This Film Is Not Yet Rated

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Even the DVD cover had to be Bowdlerized.

A documentary by Kirby Dick which goes into considerable detail over the rating policies in the US and how in turn they affect a film's distribution and the ways in which it may be changed before release. This film contains several interviews with filmmakers along with scenes that have been removed or adjusted prior to release. The documentary points out that the identities of the people who handle the ratings are kept in secrecy - and then also documents the process of investigating who they are, and reveals them, then submits that version of the documentary to them.

Tropes used in This Film Is Not Yet Rated include:

  • Blatant Lies: The filmmakers got two members of the MPAA appeals board to speak on camera. One insisted on anonymity. Cue a scene with the two interviews interspliced, giving completely contradictory explanations on how the process works. Guess which of the two gave a more sympathetic description.
  • Documentary
  • Double Standard: Many, including how depictions of sex versus depictions of violence are treated, how depictions of homosexuality versus depictions of heterosexuality are treated, etc...
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: As that the released version of this documentary was not presented to the MPAA (it only takes 1 second's worth of difference), this film has not been rated by the MPAA.
  • Executive Meddling - Oh boy...
  • Explicit Content - Inevitable, given the subject matter.
  • Gay Panic - A brief section of the film is dedicated to how the MPAA often rates scenes with explicit gay content higher than scenes with explicit heterosexual content, even if the straight version is more explicit than the gay one (compare: a lesbian masturbating through her bedclothes in But I'm a Cheerleader risking an NC-17, whereas Kevin Spacey whacking off in the shower in American Beauty gets an R).
  • Get Back in the Closet
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar - How Team America: World Police and South Park Bigger Longer and Uncut managed to get away with what they did.
  • Insistent Terminology: The MPAA ratings board would like you to know that they are definitely not censors.
    • There's also numerous clips of Jack Valenti asserting that the members of the board are "neither gods nor fools, just parents" and that they represent the average family. Cue Jamie Babbit, the director of But I'm a Cheerleader, wondering if that meant that gay and lesbian parents such as herself were represented. You can probably guess the answer.
      • The other problem with this sort of logic is that this 'average family' is something that really can't be defined in America because of all the different cultures that co-exist here. Unless the MPAA is referring to 'anything that can't be construed as mentally or physically abusive under US law' then their defintion can't make sense given everything that isn't allowed in an R-rated movie.
  • It Got Worse: Just a few years later the MPAA tried to get SOPA/PIPA passed.
  • Kangaroo Court - According to Dick, he was not allowed to cite past MPAA decisions during the appeals process, even if they contradicted the decisions that affected his film.
  • Media Classifications - A considerable portion of the film deals with how these are attributed, especially the NC-17 rating.
  • Media Watchdogs - Certainly puts a spotlight on them.
  • Moral Guardians - The MPAA supposedly says it has no religious affiliation. Dick's account of his appeals process, however, says that there were a priest and a Presbyterian minister present for no reason that was really made clear.
  • Omniscient Council of Vagueness - The film argues that the MPAA is eerily close to a Real Life example.
    • Emphasis on vagueness - according to not-this-documentary sources, filmmakers can try to hazard a guess as to why their film got a particular rating, and edit accordingly, but to use a popular stereotype as an analogy, the MPAA is a woman telling her boyfriend that if he doesn't know what he did to piss her off, he doesn't deserve to be told.
      • And according to Trey Parker he got this treatment with the independent comedy Orgazmo, but when he and Matt Stone submitted the big studio-backed South Park movie, he got an itemized list of what needed to be tweaked.
  • One Judge to Rule Them All: According to many interviewed, MPAA president Jack Valenti had - and used - absolute veto power when it came to ratings decisions.
  • Refuge in Audacity
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections: A section of the film talks about how harsh the ratings are for independent films, as compared to those given to the big studio productions.
  • Throw It In - The inclusion of the submission of the film-up-to-that-point to the MPAA. Unsurprisingly, the documentary itself got an NC-17 for "showing instances of what could cause a film to gain an NC-17 rating". Dick thought that this portion was just as interesting as the main part of the documentary, and added it into the now forever-unrated theatrical release.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: This is one interpretation of the MPAA ratings board put forward in the film.


Fucks (or derivations of): 20
Motherfuckers: 3
Humps: 220
Nipples: 10
Intercourse with pie: 1
Cartoons/puppets in sexual situations: 15
Sploshing: 1
Felching: 0