Friday, December 21, 2007

Movies: Apparently it's the "porn" part of "torture porn" that makes it acceptable to the MPAA.

As a general rule, I try to avoid bringing up politics in this blog. We're talking about blood and gore and cannibals and the like and I guess I just don't see why I should drag down the level of conversation to the gutter of politics. Sure, in a general way, I touch on issues when they pop up, for better or (more usually) worse, in the films and books I review. But mostly I reckon you didn't come here for my views on politics – after all, I'm just some dude who blathers on about horror stuff, what the hell are my qualifications to tell you what to think about politics?

Besides, there are few pits of rabid prejudice, poisonous spite, and crippling ignorance deeper than the political-blogosphere.

I say this all as a preemptive apology for linking you to a political blog in this entry. Today's story is important enough, I think, to merit the act; but that doesn't make doing it any less unsavory.

Think Progress, a liberal issues blog, posted an interesting story recently on a MPAA decision regarding the one-sheet for a recent documentary on the death of an Afghan taxi driver identified only as "Dilwar." According to the documentary makers, Dilwar was captured by US forces in Afghanistan and, thought he had no ties to terrorist groups or activities, was tortured to death by interrogators at the US prison at Bagram Air Force base in Afghanistan.

The poster for the film (shown above) features a doctored image of two soldiers leading away a hooded man in handcuffs. The image contains pieces from two different journalistic photos.

Variety reports that the MPAA declared that the poster was unsuitable and that the documentary makers would have their rating revoked if they used the poster in their advertising. The MPAA objected to the image of the hood.

The point is this: this poster, with its allusion to the actual practices of torture currently condoned by the government of the United States, is considerably more restrained, tasteful, and socially significant than more violent torture-themed posters approved for horror flicks like Hostel and Saw. The one-sheet for the latest flick in the Saw franchise features a woman strapped into a torture device and wearing a hood made of red fabric and a boar's-head mask.

What's the lesson? If your film features torture, you'd best make sure it is gratuitous and, if possible, pointless. There's nothing less acceptable in film then the ugly truth.

2 comments:

Sasquatchan said...

At least there's no shrill bleating about how George Busch stacked the MPAA full of Texan cronies to fulfill his ____ plan (fill in the blank as you see fit).

Heather Santrous said...

Hey now, watch what you say about us Texan's Sasquatchan. Then again, what do I care? I don't like Bush either.

The MPAA is a silly bunch. They will come done hard on one movie then let another movie, that I considered worse, get by with the same thing. I sure can't figure them out.