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.