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The Current Rating System in the United States Essay

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English 122
12-1-11
The Current Rating System in the United States
The current content rating system in use for film, the MPAA, is the only content rating system that is legally enforced in the United States. For this reason, the system has caused controversy. Many have claimed that the system is unbalanced, as the MPAA bases the level of appropriate content for all people in the United States off of the opinions of an unidentified council of people over the age of forty (Jenkins). The stance on how the system’s effectiveness is a relative stance, however, the secondhand effects of the system are obvious and existing today. Decisions have been made by film distribution companies that have affected the way films with objectionable
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This type of butterfly effect that the rating system has on films is evident: the attempt to block off certain age limits to harsh types of content has ultimately put pressure on artists to limit types of ways to tell a story in mainstream film. In the interview with filmmaker Kirby Dick on this subject, the interviewer asks him about the topic of sexuality in film, MPAA’s stance on sexuality, and how Dick represented these ideas presented in his film. Dick stated,
Allison Anders makes the very interesting point that in some ways the ratings system is more restrictive of sexuality now than it was in the Sixties and Seventies. I think there are a number of reasons. Perhaps to some degree society has shifted slightly. Film studios were making some money from films that were more sexually provocative, like Midnight Cowboy. But, then again, you have to realize that the studios benefit from the system's coming down hard on films, especially on independent films about adult sexuality. To begin with, who makes those films? Independents and foreign filmmakers make those films, and that's the studios' competition. So they restrict it. It's not much competition, but it does make a difference. Jt also makes it appear like the Rating Jioard is doing its job as censors, as raters, doing their job," and doesn't pay attention to the fact that all these films about violence are slipping through unencumbered by a rating. And the studio filmmakers are kept
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