MPAA: The Last Bastion of Censorship in America

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The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) is the last bastion of censorship in America. It recently exercised its right to determine what was appropriate for the public to see when a Sin City poster featuring Eva Green in a white robe was banned by the MPAA, stating that the robe was too revealing. Specifically, they stated that they banned the poster because of Eva Green’s under-breast curve and visible areola. One cannot help but imagine that whoever determined this poster should be banned spent a great deal of time studying it.

The MPAA was formed initially in 1922 under the moniker Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America. It was created in order to give films at the time a set of standards by which filmmakers would use as a list to make sure that movies wouldn’t depict excessive violence, sexuality or other practices deemed immoral. It was later changed to the Motion Picture Association of America and placed under the direction of Jack Valenti in the mid ‘60s. To paraphrase Brett from Pulp Fiction, they got into this thing with the best intentions.

What started as a way to inform parents and the general public about a movie’s content, later became a way by which major film studios and outside influences could determine what American moviegoers could or could not see. In the modern era, the MPAA also serves as a lobbying organization for the film studios it represents to convince lawmakers to legislate anti-piracy laws. The MPAA and its entirely subjective methods by which movies are rated are also used to suppress independent and controversial films that will not allow major studios to make money.

Regarding Eva Green’s poster being banned, this action proves that the MPAA is the last bastion of censorship in America. This is an organization that perpetuates the idea that morality can be legislated, and that a third party can determine what the public can or cannot see. There is no subject matter too controversial, offensive or tasteless that warrants any sort of censorship. Films seem to be the last art medium that the public finds suitable to censor, likely because most of the American public views the MPAA as an organization that simply views movies to in order to determine what kind of content is in a movie.

Regarding censorship, no compromises can be made. It is a slippery slope when some third party or entity not directly involved with the creative process can suddenly step in and declare a piece of art unfit for public viewing.

With the MPAA’s ability to determine what the American public cannot see, it proves that despite this country’s professed dedication to civil rights, they are the last bastion of censorship in America. No longer content with simply evaluating the content of movies, they have now branched out into determining how movies can advertise themselves. If this country is to have true freedom of expression, there cannot be a single instance where that expression is limited if there are way to avoid offensive material. The public can change the radio station or the television channel, it can avoid a particular section of the art museum, it has every right not to buy an album they deem offensive, but to limit a person’s exposure to this material by attacking the artist or their work is a crime against civil rights that must be stopped.

Opinion by David Jones