What is the MPAA? The motion picture association of America is the judge, jury and executioner when it comes to telling the public about films that are being banned and portions of films that are being cut out. However, on their website they do not advertise that; instead, they have a great copy writer that glorifies what they do and how they do it. “We aspire to advance the business and the art of film making and celebrate its enjoyment around the world”. They then go on to list some of the companies they are affiliated with; what the website does not highlight is the fact that they are responsible for banning most posters affiliated with any kind of negativity, sexual contact or disturbing images. In case you are wondering what is considered censorship worthy, it can be anything from a bare bottom, implied sexual activity, bondage (of sorts) and even religious innuendos. Generally, censorship manifests itself to one person feeling a certain way about something they have seen and making enough noise about it (social media helps with this part tremendously) to the point where the MPAA or other censorship organizations around the world have to step in. This list consists of a few films that have been censored, mainly due to the artwork associated with the film. The movie industry is not afraid of censorship, as they have been dealing with it for decades; if anything, it has only made directors like Eli Roth, Terry Gilliam, and Kevin Smith more assertive and it looks as though it has helped them to figure out clever ways to bypass that censorship. Read on below to see some of the clever movie posters that have gone on to meet their maker.
10. Teeth – Mitchell Lichtenstein
Banned in Italy for obvious reasons, director Mitchell Lichtenstein’s film Teeth used a device that is common and acceptable and turned it into something that will forever come across the viewers mind when they go to get an x-ray. The film that was supposed to be a horror-comedy was mainly banned due to the sexual content of the poster. However, the synopsis for the film did not help Roth gain any favors with the Italian government. This is not the only film poster of Roth’s that has been banned by the Italian government; a film by the name of Clown was also banned because of the grotesque, bloody face of the clown that was featured on the poster.
9. Sin City 2: A Dame To Kill For – Robert Rodriguez
Beautifully done and captivating to look at, the much anticipated Sin City 2: A Dame to Kill For received a little bit of flack when they decided to release character posters. The ever beautiful Eva Green was the center of the unwanted attention, as her poster revealed a scantily clad picture of her in a very sheer robe (basically barely there). To top it off, the caption on the poster stated “I’ve been especially bad “as she holds a loaded gun. Full nipple and breast is exposed as she poses seductively with the smoking gun in her hand. Eva Green addressed the MPAA ban stating; she isn’t actually naked and finds it odd [that the poster would be banned].
8. The Zero Theorom – Terry Gilliam
It looks like the United States just couldn’t handle the bare butt of accomplished actor Christoph Waltz, on this 2014 poster. Director Terry Gilliam set out to make sci-fi comedy of sorts, so it’s safe to say he assumed this poster would exude humor and not negative backlash. Behind the push for a ban on this poster was the Motion Picture Association of America or MPAA. This time the MPAA failed, they could not hold this movie down. According to an article by The AV Club, the poster has been shared thousands of times on social media which, as we all know, generates the best publicity. How dare they go up against the great Christoph Waltz.
7. Saw 2 – Darren Lynn Bousman
As gruesome as the first film was, no one should have been surprised when the second one premiered being promoted by dirty, gory, severed fingers. Ironically enough, it was the idea that the fingers were bloody and gory that made people turn their noses up at it; it was the realization that when you look long and hard enough, you noticed that the fingers are actually severed from the body. Not peeking up through snow or dirt completely cut off and placed standing up. Banned in the United States only, Saw 2 still managed to make a decent amount of money. After all, a ban has never really affected the cultural tastes of society.
6. The People VS. Larry Flynt – Milos Forman
Woody Harrelson propped up against a woman’s lady parts hanging like Jesus on the cross; they were begging the MPAA to confront them on this one. Rule number one is don’t mess with any kind of sexual innuendos and following close behind is rule number two, just leave any kind of religious symbolism out of it. A movie about censorship is being censored. Odd but makes sense; but when you actually take a look at the film, it’s just your typical R Rated film, and it was nominated for several academy awards, including best actor and supporting actor. So there, it can’t be all that bad.
5. Captivity – Roland Joffe
Banned in the United States and in the United Kingdom for depicting gruesome acts against Elisha Cuthbert’s character, these acts included showing her lifeless body in a series of photos. The MPAA did not look too kindly on displaying the act of a tortured and mangled woman’s body as a way to promote a film. It also did not help that the words of each act were displayed on the billboard (abduction, confinement, torture, termination) so people knew exactly what was happening. The producers eventually tried to smooth it over by claiming it was a major printer error. Their follow-up poster was no better, but at least Cuthbert was semi alive.
4. Wanted – Timur Bekmambetov
What looks to be a simple movie poster was quickly banned in the United Kingdom for glorifying gun use. The poster was of a serious looking Angelina Jolie, holding a gun while James McAvoy couches down and points a gun towards the viewer. Apparently members of the public thought the ad was irresponsible and could possibly provoke violence and riots. Not only did the general public have a problem with the picture, they also had an issue with the tag line; “This is your destiny. Join us”; this slogan was accompanied by a bullet coming towards the audience, it insinuated that their destiny was to be murdered. Clearly, director Timur Bekmambetov was not fazed by this; Wanted still came out on top and was a box office hit, with only a few bumps along the road.
3. The Rules of Attraction – Robert Avery
This star studded cast included high profile actors (at the time) James Van Der Beek, Kate Bosworth, Jessica Biel and the list continues to grow. The poster confused many, and then went on to disturb many in that order; consisting of a bunch of stuffed animals in various sexual positions, director Robert Avery pushed the disturbing film up a notch by taking what was once cute and childlike, and making it dirty (sad face). Those poor stuffed violated animals. What really upset people about it was the idea of taking a childlike idea and making it dirty and very questionable.
2. Zack and Miri Make A Porno – Kevin Smith
Supposed to be funny (and it kind of is, in a shock value kind of way) but took a left turn and seemingly got lost somewhere; the cover art for the much talked about Kevin Smith film Zack and Miri Make A Porno, showed the main characters going down on each other. Shocking? Yes. Offensive? Apparently yes, to the MPAA; Smith commented on the ban, stating that he was more so amused then annoyed by the “whackjob” decision of the MPAA. He also stated that he believes that when you add the word p**no to anything, you open yourself to scrutiny and understands that they have a job to do. However, he does defend his poster by saying that the image is not that dirty and the co-stars are both “fully clad”.
1. Shame – Steve McQueen
By looking at the poster, everyone can see why it was band. Clearly, the word Shame is spelled out in semen; at first glance, it may look like soap suds (this must be the reason why director Steve McQueen thought he could get away with it). However with closer examination, there is no denying that this is inappropriate. Always pushing the envelope, McQueen is not one to bow down or be censored by others’ sensitivity, but he apparently messed with the wrong country on this one. Hungary was not about to participate in any of that. Needless to say, it also did not make its way over to the US or North America.
Fun Fact: this was not the only vulgar poster released; Google banned Shame movie posters and you will be shocked.