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There Will Not Be Blood: Thoughts on Movie Ratings and a PC Culture…

I feel decidedly behind the times in writing this. After all, the gigantic scuffle over the MPAA’s rating of the documentary Bully seems to have resolved itself, with both the Weinstein company and the MPAA reaching a settlement that both can agree on to get the film distributed with a rating that won’t alienate its target audience. However, I can’t help but feel like this single case of compromise managed to avoid the heart of the issue at question. By allowing this single film to slip through the net, the censorship authority avoid an actual discussion on the role and obligations of a ratings authority. It’ll only be a matter of time before another controversy erupts, and that will undoubtedly be dealt with on its own terms as well, avoiding any actual debate or discussion about how censorship bodies rate particular films.

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The History of the “R” Rated Blockbuster

It looks like The Wolfman, the first monster movie reboot due from universal, has just secured an ‘R’ rating State-side. In Ireland and the UK, we’re used to blockbusters receiving higher film ratings (12s, 15s, 18s), but in the US it’s unheard of for a major motion picture intended to make loads of money to go out with a rating higher than PG-13. It’s bizarre, as technically an adult can take a child to see an R-rated movie, whereas over here, back in the old days, it didn’t matter who you were with – if you weren’t the age on the poster, you didn’t get in. So what’s with this recent trent towards selling big budget movies with the R rating on them serving not as something to be downplayed by the studio, but actually used as a major selling point? Hell, we’re even seeing more redband trailers.

Because red is just sexier...

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