$ensorship

the MPAA avatar

the MPAA avatar

oyster and pearl

oyster and pearl

The rating system of the Motion Pictures Association of America is far above us. They have discovered the ultimate avatar: the Normal American Parent. Under the guise of this avatar, they crop and edit and cut their way through the discourse of the nation to ensure happy, healthy citizens of us all.

 

Yes, the MPAA shows up on every preview.

Yes, the MPAA shows up on every preview.

This is the bleak (albeit accurate) view of the MPAA and its role in our film culture presented in This Film is Not Yet Rated. Every film that makes it to theatrical audiences must run the gamut of secret voting procedures, obscure objections, blind cuts, and precedent-less appeals. No other organization in the United States (barring our inestimable CIA) could skip away with such egregious power-mongering. While watching it, I became extremely jealous and proud of my college education, in which professors broke through the money-making studio system to bring me films that challenged my perspectives on life, the Universe, and everything. And, while I sat and pondered the truth that money really does make the world go ’round, the world go ’round, and that if there’s money, someone has to stick their hand in it to control the current, I also became increasingly bewildered at the underlying tug-of-war between the Faith and Knowledge.

 

Faith and Knowledge---Life or Death?

Faith and Knowledge---Life or Death?

You see, two clergymen serve on the appeals board of the MPAA film ratings committee. Whether voting members of passive observers (even former committee members couldn’t tell which), their presence harkens back to the long struggle in the church (and America, as a larger encasement of said Church) over the issue of discourse. Should everyone have access to all the knowledge they want?—If yes, ’tis a ‘yes’ sprung from the glorious expectation that knowledge contains powers of improvement [that counterbalance any powers of detriment therein]. Should money determine access to knowledge?—If yes, ’tis a ‘yes’ based on the tired assumption that if you have money, you must have had sense enough to earn it and are therefore able to make good decisions [about your soul]. Should no one have access to all knowledge?—If yes, ’tis a ‘yes’ based on the dismal assumption that knowledge corrupts [just as the absolute power that comes along with it].

Do I choose my tree?

Do I choose my tree?

Does it really all come down to whether you want to be a glorious, tired, or dismal person? I would like to think that somewhere even deeper than the surface eddies of Money and the tugging tides of Faith and Knowledge there is a priceless pearl hidden: Truth. I say ‘pearl,’ of course, intentionally because it never fails to be a profound metaphor: irritation initiating a response that ultimately yields a beautiful, organic unit of Beauty. Perhaps the MPAA is the grain of sand that, for better or worse, will never be ejected from America’s oyster, and maybe we’ll find the Truth about who we are as people, filmmakers, audiences, and parents from the constant reaction to each asinine rating.

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    • Dan Sanders
    • April 5th, 2011

    Interesting…

    My thought is, what if knowledge, all knowledge, is amoral? What if it is, like a lot of things, a thing that reflects who we are? This, of course, presumes that intention influences knowledge/action. Naturally, knowledge and actions influence intentions as well, complicating the matter further.

    Thoughts?

      • Reisytal
      • April 5th, 2011

      What I thinks complicates the matter the most is that Knowledge is a Person—-the Person, so to speak. How does that work?!

      Blows my mind.

      I think that Knowledge is amoral in the sense that it seeks to gain nothing for itself. Being totally secure, there is no pressure on the receiver of Knowledge—either for “good” or “bad,” the influence or valance I suppose.

      Then, of course, Knowledge becomes the space on which we write our response, our free decisions, the acting out of our will upon the geography of Knowledge. That’s where the topography of intentions, actions, justifications, excuses, good will, ill will, and all the rest come into play 😉

  1. Precisely. So to censor knowledge is to censor the Person, Knowledge and Truth Himself. However, sometimes censoring yields positive results, or does it?

    Intriguing indeed.

      • Reisytal
      • April 7th, 2011

      Hmm. I suppose it is more accurate to say that I think of Knowledge as a facet of Truth, not the fulness. Therefore, I think that it makes sense that we would “censor” or rather “displace” certain facet until we were ready to explore them. It makes me think of how relationships work: you don’t deny or ignore the existence of any piece of your partners personality, but there is a long and lovely journey of discovery that mandates you must start at one surface and delve deeper.

      So, in the contest of censorship, that means my 15 year old sister doesn’t get to watch a violent rape on screen until she has the psychological and emotional strength and security in her relationship to Truth to go there. She knows about it’s existence already, but watching it would be like the next facet or layer of Knowledge on her journey to ye Truth about women.

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