Documentarian Michael Moore is a polarizing figure. Over the course of his career he’s had run-ins with the gun lobby, auto manufacturers, the health care industry, an American president, and many others. And now he’s taking the Motion Picture Association of America, the governing body responsible for movie ratings, to task for how they rated his latest film.
Moore’s new movie, Where to Invade Next, was slapped with an R-rating by the MPAA, thus limiting its accessibility to audiences. The director of movies like Bowling for Columbine, Roger & Me, and Fahrenheit 9/11 plans to appeal the rating, and recently took to Twitter to talk about why the rating is especially suspect.
First he lays out what the MPAA cited his movie for.
And then Moore gets into the specifics. The footage of the Eric Garner shooting, while graphic and disturbing to say the least, was also something that was on damn near every news cast across the country at the time, broadcast into millions of homes in the early evening.
The drug use mentioned involves Moore attempting to show a different approach to policing drugs than the current American method.
From the description, the nudity involved sounds on par with something you’d see in a National Geographic documentary.
And then, in true Michael Moore rabble-rousing form, he encourages younger viewers to take whatever steps necessary to see this movie.
None of that sounds particularly worthy of an R-rating, but this is far from the first time that one of Moore’s movies has been tagged with that restriction, despite the fact that way more explicit, far more violent movies are routinely released under a PG-13 flag (The Expendables 3 is a recent example that springs to mind). Fahrenheit 9/11 was given an R-rating, which Moore unsuccessfully appealed, and Roger Ebert famously slammed the MPAA for giving Bowling for Columbine the same tag.
Where to Invade Next isn’t the only documentary to run into such a ratings battle over the last few years. 2011’s Bully, about the epidemic of bullying in schools, was ultimately released into theaters unrated after it appealed its R-rating and was denied, thus limiting the number of theaters where the movie screened, as many chains won’t show unrated movies.
The MPAA has come under fire quite a bit recently for the seemingly arbitrary nature of many of their ratings decisions, especially when it comes the levels of graphic violence they allow as opposed minor amounts of sex and swearing, which they don’t. Moore has people from TWC-Radius, as well as the Alamo Drafthouse backing his appeal, and Where to Invade Next is slated for release on December 23.