Thursday, December 20, 2007

What's Wrong With This Picture?

The Thought Police are at it again:

The MPAA has rejected the one-sheet for Alex Gibney's documentary "Taxi to the Dark Side," which traces the pattern of torture practice from Afghanistan's Bagram prison to Abu Ghraib to Guantanamo Bay.

The image in question is a news photo of two U.S. soldiers walking away from the camera with a hooded detainee between them.

An MPAA spokesman said: "We treat all films the same. Ads will be seen by all audiences, including children. If the advertising is not suitable for all audiences it will not be approved by the advertising administration."

According to ThinkFilm distribution prexy Mark Urman, the reason given by the Motion Picture Assn. of America for rejecting the poster is the image of the hood, which the MPAA deemed unacceptable in the context of such horror films as "Saw" and "Hostel." "To think that this is not apples and oranges is outrageous," he said. "The change renders the art illogical, without any power or meaning."

So, let me get this straight: showing a prisoner with a hood over his head is a depiction of torture, but actually waterboarding someone is ok? Showing three men quietly walking into the distance might offend passing children, but a naked screaming woman being hung upside down with snot hanging out of her nose is suitable for all ages?

Or is it the American flag being walked over they object to?

I suppose we can rest easy in the knowledge that this is not government censorship per se, as the MPAA is not a government organization but a trade monopoly association to which filmmakers can 'voluntarily' submit their movies and movie posters for ratings and approval. Of course if they choose not to, the MPAA will make damned sure that their movie never sees the light of day.

All of which raises the question, what exactly does the MPAA stand to gain by so blatantly kowtowing to the Bush administration's political agenda? For one thing, they get to keep the government out of the movie censorship business. And they get financially beneficial legislation like the Digital Millennium Copyright Act passed.

Quid pro quo.

For more on the evils of the MPAA, read this excellent article, or go see 'This Film Not Yet Rated'. I think I'll be renting it tonight.

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