Two of the men previously responsible for assigning parental guideline ratings to films have established a new company offering a unique service: helping filmmakers get around the ratings system.
The Motion Picture Association of America employs various people to assign ratings (G, PG, PG-13, R, NC-17) to films, in order to assist parents in assessing whether or not the films are appropriate for their children. The identities of the MPAA’s raters are typically kept secret, so that the raters aren’t subjected to undue pressure from the industry. But Howard Fridkin and Barry Freeman, two former raters with 23 years worth of rating experience between them, are planning to make money off of the MPAA's previously secret process.
According to The Wrap
, after warning filmmakers that “suggested edits can detract from the director's vision,” Fridkin boasts that “Barry and I, having been longtime raters, are able to catch these issues early on. We can prevent the need for heavy-handed editing.” Because what could possibly be worse than “heavy-handed editing,” like removing f-words from a screenplay?
The PTC has previously reported the ways in which this ratings system has fallen short; but a pair of raters openly telling filmmakers how to avoid more restrictive ratings is a new low. And what recourse do the parents who rely on the ratings system have? None whatsoever.
As with the TV content ratings system, only a system which is truly accurate, consistent, transparent, and accountable to the public will make the system valuable to parents.