13. January 2005 · Comments Off on Documentaries, Profanity, And The MPAA · Categories: Military, That's Entertainment!

Michael Tucker has sent me this email about his ne movie Gunner Palace:

It’s possible that you have already heard of my film, “Gunner Palace”,
which follows the Army’s 2/3 FA in Baghdad in 2003-2004. The film is
going to be released nation wide on March 4, 2005.

To prepare for the release, we recently submitted the film to the MPAA
for rating. It came back with a “hard” “R” for language, which is the
height of irony considering where these soldiers are and what they are
doing. These are not actors playing soldiers, these are soldiers. It’s
all about context and I’ve decided to appeal the decision.

I think your readers might want to weigh in on this. I’ve attached a
piece by Jack Valenti, grandfather of the MPAA system and WWII vet, on
the FCC/ABC/”saving Private Ryan” telecast last Veterans’ Day–he
argues the case for context
better than I ever could.

• I had hoped that the MPAA would be able to make a distinction between
reality and fiction, more, I thought that an association tasked with
reflecting the opinion of American parents, would be able to see that
the majority of Americans support the individual soldier in Iraq and
know that soldiers are living in, and responding to, a very violent

• Is there profanity in the film? Yes. Is it worse than anything on
the latest RIAA rated CD or what is heard in the hallways of American
high schools? No. The soldiers in the film are simply reacting to the
violence and intensity they live in. Writing about the American
soldier, Oliver North said that after a few months in combat they can,
“take profanity to the level of a new art form.”

• According to the MPAA guidelines more than two uses of a “F” word is
an automatic “R” rating. Profanity, like it or not, is the language of
combat. General Norman Schwarzkopf is quoted as saying, “War is a
profanity because, let’s face it, you’ve got two opposing sides trying
to settle their differences by killing as many of each other as they

• General George C. Patton, known to most Americans via George C.
Scott’s PG rated profanity laden portrayal of him, was once asked by
his nephew about his use of profanity, to which he replied, “You can’t
run an army without profanity. An army without profanity couldn’t fight
it’s way out of a piss-soaked paper bag.”

Anyway, I somehow think Hollywood is out of touch with America. When I
tell people that we are at war, they often say “What war?” When I went
to Baghdad to make this film, all the soldiers asked is that I “tell it
like is”–the good and the bad. That’s what I did and I think that
their voices need to be heard without undue restriction.

As a soldier says in the film, “For y’all this is just a show, but we
live in this movie.”


Mike Tucker

To me, profanity in a documentary, particularly one about the military, is akin to full frontal nudity in National Geographic. Should we also be taking that out of children’s reach?

As for Gunner Palace, I haven’t seen it yet, of course. But if indeed it does “tell it like it is,” I wish Michael all the luck in the world. As we all know, there is far more going on in Iraq than the crap we see in the popular media.

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