Help Save The King's Speech By Refusing To See It

By Josh Tyler 2011-02-27 22:22:53discussion comments
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Help Save The King's Speech By Refusing To See It image
Weíve been talking for several weeks now about The Weinstein Companyís disturbing plan to censor the Oscar nominated film The Kingís Speech in order to curry favor with the MPAA, receive a PG-13 rating, and re-release the film in the hopes that the lesser rating will help make them more money. That plan became a reality this week when the censored version of the film received the rating they wanted, and the R-rated version will be pulled from theaters and replaced with one that contains none of the curse words which earned the movie an R in the first place.

To almost everyone in the film community, and most of the people involved in the filmís production, itís an unacceptable decision, an outrage. On the eve of the rated-R version of The Kingís Speech winning Oscarís Best Picture, it only seems even more ridiculous. Yet ask the average person on the street, and youíll get a very different response. Youíll get responses like the ones weíve received from people in our comments sections and our inbox, responses from people who just donít see why they should care.

It is a big deal, an act of censorship sure to have far reaching consequences for all sorts of moviegoers. Itís important, but we get that you donít have every hour of the day to spend thinking about movies, which is why this site exists. So Iím here to help you muddle through the reasons why it matters. If youíre someone who thinks that censoring of one of the yearís best movie isnít a problem, or maybe you even think itís a good idea, then I hope I can change your mind by breaking down the issue into five, simple, logical points. Here they are: 5 clear reasons why you shouldnít support the PG-13 version of The Kingís Speech when itís released.

You Canít Solve A Problem By Making It Worse
The Weinstein Company wants to censor the film because they believe they can get more people to see it that way. Theyíre probably right. Some people are avoiding The Kingís Speech because of its rating. There is a small segment of the population which refuses to see R-rated films, no matter what they actually contain. But the problem isnít with the movie or the words it uses, the problem is with the ratings system which has labeled it incorrectly. Almost everyone whoís seen it agrees that the film contains no offensive content of any kind. Even the usage of curse words (which earned it the R-rating), in context, is entirely appropriate for very young audiences who have been properly parented.

Clearly the system which slapped it with an R-rating, a system managed by the MPAA, is broken. The MPAA has been broken for a long time and itís no secret that itís only getting worse. Censoring The Kingís Speech to fit the mold of a broken system doesnít solve the problem, it simply breaks the movie too. Bowing to the MPAAís demands in the name of greed is an endorsement of something which isnít working. By censoring the yearís best picture to suit that broken system The Weinstein Company is saying that the original R-rating was correct, when it wasnít, and anyone who buys a ticket for the PG-13 is spending their money to say the same.

This Will Endanger Your Children
If youíre one of a handful of Americans worried your child might hear a curse word, censoring those syllables out of the movie probably seems like a good way to protect them. Hereís why itís not: Since censoring the movie supports the MPAAís system it only gives them more power to rate movies incorrectly, and thatís far worse for your kids than the ďFĒ word. See, their ratings system only really exists to help parents decide what their children can see, but the MPAAís ratings are all over the map and as a guideline for protecting your kid theyíre misleading at best and useless at worst.

The Kingís Speech, a quiet and gentle movie about a man heroically overcoming a disability, has been given the same rating as Saw VI, a brutal horror film about a sadistic killer who tortures and murders dozens of innocent victims. Hereís an even bigger head scratcher: The Ring, a movie about a murderous dead girl who leaps out of televisions and kills people, was rated PG-13. The MPAAís rating system recommends The Ring as more appropriate viewing for your children than the R-rated Kingís Speech. By bowing to their faulty logic and censoring this movie to suit their faulty decisions, weíre rubberstamping the MPAA to go right on rating movies incorrectly. That doesnít protect your kids, it puts them in increasingly grave peril every single time you walk into a movie theater, by making it impossible for you to know what itís safe for them to see.

Every PG-13 Kingís Speech Ticket Purchased Is A Request For Hollywood To Make Movies Worse
Whether you can stomach curse words or not, one thing cannot be denied: Censoring this movie will not make it better. It will absolutely make it worse. The profanity being removed is a pivotal part of a pivotal scene in the film, one of the many great moments in Oscar winning director Tom Hooperís work. While the film will, overall, remain intact without those scenes (or with those scenes in an altered state), it wonít be as good. Maybe itíll only be worsened by inches, but worse is exactly what it will be.

Anyone who buys a ticket for the censored version of Kingís Speech is sending them a loud and clear message, and that message is this: I donít care if you make good movies as long as they receive the right rating. Youíve chosen not to watch the best possible version of this movie, in favor of something less than. Youíve told Hollywood that itís ok if their movies arenít as good as they could be, and they will be listening. The Kingís Speech just won Oscarís best picture. If the studio system can make more money by making a such a high profile movie worse, that has huge implications for other movies released down the road. Making good movies is hard, why put in all that extra effort if it doesnít really seem to matter to your audience?

This Is The Beginning Of End For R-Rated Movies
The MPAA has five different ratings they can give any movie put before their ratings board. Those ratings are: G, PG, PG-13, R, and NC-17. When was the last time you saw ďNC-17Ē on your local mega-theaterís marquee? It doesnít happen. It doesnít happen because a long time ago Hollywood realized that NC-17 movies have a more limited audience and just didnít make as much money as R-rated movies. So they began censoring their films, often at the expense of quality, to make sure they received the MPPAís R-rating. The NC-17 exists more as a technicality than a reality now. Itís useless except as a means to ruin a movieís chances of ever being seen by anyone, since no one will release it. Now that same thing is happening to the R-rating.

If the PG-13 version of The Kingís Speech (one of last yearís most well-known, popular, beloved films) generates a significant amount of money, the next time Weinstein Company (or any other studio for that matter) finds themselves in a similar situation they wonít bother with the R-rated version of the movie at all. Our movies are made by artists but theyíre owned and distributed by corporations who exist only to make a bottom line profit. If thereís more money to be made in censorship than in artistic integrity, theyíll censor right from the start as a way to maximize their profits. That artistically complete version of a film, in The Kingís Speech case that better version of the film, will never been seen at all.

Hollywood has already begun to move away from investing money in R-rated productions (PG-13 Die Hard?), this is the next step towards eliminating R-rated entertainment from theaters, all in the name of capturing a relatively small segment of the moviegoing public. Itís no longer about choosing what you want to see, itís about what Hollywood can make the most money letting you see. Your right to choose begins eroding further the very moment the R-rated version of The Kingís Speech is pulled from theaters and replaced with an inferior, censored, PG-13 version.

It's A Slap In The Face To Anyone Struggling With Similar Disabilities
The Kingís Speech is the story of a manís struggle to overcome a debilitating disability. Those curse words being so callously and greedily censored from the movie? Theyíre a pivotal part of his struggle in this story. Whether or not that sort of therapy is still used today, in this telling itís those curse words that first give Bertie a taste of what itís like to speak without a stutter. In the process heís an inspiration to thousands of others struggling with the same problem, people like me for instance, who grew up grappling with a speech impediment as a child and who even today still occasionally finds himself without words in his mouth. Or people like the movie's screenwriter, who during his acceptance speech after winning "Best Original Screenplay" for writing those curse words, talked about his own real-life struggles with stammering.

In the film Bertieís struggle, and those curse words, have been displayed with kindness and humor, used as a means of shining a light on something others suffer through. In an alarming show of disrespect, part of that struggle is now being erased from existence, and anyone who buys a PG-13 Kingís Speech ticket supports that callous decision. The bitter irony here is that a movie about a man finding his voice, will now take his voice away, in the name of squeezing a few extra dollars out of a dwindling number of holdouts.

Maybe this censorship would make more sense if it were the only way to convince people to see the film, or at least then it would serve a purpose. Yet, The Kingís Speech just won a pile of Oscars and has already made more than $100 million at the box office. The Weinstein Company isnít having any trouble getting audiences to buy a ticket. After its win, even more people are sure to turn up in droves. Thereís no reason to censor it, it serves no real purpose, and in censoring it the Weinsteins are not only hurting their movie but potentially the movie industry around it by setting a dangerous precedent. Thatís not ok. Donít support it. Donít let others support it. We can send a message here as long as that PG-13 version imposter plays to empty theaters. Help Bertie keep his voice. The best way to save The Kingís Speech now is not to see it.
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