I understand that because art and business overlap in Hollywood that bad decisions have to be made for the sake of turning a profit. Otherwise there isn’t more money to dump into other projects. I’m sad to see this is being done to the movie The King’s Speech because of the repeated use of the F-word in one particular scene. You can kill, you can show tits, and you can use racist/sexist/homophobic terminology but don’t dare ever use the F-word more than once in a PG13 film. And thus, according to The Hollywood Reporter, The Weinstein Company has recut and resubmitted The King’s Speech to the dictatorial and illogical MPAA and they have granted it a PG13 so the film can draw in more ticket-payers scared of the R status. Now kids can see the film and come to understand that depictions of historical characters should be sanitized and safe.
Here’s the thing–this was going to happen anyways once The King’s Speech was edited for television, but doing this for the theaters legitimizes this kind of artistic censorship in an effort to appease the MPAA board members. The MPAA has no standards that can be understood which is why you get very subjective reactions and why an indie film might get targeted for a gay embrace while a big budget film gets off the hook for blowing a hole in someone’s chest. The MPAA is an illusion for parents and the community at large. I mean if I were creative, I could direct a G-rated film with sweet bunnies that embraces Holocause Revisionism–but the message would still be offensive. The MPAA reacts to trivial elements such as exposed body parts, superstitious sounds (swearing) and special effects (violence)–not the message (unless their bias comes out and they find an excuse to use an R-rating because of the message). These elements are heavily noted for parents in all kinds of online family guides and reviews. Why do we need the MPAA in this day and age?
If you want to see how ridiculous and secretive this organization is watch the documentary This Film is Not Yet Rated (2006). The director literally stalks the MPAA board to find out just who is making these decisions for all of us. Think about that–in the diversity of America we have a handful of people labeling movies and telling us all what is offensive and what is not. This includes Christians who may find the message of a G rated documentary offensive like Pantheism for Kids (made up title) versus The Passion of The Christ with loads of violence. Are we all so stupid and uninformed that we can’t read a guide beforehand to see if the content is appropriate for our kids? Some parents are, but I would say most Christian parents aren’t as they themselves probably don’t trust the ratings board.
The MPAA unfortunately can limit distribution and sales just by a threat of a certain rating. It’s wrong and squashes ideas in the market of ideas as profit is required.
The King’s Speech was an enjoyable film that showed the frustrations and struggles of a man overcoming his speech impediment. Young people with stuttering issues could benefit–especially from the scene where he vents using the word “fuck” because the king in question learned something from it about himself. A PG13 rating is suitable for that scene as the F-word literally has the power taken out of it by the repetition and humor sets in. Lenny Bruce would have approved since he attempted to do the same with the N-word–oh hell, the word “nigger” as I suspect you are all readers capable of putting words in context and not jumping to racist conclusions.
As long as I’m on that tangent, the recent decision by NewSouth Books to censor Mark Twain by replacing the word “nigger” with “slave” in Huckleberry Finn is so utterly ridiculous that it is essentially historical revisionism. It will be interesting in the future to see kids growing up and not being exposed to how the word was used in the past. We can start with literature and work our way up to the rap band NWA so that “Niggers with Attitude” becomes “Slaves with Attitude.” Instead of sanitizing Mark Twain we can encourage kids to read it on their own so that it doesn’t have to be spoken aloud and cause embarrassment (I agree, a white kid having to read “nigger” is awkward). It doesn’t have to be part of a public school curriculum as there are so many pieces of literature that could be taught and so little time to do it. Fact is, an overview of “banned literature” would probably make sure some kids read it on their own. The taboo is always attractive. I guess you can throw To Kill a Mockingbird out of public schools too.
If you have any artistic sense and have not seen The King’s Speech I would wait for the R-rated version to come out on DVD. I don’t see why we should reward The Weinsteins, who I bear no ill will, with our patronage on this decision.
BTW: Fuck the MPAA!