Ok, so we have the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America), and they are in charge of rating the movies that are released in this country.  Most of us are familiar with the ratings system and so we know what to expect when we see a particular rating associated with a film.  And if you are watching a movie in the theater this is a fairly reliable indicator of things to expect, so that it is possible to relatively accurately decide if the content is appropriate for you and/or your family.  So far, so good.  The problem (and the bit that annoys me) comes when a film is released to DVD.  Unless you live under a rock (or are seriously not in the market for DVD’s) you’ve probably noticed the growing trend of “Unrated” DVD releases; in many cases the fact that the film is unrated is actually emphasised as a selling point.  Myself I have trouble finding non-unrated DVD’s as of late.

It used to be that “special features” were not subject to rating, and it would be noted as such on the DVD cover.  So you could expect things like commentaries, outtakes, and “making of” documentaries to possibly contain things not fitting with the rating of the actual film.  Within the last few years however the trend has been for the movie itself to be released with deleted scenes (scenes not included in the theater release) which are also unrated.  So that, not only are you not getting the movie that you may have seen in theaters and enjoyed, but you are also getting a movie that potentially includes content that could take a movie rated PG-13 to an R, or an R to an NC-17, and so on.  This usually includes added sex, language, drug use, violence, and gore.

Ok, so, I’m not a prude – really, I’m not.  I’ve heard the argument that the “Unrated” editions allow the filmmakers to retain the “artistic integrity” of their movies, which may have been undermined by editing required to achieve a certain rating from the MPAA.  Ok, that would be a good argument – if that was the case, but most of the time I don’t think it is – I think it’s bullshit. 

First of all, many films lack artistic integrity to begin with.  Second of all, all of the unrated versions of movies that I’ve seen haven’t benefited at all from the additional content – in fact they usually suffer.  I mean really – do more tits and ass, more profanity, or more violence ever really make a movie better?  I know some folks might argue with me, but I think that by and large – no they do not.

I think that the marketing folks are trying to make a buck at the expense of films and audiences.

I also think that it is unwise to require ratings for movies shown in theaters (where box office attendants make sure that people underage can’t get in without a parent), but allow unrated content to be bought practically anywhere films are sold and brought home.  I mean – why have a ratings system at all if that’s what’s going to happen?  Then you have all that added content just sitting there, in your living room, waiting to be seen by (little) people who should not.

Ok – yes it is the parents job to say what their children can and cannot see, but why even put this stuff out there?  And I don’t believe that violence in entertainment causes violence in real life, but I think that denying its role in the violencization ( I think maybe I made that word up) and overall degradation of todays youth culture would be naive.  So, if it’s not adding “integrity” to films, and it’s bypassing and ultimately undermining our already stressed ratings system, then why the hell does this go on?  It just pisses me off.