The Motion Picture Association of America ‒ known by the acronym MPAA ‒ is an organization that represents the six major Hollywood studios (Paramount, Warner Bros., Columbia, Walt Disney, Universal, and 20th Century Fox). It is most famous ‒ and infamous ‒ for it's ratings system, and it's fight against piracy.
It is a horrible organization. It's ratings system, which has become ubiquitous in American society, is biased as all hell. And in their fight against piracy, they support draconian measures that benefit nobody but the major studios.
The first subject I'll tackle isn't as much of a festering example of how the MPAA is a terrible organization, but it is the most relevant to current events...
The Ratings System
Last year, a documentary about bullying, aptly titled Bully, was released. It was aired at film festivals and such. Only now is it going to receive a wide release, in theaters and whatnot.
And in order to be released in theaters, it had to receive an official rating from the MPAA ratings board. It ended up receiving an R rating, which was a problem, for both the film's creator and the company that is distributing it, the Weinstein Company.
And why is that? An R rating is okay ‒ it's not like it received the dreaded, film-killing NC-17 rating.
Well, the movie was intended to be seen by high school-aged teenagers. Having an R rating, which requires anyone under seventeen to have a parent or guardian present, and prevents it from being shown in schools, seriously stifles that.
Bully received it's rating for strong language.
The MPAA ratings board isn't a transparent, fair body. It's about as fair and balanced as the Soviet Politburo, or Fox News.
The MPAA ratings board has been proveni to be biased against independent films. And Bully is an independent film. Furthermore, there is evidence to suggest that the ratings board is biased against LGBT-related...stuffii. And, though I'm not sure, the film Bully may touch on the subject of anti-gay bullying, given the prevalence of gay teens killing themselves in recent years.
I'd suggest that it's entirely in the realm of possibility that there is bias against the film for the fact that it is about bullying, and the fact that it is trying to raise awareness about bullying. There are, after all, people who defend bullying ‒ usually right-wing people. And since the ratings board does appear to swing to the right...
It's hard to tell, because of the way the ratings board works.
First of all, the ratings board is made up of so-called average people ‒ not experts in fields like child development, which you might expect from a ratings board. Their identities are kept totally hidden. And, they are all personally hired by one person ‒ Joan Graves (who, by the way, is a registered Republican).
So, we have no idea if some members hate gays or think bullying is okay. There's no transparency, no accountability.
The decision to give the film an R rating for some language is quite ridiculous. I have not seen the film ‒ it's not on The Pirate Bay yet, teehee ‒ but given how it's about bullying, I can imagine that the language in the film is simply interviewees recounting what they ‒ or in the case of parents, their kids ‒ were called in school. Or perhaps even footage of real life bullying. In such a case, it wouldn't be anything that the average high- or middle-school kid hasn't heard before.
And it's not like it's a ing Tarantino movie. It's a sincere documentary, which includes parents who's children had killed themselves because they were bullied so intensely.
So ‒ is the MPAA biased and stupid as all hell? You bet. But they're not all bad, are they? Well...
Recently, there was a lot of controversy over two bills that were being considered in Congress ‒ the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the House of Representatives, and the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) in the Senate.
These bills were controversial, because they would have implemented very draconian, censoring methods to stop online piracyiii.
And the MPAA supported these bills.
They actively supported legislation that would shut down YouTube and Facebook, create a firewall like the one used by the People's Republic of China, and send people to jail for just posting a video with copyrighted content, all to maybe get more people to buy Hollywood films.
The MPAA will tell you that piracy is a huge threat to the movie industry. That claim is absolute crap. It's very easy to see why...
Most pirated film of all time? Avatar.iv
Highest grossing film of all time (not adjusting for inflation)? Avatar.v
Similarly, many films make massive profits despite piracy. The Dark Knight grossed over a billion dollars, despite being the second-most pirated film of all time.
The major film studios aren't dying. They're just whining because they're not getting as much money as they think they could get.
And anyways, the theory that eliminating piracy will boost profits is a little misguided. I am an avid pirate, and I don't think I would have bought most of the films I've downloaded if I couldn't download them. A lot of other pirates feel the same way.
So, now do you believe me when I say the MPAA is a horrible organization?
The MPAA is an organization that is rotten to the core. It's only purpose is to bring profits to the six major Hollywood studios, and snuff out competition. The only way to fix it, is to abolish it. And given how the MPAA looks a lot like something members of Congress had when they were drafting the Sherman Antitrust Act, I don't think that's such a lofty, crazy idea.