As many of you know, the MPAA
has initially given Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 an 'R' rating. This classification has
been appealed by the film's distributors Lions Gate, IFC Films, and
Bob and Harvey Weinstein's Fellowship Adventurers Group (or FAG, as
it's come to be referred to in some circles). The distributors had engaged former New York governor (and one of my
political heroes) Mario Cuomo to serve as counsel for the appeal and he served in that capacity for
about a week before he was informed by the MPAA that he would not be permitted to argue the case.
According to a letter written by Cuomo to Lions Gate president Tom Ortenberg and IFC Entertainment president Jonathan Sehring, there is apparently nothing in their regulations that prohibits this practice, however it is now up to Ortenberg to argue the distribs' position. According to this letter (a link to full text is below) the film was given an 'R' rating for the use of the word 'Mother Fucker' four times (Cuomo doesn't specify, but "mother______" is pretty obvious) and for "several graphic images of victims of war and abusive behavior by some of our troops." Cuomo rightly points out that while vulgar, 'mother fucker' is nonetheless a commonly used phrase and many PG-13 rated films like The Lord of the Rings contain far more violence and mayhem than Moore's film.
The MPAA and its head Jack Valenti would likely deny the charge, but this latest ratings smacks of partisan politics. Throughout his tenure, Valenti and the MPAA have regularly cracked down far more on sex and sexuality than they have on violence and for the group to "award" this film with an 'R' for language every teenager hears every day and for images that have been seen on every TV and newspaper for the past year, is absurd to say the least. Valenti claims to be an advocate for free speech, and at this year's ShoWest in Las Vegas, according to E! Online, he said that the 1st amendment, "is the one [part] of the Constitution that guarantees all others. If you don't have freedom of speech, what do you have?"
Ok, Jack. What do you have?