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  • Writer's pictureThomas Bonifield

Christian Groups Fire Broadside at MPAA

In an open letter, they criticize the Motion Picture Association of America over its decision to tag pro-life film with an "R" rating.

Lead actress Ashley Bratcher in a scene from "Unplanned."

Unplanned is the film in question, and its producers have posted the open letter on the film's website. Written by Christian leaders and a couple of movie industry vets, the letter makes the same basic argument that the team behind this picture has made: with no nudity, profanity or violence - other than abortion - there is zero justification for the "R" rating.

The MPAA nonetheless demanded three scenes be cut from the film for it to receive a more favorable "PG-13" rating. Those include grainy images depicting an abortion of a baby as seen on a ultrasound monitor, a young girl's traumatic visit to an abortion clinic and a woman bleeding in a shower after an abortion.

None of that sounds particularly graphic or worthy of an "R" rating, especially in light of some of the objectionable material in standard Hollywood fare that passes for lesser ratings. The open letter makes clear there is a threat that Christian moviegoers will not turn out to see this film because of the MPAA's stigmatizing it with the harsher rating.

"In light of this real possibility, we the undersigned, are urging our fellow citizens to, just as they did with The Passion of The Christ, ignore the MPAA's restricted rating, and watch the film anyway when it is released in theaters on March 29th."

The letter is signed by 31 people, including luminaries as diverse as Gray Fredrickson, producer of the Godfather, former Arkansas Governor Mike Hukabee, Alveda King, niece of Dr. Martin Luther King, and Glenn Beck, the conservative media impresario. Though they profess "tremendous respect" for the MPAA's work, the group clearly does not believe that body is representative of the nation in general or the community of believers in particular.

"Who decides what is appropriate for your family to watch at the movies? Is it a group of unelected parents from Beverly Hills who meet together, watch a film and vote, and ultimately decide for you what is appropriate for your family and what's not?...Let's not project the values of the 90210 area (sic) code upon the rest of America."

Wow, that's a cutting statement. The letter goes on to say that its signatories view abortion as "the great evil of our time" and hope this film will serve as "the catalyst for ending it." Despite MPAA protestations that their decisions are not politically motivated, it stretches credulity to believe any of its members would agree with, let alone support, either of those sentiments.

Unplanned is based on the true story of former abortion clinic director-turned-pro-life-advocate Abby Johnson and was written and directed by Chuck Konzelman and Cary Solomon, the team behind the God's Not Dead franchise, and stars Ashley Bratcher as Johnson. It hits theaters on March 29th.


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