Lame because: Spending 2007 on piracy-sniffing dogs, party-décor enforcement, cosmetic reforms that fixed almost nothing and other idiotic decisions (like the PG-13 rating for Beowulf, which hides the details of genitals yet shows the details of decapitation and impalement), the MPAA's had another great year of demonstrating what it's all about: Being useless. Anyone who's been to a movie theater in the past 12 years knows that the 'R' rating is a joke, and anyone with any critical capacity knows that the MPAA is tougher on sex than violence. And, to paraphrase Dean Wormer in Animal House, useless, hypocritical and stupid is no way for a lobbying group and ratings board to go through life. In the MPAA's vision of how things should be, a parent could, hypothetically take their teenager to see the R-rated Hostel II -- but not the NC-17 Lust, Caution. Because the MPAA thinks teens should be able to see (to quote the MPAA's own rating) "torture and bloody violence, terror, nudity, sexual content, language and some drug content," but kept from seeing "explicit sexuality." Ahhhh, the values of the MPAA: A woman being butchered alive is more suitable for teens than a woman having an orgasm. Oh, this year also saw the head of the National Association of Theater Owners ask that the major studios -- which fund the MPAA -- quit releasing unrated DVDs, or at least market them less fiercely. It seems releasing unrated DVDs makes a mockery of the ratings system (which the major studios fund), harms the finances of theaters (which don't bother enforcing MPAA ratings any more than they bother with encouraging quiet, properly maintaining their projection equipment or making sure the film's shown in the correct aspect ratio) and encourages people to wait for the DVD, which is bad for NATO's bottom line. Because, hey, you don't want to see the movie the director made at home -- you'd much rather go to the theater and see the version of the movie that was altered and cut based on the approval and standards of an unelected, anonymous and unaccountable group of randomly-chosen Judeo-Christian parents, right? Right?

How to turn it around: I don't think you can, so let's just do the right thing: Get rid of it. There's no reason for having the MPAA as a ratings board, and if the major studios want to lobby Washington, they can do that through well-greased mechanisms of the multi-national conglomerates that own them. If parents want to know if their children should see a movie, they can see it themselves. Or read about it themselves. Or check in with privately-run websites like Common Sense Media. Or go with their kids. Or wait until it comes to DVD and watch it with their kids then. Or some other form of responsibility and self-awareness. The secret and subjective MPAA forces filmmakers through hoops in the name of protecting a 'values'-driven vision of American society that dates back to before the '60s, and a theater-driven vision of the entertainment business that dates back before the VCR. Considering all of the MPAA's evils -- toxic nostalgia for a long-lost (or never-was) era, hypocrisy and phony morality -- the only thing I can think of that's worse than all of the above is playing along with the people behind them them.

Next up: We GET IT already!

Where did they rank?