I watched this again recently. Unlike in Britain, American independent filmmakers aren’t legally obliged to get their movies rated by their board of censors, the MPAA, but it’s clear that if you want to get any studio distribution, you really have to stick within their morally lopsided agenda: violence = good, sexuality = bad.
In some cases the documentary uses split-screen shot by shot examples to compare a similar scene from two separate movies – one that what was deemed acceptable enough to acquire a lesser rating, and the other that was regarded as inappropriate. Controversial factors often involve the portrayal of homosexuality, although members also seem to make other questionable distinctions such as the depiction of male orgasms being less offensive than that of female ones, and from certain accounts, you get the feeling that this selection of appointed “parents” (and I use the quotation marks because their proposed title doesn’t always apply) actually think that they’re guiding the filmmaker to reach a better vision, instigating cuts with the sole purpose of imprinting their own taste rather than maintaining censorship guidelines. There is even a Catholic priest that joins them in the screening room to critique submissions, which seems not only surreal considering we’re talking about judging an art form, but also airs bias against the many other religions that make up the American population. Very strange.
However, it is again worth remembering that the MPAA’s service is voluntary, and that the internet has enabled the possibility of selling “unrated” DVDs to a global audience without any big studio involvement. Financing may be a problem, as may promotion be… but they are not the law, unlike the BBFC over in the UK.