f*ck censorship: This Film is Not Yet Rated

amusingly, Mistress Cowfish reports that the first trailer has been, you guessed it, censored.

So I added a second, below it. Just scroll respectfully past the corpse… 

This Film Is Not Yet Rated asks whether Hollywood movies and independent films are rated equally for comparable content; whether sexual content in gay-themed movies are given harsher ratings penalties than their heterosexual counterparts; whether it makes sense that extreme violence is given an R rating while sexuality is banished to the cutting room floor; whether Hollywood studios receive detailed directions as to how to change an NC-17 film into an R while independent film producers are left guessing; and finally, whether keeping the raters and the rating process secret leave the MPAA entirely unaccountable for its decisions.

Sounds like my kind of film! Not only does the Motion Picture Association of America censor the films, it censors its own identity, in that the censors themselves are carefully hidden from public view. Now that prison executioners are all out, the MPAA censors could well be the most seceretive Star Chamber in the United States.

Okay, maybe the second.

Naturally, the MPAA claims it hides its people to protect them from undue public influence. But what about due public influence? They are serving, after all, a public here, a public which has very different standards of decency and outrage than their grandparents did. If you think about it, the sole innovation the MPAA rating system has offered in the past 40 years is the NC-17 rating, which was about as welcome at a producer’s meeting as a big, steaming mug of hemlock. Surely someone should be held accountable? Why the Bene Gesserit treatment? Do their powers vanish if they’re seen? Do they disintegrate in sunlight, or (given that it’s Hollywood) melt in water?

By making them invisible, the MPAA has made their censors unaccountable and, thus, irresponsible. Only by making people’s decisions effect their reputations, and by connecting their reputations to their identity, can we have a functional system. The censors are dehumanized and isolated from the community by the system designed to protect them. Without the possiblity of consequences reflecting actions, what we have is not an anarchy but a fascist system, and the only cure for that is revolution.

Behold the terrorist force:

 When director Kirby Dick wanted to learn the identities of the most secretive group in the film industry, he resorted to a time-honored Hollywood tradition. He hired a private eye to follow them and go through their garbage…

Dick argues that the process amounts to censorship because it forces filmmakers to tone down — maybe even gut — their works rather the incur the wrath of the Motion Picture Association of America‘s ratings board…

Dick said he did nothing illegal in hiring his own investigator and filming her at work, scenes that help form a dramatic arc in his production.

“That was the only way I could get their names. They have been kept secret for nearly 30 years. If what they are doing is in the public interest, then the information about who they are should be public.”

His film got NC-17, by the way, so he told them to fuddleduddle themselves and released it unrated, which will be good for PR if not for bums in seats.



lost and found: the Scream!

Munch's The Scream

Munch ado about something: Edvard Munch’s The Scream, one of the most popular paintings of the 19th Century, has been recaptured from its kidnappers relatively unharmed, along with The Madonna, another Muncherpiece. The Guardian has the full report:

“The pictures came into our hands this afternoon after a successful police action,” said Iver Stensrud, head of the police investigation.

There had been a £163,000 reward for the recovery of the paintings, which were both completed in 1891 and are now owned by the city of Oslo. Mr Stensrud said no reward had been paid.

He refused to discuss the methods or details of the search and said it was not possible for the news media, or the public, to see the paintings immediately.

“All that remains is an expert examination to confirm with 100% certainty, that these are the original paintings. We believe these are the originals,” Mr Stensrud said. “I saw the paintings myself today, and there [was] far from the damage that could have been feared.” …

The court did not identify the armed men who entered the museum and threatened employees with their weapons. However, Judge Arne Lyng sentenced Petter Tharaldsen, 34, to eight years in prison, Bjoern Hoen, 37, to seven, and Petter Rosenvinge, 38, to four years for their part in the robbery…

The Scream, depicting a tortured soul, is arguably Norway‘s greatest cultural treasure. It is widely recognised around the world and enjoys cult status with students. A chain of pubs in the UK which is popular with students uses the image on the signs hanging outside its premises.

comment o’ the day: Graydon Carter on 9/12

Graydon Carter, Editor in Chief, Vanity Fair 

Graydon Carter’s Letter from the Editor was particularly good in this month’s Vanity Fair. In it, he said this:

“We have a president who continues to argue theWhat We've Lost, by Graydon Carter, Vanity Fair fine points of what is, or is not, torture. (Remember those balmy, simpler days of our youth when we had a president who quibbled over what is, or is not, sex?). And on this, the fifth anniversary of 9/11, perhaps it’s time to review the administration’s assertion that that was the day the world changed. It really wasn’t; 9/12 was. That was the day the neocons in the White House began using this devastating attack on American soil to further their own dreams of taking over Iraq. That was the day the world began its downward spiral. That was the day the administration began plotting to remove a dictator over there and to create one here.”

pickle lamp: 120 volts and a dill

Some days BoingBoing is just on; other days it’s eighteen posts about the project to equip yaks in the Gobi Desert with iPods and four on Disney’s Haunted Mansion. This is one of the former, thank god.

Here is the story of the famous Pickle Lamp:

HOWTO make a glowing pickle-lamp 
You can make a glowing pickle-lamp by jamming power-boards into either end of a pickle that’s resting atop a non-conducting surface and then plugging it in. No idea whether this will burn your house down, but it may be worth it. Link (via Digg)

One of the commentors gives a link to the inevitable YouTube:

Although there was another video I preferred, only it had, like, this girl’s voice? in the background? that spoke in questions?

Honestly, does no one understand that production values are SO IMPORTANT?

NYT article censored by NYT: Details Emerge in British Terror Case

Boingboing reports on the self-censorship that the NYT has engaged in and why:

NYT ad tech blocks UK web visitors from terror plot article
The NYT website is using geo-targeting ad technology to block UK visitors from accessing a news article about the investigation surrounding the alleged UK airline terror plot. The technological self-censorship is an attempt to comply with UK law. The Times’ Tom Zeller explains how the block works and why it’s in place here.
Snip from MSNBC article:

“We had clear legal advice that publication in the U.K. might run afoul of their law,” Times spokeswoman Diane McNulty said Tuesday. “It’s a country that doesn’t have the First Amendment, but it does have the free press. We felt we should respect their country’s law.”Visitors who click on a link to the article, published Monday, instead got a notice explaining that British law “prohibits publication of prejudicial information about the defendants prior to trial.” The blocked article reveals evidence authorities have in the alleged plot to use liquid explosives to down U.S. airliners over the Atlantic.

Link to MSNBC coverage, here’s an item on Foreign Policy blog, Link to Guardian UK coverage. Here’s what web visitors identified as UK-based will see:

On advice of legal counsel, this article is unavailable to readers of nytimes.com in Britain. This arises from the requirement in British law that prohibits publication of prejudicial information about the defendants prior to trial.”

And, of course, a visitor to the raincoaster blog will see instead the article itself, after the jump. Continue reading