As its name implies, the Parents Television Council is primarily concerned with filing a great number of complaints with the FCC over TV content they consider objectionable. Their favored method is getting listserv subscribers to send in form emails of complaint en masse, and they generate the overwhelming majority of complaints filed. As you might expect from a group founded by conservative activist L. Brent Bozell, whose Board Of Directors includes Pat Boone, they’re pretty easily outraged, as demonstrated in a press release from earlier this year: “The Parents Television Council denounced MTV for its plans to air an episode tonight of Ke$ha: My Crazy Beautiful Life in which pop star Ke$ha is slated to drink her own urine.”
Blue Is The Warmest Color is only the second movie this year to earn the PTC’s wrath (after Spring Breakers, which they denounced as being marketed to children, a move they found an “inexcusable and irresponsible act against our young girls”). The PTC isn’t necessarily agitated about the lesbian drama itself, but rather the decision made by Manhattan’s IFC Center to ignore the film’s NC-17 rating and grant high school students supervised admittance. In a statement, the theater said “it is our judgment that it is appropriate for mature, inquiring teenagers who are looking ahead to the emotional challenges and opportunities that adulthood hold.” The NC-17 rating is an advisory guideline that’s not legally enforceable so the theater is well within its rights, but the PTC doesn’t see it that way.
PTC president Tim Winter sent the letter, dated October 29, to the theater’s general manager, as well as MPAA head Chris Dodd, AMC Networks CEO Joshua Sapan (the company owns both the theater and distributor Sundance Selects) and Cablevision chair Charles Dolan. The main charge is that the MPAA’s NC-17 is a decision made by parents for parents, and that Vanco “and the IFC Center are in no position to determine which children are ‘mature’ enough to view explicit sexual content without the presence of a parent or guardian.”
The letter also asks why, “if, in your sole determination, this film is so vitally important for some children to see, then why would you charge them for admission–unless of course this is nothing but a publicity stunt for a film that is D.O.A. at the U.S. box office?” (Last weekend the film had a per-screen average of $25,079, the highest in the country.)
The PTC’s letter concludes by promising to “bring its full weight and credit to bear to make a national issue of your decision, via every available means, until it is reversed.” For an example of the kind of fare the organization approves of, note their recent awarding of the “Seal Of Approval” to the Inspiration Network, honoring (in Winter’s words) “a schedule packed with inspirational programming, ranging from old favorites like The Waltons to original programs on the importance of faith.”