This Post Is Not Really R Rated

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I finally got a chance to see This Film Is Not Yet Rated tonight on DVD, and I must say it may be on of the best “Los Angeles” specific movies ever. The documentary is an expose of the MPAA’s top secret ratings board and ratings process, including a decent, albeit unbalanced, history of the organization.

The most engaging storyline follows a lesbian private investigator who director Kirby Dick has hired to uncover who the anonymous ratings board members are. Most of this involves the PI staking out the MPAA offices on Ventura Blvd. in Encino, then tailing many of them to their homes for dumpster diving and other subterfuge. The process seems tedious, but clever, and even though the techniques seem like a good primer for prospective stalkers, its fascinating stuff.

When he came close to finishing the film, Kirby sent a cut into the MPAA to gain a rating. Of course, this footage is part of the final film, and one of its best parts, as we listen in on his phone call that tells him he earned an NC-17 rating. Kirby seems giddy about this, but more eager to hear how they really feel about the film that demonizes the ratings system and its members as homophobes and hippocrites… he never gets the full satisfaction, but its between the lines of their responses.

However, what isn’t in the final cut, but only in the special features, is a scene where Kirby asks if the MPAA made a copy of his film, which they deny because its against their policy and agreement with the filmmakers. However, a conversation with the MPAA’s lawyer unveils that they did indeed make a copy and that it wasn’t unprecendented. The irony here, of course, is that its a blatant violation of the law that the MPAA itself lobbied for against unauthorized duplications.

While I’m not sure if this is an authorized duplication or not, YouTube has the clip of that very scene up right now, which I’ve posted after the jump.

…photo stolen by Lisa Nolan

3 Replies to “This Post Is Not Really R Rated”

  1. We don’t know she’s a lesbian at first. All we know is that she’ll get the job done.

    Once it becomes clear in Dick’s film that the MPAA holds different standards for homosexual sex acts than it does for heterosexual sex acts, the lesbian PI’s strugle to live a “normal” life with her partner and her daughter becomes a little more poignant. Her story is intercut with lesbian filmmakers (Kimberly Peirce, Jamie Babbit) who got smacked with initial NC-17 ratings for their films. The ratings system essentially dictates what is a morally correct way to live and have sex, and we watch these sympathetic characters and their stories getting censored because they’re gay. So it’s significant because she’s a real person with a real life, whose lifestyle wouldn’t pass the censors. We like her. The censors would want to protect America from her lifestyle.

    On a kind of unrelated note, why do these acclaimed documentary films about Los Angeles just complain? Dick complains about the ratings system for the entire feature, but offers no real solution. His petition on his website hasn’t reformed the MPAA system. His film seems to have done nothing except make us recognize that this is an unfair system. Yay! How about Los Angeles Plays Itself (not the porn), which everyone seems to love? Anderson just complains about how the movies ruined his native town for the whole feature. “They use fake numbers and fake addresses in movies set in Los Angeles…which destroys the real image of Los Angeles” or “They abbreviate Los Angeles to L.A.,..which truncates the essence of our city” etc. I’m glad my phone number doesn’t pop up in a movie. And I bet people were calling Los Angeles L.A. before it was called that in a movie. How do you get your city back, Thom?

    While these films are fascinating, they’re ultimately frustrating. They expose a problem, but can’t use this most powerful tool to change anything. Didn’t McDonald’s reform because of SuperSize Me? Didn’t Bush lose because of Fahrenheit 911? Wait. But at least it seemed like there was a solution that was plausible.

  2. Yeah, regarding the lesbian thing, that was why it was worth mentioning, although without being more clear about calling the MPAA homophobic it loses context.

    And, yes, some sort of solution would be nice, but still it does allow the viewer to debate this on their own. My larger problem with the film is that it casts all blame on the MPAA itself when, in fact, its the studios and exhibitors who apparently use it without question. Also, using decades old quotes from Jack Valenti to counter current day realities I felt was sometimes dishonest… regardless, still loved the movie.

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