Movies

Banned in Boston

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How far can a movie poster go? A risque movie poster had Slate's Explainer wondering who has the final say. Here's the answer:

Before the good people of the [MPAA's] advertising administration approve a poster, they make sure it's suitable for all viewers. Ads can't depict nudity or sexual activity, violence toward women, cruelty to animals, or rape. Other no-nos include sacrilege, cadavers, people or animals on fire, blood, offensive gestures, and references to drugs.

Filmmakers can always opt out of the whole shebang with the "not rated" option. But this last rule was a shocker for me:

It's also not OK to capitalize on the film's MPAA rating—i.e., "R has never gone this far," or "Banned in Boston."

If reason ever winds up "Banned in Boston"–something I'd have a particular interest in, since I'm the magazine's "Boston bureau"– we'd have good company. Previous Boston decency scofflaws include H.L. Mencken, who was arrested in 1926 for selling verboten copies of his magazine, The American Mercury. According to the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities:

A fierce defender of free speech, Mencken had traveled to Boston with the express intention of getting himself arrested. The minute he sold a copy of the magazine, the vice squad took him into custody. Not everyone in Boston agreed with the Watch and Ward Society, and the next day a judge ruled in Mencken's favor. He was acquitted on all charges. The victory was short-lived, however. Boston continued to lead the nation in the banning of books for another 30 years.

More on banned books here and here, movies here and here, and video games here.

NEXT: Prosecutor Who Sent Parents to Jail for Serving Alcohol to Minors Defeated—Hooray for Good Sense!

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  1. What Katherine isn’t telling you guys is that these aren’t ordinary posters printed on paper. They’re actually electronic posters made with really, really tiny lite-brites. (It’s pretty high resolution stuff.)

  2. I’d like to buy a copy of The Hustler magazine.

  3. Ads can’t depict nudity or sexual activity, violence toward women, cruelty to animals, or rape.

    The fight for equal rights will never end.

  4. Too bad The aqua teen hunger force movie couldn’t have used “banned in boston” in its advertisments.

  5. I didn’t see any restrictions on depicting “camel toe”. The poster takes advantage.

  6. The recent film about the MPAA thugs, “This Film is Not Yet Rated”, is well worth watching. As you can imagine, the MPAA slapped this film dissing the MPAA with the dreaded NC-17 rating.

  7. In one poster she’s wearing a sheer, red-tinted hanky masquerading as a dress. If you’re lewd enough to look between her legs, you’ll see the curve of her right buttock and a small genital bulge.

    I clicked on the higher-res poster link in the article and was lewd enough to peer between her legs. (Usually thats where I look when I talk to women anyways.) There WAS a genital buldge… the humanity…

  8. Wait, women have vaginas? Time to burn down a church!

  9. Those posters slow down my 2 block walk to and from the DC METRO every day, but I am not complaining.

    In another happy thought, I hope these posters change the fashion choices of women in Northern VA, as soon as it warms back up of course.

  10. Time to burn down a church!

    That reminds me, it is already too cold to go to Church. Please don’t burn mine during the cold season break.

  11. In another happy thought, I hope these posters change the fashion choices of women in Northern VA, as soon as it warms back up of course.

    hmmm, I dunno, ‘DIAMOND CUTTERS’ are excellent scenery as well

  12. hmmm, I dunno, ‘DIAMOND CUTTERS’ are excellent scenery as well

    Very true. In my neighborhood there is no real reason for women to bundle up in the winter anyway, if they never have to leave the Crystal City underground and the metrorail system.

  13. What’s funny about the linked article is that it includes this quote:

    “Print management was a priority because the easily outraged moral guardian crowd was unlikely to make it past the salacious posters and into the theater. As a result, the MPPDA received more complaints about ads than actual films.”

    The amusing part is that this seems to mock the easily outraged moral guardian who complains about the ad of a movie they won’t see – and this mockery in included in an article written by an easily outraged moral guardian, who is complaining about the ad of a movie they likely will not see.

  14. I played the Hitman games back in the day, and I’m a bit concerned about this love-story business. 47 doesn’t dig chicks. Only killing.

    On the other hand…genital bulge…mmmmm. If she’d just bend over a little…

  15. If she’d just bend over a little…

    Or turn around a bit. I bet she is in my favorite cup range, C or smaller.

  16. people or animals on fire

    There go my plans for a movie poster based on the “Wish You Were Here” album cover.

  17. Genital Bulge is a good name for a band. Or maybe General Bulge.

  18. Is this like one of those puzzles where you have to cross your eyes? Am I looking for Waldo? WTF!

  19. OK, maybe someone can enlighten me as to the MPAA’s thinking:

    Here is a banned advertisement for the flop thriller Captivity. The MPAA ordered it taken down after learning that it had been put up without MPAA approval.

    Here is an MPAA-approved poster for Hostel Part II.

    Which one better displays verboten violence toward women?

  20. The MPAA “violence toward women” ban must be why my beloved Ashley Renee does not have posters for her movies in the METRO.

  21. Val, guy montag

    What the hell are ‘DIAMOND CUTTERS’ ?

  22. What the hell are ‘DIAMOND CUTTERS’ ?

    Hard nipples.

  23. Genital Bulge is a good name for a band

    No, it isn’t.
    It never is.

  24. What, it’s ok to depict smoking???
    I’m going to complain!

  25. What the hell are ‘DIAMOND CUTTERS’ ?

    Christ man! Are you the only boy in a SF magnite grade school and not allowed to listen to the lesbians?

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