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The decades long dance between the MPAA and Michael Moore has always seemed like an endless waltz between an author and his censors. Well, prepare yourself for another twirl around the floor, as the infamous documentary director has lost yet another bid to repeal an R rating to one of his own films.
With his new film, Where To Invade Next, Moore seeks to showcase how the world handles various societal quandaries, and how the U.S. could stand to learn a lesson or two from its world neighbors. You'd think that this would be an easy PG-13 rating, at most, but Variety has reported that despite his best wishes, Moore's appeal against the official R-rating has been denied by the ratings board, citing the following descriptors in their reasoning:
Language, some violent images, drug use and brief graphic nudity.
Despite these routine elements that moviegoers normally would see listed at the head of their favorite trailers, Moore insists that what's on display in the film is not any worse than what audiences can find on the news. Much like his reaction to past controversies involving his films, the Academy Award winning director urges his younger fans to find their way into his film, using any means at their disposal. If this sounds like history repeating, then you can rest assured that it is.
Michael Moore ran into the same exact quandary while releasing both Bowling For Columbine and Fahrenheit 9/11, as he wanted teenage audiences to be able to see the politically charged films. With his purpose being to educate, as opposed to titillate, some theaters actually allowed underage patrons in to see Moore's Fahrenheit during its theatrical exhibition. Much like Blue Is The Warmest Color, a film that found itself in a similar situation with the ratings board basically blacklisting for general exhibition, Michael Moore's films do seem a bit unfairly rated.
While the subject matter of his films may not be the most conventional for the standard audience member, Michael Moore's projects are not as outrageous as your standard R rated fare. Even with the trailer's worth of material we've seen from Where To Invade Next, it certainly doesn't look like the type of film that should be handed a red band rating - unless Moore intends to get more violent with his flag planting activities.
There always has, and always will be, an argument as to what the MPAA's exact powers are, and how effective their ratings system is. Michael Moore isn't the first, and certainly won't be the last, to tangle with the powerful interest group, but you can definitely count on him to be one of the most unspoken opponents for as long as he can put up a fight. The director has promised that on Monday he'll be making further statements on the matter at hand, and it should be interesting to see what he has to say.
Where To Invade Next hits theaters on December 23rd – provided the MPAA debacle doesn't delay things.