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Let the Marketplace Decide

The upcoming unrated documentary film “The Aristocrats,” a feature length discussion by more than 100 of the most well-known names in comedy about one of the most vile and disgusting jokes you’ll ever hear -- so bad that few of them would perform it in their acts -- has come up against a decision by the AMC movie theater chain not to show the film for what it is calling “business reasons.”

The problem is the chain’s claim that it isn’t showing the film for “business reasons,” that it doesn’t think the movie will sell tickets, appears to be dubious, since AMC had no prior policy against showing NC-17 or unrated films, and has in fact screened “Inside Deep Throat” and the unrated version (for graphic violence) of “The Passion of the Christ.”

It is hard to believe that a film featuring George Carlin, Lewis Black, Whoopi Goldberg, Jason Alexander and Robin Williams, just to name a few, won’t fill the smallest theater in a typical AMC 20-plus-screen multiplex for two weeks, or at least sell enough tickets to justify its presence, when typically the smallest houses in such multiplexes often screen the dogs of Hollywood’s output to a half-vacant house.

AMC should be letting its customers choose to see the film or not, because “The Aristocrats” isn’t just a shock-fest, but an entertaining look at different comedic styles and how comedy is crafted.

For New Yorkers, “The Aristocrats” will certainly be available somewhere -- AMC has just two theaters city-wide. But for those in the red states, AMC often dominates their market -- and can be the only multiplex within a reasonable drive. With its dubious “business reasons” decision that is more likely censorship due to content, AMC is telling red staters they are too dumb to decide what they should see.




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