Of my many pet peeves, the one that might annoy me the most is when a filmmaker claims that the MPAA is "censoring" him because it gives his work a rating he doesn't like. Usually, this complaint is leveled by a director who receives the NC-17 rating because such a rating not only requires theaters to keep children out of theaters but also precludes the picture from being shown in certain chains or advertised on certain networks/in certain newspapers.
Simply put: this is idiocy.
I've written about this before, and at length, but briefly: The MPAA rating system is not "censorship" because it is a.) not run by a government body and b.) does nothing to restrict what is in a movie before it is distributed. It's a trade association's effort to avoid government regulation by letting parents know what films are appropriate for their kids. It may not be perfect, but I think it's pretty good! You can put pretty much anything you want into a movie—any amount of language, any amount of sex—and you won't be forced by the government to remove it or imprisoned for showing it. This was not always the case! The United States used to have a patchwork of censor boards in states and cities, trimming films as busybodies saw fit and imprisoning/fining those who violated censorship decrees. Indeed, my understanding is that our neighbors to the north still have such laws on the books.
I guess what I'm saying is, if you want to understand what film censorship looks like, look to Canada. Those poutine-eating mfers censor.
Now, I put all this in front of you so you have a modest understanding of why I get so bonkers when I read dipshits like Michael Moore whinging as such:
It’s amazing how 25 years have passed — we invented the internet, gay marriage is legal and we elected an African American President of the United States, but the MPAA is still intent on censoring footage that is available from any evening network news show. … This film has been widely praised by critics for its warmth and humor and optimism. What is the real reason I keep getting all these ‘R' ratings? I wish the MPAA would just be honest and stick a label on my movies saying: ‘This movie contains dangerous ideas that the 99% may find upsetting and lead them to revolt.'
Note: He is complaining about getting a R rating. Not even the dread NC-17! A R. Give me a moment.
[Takes a deep breath.]
You stupid, self-aggrandizing prat. No one is censoring anything. No one is even stopping kids from going to see your movies, they just need to be accompanied by someone of age. (And, frankly, I can't remember the last time I saw someone get carded before buying a R-rated movie ticket.) And literally no one will ever revolt after seeing something you've projected onto a screen. You made the best movie about gun control in the history of movies about gun control and gun ownership has risen spectacularly in the meantime! You produced a conspiratorial, fact-free tirade about George W. Bush with the intention of costing him re-election and he handily defeated John Kerry! I appreciate that you're trying to gin up some press by whinging about "censorship"—and you've managed to do that here; kudos, I'm easily trolled on this topic—but literally no one is interested in your anti-military movie as the Middle East devolves into a pre-medieval hellscape of beheadings and mass rapes.
No one is censoring you, Michael Moore. You are doomed to a fate far worse than censorship: irrelevance.