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The Tillman Story fights R rating, but why?

TheTillmanStory.jpgThe Tillman Story, the documentary about George Tillman, the American Football player who joined the U.S. Army after the Twin Towers were attacked and was killed in action, and made to look like an all-American hero while in fact it seems he was killed in friendly fire, has been assigned an R rating by the MPAA and the story is racing around the media like mad.

While some are saying this is ideal marketing for the Weinstein Company, I think perhaps they are just trying to make sure the film gets the best chance for the biggest audience, whether that's profit or moral orientated, what does it matter?

The film has been given an R rating from the MPAA in America for excessive use of bad language, and what does an R rating mean? Here's what the MPAA say themselves:

Children Under 17 Require Accompanying Parent or Adult Guardian. An R-rated motion picture, in the view of the Rating Board, contains some adult material. An R-rated motion picture may include adult themes, adult activity, hard language, intense or persistent violence, sexually-oriented nudity, drug abuse or other elements, so that parents are counseled to take this rating very seriously. Children under 17 are not allowed to attend R-rated motion pictures unaccompanied by a parent or adult guardian. Parents are strongly urged to find out more about R-rated motion pictures in determining their suitability for their children. Generally, it is not appropriate for parents to bring their young children with them to R-rated motion pictures.

Well it sounds like a true life war story would indeed contain some bad language, and possibly excessive use thereof. So what's the big deal? If the film contains the bad language then it deserves the R rating as according to the MPAA, and that means that anyone under seventeen needs a parent with them to see it.

It sounds like the MPAA are working according to their rules quite clearly. Now that doesn't mean I agree with the MPAA and how they make a lot of their decisions, but that classification system is clear and it does seem like a perfect fit.

What appears to be the problem is that films with R and NC-17 ratings stand a chance of not making it into some cinemas, not because of the rating it's been given but of how the rating is perceived and acted upon by those involved with the distribution and showing of the film throughout the cinema chains across America.

Amir Bar Lev, the director of the film, said to The Hollywood Reporter that:

"Of course there is excessive language...The language in this film is not gratuitous. I think this is how many people would react when faced with the unthinkable. Giving this film an 'R' rating prevents young people from seeing this film; the very people who should be exposed to a great American like Pat Tillman."

It's interesting that I feel like defending this move, but again it is pretty clear and Lev is agreeing:

"An R-rated motion picture may include...hard language..."

Well there you go, and the rating classification doesn't even use the word excessive, making it even easier to call. Bear in mind that the classification is not stopping any under seventeen year olds from seeing the film, it's saying that they need parental consent and accompaniment to see it, and that seems fine to me.

Meanwhile Harvey Weinstein has come out and defended the film too, but he's also missing the point of the classification:

"This is one of the most important films I've distributed in my career, and I want my teenage daughter and the nation's young adults to be able to watch Pat's story. We need to learn from this story, and limiting who can see it is not the answer."

Well your teenage daughter can see the film, read this section again:

Children under 17 are not allowed to attend R-rated motion pictures unaccompanied by a parent or adult guardian...Generally, it is not appropriate for parents to bring their young children with them to R-rated motion pictures.

So they say it's not appropriate for young kids to see the film, and to me that means young, but as long as anyone under seventeen has a parent with them then they can see it. So is Harvey Weinstein not willing to accompany his child to the cinema to see it?




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