The standards they use to "rate" a movie are arbitrary at best. Some films that should clearly get an "X" (or nowadays an "NC-17") get an "R" when other films that DON'T show nearly as much get that dreaded "X". Saving Private Ryan got an "R" and it was so much more violent and gory than some other recent films that had an "X" until they were cut (sometimes to the point of incoherency). Some recent films (within the last 10 years) that kept getting "X" until they were severely cut were Exorcist III: The Legion, Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III, The Guardian, American Psycho, Hardware, Bad Lieutenant, Fight Club, Romper Stomper, Cherry Falls, Friday The 13th Part 6: Jason Lives, Natural Born Killers and American History X. Not all of the required cuts were for gore as evidenced by the "official" decision from the MPAA themselves on films like Fight Club. Guess why Fight Club was censored? Not for the violence but for "anti-social behavior and deviant proclivities". What they hell is that? That is not "rating" a movie, that is rating the content of it's message and that is the beginning of a 1984 style society where thought is punished. American History X was cut for some of the language and "racial content". Again what the hell is "racial content"? Bad Lieutenant was cut for "instructional drug use and deviant behavior". The rest of the ones I listed WERE cut for gore or violence but even then I disagree with the very idea that a ratings system is even used.
When someone other than the director (or someone working in his interests) edits a movie (especially when they are LOOKING for things to cut) they end up cutting plot-points, key scenes and vital dialog. TCM III was submitted to the MPAA over 25 times before they gave it an "R". The Guardian was submitted over 10 times. Exorcist III was butchered by the studio because THEY demanded an R at any cost. Hardware was absolutely butchered.
In reality it is the studios that actually do the censoring because they DEMAND that MPAA endorsed rating and without the MPAA the studios would not have a subjective "need" to fit within certain (thin guidelines. If the MPAA did not feel the need to "protect" MY kids from this stuff (that is my job) then the studios and theatres would not have to worry about pickets or whatnot if they have an "NC-17" movie playing.Too many people seem to associate "NC-17" and "X" with porn and filth when all those ratings really mean are "FOR ADULTS ONLY". Most people that would go see a movie that is called "Natural Born Killers" should EXPECT it to be graphic and not need that rating to know what it's contents are.
Now to a film that SHOULD be "NC-17" due to the same restrictions that were used on the above listed films. Saving Private Ryan. Did any of you know that even though Steven Spielberg talks about "artistic integrity" he is a member of the MPAA? It's true. Maybe that is how he was able to push Saving Private Ryan into the "R" category, huh? I find it so damn funny that he goes around and talks about "artistic integrity" yet he belongs to an organization like the MPAA that is built on the ideals of censorship. Besides being an awful film that not only insults the audience it should be "NC-17" by these standards.
Why do we put up with these censorship zealots? We don't have to. Some directors have figured out a way to outwit the MPAA and that is Straight To Video. When a movie is Straight To Video it gets around the MPAA. Most theaters won't carry a movie that does not carry an MPAA endorsed rating but damn near any video store will. Most of the indepdent filmmakers have stopped even submitting their movies to the MPAA and are just released them to video UNRATED. If you are in the video store and you see 2 copies of a movie on the shelf, one is rated "R" and the other is unrated and uncensored, which copy do you pick? Have you noticed that "Director's Cut" movies are becoming more and more popular?
People are slowly rebelling against the MPAA but personally I feel it's not being done fast enough. It is not your right to tell me what I can't see, hear or read. It is not your right to tell my kids what they can't see, hear or read. As a parent it is MY job to decide what MY child is exposed to. It is NOT your job. To me it is a parents job to decide what is appropriate for THEIR child. Most people can't just leave it alone and they feel THEY most protect MY kid from the evils of movies, TV and comic books. I just don't understand why other people can't just mind their own damn business. Wouldn't you like to actually see a film the way the director intended it to be seen and not some Balderized version re-edited and marketed for mass consumption?