Like his friend Bill Maher, Michael Moore holds a special place in my bounty of frustrations. I agree with quite a lot of what he says, and yet his passive-aggressive pomposity in making many of his points, and assuming that they’re obvious, makes me want to tear my remaining hairs out and run screaming into a burning building. His political ideas and general distaste for capitalism are easy to agree with, if not particularly original or insightful to anyone above the age of 21, but for teenagers who are just getting into politics, Moore’s notions on American society and politics may very well prove an important one.
That’s just the reason why it’s so infuriating that, as THR reports, the MPAA, arguably the most consistently risible and buffoonish association that Hollywood has birthed, has refused to coalesce Moore’s more-than-fair request that his latest film, Where to Invade Next, be rated PG-13 rather than the R rating they originally gave it. The R rating specifically keeps out, or at least purports to keep out, the age group that would most benefit from hearing Moore’s concepts, and having seen the movie, I can attest that the film is no more adult than any given two hours of the Travel or History Channel, with some of The Daily Show‘s softer material sprinkled about.
The MPAA’s assertion that the film includes adult language, disturbing imagery, and brief nudity, though technically accurate, cherry picks fleeting parts of a 120-minute movie, the moral of which makes for a better meme than a feature-length documentary. The film follows Moore around to a number of countries where they’ve solved problems that America just can’t seem to shake, from the timely plagues of gun violence and standardized testing to the total failure of our drug policies and prison system. Moore is openly on screen for much of the film, and his faux-surprised schtick gives the film a smarmy quality that gives the admirable amount of facts on screen a unpalatable aftertaste. The filmmaker’s notion that many of the ideas that these countries have implemented were originally conceived of in the U.S.A. is perhaps the only truly interesting element of Moore’s latest production.
Mind you, this is the second time at least that this has happened to Moore, as Fahrenheit 9/11 was similarly slammed with an R rating that was disputed by Moore and Mario Cuomo, of all people. Ultimately, the childishness of the MPAA in general is more outrageous than its specific handling of the rating for Where to Invade Next, especially considering that fact that the internet now allows most ten-year-olds to completely absorb George Carlin‘s seven dirty words, readily gave at pornography, and take in violent content of all sorts. And yeah, they might have parental blocks, but not all their friends do.
Indeed, what’s most remarkable about all of this is that the violent content largely comes from a segment where Moore criticizes America’s general discomfort with acknowledging and teaching the mass enslavement and murder of African Americans that openly occurred (and, in many ways, still occurs) in America. In essence, the MPAA has put itself in line with the same teachers who think its best to whitewash such matters, which is not a great place to be in the year of 2015.