studiotwentysix2 the art + design of tom davie

Thursday, September 6, 2007


It’s been a long time coming, but I feel the need to rant. Simply stated, the MPAA rating of NC-17 is an absolute joke.

Before I get full-on into my hissy fit, let’s have a quick look at the NC-17 rating explanation, per the MPAA:
“An NC-17 rated motion picture is one that, in the view of the Rating Board, most parents would consider patently too adult for their children 17 and under. No children will be admitted. NC-17 does not mean “obscene” or “pornographic” in the common or legal meaning of those words, and should not be construed as a negative judgment in any sense. The rating simply signals that the content is appropriate only for an adult audience. An NC-17 rating can be based on violence, sex, aberrational behavior, drug abuse or any other element that most parents would consider too strong and therefore off-limits for viewing by their children.”

The reason that I even bring up this topic is because of the soon-to-be-released Ang Lee film Lust, Caution. It is rumored that the movie will receive an NC-17 rating (per CNN), because a “source said too many of the film’s sex scenes violated the ratings board’s unwritten rules (like the number of allowable pelvic thrusts, for example) to make an appeal possible.”

Seriously, what the hell. Can a committee of adults honestly deliberate with straight faces, while arguing over a specific number of pelvic thrusts? I mean really, what do these meetings sound like? “You know Jim, I was okay with the first five thrusts, but numbers six through nine just seemed excessive.” “I agree with your point about the thrusts Sally, and I would like to add that I can live with the three seconds of bouncing breasts and brief glimpse of female pubic hair, but the close-up scrotum shot is simply too much.”

I will admit, as stupid as I think the NC-17 rating is, I would actually approve of the rating if it were used thoughtfully and consistently across the board. Right now, however, the use of the rating is absurd. You will note that excessive violence is a reason for the NC-17 rating, yet looking through the list of movies that have received the NC-17 rating, a two year-old has the ability to count the number of violent movies listed. The hypocrisy, in my humble opinion, is staggering. What this tells me, is that film’s governing body is more concerned about a 16 year-old seeing nine pelvic thrusts in Lust, Caution, than witnessing Private Pyle kill his Drill Sergeant and commit suicide in Full Metal Jacket, or seeing a police officer being methodically tortured to death in Reservoir Dogs.

I find the discrepancy between sex and violence in this society, way out of whack. It is mind-boggling to me that violence and killing are so readily available on TV and in movies — that these acts have saturated our entertainment so thoroughly, we rarely even give it a second thought. Sex however, is so frowned upon and morally corrupt, that when an event like Janet Jackson’s exposed nipple occurs, you’d have thought someone actually had committed an act of violence. The reality is that 99% of people have sex, and 1% commit violent acts, yet film and entertainment (and politicians and society in general) would have you believe those numbers are actually inversed. I am certainly not advocating further government oversight or restrictions on entertainment, just some good old-fashioned common sense.

Okay, I’m going to get off my soapbox now, but just for fun, try to pick out which one of the following ten movies received the infamous NC-17 rating:

Saving Private Ryan
Full Metal Jacket
Reservoir Dogs
Pulp Fiction
Natural Born Killers
Passion of the Christ
Ichi the Killer
Schindler’s List
Sin City

Just in case you were unsure, here’s a subtle hint:

If you’re curious, here’s the complete NC-17 list

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