Tuesday, November 03, 2015

MPAA Tries to Kill Another Moore Movie

The MPAA’s ongoing battle with Michael Moore continues to fester as they tagged yet another of his films with an R-rating (The Guardian). The latest is Where to Invade Next, a film that will get a limited release in late December. Like Bowling for Columbine, Fahrenheit 9/11, and really all of his films, the decision appears to have move to do with politics than any substantive issues with the film.

Moore, of course, released the top grossing documentary of all time with Fahrenheit 9/11, which earned an impressive $119.2 million domestically and another $103 million overseas, despite the attempts by the MPAA to stop it from wide release. That movie was R-rated without any credible explanation but a clear attempt to keep American children from hearing ideas outside the conservative mainstream. And his other films haven’t done so bad either, with Sicko at $10 ($24 million domestically), Bowling for Columbine at #12 ($21m) and Capitalism: A Love Story at #19 ($14m) – each also the recipient of the dreaded R-rating.

With Where to Invade Next, the film was given an R-rating because of “violence, drug use and brief nudity.” The violence is footage of the brutal murder of unarmed Eric Garner by the NYPD. The drug use is a discussion of how Portugal ended their war on drugs 15 years ago. And the nudity is 2 seconds of Germans at spa for a vacation to alleviate stress – part of their socialized healthcare. Moore argued, “It’s amazing how 25 years have passed – we invented the internet, gay marriage is legal and we elected an African American president of the United States, but the MPAA is still intent on censoring footage that is available from any evening network news show.” The organization has always been shrouded in secrecy, well documented in another documentary, This Film is Not Yet Rated (the film was in fact rated by the MPAA, as NC-17 for “some graphic sexual content”).
The rating appears to be just the latest parry in a battle for the hearts and minds of America, being fought with equal vigor by the right and left. Both seem almost equally intent on quashing the voices of any non-believers. We have seen it with the MPAA for decades now, but it is also quiet clear in recent debates among GOP presidential contenders on who should even be allowed to ask them questions. On the left, it exists in protests of respected conservatives invited to give speeches on campus, in trigger warning discourses that want to whitewash history, literature and politics and in once respectful left-leaning publications that have become click bait rags no better than Fox News in their skewed (and uncritical) perspective.

In the upcoming election, we will hear a lot about the perils that ISIS, gays, immigrants, “big government” and the like pose to the country. Yet I believe political insularity and an inability to compromise with, or even listen to, those who hold different perspectives is the most dangerous threat to our collective future.

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