You've probably all heard all this before but for those that haven't...
CAPTIVITY: You might have heard about the whole controversy around the posters used to the promotion of the upcoming After Dark's film. If not here's what The Hollywood Reporter had to say about this ridiculous event:
The MPAA on Thursday disciplined After Dark Films for its controversial outdoor advertising campaign for the upcoming CAPTIVITY by imposing a monthlong suspension of the ratings process for the horror film, which has not yet been rated. The move could make it difficult for the film to bow on its scheduled release date of May 18.
In an uncharacteristically harsh reprimand, the MPAA -- which had not approved After Dark's ads for general audiences -- also said that After Dark and its distribution partner, Lionsgate, will be required to clear all the CAPTIVITY promotional materials it uses going forward in addition to the locations and venues of all advertising buys relating to the film. It is the first time the MPAA has imposed such a sanction, though some observers questioned whether the MPAA will be able to monitor all the ad buys.
While the MPAA will review After Dark's promotional materials before May 1,CAPTIVITY will not be eligible for consideration by the ratings board until then and will not be given priority scheduling at that time. There is no set time period for how long it takes the MPAA to issue a rating. That is dependent on the number of films lined up for a rating. The sanction doesn't give After Dark much time to recut or re-edit the film if the company is not satisfied with the initial rating issued.
"The sanctions in this case are severe because this was an unacceptable and flagrant violation of MPAA rules and procedures," MPAA senior vp advertising Marilyn Gordon said. "After Dark Films presented their ads for approval, as all companies are required to do if they wish to receive an MPAA rating. However, their ads were summarily rejected for their graphic depiction of a woman's torture and death. Yet After Dark proceeded to post them on billboards anyway, and these ads appeared in some of the most prominent public locations in Los Angeles and New York. It is now up to After Dark Films to restore good faith with the MPAA."
The MPAA's decision could force After Dark to postpone the release date of the film, moving it further into the heart of the busy summer moviegoing period. The production company also could decide to release the film unrated, which would severely limit its distribution because many commercial movie theaters will not play unrated movies.
A public outcry against the movie's billboards and New York taxi tops led to After Dark quickly removing the posters last week (HR 3/20). But After Dark continued to advertise its movie with a message, "Captivity Was Here," on the billboard locations where the ads first appeared. The new advertisement displayed the film's release date of May 18 along with the film's Web site.
After Dark CEO Courtney Solomon said at the time that the billboards were a mistake, but the fact that the company continued to promote the film in the locations where the offending ads had been featured has led some competitors to question its sincerity.
"For a group of people who claimed this was a mistake, (putting up the second billboard) was essentially thumbing their nose at the very group of which they were trying to get back into the good graces," one industry insider said.
After Dark didn't return calls seeking comment.
"If the violation by After Dark Films is flagrant as alleged, then the MPAA response is appropriate," said Peter Wilkes, president of Lionsgate's investor relations. Lionsgate is co-releasing the film with After Dark. "However, we believe that the MPAA will rate the film itself on its own merits."
According to one marketing executive, who declined to be named, the two-week window between the date when CAPTIVITY may now apply for a rating and its release is too short to complete the ratings process. "These people tried to play the MPAA and the MPAA came back," the exec said. "The real question is, is this print campaign really going to put people in seats? No print campaign has that much power, so was it really worth all this?"
In order to receive an MPAA rating from the ratings board, it is required that all promotional materials that will be publicly displayed -- either in print, television, theaters or online -- must be cleared with the MPAA.
"MPAA reviews tens of thousands of promotional materials each year," Gordon added. "Our rules are important to moviegoers generally and parents in particular. The good news is that, as disturbing as this case has been, it marks a rare instance where a company has acted in such a clear and direct violation of our rules. The overwhelming majority of companies and filmmakers understand, support and abide by MPAA rules and procedures."
Now what has the world become? A facist organisation (the MPAA) actually decide what we should see or not. This is simply wrong and completely ridiculous. The promotial campaing is not even hard, offensive or problematic. Will someone please do something about this and stop this madness of censorship and dictatorship? Aren't we supposed to live in a free country?
Pretty whack, this MPAA thing is getting out of hand
"I totally agree with the MPAA in the actions they’ve taken against After Dark Films, and if I have any complaint, it’s that they didn’t go far enough.
I'm not alone in this, either. Joss Whedon's taking heat for voicing his outrage".
From: Joss Whedon
Sent: Thursday, March 22, 2007 10:17 PM
Subject: CAPTIVITY BILLBOARDS/REMOVE THE RATING
To the MPAA,
There's a message I'm supposed to cut and paste but I imagine you've read it. So just let me say that the ad campaign for "Captivity" is not only a literal sign of the collapse of humanity, it's an assault. I've watched plenty of horror - in fact I've made my share. But the advent of torture-porn and the total dehumanizing not just of women (though they always come first) but of all human beings has made horror a largely unpalatable genre. This ad campaign is part of something dangerous and repulsive, and that act of aggression has to be answered.
As a believer not only in the First Amendment but of the necessity of horror stories, I've always been against acts of censorship. I distrust anyone who wants to ban something 'for the good of the public'. But this ad is part of a cycle of violence and misogyny that takes something away from the people who have to see it. It's like being mugged (and I have been). These people flouted the basic rules of human decency. God knows the culture led them there, but we have to find our way back and we have to make them know that people will not stand for this. And the only language they speak is money. (A devastating piece in the New Yorker - not gonna do it.) So talk money. Remove the rating, and let them see how far over the edge they really are.
Thanks for reading this, if anyone did.
Sincerely, Joss Whedon.
Creator, "Buffy the Vampire Slayer"
Dunno when the MPAA suddenly became the kings of ALL things, but i'm pretty sure imposing their will on something that has nothing to do with them shouldn't really be on their agenda... then again this is the MPAA.
The promotial campaing is not even hard, offensive or problematic. Will someone please do something about this and stop this madness of censorship and dictatorship? Aren't we supposed to live in a free country?
are you kidding? you've had your head in too many horror films, dude. that's pretty bad for a public billboard. that's like placing a trailer for captivity in trailers before a showing of cars. I'm not jazzed about it like joss or my sister or most parents I know of, but that is a particularly graphic billboard.
edit: nor is it the place of the mpaa to govern ad campaigns outside of theaters, imo. the billboard, however, remains pretty bad.
well they are called GoreZone, what were you expecting them to say?
Thankfully i don't live in your screwy country, and our censor board is now trying to live down the shame of the past. We have a different organisation in charge of advertising and there's no vindictive agency trying to punish companies vindictively like the MPAA do.
I've seen way worse advertising campaigns in my days, there's some pretty shock tactic efforts around on tv.
Actually the concept of the MPAA would likely end up in public outrage; the BBFC rates a film saying that it is suitable for XYZ demographic, and it is entirely up to local councils to choose whether to ignore it or not. Some do btw.
Secondly, advertising has sweet f*ck all to do with the content of a movie or those involved in that. There are advertising regulation standards enforced by the government, not by a f*cking censor board/consortium of f*cking parents and representatives of big studios.
So no, the situation where a cartel can use a studios advertising campaign and use it to punish a film, or where one cartel, independent of the government is in charge of punishing/restricting everything to do with movies in every form does not exist. There were organisations for propaganda in nazi germany and communist russia that performed a similar function, in charge of censoring everything not just one area.
In the uk, the BBFC has no enforcement responsibilities. They censor films based on guidelines applied to the content of movies, and rate only home video and cinema prints. Its up to local government to choose whether to enforce it or not, as is the case for bans. Largely, local governments and studios choose to adhere to the judement of the bbfc.
The bbfc do not care about, or have any concern over anything other than rating movies submitted to them.
TV content is not rated by the bbfc, there have been uncut/banned movies on tv that the bbfc deemed unsuitable. The ITC handles complaints on television and generally censor television.
I'm not sure what the organisation is that monitors advertising, its a completely seperate agency and i suspect its these people who have failed here. If the mpaa retaliates by punishing a movie, it would be a travesty.
The only time BBFC judgements are enforceable are for home video, after the video recordings act came in to "protect the children".
That's quite different to how it is over your side.
The mpaa should respond to your governments advertising standards agency if it does not meet their standards by 'punishing' the studio, not the films and the artists that worked on it without being involved in the marketing. Fines would be the right way. Joss Whedon's letter should be to the advertising standards agency, not campaigning the mpaa directly, they have way too much power in your country.
So no, irrespective of the bbfc rating, any ad campaign can be run in any place, providing it adheres to advertising standards. The exclusion is movie trailers shown at cinemas, these are under the realm of the bbfc censor board and once again, can be ignored if local councils take their advised rating to be wrong.
The real problem here is the existence of the mpaa and the power they hold and use on a whim...
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