Oscar winner Michael Moore has announced that he will reject the R rating the MPAA assigned to his latest documentary “Where to Invade Next” for “language, some violent images, drug use and brief graphic nudity.”
Moore is no stranger to friction with the MPAA, as “Capitalism: A Love Story,” “Fahrenheit 9/11,” “Bowling for Columbine” and his first film, “Roger & Me,” all received the MPAA’s R rating for one reason or another. “60 Minutes” took up the case 25 years ago, examining the R rating given to “Roger & Me” and the ratings system itself.
“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,” said Moore. “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. Teens will be the most agitated when they learn they will soon be $80,000 in debt just by going to school.'”
In his best-selling 2002 book “Stupid White Men,” Moore described his struggles with the MPAA and why they gave “Roger & Me” an R rating over the scene in which a rabbit is killed for dinner – “but a few minutes later in the movie, the police shoot an African-American man right on camera, and no mention was made at all over that by the MPAA. I guess we’re supposed to have gotten used to that image, so there’s nothing shocking enough about it to warrant an R rating.”
The team of Quinn, Janego and League echoed Moore’s sentiments in a joint statement: “With this rating, the MPAA is effectively telling high schoolers they just aren’t mature enough to handle or discuss important issues directly affecting their pursuit of the American dream. The notion that a teenager can’t walk into a theater and see ‘Where to Invade Next’ is ridiculous and frankly un-American.”
“Where to Invade Next” has been generating awards buzz since it premiered at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival and the New York Film Festival. It most recently won the Founder’s Award and the Audience Choice Award at Chicago International Film Festival and the audience award at the Hamptons International Film Festival. The film screened over the weekend as the Philadelphia Film Festival’s Closing Night Film and will have an AFI Fest Gala Premiere in Los Angeles on Saturday, Nov. 7.
“Where to Invade Next” is a subversive comedy in which Moore, playing the role of “invader,” lands in one country after another to steal ideas and spirit them back to the USA. The film was executive produced by Mark Shapiro, Will Staeger and Rod Birleson, and produced by Moore, Tia Lessin and Carl Deal.