pageok
pageok
pageok
MPAA Rejects Documentary Poster for Hood Image:

The MPAA has deemed the one-sheet for the documentary "Taxi to the Dark Side" too provocative for general audiences. Why? The poster for the documentary on torture depicts a hooded prisoner walking between two soldiers. Apparently the MPAA does not allow posters with hoods of this sort.

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."

The MPAA also rejected the one-sheet for Roadside Attractions' 2006 film "The Road to Guantanamo," which featured a hooded prisoner hanging from his handcuffed wrists. At the time, according to Howard Cohen, co-president of Roadside Attractions, the reason given was that the burlap bag over the prisoner's head depicted torture, which was not appropriate for children to see.

"Not permitting us to use an image of a hooded man that comes from a documentary photograph is censorship, pure and simple," said producer, writer and director Gibney. "Intentional or not, the MPAA's disapproval of the poster is a political act, undermining legitimate criticism of the Bush administration. I agree that the image is offensive; it's also real."

ThinkFilm plans to appeal the ruling, although Urman admitted that he "doesn't know what that entails. I've only appealed ratings before."

If the hood is indeed the reason that the MPAA rejected the poster, it is a ridiculous example of elevating form over substance. Given the one-sheets for various horror movies out there, including "Saw", "Captivity", and "The Hills Have Eyes 2," [Wait, is that a hood? No, it's a sack cloth, so it's okay] the idea that this image is too rough for children is just absurd.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. Entertainment Rating Systems:
  2. MPAA Rejects Documentary Poster for Hood Image:
get2djnow (mail) (www):
Given the one-sheets for various horror movies out there, including "Saw", "Captivity", and "The Hills Have Eyes 2," [Wait, is that a hood? No, it's a sack cloth, so it's okay] the idea that this image is too rough for children is just absurd.


I'm interested in your logic and your "standards". It seems that you are saying that the standard applied to this poster is too high, given the posters that were approved for movies like "Saw." Could it possibly be that the advertising standard for horror movies in general is too low? I don't believe that children should be exposed to torture or allusions of torture. I'm thrilled that the MPAA is rejecting this poster and I wish they would reject a lot more posters.

I try to keep my children away from inappropriate media presentations and it's a difficult thing to do with hooded men being forcibly led away or, frankly, scantily clad women presenting themselves for the public's perusal. Does anyone believe that it's okay for kids to see this stuff? Are we shocked that they've lost all sense of innocence before they even reach their teen years?
12.19.2007 9:14am
liberty (mail) (www):
"The image in question is a news photo of two U.S. soldiers walking away from the camera with a hooded detainee between them ... Ironically, the original Schwarz photo was censored by the military, which erased his camera's memory. The photographer eventually retrieved the image from his hard drive. ...This is a documentary and that image is a documentary image."

But kids shouldn't be able to see a picture that was on the news, that is real, that is from a recent war and was on the front page of newspapers?

I am against censorship and this strikes me as pure censorship.
12.19.2007 9:27am
Daniel Chapman (mail):
Is the MPAA a state actor in any way? I know we're not talking about actual First Amendment violations here, but it's really not as big a deal to me if a private organization wants to set standards that I disagree with.
12.19.2007 9:36am
Anderson (mail):
Mr. Chapman, I believe the catch is that the great majority of theaters won't show a film with no MPAA rating, or presumably with no MPAA-approved poster.

So, de facto, the MPAA decides what Americans living outside NYC and (I suppose) L.A. get to see at the movies.
12.19.2007 9:52am
Ken Arromdee:
It's a cartel. If the MPAA won't rate your movie, there are a huge number of places influenced by the cartel that you can't show it.

Moreover, you can't just rate the movie as (say) R yourself and release it, even if you add a footnote saying that the R was determined by an independent company, not the MPAA. The MPAA has a trademark on the ratings system, and a trademark is a government-granted monopoly.

(For that matter, the cartel couldn't operate without copyright, which is another government-granted monopoly.)
12.19.2007 9:53am
Lior:
Just because it's legal for the MPAA to set these standards doesn't mean we shouldn't oppose them. More importantly, the MPAA is setting standards under the threat of Congressional action should the industry not "police itself".
12.19.2007 9:54am
alkali (mail):
FWIW, I was at the mall this weekend with my toddler, and there were posters everywhere for a soon-to-be-released horror film with a prominent image (SFW) that I suspect would be far more frightening to children than the poster challenged here. I have no idea how the MPAA reconciles these kinds of decisions.
12.19.2007 9:57am
George Weiss (mail):
hmmmmmmm

not that politics in forcing a documentary that will show bad things about the US to invest in a new advertisement might..at all..have anything to do with the conservatives MPAA's decision not to approve this advertisement.

same MPAA that wants to consider 'smoking' as a factor for making things rated R.
12.19.2007 10:10am
CEB:
I have no comment on the main issue, but it seems your hotlinks to the posters are disapproved by the admins. You might want to take those down before your readers find themselves looking at tubgirl or some other image.
12.19.2007 10:53am
AntonK (mail):
"Taxi to the Dark Side"

Interesting. Until know I hadn't heard of this little gem of a film.

My guess is that the MPAA is simply trying to spare the producers of this "documentary" the same fate that has attended all the other Hollywood "war" films of late.
12.19.2007 10:56am
Fub:
Daniel Chapman wrote at 12.19.2007 9:36am:
Is the MPAA a state actor in any way?
N0. They just pwn C0n943s5.
12.19.2007 11:04am
Bob from Ohio (mail):
A movie that no one will see. They should be happy that the poster was "censored". The controversy may double the viewers to 10,000.

The US box office for The Road to Guantanamo was $316,694. At $8 a ticket, that is less than 40,000 people. How many adults in the US?

Outside of a few big cities, no theater shows this movie.

And yes, Dick Cheney does control the MPAA in his spare time and wants the producers to spend another $100 on posters. Paranoia, anyone?
12.19.2007 11:04am
Sparky:
Anybody know where the MPAA gets its authority to approve posters? I mean, obviously it's the result of some "voluntary" contract between the MPAA and exhibitors and/or producers. It's just that I thought that that voluntarily ceded authority covered only what was in the film itself, and even then, only by way of allowing the MPAA to assign ratings. And what is the penalty for using an offending poster? Can they give you a worse rating?
12.19.2007 11:08am
George Weiss (mail):
And yes, Dick Cheney does control the MPAA in his spare time and wants the producers to spend another $100 on posters. Paranoia, anyone?


ah so thats the explanation...I KNEW IT
12.19.2007 11:24am
WHOI Jacket:
Jack Thompson and the MPAA are arbitrary control freaks? The deuce you say.

When Trey Parker and Matt Stone wanted to title the South Park movie "South Park: All Hell Breaks Loose", they got denied on the grounds that you couldn't use the word "hell" in a movie title. This was news, of course, to Hellraiser(1-6), Hellboy, Hell's Angels, etc....

So, they went to the much more insinuating "South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut". I don't think the MPAA got the double meaning till after it was too late.
12.19.2007 11:35am
egn (mail):
That Newburyport News story AntonK linked to is epically awesome. You mean In the Valley of Elah made less than Spider-Man 3?! No f-ing way. I thought tweeners would line up sound the block to watch Tommy Lee Jones kill terrorists with his Fist of Justice. No wait.

It's a foregone conclusion that "Taxi" doesn't make it outside the "few big cities." Documentaries not made by Michael Moore basically never do. Speaking of Moore, I guess everyone's forgotten the $120 million domestic that "Fahrenheit 9/11" did on a $6 million budget.

Show me the pro-war blockbusters, please. Otherwise, the fact that "Lions of Lambs," a movie about people sitting around and talking, made $15 million only means that it made about 15 times as much as your average movie about people sitting around and talking.
12.19.2007 11:48am
WHOI Jacket:
I'd much rather link this piece by Mark Steyn:

Hollywood Shoots Itself In The Foot.
12.19.2007 12:09pm
Oren:

Does anyone believe that it's okay for kids to see this stuff?

Yes.

Are we shocked that they've lost all sense of innocence before they even reach their teen years?

I'm shocked you could believe in such nonsense. That's the internet for you.

Also, this documentary forever soured me on the MPAA - it shows that their process is arbitrary to the point of being ridiculous and hopelessly biased.
12.19.2007 12:10pm
Oren:

Anybody know where the MPAA gets its authority to approve posters? I mean, obviously it's the result of some "voluntary" contract between the MPAA and exhibitors and/or producers. It's just that I thought that that voluntarily ceded authority covered only what was in the film itself, and even then, only by way of allowing the MPAA to assign ratings. And what is the penalty for using an offending poster? Can they give you a worse rating?


The MPAA gets it's authority from the fact that the majority of movie theaters are part of the cartel. They will not show movies without a MPAA rating (or an NC17) nor will they display posters not approved by the MPAA.

Ironically enough, the MPAA was founded to prove that the movie industry didn't need Congressional regulation but could regulate itself but is now, thanks to intervening SCOTUS rulings, considerably more restrictive than Congress can be.
12.19.2007 12:13pm
Bob from Ohio (mail):

Show me the pro-war blockbusters, please.


Show me the pro-war blockbustersmovies, please.

Is Iraq the only war we are fighting? Are Taxi to the Dark Side and The Road to Guantanamo about Iraq or the War on Terror?
12.19.2007 12:56pm
Ken Arromdee:
I believe that "Team America" did well, and while it can be interpreted as anti-war, it can also be taken as an affectionate parody.

Also, 24 seems to do well in the ratings.
12.19.2007 1:50pm
arbitraryaardvark (mail) (www):
Doesn't Spiderman wear a hood?
12.19.2007 2:48pm
Lawyer Dad (mail):
I just want to second Oren's recommendation of the documentary entitled "This Film is Not Yet Rated." Everyone should see it, including perhaps the distributor of "Taxi..." because it actually depicts the process of appealing the initial MPAA rating.
12.19.2007 2:53pm
Libertarian1 (mail):
Show me the pro-war blockbusters, please.



The movie 300 -world wide boxoffice $455M
12.19.2007 3:25pm
Oren:

Doesn't Spiderman wear a hood?

That's a mask. Sheesh!
12.19.2007 3:44pm
egn (mail):

The movie 300 -world wide boxoffice $455M


Seriously? It seems to me that interpreting "300" that way misunderstands what Frank Miller was trying to do with his ultra-iconic portrayal of heroism in the graphic novel. I've always thought the political parallels were forced on that movie against its will. But death of the author, and all that, I guess.
12.19.2007 3:48pm
egn (mail):
24's a good one, though I think people go for the crazy-ass plots and stay for the torture, 'cause violence is fun. (I'm an anti-war, anti-enhanced-interrogation-techniques liberal and I love the show.)

24 actually kind of proves my point, which was that given the nature of the "anti-war" films that have made it to the marketplace -- talky, self-serious melodramas; some documentaries -- to attribute their relative lack of popularity to public rejection of the anti-war, anti-Bush message is absurd. Watching Jack Bauer yell "There's no time!" and bust a dude's kneecap is a lot more entertaining to most people than a mock documentary about a brutal rape and murder, or Tommy Lee Jones brooding for two hours.
12.19.2007 3:56pm
liberty (mail) (www):
Oren,

whew. I'm glad someone else thinks actually that its totally normal for kids to see stuff like this. I think I saw much more intimidating stuff at a young age. Along with cursing, violence, drugs, and plenty else that is somehow off limits now. Not to say that am normal though. But I don't think it screwed me up. I think its fine.
12.20.2007 12:43am