Monday, June 27, 2005

Almost finished with my report on the “Paul Dini Wikipedia Omission”. Did some playing around on the Net and came across this. Anyone heard of that documentary? I haven’t seen the doc in its entirety, but thanks to the small miracle that is the Internet, I have come across several webpages which post clips of the film and based on these rather lengthy sections, coupled with reading reviews and commentary on it, allowed me to put together the narrative puzzle.

Well, according to its listing on IMDB and its trailer, Gunner Palace has been widely praised for its realism and, as to be expected, widely derided for the subjects’ hilarious inability to rap. The story contained in the doc isn’t the reason why it is listed here on my blog. It’s the MPAA rating of PG-13.

Shocking, isn’t it? The MPAA, long criticized for being inconsistent and unfair in rating the content of films, allows between 40 to 50 “f*cks” slide (and some rather tense action scenes) because the people appearing in the film happen to be soldiers and the film just happens to be a realistic documentary set in Iraq. Now, I have always been of the mind that a film should never be awarded an “R” solely because of dirty language. It makes no sense. Michael Mann’s The Insider contained no violence, no sex (implied or otherwise), no nudity--but plenty of “f*cks” and while it is not a documentary, it accomplishes the same goals that Gunner Palace does in that it is a public service which educates, enlightens and (occasionally) entertains. That these two films are so much alike should come as no surprise to those of you who have seen them. The aforementioned is why you should be extremely baffled and befuddled as to why the two films do not share the same rating.

Perhaps the MPAA, fearing a public-relations backlash, decided that stamping an “R” on The Insider would be preferable to having to explain their actions to numerous “watchdog” groups whose goal is to protect America’s children (it seems). I am also of the mind that Mann’s other picture, Collateral, should have been another PG-13er. I’m less likely to win that argument than the Insider one, because of the gun violence in the former.

Getting back to the Gunner thing, inconsistency is inconsistency. I don’t care if Gunner Palace was one epic anti-drug commercial, if it’s an anti-drug commercial which contains pervasive language and sporadic bursts of violence the MPAA should do what it has always done and slap it with the same “R” it has awarded less-deserving projects. The PG-13 rating on Gunner Palace guarantees that no one will be protecting the 13 and under crowd from profanity and violence. It’s amazing that the MPAA, with each film it reviews, makes the futile effort of preventing kids from seeing films that will eventually be seen once the film hits DVD. These days, anyone over the age of 5 will know what the F-bomb means or implies and will soon be using them (if they are not already) in schoolyards and sandboxes all over North America. I hope that the PG-13 rating of Gunner Palace will lead to relaxed MPAA standards of rating profanity in films.

Because, as many people have already embraced, you can only box the ears and cover the eyes of the young for so long.


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