to make, and I have no opinion of what people like to watch and don't watch. But we should have a choice. And throwing a billboard up there like that, especially after the fact that you were told you weren't supposed to, is just a fucked up thing to do. And all it does is hurt the actuall intelligent filmmakers and producers out there that have to deal with the MPAA every day on their content. So, fuck you, Courtney Solomon, you sick bastard.


At 4/03/2007 12:16:00 AM, Blogger Chris said...

Yeah, some things are clearly not under the realm of free speech as many might like to define it. As you said, we should have a choice. And parents driving down a highway really had no choice if their kid saw something inappropriate or not.

At 4/03/2007 08:37:00 AM, Blogger Kennelworthy said...

"Free speech" is often used as a disguise for selfish indulgence. Censorship is often thrown around as a defense for extremes.

The reason so many filmmakers try to "game" the MPAA is that they view it as an unfair entity...maybe even an illegal one. The identities of the MPAA ratings board are secret, and there's a good deal of conspiracy theory floating around Hollywood about who's in control.

Now that may or may not be a legitimate gripe. But it doesn't excuse the Captivity campaign.

But this is the society we've crafted for where you have to shock to get noticed. It's why socialites get famous for seedy sex tapes and Jackass has replaced Candid Camera. If something's been seen or done before, regardless of its success or merit, it's considered not shocking enough.

Take CSI (the original). I enjoy that show and often find myself watching the reruns on Spike that play every day. But I'd say maybe 70% or more of the episodes are about something overtly sexual. So many of the murders are related to sex, and those that are not are grisly (which makes me wonder why it's on at dinner time). Now, I don't really mind. I'm not offended so much. I'm just saying...flash back 20 years and not one episode of CSI could have aired without a major protest.

It's the result of a glacial movement towards the more shocking...the more "original" writing. Pushing the envelope.

Of course, this all pales in comparison to what we'd be bombarded with in other countries, where advertising at least is much less strict in terms of what you can get away with.

I agree that this guy is a jerk. That his campaign was ill-conceived. But as long as we're talking about a process (putting a rating on a film) that is even partly subjective....there will always be folks who define "acceptable" more broadly than they should in the hopes that their product (or movie) will stand out.

At 5/16/2007 06:44:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


What kind of man would do something like that after being told "NO!" I don't think it is right for the man to post up pictures depicting torture before death. He needs to have some self-censorship. What was actually going through his mind when he thought of that? That he wanted kids to have nightmares and to grow up with so many negative infulences? NO! I say people like him should be locked up for disturbing the minds of the youth.


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