“I will make no cuts,” he said. “We don’t believe in censorship in this country. There can’t be any compromise on this sort of thing.”
The director is appealing the Motion Picture Association of America’s decision to award his satirical film with an R rating. The organization cited “language, some violent images, drug use and brief graphic nudity” in making its decision. Moore acknowledged that all of those things are featured in the film, but argues that nothing in the picture is any more provocative or disturbing than the content of an evening news broadcast.
“The MPAA doesn’t want teenagers to see these things without parental supervision,” said Moore. “My advice to the teenagers of America is you know what to do and you know how to get in.”
In an interview with Variety, Moore listed off the parts of the film that prompted the MPAA’s ruling. The violence in the picture includes footage of law enforcement officers beating Eric Garner, a Staten Island man whose death last year helped spark a wider debate about police brutality. The drug use is related to a section in the film on Portugal’s decision to decriminalize narcotics — a move that some suggest has led to a reduction in substance abuse. The language stems from the use of “f–k” by Icelandic citizens protesting the 2009 collapse of their banks. And the nudity is a fleeting image of a naked man. That’s from a vignette that shows how some Europeans are able to enjoy three weeks at a spa to treat stress thanks to government-backed healthcare.
“You see a total of two seconds of naked Germans going into a Jacuzzi,” said Moore.
“Where to Invade Next” finds Moore comparing how foreign countries like Finland and France grapple with social and economic issues to the approach in the U.S. Its endorsement of European systems of government and condemnation of this country’s military-industrial complex will likely draw fire from the director’s conservative critics, of which there are legion. A Dec. 23 release is planned to qualify the film for awards. The picture is being handled by a new distribution venture formed by TWC-Radius founders Tom Quinn and Jason Janego and Alamo Drafthouse founder and CEO Tim League.
This isn’t the first time that Moore has clashed with the ratings board. The director appealed the R rating given to his anti-war film “Fahrenheit 9/11” and his films “Roger and Me” and “Bowling for Columbine” also drew controversy for their ratings.
“The [MPAA] is not doing this against me personally,” said Moore. “It’s the subject matter that makes them nervous. It’s volatile subject matter that we are still without adequate healthcare in this country. But there isn’t gratuitous violence in the film and nobody is having sex. I’m not encouraging drug or alcohol or tobacco use, so what’s the problem?”
“I see PG-13 movies where literally hundreds of characters are mowed down with guns or bombs,” he added.
Moore and the film’s distributors have the option of releasing the film without a rating, but they won’t do that because many theater chains would refuse to carry the picture. The director said he was hopeful that the MPAA will change its ruling, but believes an R rating is better than no rating at all, because he does not want to reduce the audience for the picture.
“I won’t edit my films to placate them,” said Moore. “I never offer anyone a mediocre experience. With me you get the real deal, and I refuse to break faith with my audience. I don’t want you thinking I pulled a punch so I could somehow get a TV release or play in an airline.”