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by Paul King
Saturday, Feb. 03, 2007 at 2:27 PM
FILMMAKERS & AUDIENCES:
PETITION THE MPAA FOR BETTER RATINGS!
SIGN THE PETITION
FILMMAKERS & AUDIENCES:
PETITION THE MPAA FOR BETTER RATINGS!
The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), a trade association, defines itself "as the voice and advocate of the American motion picture industry." But its rating system for films impacts much more than the industry. MPAA ratings affect a film's distribution and thus its financial success; this, in turn, limits what kinds of movies get made and what people get to see at the local movie theater.
The rating system was designed to provide information to parents and movie-goers, but it too often results in arbitrary, inconsistent, and unreasonable decisions, which chill filmmakers' creative freedom and keep films away from audiences.
MPAA ratings are ill-defined, subjective and inconsistently-applied. This makes them confusing for both film-goers and film-makers.
The rules of ratings determinations and the details of the deliberation process are secret, as are the identities of members of the Ratings Board and Appeals Board.
Raters have no special qualifications and receive no training. Professionals from fields such as education, media studies, sociology and psychology are not involved in the process and may even be intentionally excluded.
Film ratings are not applied uniformly regardless of content and viewpoint. The disparity in treatment is especially apparent with regard to films dealing with sexual orientation.
The NC- 17 rating deprives individual parents of their right to make choices for their own children and dramatically limits the ability of adults to see films.
The rating system, to be credible and effective, must incorporate and reflect certain basic principles. The process should be objective and professional, and its results consistent; those involved should be accountable to the public for their decisions; and the decisions should be fair and reasonable.
Objectivity: We ask that the MPAA develop and publicize objective guidelines for rating films.
Transparency: We ask that the MPAA publicly identify all participants in the rating process and their qualifications, background or experience.
Professionalism: We ask that the rating and appeals board be comprised of qualified individuals representing a broad cross-section of views and experiences, and that they receive training in the objective criteria for rating films.
Fairness: We ask that the MPAA develop fair procedures for rating films and hearing appeals, which includes the right to be heard through a representative of one's choice, the right to present relevant evidence and arguments, the right to a majority vote and the right to a written decision specifying the grounds for the rating determination.
Personal Choice and Responsibility: We ask that the NC-17 rating be replaced with a category that describes content fairly and accurately, but does not restrict the rights of individual parents to make their own decisions about what their minor children may see or limit the ability of adults to see films.
We ask that these steps be taken to improve the system, not destroy it. We all have the same goal - to inform and entertain the American people, and to preserve the creative process that is essential to the film industry.
Join us in petitioning for a ratings system that represents you – America's movie makers and movie goers.
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