Last week the MPAA demanded the removal of the trailer for Rob Zombie’s Halloween remake from Yahoo because it was too violent. Now I am getting reports that the MPAA’s internet crackdown has extended to the British horror film, Severance, forcing Magnolia Pictures to change the film’s website. What I understand is that the American site looked much like the British site – click here to see that – but that the comical image of the decapitated guy spurting blood was offensive to the MPAA. Magnolia changed the site to a more staid one featuring mostly just the trailer – they had to, because part of the deal you make with the MPAA when they rate your film is that they get to approve your marketing materials. Refusing to comply with an MPAA ruling about marketing materials would lead to the rating being pulled from the film, and nobody’s looking to release an unrated movie, at least not if they’re trying to actually make money with it.
The problem is that the Internet isn’t television or a billboard. I can see why the Captivity billboards were such a big deal – while I hate your children and hope they get traumatized by horrific imagery as much as possible, I can understand why you wouldn’t want to have to deal with that stuff in a public environment. I understand why commercials for R-rated movies shouldn’t air at certain times of day. But the Internet is a completely different animal, and it shouldn’t be treated like it’s prime time TV.
A website for an R-rated movie should be able to be R-rated. Why not? The movie is not aimed at kids, so the advertising shouldn’t have to be palatable for them. The fact is that the Internet is going to always be filled with content that children shouldn’t see, but this is where the relationship between the MPAA and parents should be defined: the MPAA should be there in an advisory capacity, making sure that the website for an R-rated film is well marked as such, that it contains whatever reasonable warnings are possible. At that point it’s up to the parent, which is how it should be – these are your goddamned children, after all. The MPAA shouldn’t be responsible for your child’s web surfing.
I hate kids. People who have kids are mystifying to me, but I generally look at it as ‘to each his or her own’ – if you want to ruin your life with a smelly, crying bundle of neediness that will force you to change the way you do everything and create an extra burden on our planet’s dwindling resources, go nuts. But it’s when the children begin trespassing on my life that I get mad – and not just the crying kid at the restaurant or movie theater (I fucking hate you people who do this to me). I’m talking about the refrain of ‘Think about the children!’, to which I can only reply, ‘I don’t want to think about the children – that’s why I haven’t had any.’ As a parent it’s your responsibility to deal with what your snotty little fuckers see, read and surf, not mine. Your child’s ‘innocence’ should be no reason for me to be denied the kind of legal entertainment I want to see, read or surf.
We make enough compromises on a day to day basis for the sensibilities of children, and those who think like children (ie, the very religious types who flip out when a nipple shows up on the Super Bowl), but there has to be a limit to it all. That limit should be the Internet. If Yahoo thinks that the Halloween trailer is suitable to run on their site, that should be their call. If Magnolia Pictures wants to have a stump squirting blood on their website, they should be allowed to have it (and keep in mind, the British were able to handle it). When the MPAA is acting as an advisory body for parents, it’s hard to argue against, but when they’re getting on the web and acting as a censor, they’ve exceeded their authority.