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We’ve been talking for several weeks now about The Weinstein Company’s disturbing plan to censor the Oscar nominated film The King’s 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 film’s production, it’s an unacceptable decision, an outrage. On the eve of the rated-R version of The King’s Speech winning Oscar’s Best Picture, it only seems even more ridiculous. Yet ask the average person on the street, and you’ll get a very different response. You’ll get responses like the ones we’ve received from people in our comments sections and our inbox, responses from people who just don’t 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. It’s important, but we get that you don’t have every hour of the day to spend thinking about movies, which is why this site exists. So I’m here to help you muddle through the reasons why it matters. If you’re someone who thinks that censoring of one of the year’s best movie isn’t a problem, or maybe you even think it’s 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 shouldn’t support the PG-13 version of The King’s Speech when it’s released.
You Can’t 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. They’re probably right. Some people are avoiding The King’s 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 isn’t with the movie or the words it uses, the problem is with the ratings system which has labeled it incorrectly. Almost everyone who’s 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 it’s no secret that it’s only getting worse. Censoring The King’s Speech to fit the mold of a broken system doesn’t solve the problem, it simply breaks the movie too. Bowing to the MPAA’s demands in the name of greed is an endorsement of something which isn’t working. By censoring the year’s best picture to suit that broken system The Weinstein Company is saying that the original R-rating was correct, when it wasn’t, and anyone who buys a ticket for the PG-13 is spending their money to say the same.
This Will Endanger Your Children
If you’re 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. Here’s why it’s not: Since censoring the movie supports the MPAA’s system it only gives them more power to rate movies incorrectly, and that’s far worse for your kids than the “F” word. See, their ratings system only really exists to help parents decide what their children can see, but the MPAA’s ratings are all over the map and as a guideline for protecting your kid they’re misleading at best and useless at worst.
The King’s 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. Here’s 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 MPAA’s rating system recommends The Ring as more appropriate viewing for your children than the R-rated King’s Speech. By bowing to their faulty logic and censoring this movie to suit their faulty decisions, we’re rubberstamping the MPAA to go right on rating movies incorrectly. That doesn’t 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 it’s safe for them to see.
Every PG-13 King’s 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 Hooper’s work. While the film will, overall, remain intact without those scenes (or with those scenes in an altered state), it won’t be as good. Maybe it’ll only be worsened by inches, but worse is exactly what it will be.
Anyone who buys a ticket for the censored version of King’s Speech is sending them a loud and clear message, and that message is this: I don’t care if you make good movies as long as they receive the right rating. You’ve chosen not to watch the best possible version of this movie, in favor of something less than. You’ve told Hollywood that it’s ok if their movies aren’t as good as they could be, and they will be listening. The King’s Speech just won Oscar’s 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 doesn’t 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 “NC-17” on your local mega-theater’s marquee? It doesn’t happen. It doesn’t happen because a long time ago Hollywood realized that NC-17 movies have a more limited audience and just didn’t 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 MPPA’s R-rating. The NC-17 exists more as a technicality than a reality now. It’s useless except as a means to ruin a movie’s 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 King’s Speech (one of last year’s 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 won’t bother with the R-rated version of the movie at all. Our movies are made by artists but they’re owned and distributed by corporations who exist only to make a bottom line profit. If there’s more money to be made in censorship than in artistic integrity, they’ll censor right from the start as a way to maximize their profits. That artistically complete version of a film, in The King’s 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. It’s no longer about choosing what you want to see, it’s 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 King’s 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 King’s Speech is the story of a man’s struggle to overcome a debilitating disability. Those curse words being so callously and greedily censored from the movie? They’re a pivotal part of his struggle in this story. Whether or not that sort of therapy is still used today, in this telling it’s those curse words that first give Bertie a taste of what it’s like to speak without a stutter. In the process he’s 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 Bertie’s 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 King’s 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 King’s Speech just won a pile of Oscars and has already made more than $100 million at the box office. The Weinstein Company isn’t having any trouble getting audiences to buy a ticket. After its win, even more people are sure to turn up in droves. There’s 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. That’s not ok. Don’t support it. Don’t 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 King’s Speech now is not to see it.