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Letters are posted as we receive them during the week, and before they are printed in the paper, so check back frequently to see new letters. If you'd like to send a letter to the editor, use this postmarks submission form, or email your letter directly to mail@austinchronicle.com. Thanks for your patience.
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Perfect Score

RECEIVED Sun., Jan. 15, 2017

Dear Editor,
    Does the Chronicle ever give a movie five stars? Manchester by the Sea certainly should have gotten five instead of a mere four and a half! You gave it a rave review (well deserved) with no caveats. So why not five stars?
Bill Meacham

Explain the Ratings

RECEIVED Fri., Jan. 13, 2017

Dear Editor,
    Each week The Austin Chronicle prints the Motion Picture Association of America's movie ratings without explanation. Sometimes I appreciate trigger warnings, but as my values do not perfectly align with the MPAA's vision for our society, I'd rather know why each movie receives its rating.
    A PG-13 or R rated movie might contain brutal murders, a glimpse of a human body, or simply a few words the MPAA has deemed offensive. It's interesting to look at where the line is drawn between what's offensive and what's not. For example, leniency is given to passive-aggressive forms of murder like poisoning or shooting, where blood is not shown onscreen. That might seem reasonable, but I recall that by age 10 I had already scraped my knees enough times to accept the existence of blood as a fact of life. Murder, on the other hand, I still find rather off-putting. It's the murder I find offensive, not the blood. Yet, the MPAA maintains a preference for gun violence while placing other facts of life – notably sex – at the top of the list of offensive human behaviors.
    The MPAA is a self-appointed censorship board with an opaque decision process and a clear history of bias against all manner of socially deviant, but otherwise harmless behavior. The MPAA has helped convince generations of Americans that working-class language is shameful and that the human body is more detestable than murder. If the Chronicle opts to endorse the MPAA's social values by printing movie ratings, can you at least tell us why each movie has been given its rating?
Chad Greene
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