The MPAA is the “author­ity” in the US which decides what kind of rat­ing a film should get: G, PG, PG-​​13, R, NC-​​17 and the noto­ri­ous X range. Over the years since Jack Valenti founded the orga­ni­za­tion in 1968, some of its deci­sions have been baf­fling and arbi­trary. For instance it’s not uncom­mon for close-​​up shots of peo­ple in fla­grante to earn a film a tame R; but wider shots show­ing mov­ing pelvises end up thrust­ing (!) your film into less-​​pristine waters.

And let’s not even begin dis­cussing what hap­pens if a movie tries to show a woman hav­ing an orgasm.

The thing is that the MPAA board is not made up of cul­tural experts; these are allegedly reg­u­lar peo­ple. Some of their deci­sions seem to indi­cate that “reg­u­lar” means “func­tion­ally retarded”.

Now, to make things even more asi­nine, the MPAA is announc­ing they’ll be using smok­ing as a cri­te­rion for deter­min­ing film ratings.

Along with vio­lence, depic­tions of sex, adult lan­guage and other con­tent con­sid­er­a­tions, rat­ings orga­ni­za­tions will exam­ine new releases to deter­mine if they glam­or­ize smok­ing or if it is per­va­sive through the films, even among adults.

Nothing else the MPAA is doing will change. This means that if you have a movie which glam­or­izes crime-​​sprees and killing — com­plete with extra­mar­i­tal fuck­ing (shoulders-​​up), you might be in for PG-​​13 … but if your char­ac­ters light up and puff after mur­der­ing a chapel­ful of nuns, you’ll be in XXX range.

Can the MPAA pos­si­bly become more irrel­e­vant? They’re like the Catholic church of the movie indus­try — old, out­dated and far too self-​​important, yet some­how still taken seri­ously by mil­lions of inbred dimwits.

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