Random Factoid #561

9 02 2011

Will someone do the MPAA a favor and save them from themselves?

First it was the whole “Blue Valentine” controversy. Then their whole dumb “male nudity” policy and their attack on smoking at the potential cost of artistic integrity.  But now … they want to disconnect Google?!

More from Cinematical:

“Every month the MPAA sends out wave after wave of copyright infringement notices to people accused of having illegally downloaded a movie. In practice, these are simple intimidation tactics notifying the accused that they were caught downloading a certain film and that, basically, unless they stop, the MPAA will make sure the criminal’s ISP disconnects them from the Internet. And if you’re Joe Schmo sailing the high seas of movie piracy, such warnings might make you reconsider whether or not a free copy of ‘The Expendables’ really is worth it.

The problem with this method is that the for-profit legal organizations that the MPAA hires to send out these automated warnings don’t do any research on the accused, they simply send out the notices en masse. (In the past this has resulted in old ladies who barely know how to use email being accused of multi-million-dollar copyright infringement.) So when some of Google’s IP addresses showed up in their piracy databases, the MPAA simply didn’t know any better and told one of the largest Internet companies in the world that they would disconnect them from the Internet if they didn’t give in to their demands.”

If you want to really punish Google, make them pay to produce some more anti-piracy advertisements that we all skip on DVD or tune out at the theater.  But disconnecting them from the Internet is the quickest way to incite riots and hatred.  There has to be a better way to solve this whole piracy problem.

Interestingly enough, movie studios love 3D for more than just cash: people can’t record them and then pirate them.  So if this problem persists, don’t expect 3D to just go away.

Random Factoid #506

16 12 2010

I’ve written plenty on the baffling MPAA ratings system on this site (and offsite as well: it was the topic of my 8th grade social issues research paper).  For example, in Random Factoid #310, I wrote about the ridiculous descriptors they use in their ratings like “bullying” or “a brief instance of smoking.”  In Random Factoid #389, I criticized their campaign to get cigarettes out of movies while they let the promotion of violence run wild.  In Random Factoid #441, I attacked their need to point out male nudity to audiences but turn a blind eye to female nudity.

And back when “Blue Valentine” was still rated NC-17, I advocated the abolition of the rating altogether in Random Factoid #437.  Here was my modest proposal for the alternative:

“The R rating carries with it the assumption that moviegoers under 17 can’t buy their own ticket; someone has to buy it for them.  By barring people from certain movies, the MPAA either takes over the role of the parent and claims they know best OR they acknowledge that the R rating is too weak.  Why not strengthen the protection around R-rated movies as an alternative?  Crack down on lazy theaters that don’t enforce R ratings tough enough, and that should keep the people who don’t have permission to see R-rated movies out of them.”

But there’s only so much an 18-year-old amateur blogger from Houston can do.  However, there is a whole lot a certain legendary critic from Chicago can.  Roger Ebert can’t speak anymore, but darned if he isn’t one of the most vocal critics of the current system of movie ratings set in place by the MPAA.  He argues that “there are only two meaningful ratings: R and not-R.”

To a certain extent I agree – at least from where I’m sitting at my age.  I’m very glad to be able to see any movie I want at the theater with my ID, and now I want every movie to cater to me.  I don’t want movies to be watered down so kids five years younger than me can go see them without having to drag mommy or daddy with them to the theater.  For example, my enthusiasm was somewhat dampened for “The Social Network” when I found out that it was rated PG-13 and not R (but all the reviews convinced me not to despair).

Ebert says that the ratings have to change because we have changed as a society, and that the ratings system need to reflect the reality that tolerance levels have changed drastically.  Here’s his proposed system:

“Perhaps only three categories are needed: ‘G,’ for young audiences,’T’ for teenagers, and ‘A’ for adults. These categories would be not be keyed to specific content but would reflect the board’s considered advice about a film’s gestalt and intended audience. At a time when literally any content can find its way into most American homes, what’s the point of singling out theatrical films? It’s time to admit we’ve lost our innocence.”

While I like his suggestion, I think the audience and content ratings would need to be separated for business’ sake.  A movie with adult content can still be a hit with teenagers (for the quintessential example, look no further than “Black Swan“), but if it isn’t rated “T” in Ebert’s system, why would this age group want to see it?

Random Factoid #441

12 10 2010

I’ve seen lots of topics around gender pop up on the web over the past few days, so I’ve decided to dedicate two factoids to the issue.  Today’s focuses on the men; tomorrow, on the women.

Cinematical took a look at the MPAA’s sexism in evaluating nudity in movies.  Listen to this statistic:

Since 2006, 786 movies have been flagged for “nudity.”  Only three — all 2010 releases — have the warning of “male nudity”: Jackass 3DEat Pray Love, and Grown Ups. Zero in five years carry a “female nudity” red flag.

So why the discrimination against men?  Apparently it’s the legacy of “Bruno,” which angered quite a few parents.  I’ll admit that it was quite graphic (and a little bit more than I expected from an R), but I’m sure there are plenty of movies with graphic female nudity and we don’t see them getting descriptors added.  And for those wondering, “Bruno” was rated R for “pervasive strong and crude sexual content, graphic nudity and language.”

I don’t understand why male nudity is that much more taboo.  I saw “Eat Pray Love” and “Grown Ups,” and neither featured any sort of traumatizing images.  Both were just bare backsides, which can pass in PG movies.  The double standard seems quite strange.  Are we just protecting women from the indecency of seeing certain things?

There’s only one fair way to do this: either the MPAA takes the unnecessary step of adding the gender of the naked person before each mention of nudity in a movie OR they just go back to saying “nudity” and leaving it at that.

Random Factoid #310

3 06 2010

I’m pretty easily amused.  I’ve probably used that line to start a factoid several times, but it’s the truth.  I am.

And it’s funny how I’ll see one thing and get a train of thought going that leads me to a factoid.  Today’s came from reading a post from 24 Frames, the movie blog for the Los Angeles Times.  Yesterday, the MPAA reversed its rating on “Eat Pray Love” from an R to PG-13.  Sony wanted this for obvious reasons: making sure they could keep the younger teen demographic.  It was R for “brief strong language;” now, it is PG-13 for “brief strong language, some sexual references and male rear nudity.”  I like how those last two things weren’t mentioned at all in the R-rated descriptor.

But some of the descriptors that the MPAA uses are kind of … odd.  Take for instance, the ones for the 2010 remake of “The Karate Kid.”

I’m sorry, but “bullying?”  I understand that parents may not want their kids to see that, but there are sites now for parents to get more in-depth looks at a movie’s content.  I don’t see why they couldn’t just leave it at “violence” and call it a day.

Or what’s even worse: “a brief instance of smoking.”  I honestly wonder if the MPAA use that for some movies just to make me laugh.  Although smoking kills and I’m glad that the smoking crack-down is occurring as long as it doesn’t disrupt the art.