Censorship, Movie Ratings, & Marketing

Most large industries have regulatory bodies or rating systems which aim to keep power where it lies. I recently watched Kirby Dick's This Film Is Not Yet Rated, a film about the MPAA ratings board.
The MPAA ratings board is composed of what is deemed as typical moral parents, but they play up to support large movie studios. If a film is rated NC17 some studios won't release it, and even if they will it is hard to advertise the movie.

Matt stone, one of the creators of South Park, mentioned that when he tried to get an independent film reviewed they gave it a NC17 rating, and would not say why because they said if they gave specific reasons they would be practicing censorship. Later on he got Team America reviewed, and they gave him a laundry list of what specifically needed to be changed to avoid an NC17 rating.

Some of the absurdity of the movie ratings game include the likes of good ratings for violence in movies (especially without blood), but non missionary sexual intercourse is not proper. The support for violence in unsurprising given the absurd number of movies that run military ads prior to starting the film. The military is not only a leading advertisers, but if a producer needs military stuff to create a movie, the pentagon has to view the film before public does.

Virtually every large market has some form of censorship / reviews board. The stuff they censor is likely a large market waiting to be tapped. If they are unwilling to target those markets because of fear of blowback from advertisers that presents a large targeted audience and strong monetization strategy for independent creators.

Published: August 14, 2007 by Aaron Wall in publishing & media


August 14, 2007 - 4:59pm

i'm liking this new set of posts re: other things than search. mix it up, i'm sure your audience will appreciate it.

August 14, 2007 - 6:22pm

I loved this movie, but in reference to this large untapped market... The market gets tapped - by DVDs. All these movies that have undergone large edits have an "Unrated Version" or "Director's Cut" on the DVD. I don't know if there's necessarily a market that just likes viewing illicit material - in any form. DVDs are probably the most successful way to capitalize on the inefficiencies created by the MPAA.

As for other markets with ratings boards, a similar model should probably be followed... The original copyright holder is definitely the person in the best position to capitalize on this extra market potential. Just release the censored material through a smaller channel marked up at a premium (members' area, online purchase only, break all the censored material into a separate product catered to the niche market, etc.).

Of course, this isn't to say that there's not some (lucrative?) way to exploit this market inefficiency as a third party...

August 15, 2007 - 6:21am

Hi Anthony
In many ways in many markets there becomes a form of self-censorship. I think that is where the opportunity is, creating a distribution platform for those who have been burned by a system of self censorship.

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