In its most ludicrous decision since the censoring of the one-sheet for Michael Winterbottom’s The Road to Guantanamo (exclusively unveiled by CHUD back in ’06), the MPAA has rejected the poster for Alex Gibney’s Oscar short-listed documentary, Taxi to the Dark Side, because its depiction of torture "is not suitable for all audiences". At issue is the presence of a hooded prisoner being marched off into the horizon by two U.S. soldiers.
Though it’s hard to tell from the smallish image (a larger version was just passed along, and can be seen below), this appears to be a far less intense depiction of torture than the one that got Guantanamo in trouble. Of course, the MPAA can always fall back on their "no hooded people, ever" defense (and their general objection to torture, which recently frustrated the marketing efforts Captivity), but that strikes me as awfully specious. Clearly, the Gibney poster is provocative. But, in augmenting an infamous photograph taken by Shaun Schwarz, it’s also attempting to be more thoughtful than inflammatory. And it certainly isn’t attempting to be gut-wrenchingly disturbing like some of the Saw and Hostel posters.
ThinkFilm president, Mark Urman, intends to appeal the MPAA’s ruling, but, short of adding Steven Spielberg as an executive producer, I doubt he’ll get anywhere with this traditionally intractable organization. In the future, I think the MPAA should take the genre of the film into consideration, but that would be entirely too sensible.