This Film Is Not Yet Rated

If you care about movies, de facto censorship, or the control of media, Kirby Dick’s documentary about how ratings get doled out by the Motion Picture Association of America will feed your paranoia. A handful of media conglomerates control all of the major film studios in this country, and the MPAA ratings system serves those corporate clients, acting as an utterly unaccountable star chamber to determine which films get distribution, and which don’t. Guided by fuzzy principles and subjective judgments, the MPAA wields enormous power. An NC-17 rating can send a movie to the dustbin. Those ratings promulgate values that are subjective, inconsistent and often arbitrary. Sex is bad, but violence is less bad. The human body is feared, unless it is gushing blood. No matter how bloody, such movies get easy passes from the ratings board, so long as they are coming from that assembly line of movies pumped out by the major studios. But despite the serious subtext of This Film Is Not Yet Rated, there is leavening humor to be found in the myriad ironies the film reveals. A compelling little detective story forms a plot device for this revealing documentary as the identities of the secret raters are gradually uncovered.