FILM TITLE: This Film Is Not Yet Rated
Director Kirby Dick
Basic Plot (a single sentence if possible), and what areas of “politics” are present in the film:
This film is about the problems inherent with the ratings system of the MPAA, tackling race, gender, and sexual politics as the ratings board’s view of them is examined.
1. Does the movie have a point of view? Is it advocating a political philosophy or policy orientation? What is it?
The movie has the point of view of admonishing the MPAA for being ignorant and conservative in their ratings decisions of films due to their content, and it advocates for creating a more liberal film rating policy.
2. How does the movie express its point of view?
Interviews with experts and filmmakers of all genres, statistics, evidence, personal experience are used to make the film’s point.
3. How is the audience “manipulated” into agreeing with the movie’s point of view?
Being a documentary, it was more of a straightforward rundown of the issues and agendas of its subjects; however, it did follow the history of the MPAA and how it has not changed much in its fifty years of existence.
The interview segments, etc., provide a frank look at the ratings system and how insensitive it is – no development, but a thorough description of the “characters” involved.
The film the documentary focused on, Boys Don’t Cry, is a symbol for this film and its own journey from NC-17 to R.
The dialogue is mostly in interview or narration form, and therefore the film can straightforwardly tell you the points and agenda of the film. For example, the director of Boys Don’t Cry, when hearing about her film getting an NC-17, says that “the problem was with Lana’s pleasure [her getting an orgasm], that was the problem with it.” The problem was “in a construct where most movies are directed by men, it’s mostly the male experience, so it’s from the male perspective….Unfamiliarity is what breeds these NC-17s” (Dick, 2005).
Other (music, context, costume design, editing, etc)
Editing is used to collect the most salacious and controversial aspects of the conservative ratings system. The opening credit sequence is a collection of censored-out sex scenes, indicating the salacious nature of the films that were being rated NC-17.
4. Do you think the movie was “fair”? That is, does it simplistically propound a single point or does it present contradictions in or problems inherent in its thesis/point of view?
The film is fair, in that is unequivocally paints the current MPAA system as bad, and it doesn’t provide any sort of contradictions to the idea of freeing up the ratings system to make it more equal.
5. What effect do you think that this movie has on the typical viewer? Perhaps in contrast, how about on YOU as a viewer?
I believe that it opens the eyes of the typical viewer, letting them know why these ratings are put in place, and the kind of people who decide on them.
6. Was the movie allegorical in any way? Who represents whom (discuss)?
No, being a documentary, it was pretty straightforward – the issues and people were exactly what they were supposed to be, and not indicative of anything else.
7. Summarize your basic reaction to and conclusions about the film.
I was very surprised by the state of the MPAA, especially in a constantly changing society. The fact that values and morals can change so much in a short span of time, and yet ratings officials use the same standards as they did in the 1950s, is appalling.
8. Write at least two substantive potential essay questions based on this film (These can be legitimate questions that YOU personally have about the movie).
- Do you think replacing the current ratings officials would make a difference, or would it be more of the same?
- Do you think that NC-17 rated movies should be rated as R, barring substantial editing to make them more “family-friendly?”
This Film Is Not Yet Rated. Dir. Kirby Dick. Perf. Allison Anders, Kirby Dick, Atom Egoyan. Magnolia Home Entertainment, 2005. DVD.