Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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December 19, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

THE HORROR....I didn't even know the MPAA approved print ads for movies in the first place. Shows how much I know. But they do, and it turns out that ads for documentaries that depict U.S. soldiers leading away a hooded prisoner are verboten. Too much like a horror film, apparently. Which, in fairness, it is, isn't it?

Via Sullivan.

Kevin Drum 5:33 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (26)

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The film doesn't open until Jan, but is on the 2007 Oscars shortlist?

Posted by: Disputo on December 19, 2007 at 5:53 PM | PERMALINK

And I thought Jack Valenti was dead?!?!

Posted by: DMC on December 19, 2007 at 6:14 PM | PERMALINK

Last week Turner Classic Movies showed several movies from prior to the Hays Production Code, which went into full effect in 1935. Those movies were interesting because of the realism they portrayed, and not just because of the sexuality, which was also portrayed realistically.

The reason I bring it up is that Americans have always been subjected to a lot of censorship in their movies. Seventy years later, we must be protected from the knowledge of what our children have been made to do in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Posted by: Brojo on December 19, 2007 at 6:23 PM | PERMALINK

Jesus Loves Torture.

Posted by: Gore/Edwards 08 on December 19, 2007 at 6:37 PM | PERMALINK

Someone should tell them that the picture itself is not horrible at all. Securing a prisoner under a hood is a good way to avoid having to shoot him if he tries to escape or grab a weapon. Plus, he can't make note of your defensive positions and security measures. It also keeps prisoners isolated even when they are in a group, making guarding them less hazardous. The idea is to get the prisoner safely out of the area so you get back to the business of killing or capturing his comrades.

Presumably, the horror comes later in the film, which, if it is honest, will point out that only a miniscule number of military people are ever involved in interrogation at all, let alone anything that might be considered torture.

Posted by: trashhauler on December 19, 2007 at 8:11 PM | PERMALINK

Great point, trashhauler. Likewise, the real horror in Hostel is that only a minuscule number of Europeans are involved in torturing American tourists, let alone that most of the acts depicted in that movie wouldn't constitute torture according to John Yoo.

Posted by: Mark S. on December 19, 2007 at 9:07 PM | PERMALINK

Perhaps so, Mark, though I don't much go in for the horror genre. I suppose if one just wants to shock, even a documentary can use those tightly focused shots that make the contrived surprises work.

Posted by: trashhauler on December 19, 2007 at 9:33 PM | PERMALINK

They hate us for our freedom.

Posted by: Riesz Fischer on December 19, 2007 at 9:57 PM | PERMALINK

The facts of the Bush era are far stranger than most any fiction I've ever seen (excluding science fiction and fantasy movies).

Why do movie censors hate America?

Posted by: MarkH on December 19, 2007 at 10:05 PM | PERMALINK

Presumably, the horror comes later in the film, which, if it is honest, will point out that only a miniscule number of military people are ever involved in interrogation at all, let alone anything that might be considered torture.

Just as, to be fair to Saddam Hussein's Iraq, only a miniscule proportion of the Baathists were ever involved in interrogation, let alone anything that might (love that qualifier!) be considered torture....and the same goes for Castro's Cuba, Pinochet's Chile, Hitler's Germany, Stalin's Soviet Union, etc. etc. Why focus on only a few bad apples while ignoring all the people who DIDN'T torture?

Of course the film, if it's honest, will point out that only a miniscule number of prisoners subjected to interrogation by the military, let alone torture, are actually guilty of terrorism at all.

Posted by: Stefan on December 19, 2007 at 10:11 PM | PERMALINK

The MPAA has no business applying here.

Grr.

Posted by: Crissa on December 19, 2007 at 10:19 PM | PERMALINK

Why I don't believe in the ratings, #37.

The MPAA is the lobbying are of the motion picture industry, so who cares what they thing of a movie.

Think film in an independent, and so has to PAY to get a rating. All advertising material must pass muster with the MPAA if you want to have a rating. But there is no law saying you have to have a rating.

The ratings are, theoretically, only suggestions for parents as to the suitablity of the film for children. Think should just go unrated, but I guess they have a dog in this fight now.

Posted by: Martin on December 19, 2007 at 10:32 PM | PERMALINK

...Except without a rating, no corporation will show it, no broadcast network will air it, and the government would enforce it both federally and locally.

It's a horrible mess, really.

Posted by: Crissa on December 20, 2007 at 1:51 AM | PERMALINK

Does anyone else live in LA? How is it that earlier this year there was a larger than life billboard on La Cienega (just south of Pico) advertising SAW which showed the top of a man's head cut off (from the nose up) and sitting on a plate ... but a dude in a hood is too much to be approved? Because the hood might scare the children, but disembodied heads don't? Am I missing something?

Posted by: WGraham on December 20, 2007 at 3:04 AM | PERMALINK

So, just to run through this quickly - we're OK with severed heads (Saw IV) and bloody, extracted teeth (Saw III) and severed fingers (Saw II), fanged monsters (Alien), smeared blood (passim), and horribly scarred burn victims (Nightmare on Elm Street)... but a little picture of a man with a bag on his head? That's horrible!

Posted by: ajay on December 20, 2007 at 6:09 AM | PERMALINK

Trashy wrote: though I don't much go in for the horror genre

Trashy gets his kicks from the depravity of the Administration whose water her carries.

Posted by: Gregory on December 20, 2007 at 8:55 AM | PERMALINK

"Securing a prisoner under a hood is a good way to avoid having to shoot him if he tries to escape or grab a weapon. Plus, he can't make note of your defensive positions and security measures. It also keeps prisoners isolated even when they are in a group, making guarding them less hazardous. The idea is to get the prisoner safely out of the area so you get back to the business of killing or capturing his comrades."

I wonder what the MPAA objection is, then?

Of course, it would even safer for our troops to kill the prisoner outright, but then he couldn't be tortured for what he knows. An acceptable compromise is to gouge out his eyes.

Posted by: Ken C. on December 20, 2007 at 9:05 AM | PERMALINK

*

Posted by: mhr on December 20, 2007 at 10:52 AM | PERMALINK

stefan wrote:

"Why focus on only a few bad apples while ignoring all the people who DIDN'T torture?"
_____________________

Well, Stefan, the point I was trying to make was that a picture of a prisoner with a bag over his head is likely to have really nothing to do with interrogation, but if it allows you to make another bogus moral equivalency argument, then I'm happy for you.

Posted by: Trashhauler on December 20, 2007 at 12:32 PM | PERMALINK

trash, your claims that these images are innoccuous is belied by the fact that both the MPAA and the administration want to keep these images from public view. If it's not a big deal, publicizing these images should be no problem at all, right? Why aren't you lobbying the MPAA to change its stance and why aren't you demanding that the administration stop destroying interrogation tapes? None of this is a big deal at all, right?

Posted by: Tyro on December 20, 2007 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK

Tyro, the picture (the single image) isn't a big deal to me, but then, I'm not a politician and I don't have any vested interest in the film.

All I'm saying is that a picture of a hooded prisoner isn't necessarily even ominous, let alone horrific. Beyond that, I suspect it was the nature of the film that really got the MPAA's nickers in a twist. Banning the picture seems a rather odd way of making their point, if that's what it was.

Posted by: Trashhauler on December 20, 2007 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

All I'm saying is that a picture of a hooded prisoner isn't necessarily even ominous, let alone horrific.

I suspect the following: that most people disagree with you and are pretty creeped out by hooding and torture. No, maybe not among your friends, who are probably a creepy group of people, but most people find the images off-putting and fear that publicizing these images would be a propaganda defeat for the US... thus the move to try to put a kibbosh on the images: both by the MPAA, which depends on republican favor to put in the copyright clauses it demands in free trade agreements, and by the white house which doesn't really need jack-booted imagery associated with it.

I, of course, favor more publicizing of these images rather than less, and so do you. I and the White House agree that the public will be upset by these images, and that's where you and I depart. Most human beings aren't as creepy as you and your friends are.

Posted by: Tyro on December 20, 2007 at 4:43 PM | PERMALINK

Well, Tyro, as long as you get to make a personal condemnation of someone you don't know, then it's all good, ain't it?

Having never said a single word in favor of torture, I'll just point out that the folks I work and hang with are all in or work for the military. By the nature of our jobs, much of what we do would naturally creep out a sensitive, goodly soul such as yourself. You can imagine how disconcerting that is to us.

Posted by: Trashhauler on December 20, 2007 at 5:24 PM | PERMALINK

Well, Trashhauler, I'm neither a delicate flower nor a goodly soul; and I performed a task or three over the span of my career that still creep me out. I squared it, then and now, with the knowledge that at least I could be trusted with the tasks that were going to be done, with or without me. (I know - I just employed drug-dealer logic. Shoot me now...)

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on December 20, 2007 at 5:39 PM | PERMALINK

Blue Girl, you ain't kidding. My squadron carried the bodies of the Jonestown victims back home. It made for a pretty somber, one might even say somewhat creepy, flight.

Posted by: trashhauler on December 20, 2007 at 7:43 PM | PERMALINK

I think ajay's comment sums it up pretty well. I suspect that any of us could open up the entertainment section of our local newspaper and find movies ads that go way beyond what the MPAA has censored in this case.

Posted by: Joe Bob on December 21, 2007 at 7:00 PM | PERMALINK
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