Friday, September 04, 2009

A truly maddening dose of MPAA madness

Before I get into any of that, and a commendable scoop from easily one of this site's favorite movie reviewers, Nell Minow, there's news of a new Tyler Perry movie in works. I know that seems to happen at least twice a year, but this one really does sound pretty fascinating.

Lionsgate has now tapped him to direct a film based on the 1975 Ntozake Shange play "For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf."

As far as I know, this would be the first Tyler Perry movie not based on his own work, and if it sticks to the structure of the play - a series of 20 poems read by women with names like "Lady in Purple" - will certainly present him with a challenge.

And I know Tyler Perry is an acquired taste for many, many people, and I can thoroughly understand, but for all his faults as a filmmaker I guarantee you there isn't a director out there who's now writing better parts for women than he consistently does. So this project should be just perfect for him.

And this being the fall, Mr. Perry has his second movie of this year coming out next Friday, "I Can Do Bad All By Myself." With easily one of my favorite actresses, Taraji P. Henson, as the star, you can bet I'll be there to see it Saturday afternoon.

But after that today, it's about something that really makes me irate, and I have to warn you, I'm not completely sure why as I start to type this. First the facts, per Nell Minow in today's (I think) Chicago Sun Times, which you can read here.

We've all gone to the movies and, for as long as I can remember, seen those green screens that precede the trailers and always say "appropriate for all audiences." Well, no more. In April without apparently telling, well, anyone, the MPAA (far from my favorite cabal in the world) just decided that green now means "appropriate for some audiences."

Now, I fully realize that for most of the world that means absolutely nothing, and if I were to decide to launch a career as a moralist I'd be a truly rotten one (I was sad to see today that the king of trash, John Waters, now says he's only going to make two more movies before he retires.) But stop for a second and think about just what "some audiences" means.

If you have any idea, please let me know, because I have no friggin clue. And I'm not a parent, but if you've gotten used to the green screen meaning you don't have to worry about the content of the trailer that's about to unfold in front of you, now be warned that you really can't count on that at all.

But what irks me even more than the randomness of this move is what seems to be the attitude behind it of just giving up. Of course, kids and anyone else can see "red-band" trailers on the Internet simply by typing in an age that is clearly not their own. But at least that's an attempt to keep some people from seeing it. Now, the green, in what was once considered a safe zone, is moving quickly toward the red, with no limitations whatsoever.

Though it's a slightly different subject (and, believe me, one I could go off on for no short amount of time), PG-13 has become the same sort of animal, a toilet full of every kind of random filth imaginable to push the limits of R as they keep getting flimsier.

Wow. That was quite a bit of bile for a Friday morning, so I'll just leave you with this assurance. I LOVE raunchy, R-RATED movies. I can't wait to see Mike Judge's "Extract" on Saturday afternoon, and despite some early middlin-to-bad reviews, I'm really looking to a solidly R-rated comedy.

But is it too much to ask from the MPAA that everything below R really is appropriate for folks under age 17 or so, or that we have some kind of control over what we have to see in trailers? Sheesh.

And to go out on a more pleasant note, and since I really do like to mention Spike Jonze's upcoming "Where the Wild Things Are" just about every day, check out this groovy cover of Filter magazine, illustrated by Geoff McFetridge. Looks like I'll be buying that soon. Peace out.


Nell Minow said...

Thanks so much, Keith. What infuriates me is the hypocrisy and arrogance -- to make the change without telling anyone, just hoping no one would notice and expecting that it would be acceptable despite the prevalence, indeed omnipresence, of trailers online and on DVDs, where you can't even fast forward through them. If they have made some assessment about the level of material, they should disclose it. Like you, I am a fan of a wide range of films, tame to hard-core. But I don't like bad surprises and I don't like to see the MPAA sneak something past parents and other concerned viewers who just want to have a chance to decide what they want to see.

Anonymous said...

From what I've seen and heard, the new green trailers say "For Appropriate Audiences." Now, this means that trailers with more mature subject matter could only be shown before movies with similar subject matter. For example, I actually encountered this while seeing District 9. Before the film, they showed a very "crossing the lines" trailer for Zombieland. (Cursing, blood-shed, barely clothed zombies, etc.) This green screen did have the for appropriate audiences green band before it which noone usually pays attention to, but if you're there to see an R-rated flick, then the contents of the trailer shouldn't matter. An R is an R and they're not escorting teens in to sit for the previews.

Reel Fanatic said...

Well put, Nell ... reading your article as I was eating my morning bowl of Kashi obviously set me off too!

Mercurie said...

I am with both you and Nell on this one. I think the worst part of this is the phrasing "approved for appropriate audiences." I have to wonder who decides what an appropriate audience for any given movie is, as the MPAA is providing no guideline as to what the appropriate audience may be! I think this is simply going to cause a great deal of confusion for parents and will probably anger a good many of them!