When the unsurprising but disappointing news came down yesterday that, indeed, the MPAA slapped Shame with an NC-17 and not what it truly deserves — an R rating — most people were appropriately outraged. A few shrugged and moved on to a new topic. Worse, some actually defended the MPAA’s boneheaded decision, as in, “it’s an appropriate rating.” As if.
There are really two discussions to be had. The first, does Shame deserve an NC-17. To my mind, no, it doesn’t. The second, how will this rating impact the sales of the film and its Oscar chances. It probably won’t affect the sales because Lo! Guess what MPAA and parents? the NC-17 is only going to make teens (yes, teens) fall all over themselves to get a copy of it, which they will probably download — which, they may have already downloaded. So in that way, yeah, all the rating does is make teens, maybe some tweens, download it for free as opposed to paying for it in the theater. Do any of you parents really know what your kids are doing online? Wake up, parents. You have no idea what your teens are doing and seeing. No idea. If you are lax enough with them to let them go to the movies by themselves as teens — as in, “I’m going to let the MPAA and the theaters parent my child for me because I’m too lame to parent them myself” then you probably don’t care enough to think about what they’re doing online. My kid? I decide what she can see and can’t see at the movies and the last thing I pay attention to is the MPAA rating.