LOS ANGELES, April 26, 2007 -- Due to strong adult content, including intense grief and a graphic depiction of a dead body, the funeral of former Motion Picture Assoc. of America chairman Jack Valenti will be rated R, and children in attendance under the age of 17 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
Valenti, who died this morning in Washington, D.C., is most famous for creating and shaping the industry-wide ratings system which has withstood nearly 40 years of criticism. Kirby Dick, director of the recent anti-MPAA documentary This Film Is Not Yet Rated, decries the ratings system as harsh and hypocritical, and particularly objects to this funeral's rating.
"Why does a small, independent funeral like this one require restriction, while a blockbuster like Anna Nicole Smith's was allowed to be shown where any child could see it?" Dick said. "The MPAA must be held accountable for this double standard of expoiting the dearly departed. The Valenti funeral deserves a crass, overhyped media circus as much as any one else's."
"Who on the MPAA board is qualified to make a decision on what children-- or, more specifically, Valenti's grandchildren-- shouldn't or shouldn't be exposed to?" asks David Ansen of Newsweek "This rating is supposed to protect children, but it hurts the entire family as well. How are parents of Valenti's underage grandchildren supposed to find babysitters on such short notice? They may end up not attending the funeral at all, and that just negates the point of the funeral entirely."
But William Cowan, MPAA publicist and longtime friend of Valenti, defended the rating. "The sight of an body in an open casket will no doubt prove extremely upsetting to younger viewers, and this rating encourages parents to find out more about this funeral before they allow their children to accompany them. A lesser rating would not responsibly reflect the opinion of American parents, an opinion which we've been subtly fabricating for decades, as overworked parents don't get enough mental rest to formulate opinions for themselves."