Tucked away in this New York Times cultural review are the following paragraphs:
Director pals told him what he suspected already: the secretive, too-powerful Motion Picture Association of America was hammering independent filmmakers with tough ratings while letting the major studios off easy. You couldn’t reason with the ratings board, the indies bleated; it wouldn’t even let you argue, on appeal, that your new movie was tamer than a film that got an R or a PG-13 rating the year before.
The ratings board’s anonymous members had few clear standards for evaluating movies, his indie friends whispered. Small wonder, they griped, that movies with gay sex scenes, or even lingering female orgasms – like scenes cut from Kimberly Peirce’s “Boys Don’t Cry” and “The Cooler” by Wayne Kramer – were verboten, while gore fests and straight-sex scenes seldom got as much of a reaction out of the board.
It didn’t take long for word to come back: “This Film Is Not Yet Rated” was rated NC-17, for “some graphic sexual content.”
Mr. Dick’s movie did not stop there. He appealed the board’s ruling to another supersecret body, the Classification and Rating Appeals Board, whose members are mainly theater-chain and studio executives. They were not sympathetic. On Dec. 21 they rejected his appeal, 10-0.
Finally, Mr. Dick, whose last documentary, “Twist of Faith,” was nominated for an Academy Award in 2004, also reveals, somewhat ominously, that representatives from the Roman Catholic Church and from the National Council of Churches sit in on the appeals process.
Does the privileged access of these religious institutions to the ratings process have anything to do with the ratings that result?