Kirby Dick's indispensable guerrilla attack on the film-ratings system gives Hollywood a swift, smart and hilarious kick in its institutional, hypocritical ass. Since the Motion Picture Association of America, which operates the ratings board in conjunction with the National Association of Theater Owners, is more secretive than the CIA, Dick used unorthodox methods to get his story. He hired two female detectives to spy on — some would say stalk — execs of this private club and reveal their identities. He interviews filmmakers, from Boys Don't Cry's Kimberly Peirce to South Park's Matt Stone, to show how the ratings gurus come down hard on indie films with graphic sexual content, especially if it's gay, and ease up on costlier movies from major studios, which basically pay their salaries. Though the rotating raters are not supposed to offer advice on what scenes to cut to dodge the box-office-killing NC-17 rating, Dick finds them doing just that. Violence gets off easy. From the evidence here, it's OK to show a guy hack up a babe, but not OK to show him go down on her. The sham goes on with illustrative samples from censored scenes that will prove eye-opening in more ways than one.
From The Archives Issue 434: November 8, 1984