Does anyone have any respect for MPAA movie ratings? They’re maddeningly inconsistent and so broad as to be meaningless: A PG-13 could mean anything from graphic violence to the presence of a gay character to someone saying fuck twice. It’s no wonder that the Internet is home to so many resources offering parents more information about what they might find objectionable in the latest releases; the MPAA ratings are useless.
But no matter how pointless they might be, the ratings still wield enormous power. The difference between an R and an NC-17 or a PG-13 and an R can easily be millions upon millions of dollars—it can even prevent a movie from reaching theaters at all—so the threat of a severe rating can force filmmakers to cut their movies to meet some undefined, arbitrary standard. The process infuriates me, as it should anyone who cares about freedom of speech, and Kirby Dick’s documentary about the ratings system, This Film Is Not Yet Rated only gave me more reasons to loathe the MPAA.