So, last night we ended up watching “This Film is Not Yet Rated” which is kind of a boring documentary about a guy’s strange obsession with trying to find out who the people on the MPAA ratings board are, in which is hidden the hints of a very interesting feminist film.
The thing that stood out for me in the film the most was how explicit it is who the real busybodies in our culture are. And when I say “busybodies” I mean, who are the people who believe that they have the right… no, more than that… that they have an obligation to impose their will on you. And those three busybody groups–and the three most closely aligned with the MPAA ratings board are 1. Politicians, 2. “Parents”*, and 3. The Church. Growing up in it, especially with a pastor/father who’s not that big into trying to dictate what the whole world is up to (at least not from any “And I’m a pastor, so I know” perspective), I’m often taken aback by the audacity of someone from a religion that is not mine (and, often from a denomination that is not yours) thinking that he needs to help the motion picture industry figure out what is appropriate for people to view. If you have that urge, it sure must be nice to be able to find a job that will let you act on it in clear conscience.
But the other thing I found really interesting was that it actually went a little farther than I’ve seen most folks go in arguing that it’s easier to get an R rating or a PG-13 rating if your film is violent than it is if it’s sexual. Because, in this movie, Kevin Smith points out that it seems to be much easier to get an R rating if your film shows violent sexual acts against women than if your film shows women taking part in pleasurable consensual sexual acts. And then they show clip after clip of women being chased down and assaulted and them screaming and crying or laying there very still from movies all with R ratings juxtaposed against clip after clip of women having pleasurable sex in movies where the Board told the filmmakers to recut it to reduce the time of those scenes on-screen.
It’s really shocking to see it compiled like that.
And John Waters is in it and I love him.
But the best part was Maria Bello talking about them objecting to her pubic hair in The Cooler and I about died, it’s so great. I mean, folks, every day, I wish I had the grace and poise and confidence in my own body that I could sit here and discuss with you, say, my pubic hair without it feeling, for me, transgressive. To see her talking so matter-of-factly about her body like that was pretty damn awesome.
*And I put “parents” in quotes because a great many people in our culture are parents and most of them do not give a shit about what you’re doing right now, but a small, vocal group believes that they have the right–for the children–to dictate how your life is shaped. I mean the second group.