The no-budget indie production house, founded last year by Courtney Fathom Sell and Reverend Jen Miller, has been notified that Amazon.com will not stock its latest offering, “ASS Studios Presents 4 Short Films.” According to Sell, the mega-online retailer has twice declined to allow sales of the anthology on the site because of what it describes as “objectionable content.”
New York City-based ASS Studios — or Art Star Scene Studios — prides itself on its ridiculous, no-budget filmmaking, which it models on the work of John Waters, Lloyd Kaufman and Russ Meyer, classic purveyors of cinematic endeavors often charitably described as “tasteless” (and all stocked by Amazon). But Sell claims to be mystified that Amazon would turn its nose up at what he describes as PG-13 material based on a misinterpretation of the company’s name.
“The DVD has been rejected twice from Amazon (after one previous appeal from the producers), due to 'objectionable' content, even though it features no nudity or graphic violence,” said Sell. Meanwhile, Amazon “carries titles such as 'The Brown Bunny,’ 'Nekromantic,' 'I Stand Alone' and 'Antichrist.' ”
Under “Prohibited Content” in Amazon’s Selling Policies section on the site, it states the following:
Offensive material: Amazon reserves the right to determine the appropriateness of listings posted to our site.
Nudity and Pornography: In general, images that portray nudity in a gratuitous or graphic manner are prohibited. Amateur pornography, pornography, X-rated movies, and hard-core material including magazines are also prohibited.
In his letter to the company requesting an appeal, Sell wrote that “our work does not feature anything which goes against your specific guidelines, and while we appreciate your rules, we would like to further state that our work is neither pornographic nor does it feature violent imagery. We would like to reinstate our title to your catalogue and hope that you will accept our title, as our work could be considered PG-13 at best and does not break any of your guidelines whatsoever. Once again 'ASS' is an acronym for 'Art Star Scene' and should not be read as pornographic in any way, shape, or form.”
It’s not clear that anyone at Amazon read Sell’s letter or watched the films, since only a brief email restating the rejection was returned. But if the company’s gatekeepers had looked at ASS’s catalog, it would have come across previous titles “The Bitches of Bowery” and “The Sinful Bitches.” (It’s unlikely they took offense at “Elf Workout!”) Taken together, it’s not a total reach that Amazon made the assumption it did and declined to stock the movie.
(Indiewire can’t attest to the content since we haven’t seen it.)
The DVD, which was released by MVD Entertainment in late May, still can be found at Barnes & Noble, Buy.com, Kim's Video, and TLA Releasing — and ASS’s films will continue to screen at the Bowery Poetry Club during Faceboyz Folliez. Though Amazon has an enormous consumer base, it’s questionable just how many potential buyers there really are for ASS’s undeniably fringe content.
So it remains to be seen to what extent this hiccup will affect sales of the DVD. But ASS is still feeling a bit chapped.