NC-17 and Oscar

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.

Black Swan is a film I still won’t let my 13 year-old see, even though all of her friends have seen it and even though it’s rated R.  I also won’t let her see The Exorcist.  Again, rated R even though a ten-year-old girl jams a crucifix into her crotch and says you know what to you know Who?  The reason? Both films I myself as a parent deem too disturbing.  Yes, the girl on girl sex in Black Swan weirds me out enough that I don’t want her to see it.  But she’s 13.  She’s too young in my mind and you see what a filthy girl I am.  So you can imagine.  But the decision is mine because I’m the parent.  I am certainly not going to go through the trouble to have a kid and then allow the MPAA or the school district or the government to do the job I should be doing: parent my kid, pass values onto my kid, teach morality to my kid.  Frankly, I don’t trust government to be collectively smart enough to raise the kind of kid I want to raise — someone who is intelligent and can think for herself.

So, all the rating does is the same thing all of those cute little short skirts they put on Catholic school girls do: fan the flames of desire, my friends.

Before we get to Shame’s Oscar chances in light of this rating, let’s quickly talk about whether it deserves to given such a harsh smack down.  What do we actually see?  We see Carey Mulligan naked from head to toe. We see Fassbender’s full frontal fixtures.  In close up.  We see a few suggestive sex scenes.  No erections. No bodily fluids being shot across the room.  No body openings.  Just suggestions of what might be going on. Your imagination does the rest.

Doesn’t Don Draper fingerbang a woman in an episode of Mad Men?  He most certainly does.  Let’s not even get into what goes on on Criminal Minds on CBS and Law and Order SVU on NBC every week.  Oh, I think the last Criminal Minds I saw a man kidnapping young blonde women, tying them up and pouring hydrochloric acid in their eyes.  Yeah, good times.


Midnight Cowboy (1969) — Back in the days when the AMPAS and Jon Voight were both a lot more liberal. A different era in so many ways, with new freedoms to indulge and wild frontiers to explore — before a speedy return to civilization and polite society. If anything, it might be argued, it was the Academy’s dalliance with films like Midnight Cowboy and Last Tango in Paris that sealed the fate of future sexual experimentation. Now the Oscars would like to forget they were ever X-curious.

What I get from this list of NC-17 on Wikipedia is that it isn’t only sex that raises the red flag for the MPAA. It is sometimes violence.  Although you don’t have to look very far to see how many violent movies are given an easy R rating — and you don’t  have to look very far to see how this country allows us (in fact, encourages us) to indulge in our violent impulses. Video games, films, TV shows — they all send the message that violence is not only okay but it is an appropriate outlet for our teenagers; sex is not.

So sex gets buried. It goes underground. It goes into the thriving porn industry.  Labeling McQueen’s Shame with an NC-17 sends the message that this is a film about sex in the same way Mr. Goodbar was a film about sex.  But of course, these films aren’t about sex at all. They are about the very forces that drive the MPAA and the out-of-touch parents to fear something like this in the first place: desperation, shame, addiction.

Would that the MPAA — and reactionary parents too — all had the collective intelligence to see how a film like this talks seriously about what no one really wants to talk about.  It is bringing out into the open a dynamic that exists every single day in America — trust me on this one.  I know.

It isn’t just sexual addiction, either.  It is the entire industry of sexual addiction that Shame exposes.  Porn feeds that addiction because the need is unending.  The repression is unending.  The hypocrisy, unending.  When a population lives in direct contrast to its nature there is nowhere for that impulse to go except to subvert, to go underground, to become something we can’t really understand or control.  Anyone ever listen to Dan Savage?

But this tangent is really off topic. Probably what everyone wants to know is whether the NC-17 rating will a
ffect Shame’s Oscar chances.  And the answer is, of course it will.  Fox Searchlight will have one formidable contender now, and that’s The Descendants and George Clooney.  I’m sure Shame and Tree of Life will garner some nominations. But Searchlight’s best and surest contender is the Clooney pic.

So why does the NC-17 rating affect the film’s chances?  For some reason, Oscar voters shy away from controversy.  Maybe this is changing a bit. Maybe they will come to their senses and nominate Fassbender anyway — who, by the way, gave the performance of the year in Shame.

To get in, Fassbender has to bump one of these actors. I’m going to bet, all things considered, that he somehow makes it in.  I just don’t yet know which one to bump.

George Clooney
Jean DuJardin
Brad Pitt
Gary Oldman
Leonardo DiCaprio

And then:
Woody Harrelson
Ryan Gosling
Damien Bichir

I remain horrified by the rating and bored by people who say they knew it was coming and, thus, aren’t appropriately outraged.  To quote The Social Network, “this is wrong.  This action is wrong.”  It is wrong to label it with an NC-17 rating.  It does nothing but stigmatize the film and prevent theaters from showing it.  It stuffs it into a little box that people think they understand and can control.

Shame is a film about sexual addiction.  The dynamics that go into this need to fill oneself up with sexual satisfaction via porn and casual sex encounters is a mostly modern phenomenon.  Steve McQueen wrote the film to address this affliction.  The ironic part of it is that if parents really want to get their teens to stop spanking the monkey to porn, to stop thinking all women and men can so easily be objectified, to stop using porn and sex to fulfill a true need for intimacy, they can start by understanding where these impulses comes from.

Shame does this beautifully. It starts the discussion. It lifts the veil of hypocrisy and denial.  And really only then can we start having real conversations.

But by all means, parents, put your faith in the MPAA.  Don’t worry.  They’ll protect your kids from the evils of a movie like Shame.

208 Comments on this Post

  1. I prefer back in the Henry & June days when NC-17 itself wasn’t so scandalized in the way it is now. I think the MPAA was making a movie to try to move back in that direction with Blue Valentine but that movie truly didn’t deserve it; it’s not that bad that Shame has an NC-17 and it probably is more appropriate to the (corrupt) organization’s initial envisioning of the rating before exhibitors and producers made it so stigmatized. If anything I hope this does give Shame more publicity so that it’s not just any other random artsy independent R-rated movie and got lost in the shuffle.

  2. I prefer back in the Henry & June days when NC-17 itself wasn’t so scandalized in the way it is now. I think the MPAA was making a movie to try to move back in that direction with Blue Valentine but that movie truly didn’t deserve it; it’s not that bad that Shame has an NC-17 and it probably is more appropriate to the (corrupt) organization’s initial envisioning of the rating before exhibitors and producers made it so stigmatized. If anything I hope this does give Shame more publicity so that it’s not just any other random artsy independent R-rated movie and got lost in the shuffle.

  3. I wonder what would happen if studios pushed the limit and stopped worrying about the R and NC17 limit. Getting mote NC17 out there… Maybe things then could change a bit.

  4. I wonder what would happen if studios pushed the limit and stopped worrying about the R and NC17 limit. Getting mote NC17 out there… Maybe things then could change a bit.

  5. BRAVO. Brilliantly stated.

  6. BRAVO. Brilliantly stated.

  7. Sasha, while I agree with you whole-heartedly, I have to speak on something you said in the post. You won’t let your daughter see black swan because of a girl on girl sex scene? Keep in mind I would not want my child of 13 to see black swan either but for different reasons. I feel your argument about Shame is a little underhanded by that comment. A movie about sexual addiction that is real issue and got this rating due to sexuality and nudity is much less offensive than graphic violence (I completely agree), but two girls having sex as opposed to a man and a woman having sex is deemed inappropriate for a 13 year old? Would it not be better to discuss the reality of the world that lesbians do exist and (gasp) do have sex? I don’t want to jump on you here I just found that comment out of left field and hoped that my favorite oscar blogger hasn’t gone the ways of the conservative church on me.

  8. Sasha, while I agree with you whole-heartedly, I have to speak on something you said in the post. You won’t let your daughter see black swan because of a girl on girl sex scene? Keep in mind I would not want my child of 13 to see black swan either but for different reasons. I feel your argument about Shame is a little underhanded by that comment. A movie about sexual addiction that is real issue and got this rating due to sexuality and nudity is much less offensive than graphic violence (I completely agree), but two girls having sex as opposed to a man and a woman having sex is deemed inappropriate for a 13 year old? Would it not be better to discuss the reality of the world that lesbians do exist and (gasp) do have sex? I don’t want to jump on you here I just found that comment out of left field and hoped that my favorite oscar blogger hasn’t gone the ways of the conservative church on me.

  9. Excellent point, Gerold. I missed that in my initial read-through,

  10. Excellent point, Gerold. I missed that in my initial read-through,

  11. I don’t have much of an idea what Shame is about, but isn’t this a bit deja vu of last year when Blue Valentine was in the Oscar discussion until it got slapped with an NC-17?

  12. I don’t have much of an idea what Shame is about, but isn’t this a bit deja vu of last year when Blue Valentine was in the Oscar discussion until it got slapped with an NC-17?

  13. haqyunus

    @gerold. i am sure sasha meant something else. i also got this strange impression but it can’t be. i trust her on this regard at least. she can’t go conservative…(she’s quoting dan savage!)

    coming back to ‘shame’. i think fassbender is in and possibly mulligan too. the rating won’t hurt oscar or other awards chances (i think ‘boys don’t cry’ also got nc-17 rating initially). the knid of buzz it has generated and will continue generating, i think it is hard to ignore at this point in the industry. but yes, commercially it will have prohibitive affect on the movie.

  14. haqyunus

    @gerold. i am sure sasha meant something else. i also got this strange impression but it can’t be. i trust her on this regard at least. she can’t go conservative…(she’s quoting dan savage!)

    coming back to ‘shame’. i think fassbender is in and possibly mulligan too. the rating won’t hurt oscar or other awards chances (i think ‘boys don’t cry’ also got nc-17 rating initially). the knid of buzz it has generated and will continue generating, i think it is hard to ignore at this point in the industry. but yes, commercially it will have prohibitive affect on the movie.

  15. Honestly, I don’t think the NC-17 rating is really about kids anymore. I think it’s there for adults who don’t want to see that sort of thing.

    My Old Ma really gets mad at some sex scenes. She’s not a fan of violence either but it’s like someone tricked her into watching a porn movie or something. If people are just walking around naked that’s fine with her. But if they’re “doing stuff” it’s a different story. Take Watchmen. In that, naked blue Billy Crudup didn’t bother her, but the sex scene between Patrick Wilson and Malin Ackerman did. And she HATED Black Swan. I use those R rated movies, because she wouldn’t go near an NC-17 movie. And I wouldn’t let her. She’d probably go on a rampage later.

    In the user comments section for Love Actually on IMDb I once read a comment from an older woman how that movie was smut. She went off. And it took me the longest time to figure out that she was talking about the porn stand-in scenes, because I’d mostly forgotten about them.

    I really believe at this point in time that rating is for those people. I think it has nothing to do with 17 year olds and under. They’ll say it is. They’ll say the rating is for parents to decide, blah, blah, blah. But I think it’s really for that adult crowd that’s afraid of female orgasms and cowboys eating pudding.

  16. Honestly, I don’t think the NC-17 rating is really about kids anymore. I think it’s there for adults who don’t want to see that sort of thing.

    My Old Ma really gets mad at some sex scenes. She’s not a fan of violence either but it’s like someone tricked her into watching a porn movie or something. If people are just walking around naked that’s fine with her. But if they’re “doing stuff” it’s a different story. Take Watchmen. In that, naked blue Billy Crudup didn’t bother her, but the sex scene between Patrick Wilson and Malin Ackerman did. And she HATED Black Swan. I use those R rated movies, because she wouldn’t go near an NC-17 movie. And I wouldn’t let her. She’d probably go on a rampage later.

    In the user comments section for Love Actually on IMDb I once read a comment from an older woman how that movie was smut. She went off. And it took me the longest time to figure out that she was talking about the porn stand-in scenes, because I’d mostly forgotten about them.

    I really believe at this point in time that rating is for those people. I think it has nothing to do with 17 year olds and under. They’ll say it is. They’ll say the rating is for parents to decide, blah, blah, blah. But I think it’s really for that adult crowd that’s afraid of female orgasms and cowboys eating pudding.

  17. i’m over 17 so i don’t really care.

  18. i’m over 17 so i don’t really care.

  19. Scott: the difference is that Blue Valentine tried to appeal the decision and fought tooth and nail against the rating (understandably, since the reason was inherently sexist.)

    FOX Searchlight, on the other hand, is embracing Shame’s rating and intend to use it as a marketing tool to generate awareness/interest.

  20. Scott: the difference is that Blue Valentine tried to appeal the decision and fought tooth and nail against the rating (understandably, since the reason was inherently sexist.)

    FOX Searchlight, on the other hand, is embracing Shame’s rating and intend to use it as a marketing tool to generate awareness/interest.

  21. Brad Pitt will be bumped! Fassbender deserves to be nominated!

  22. Brad Pitt will be bumped! Fassbender deserves to be nominated!

  23. Sasha Stone

    You won’t let your daughter see black swan because of a girl on girl sex scene? Keep in mind I would not want my child of 13 to see black swan either but for different reasons. I feel your argument about Shame is a little underhanded by that comment.

    I agree with you but I’ll add that I wouldn’t want her seeing any oral sex scene. Not girl on girl particularly (we watched The Kids Are All Right) but to have her mother sitting in the chair watching – the masturbation – and all of the other things too, like her throwing up her food and the sex with the dance teacher, and the freaky mother — it is just me and my daughter that live in our home and I just felt that overall Black Swan was too disturbing. I would never say gay sex over straight sex is more disturbing. Never. She’s just not ready to have these images in her head yet. A couple of years and fine. She argues with me all of the time, btw. She really wants to see the movie. But I think I’m doing her good by not showing it to her: remember the sex in Black Swan is very bizarre and disturbing – it is anything but erotic and sexy. To me, it would put fear in the mix somehow. I talk very openly and frankly with my daughter about sex. She asked me the other day if animals were only straight and I said I didn’t think sexuality worked that way – and I told her I thought we all walked around with a little bit of gay and straight in us but we know pretty early what our preferences are. Or we play around for a while and figure it out later. Believe me, I don’t hide this stuff. With Black Swan, though, that mother thing in the mix – I just can’t go there yet….But I agree with you that singling out girl-on-girl makes it sound like it’s the gay sex I object to – I promise you, it isn’t. All of my daughter’s friends in middle school talk openly about sexuality – her friends who are gay are out and proud.

  24. Sasha Stone

    You won’t let your daughter see black swan because of a girl on girl sex scene? Keep in mind I would not want my child of 13 to see black swan either but for different reasons. I feel your argument about Shame is a little underhanded by that comment.

    I agree with you but I’ll add that I wouldn’t want her seeing any oral sex scene. Not girl on girl particularly (we watched The Kids Are All Right) but to have her mother sitting in the chair watching – the masturbation – and all of the other things too, like her throwing up her food and the sex with the dance teacher, and the freaky mother — it is just me and my daughter that live in our home and I just felt that overall Black Swan was too disturbing. I would never say gay sex over straight sex is more disturbing. Never. She’s just not ready to have these images in her head yet. A couple of years and fine. She argues with me all of the time, btw. She really wants to see the movie. But I think I’m doing her good by not showing it to her: remember the sex in Black Swan is very bizarre and disturbing – it is anything but erotic and sexy. To me, it would put fear in the mix somehow. I talk very openly and frankly with my daughter about sex. She asked me the other day if animals were only straight and I said I didn’t think sexuality worked that way – and I told her I thought we all walked around with a little bit of gay and straight in us but we know pretty early what our preferences are. Or we play around for a while and figure it out later. Believe me, I don’t hide this stuff. With Black Swan, though, that mother thing in the mix – I just can’t go there yet….But I agree with you that singling out girl-on-girl makes it sound like it’s the gay sex I object to – I promise you, it isn’t. All of my daughter’s friends in middle school talk openly about sexuality – her friends who are gay are out and proud.

  25. daveylow

    I think Fassbender is going to get nominated. Remember Jon Voight and Dustin Hoffman were nominated for Midnight Cowboy, which was rated X. Grated there was lot more adult themes in films then.

    I think Fassbender leaves too strong an impression in Shame to be ignored. I hope Mulligan gets nominated too.

  26. daveylow

    I think Fassbender is going to get nominated. Remember Jon Voight and Dustin Hoffman were nominated for Midnight Cowboy, which was rated X. Grated there was lot more adult themes in films then.

    I think Fassbender leaves too strong an impression in Shame to be ignored. I hope Mulligan gets nominated too.

  27. Agree with Mark. Fox Searchlight is actually planning to embrace the rating. That’s why I think we should just calm down

  28. Agree with Mark. Fox Searchlight is actually planning to embrace the rating. That’s why I think we should just calm down

  29. Antoinette,
    I think that just underscores the uselessness of the MPAA system. It would be much more effective if people concerned about such things had to look into what kind of possible objectionable content is in the movie. But, of course, we can’t trust people to do that so we feel the need to hold their hands for them.

  30. Antoinette,
    I think that just underscores the uselessness of the MPAA system. It would be much more effective if people concerned about such things had to look into what kind of possible objectionable content is in the movie. But, of course, we can’t trust people to do that so we feel the need to hold their hands for them.

  31. The trick is getting as many critics/AMPAS members as possible to watch “Shame”. I’d be shocked if FOX Searchlight doesn’t send out copious DVD screeners.

  32. The trick is getting as many critics/AMPAS members as possible to watch “Shame”. I’d be shocked if FOX Searchlight doesn’t send out copious DVD screeners.

  33. but on a more serious note, kids under the age of 18, more specifically males, are usually so immature when it comes to male nudity that they would either annoyingly chuckle or make homophobic comments. yeah sure the censorship in films today is backwards, allowing absurd amounts of graphic violence but saying no to male genitalia.

    i remember seeing Forgetting Sarah Marshall at the theater at my school and the student-males were getting legitimately pissed off every time the screen flashed Jason Segel’s penis. granted all these kids were over the age of 18 and could see a NC-17 movie if they wished.

    they way i look at it, most audiences mature enough to not laugh or get angry over male nudity or graphic sex are way over the age of 18. and the amount of underage kids mature enough is probably so small it wouldn’d affect the box office earnings anyway.

  34. but on a more serious note, kids under the age of 18, more specifically males, are usually so immature when it comes to male nudity that they would either annoyingly chuckle or make homophobic comments. yeah sure the censorship in films today is backwards, allowing absurd amounts of graphic violence but saying no to male genitalia.

    i remember seeing Forgetting Sarah Marshall at the theater at my school and the student-males were getting legitimately pissed off every time the screen flashed Jason Segel’s penis. granted all these kids were over the age of 18 and could see a NC-17 movie if they wished.

    they way i look at it, most audiences mature enough to not laugh or get angry over male nudity or graphic sex are way over the age of 18. and the amount of underage kids mature enough is probably so small it wouldn’d affect the box office earnings anyway.

  35. @Sasha, thats what I was thinking you meant but you just hadn’t expanded on. Sorry, it just struck me as odd when I read it and I knew I was wrong in thinking that. I don’t have a 13 year old, but I do agree with you, If I did I would not want the disturbing nature of the movie in their head. You sound like a parent who knows what she’s doing.

  36. @Sasha, thats what I was thinking you meant but you just hadn’t expanded on. Sorry, it just struck me as odd when I read it and I knew I was wrong in thinking that. I don’t have a 13 year old, but I do agree with you, If I did I would not want the disturbing nature of the movie in their head. You sound like a parent who knows what she’s doing.

  37. @JohnB: The issue isn’t really that people who want to see the movie won’t be able to. I bought a ticket to The Dreamers when I was 15 and didn’t get carded, and if kids really want to get into a movie, they’ll find a way.
    The issue is visibility. Getting an NC-17 rating closes off a lot of advertising venues, making it difficult for people to hear about your movie. There have been plenty of movies that would have been much more successful had they not been unable to advertise as effectively as their R-rated brethren.

  38. @JohnB: The issue isn’t really that people who want to see the movie won’t be able to. I bought a ticket to The Dreamers when I was 15 and didn’t get carded, and if kids really want to get into a movie, they’ll find a way.
    The issue is visibility. Getting an NC-17 rating closes off a lot of advertising venues, making it difficult for people to hear about your movie. There have been plenty of movies that would have been much more successful had they not been unable to advertise as effectively as their R-rated brethren.

  39. Sasha Stone

    Agree with Mark. Fox Searchlight is actually planning to embrace the rating. That’s why I think we should just calm down

    People keep saying this to me on Twitter like that’s supposed to matter? Who cares? I mean, really, who cares. The bigger issue is worthy of our consideration. Of course the studio knew it was coming – doesn’t make a difference. To me anyway.

  40. Sasha Stone

    Agree with Mark. Fox Searchlight is actually planning to embrace the rating. That’s why I think we should just calm down

    People keep saying this to me on Twitter like that’s supposed to matter? Who cares? I mean, really, who cares. The bigger issue is worthy of our consideration. Of course the studio knew it was coming – doesn’t make a difference. To me anyway.

  41. I think the actor most on the chopping block here is DiCaprio, loathed as I am to say it. I regularly champion DiCaprio as a favorite actor of mine who deserves Oscar recognition, but the BA race this year is particularly tight and, at this point, feels like there’s very little wiggle room for any dark horse nominees outside of the half dozen or so mentioned frequently. Clooney seems a lock, Dujardin has been getting tons of press for The Artist, so I’d be surprised if he fails to make the cut, Pitt gave the performance of his career in Moneyball and has been recognized as such by critics across the board, and Oldman has the greater “overdue” factor above DiCaprio. The trailers for J. Edgar have sort of left me a little uncertain if DiCaprio is a guarantee for an Actor nomination, so I guess it all comes down to how well he/the film is received. Though if Fassbender is really as good as you/everyone says he is and DiCaprio doesn’t blow minds in his film, I can easily see him be dropped in favor of Shame.

  42. I think the actor most on the chopping block here is DiCaprio, loathed as I am to say it. I regularly champion DiCaprio as a favorite actor of mine who deserves Oscar recognition, but the BA race this year is particularly tight and, at this point, feels like there’s very little wiggle room for any dark horse nominees outside of the half dozen or so mentioned frequently. Clooney seems a lock, Dujardin has been getting tons of press for The Artist, so I’d be surprised if he fails to make the cut, Pitt gave the performance of his career in Moneyball and has been recognized as such by critics across the board, and Oldman has the greater “overdue” factor above DiCaprio. The trailers for J. Edgar have sort of left me a little uncertain if DiCaprio is a guarantee for an Actor nomination, so I guess it all comes down to how well he/the film is received. Though if Fassbender is really as good as you/everyone says he is and DiCaprio doesn’t blow minds in his film, I can easily see him be dropped in favor of Shame.

  43. Sasha Stone

    FOX Searchlight, on the other hand, is embracing Shame’s rating and intend to use it as a marketing tool to generate awareness/interest.

    Yeah. I hope I’m not the only one looking deeper.

  44. Sasha Stone

    FOX Searchlight, on the other hand, is embracing Shame’s rating and intend to use it as a marketing tool to generate awareness/interest.

    Yeah. I hope I’m not the only one looking deeper.

  45. My Old Ma really gets mad at some sex scenes. She’s not a fan of violence either but it’s like someone tricked her into watching a porn movie or something. If people are just walking around naked that’s fine with her. But if they’re “doing stuff” it’s a different story.

    My mom, the same way. I have to go check the site Kids-in-Mind.com so I can give my mother advance warning about the exact number of F-words. (More than 12 or 15 occurances? She won’t go.) During any R-rated film I’ve taken her to see, if a scene gets too steamy I see in my peripheral vision she averts her eyes. (in a head-bowed gesture of prayer, which, yes, will take the fun right out it for me). I have to give her a nudge when it’s safe to look at the screen again.

  46. My Old Ma really gets mad at some sex scenes. She’s not a fan of violence either but it’s like someone tricked her into watching a porn movie or something. If people are just walking around naked that’s fine with her. But if they’re “doing stuff” it’s a different story.

    My mom, the same way. I have to go check the site Kids-in-Mind.com so I can give my mother advance warning about the exact number of F-words. (More than 12 or 15 occurances? She won’t go.) During any R-rated film I’ve taken her to see, if a scene gets too steamy I see in my peripheral vision she averts her eyes. (in a head-bowed gesture of prayer, which, yes, will take the fun right out it for me). I have to give her a nudge when it’s safe to look at the screen again.

  47. @Tom Houseman

    if the producers are really that concerned about their BO earnings than the decision to cut out that 10 extra seconds of penis should be a no-brainer.

    but if they truly believe their film is an artistic work of genius and should not have to be cut at any cost i would assume you would be more content with your film and any BO success would just be a plus.

    Fox Searchlight has it totally right with this one. Personally i feel any filmmaker or studio getting all hissy about a harsh rating knew what was coming and is just beating a dead horse with the no-duh, rehashed “the-mpaa-is-backwards” argument.

  48. @Tom Houseman

    if the producers are really that concerned about their BO earnings than the decision to cut out that 10 extra seconds of penis should be a no-brainer.

    but if they truly believe their film is an artistic work of genius and should not have to be cut at any cost i would assume you would be more content with your film and any BO success would just be a plus.

    Fox Searchlight has it totally right with this one. Personally i feel any filmmaker or studio getting all hissy about a harsh rating knew what was coming and is just beating a dead horse with the no-duh, rehashed “the-mpaa-is-backwards” argument.

  49. More NC-17 films need to be made so that advertisers and distributors release their sphincters. It all comes down to the almighty dollar. :/

  50. More NC-17 films need to be made so that advertisers and distributors release their sphincters. It all comes down to the almighty dollar. :/

  51. Matthew Starr

    This piece made me happy that my parents let me watch whatever I wanted. They took me to see Terminator 2 in theaters when I was seven years old and then they brought me to see Seven (Fincher) when I was eleven.

    I am very very thankful for their leniency because I LOVED watching those in theaters.

  52. Matthew Starr

    This piece made me happy that my parents let me watch whatever I wanted. They took me to see Terminator 2 in theaters when I was seven years old and then they brought me to see Seven (Fincher) when I was eleven.

    I am very very thankful for their leniency because I LOVED watching those in theaters.

  53. I would never say gay sex over straight sex is more disturbing. Never. She’s just not ready to have these images in her head yet. A couple of years and fine. She argues with me all of the time, btw. She really wants to see the movie.

    Last year I did a phone interview with Hailee Steinfeld — two days after Christmas — and the question came up about what were her favorite movies of the year. I asked her about Black Swan, and she said she couldn’t see it yet. I let that slide but for some reason asked her again a couple of minutes later, in terms of, “You really need to see Black Swan, You’ll like it.” Then I realized how this must sound to her interview chaperones on the other end — some strange dude trying to talk a 14-year-old girl into seeing a dirty movie. So I decided maybe a good idea to stop pestering her before I got arrested.

  54. I would never say gay sex over straight sex is more disturbing. Never. She’s just not ready to have these images in her head yet. A couple of years and fine. She argues with me all of the time, btw. She really wants to see the movie.

    Last year I did a phone interview with Hailee Steinfeld — two days after Christmas — and the question came up about what were her favorite movies of the year. I asked her about Black Swan, and she said she couldn’t see it yet. I let that slide but for some reason asked her again a couple of minutes later, in terms of, “You really need to see Black Swan, You’ll like it.” Then I realized how this must sound to her interview chaperones on the other end — some strange dude trying to talk a 14-year-old girl into seeing a dirty movie. So I decided maybe a good idea to stop pestering her before I got arrested.

  55. Well said, Sasha.

    I wish as much effort went into actual governing as it does community parenting. In Canada we have a similar rating, but it doesn’t impact the ability to advertise in the daily paper like it does down there. I cannot name, among my peers or their children or their grandchildren, anyone who did not try something that was deemed forbidden before they were of age, be it movies, booze, grass, or sex.

    The NastyCinema17 rating will probably only effect some forms of advertising, keep elderly prudes from attending showings, attract teenagers, boost Searchlight’s promotional reach, and, yes, assure Fassbender of a nomination not only for his performance, but on the additional grounds of making a political statement about the MPAA. I would also venture that just about anybody on your list should be sweating it as I am more sure of Fassbender’s chances than anyone else’s, except maybe Clooney.

    The only thing that would work against his getting a nod would be this conversation hypothetically overheard at a screening,” Don’t be upset, dear…Yours is as cute as a button. I won’t need a ride home, I’m taking the subway to my sister’s.”

  56. Well said, Sasha.

    I wish as much effort went into actual governing as it does community parenting. In Canada we have a similar rating, but it doesn’t impact the ability to advertise in the daily paper like it does down there. I cannot name, among my peers or their children or their grandchildren, anyone who did not try something that was deemed forbidden before they were of age, be it movies, booze, grass, or sex.

    The NastyCinema17 rating will probably only effect some forms of advertising, keep elderly prudes from attending showings, attract teenagers, boost Searchlight’s promotional reach, and, yes, assure Fassbender of a nomination not only for his performance, but on the additional grounds of making a political statement about the MPAA. I would also venture that just about anybody on your list should be sweating it as I am more sure of Fassbender’s chances than anyone else’s, except maybe Clooney.

    The only thing that would work against his getting a nod would be this conversation hypothetically overheard at a screening,” Don’t be upset, dear…Yours is as cute as a button. I won’t need a ride home, I’m taking the subway to my sister’s.”

  57. NastyCinema17

    ha! love that.
    what the heck does NC stand for anyway?

    nekkid cock?

  58. NastyCinema17

    ha! love that.
    what the heck does NC stand for anyway?

    nekkid cock?

  59. @ Sasha

    correct me if i’m wrong Sasha (which i very well may be), but i am assuming your solution would be for the MPAA to completely do away with the NC-17 rating for good and that the highest cap of censorship for any film would be R and that it would be a parent or guardian’s discretion to decide if their underage child or dependent is mature enough to handle what the rating prepares them for?

  60. @ Sasha

    correct me if i’m wrong Sasha (which i very well may be), but i am assuming your solution would be for the MPAA to completely do away with the NC-17 rating for good and that the highest cap of censorship for any film would be R and that it would be a parent or guardian’s discretion to decide if their underage child or dependent is mature enough to handle what the rating prepares them for?

  61. john b,

    me, I don’t have a solution. There’s no easy remedy. The ratings systems in other countries show us all kinds of variations and they’re all problematic.

    what I might like to see is for the MPAA to apply the same strict standards to prohibit kids from seeing the worst gory violence too. See how long it takes the studios to come up with a better solution on their own after a few weeks of not being able to advertise their slaughter and mutilation extravaganzas on TV.

  62. john b,

    me, I don’t have a solution. There’s no easy remedy. The ratings systems in other countries show us all kinds of variations and they’re all problematic.

    what I might like to see is for the MPAA to apply the same strict standards to prohibit kids from seeing the worst gory violence too. See how long it takes the studios to come up with a better solution on their own after a few weeks of not being able to advertise their slaughter and mutilation extravaganzas on TV.

  63. I’d like to see them start rating some films NC-17 for gratuitous violence.

  64. I’d like to see them start rating some films NC-17 for gratuitous violence.

  65. Ryan, doesn’t NC stand for “no children”? It seems to have evolved closer to your definition, though, as not much else is considered NC17 material.

    john b, Sasha may disagree, but I would say ditch the whole damn thing, maybe replace it with a warning similar to what HBO does: “contains coarse language, violence and nudity.” Of course, that could end up being used as a viewer’s menu. “Let’s see, I’m in the mood for some violence and swearing today, with a side of nudity…”

  66. Ryan, doesn’t NC stand for “no children”? It seems to have evolved closer to your definition, though, as not much else is considered NC17 material.

    john b, Sasha may disagree, but I would say ditch the whole damn thing, maybe replace it with a warning similar to what HBO does: “contains coarse language, violence and nudity.” Of course, that could end up being used as a viewer’s menu. “Let’s see, I’m in the mood for some violence and swearing today, with a side of nudity…”

  67. @Ryan Adams

    i would agree with you on that front. most people are subjected to the reality of nudity, male or female, at some point in their lives. i would hope that most people never have to be faced with the reality of violence, whether as menial as a school fist fight or as extreme as a war-zone. i will always support the claim that the MPAA has it backwards in terms of censoring one over the other and that if they are going to be bold enough to bring down the ban-hammer on nudity and sex than they should do the same with people literally spilling each others’ blood and guts.

  68. @Ryan Adams

    i would agree with you on that front. most people are subjected to the reality of nudity, male or female, at some point in their lives. i would hope that most people never have to be faced with the reality of violence, whether as menial as a school fist fight or as extreme as a war-zone. i will always support the claim that the MPAA has it backwards in terms of censoring one over the other and that if they are going to be bold enough to bring down the ban-hammer on nudity and sex than they should do the same with people literally spilling each others’ blood and guts.

  69. maybe it’s No Christians?
    No Conservatives?

  70. maybe it’s No Christians?
    No Conservatives?

  71. Thanks, Sasha. Great piece.

    I have a friend who won’t let her 18 year old daughter see Black Swan, because it’s “pornography.” I was worried that the Black Swan comments were going to go in that direction, and you articulated really well. My friend is someone who hasn’t even seen the movie, she has just heard of the “pornographic” content. I really applaud your statements in the comment section too. You obviously have a very open, honest relationship with your daughter. It’s great to hear that!

    By the way, I TOTALLY listen to Savage Love. Every week.

  72. Thanks, Sasha. Great piece.

    I have a friend who won’t let her 18 year old daughter see Black Swan, because it’s “pornography.” I was worried that the Black Swan comments were going to go in that direction, and you articulated really well. My friend is someone who hasn’t even seen the movie, she has just heard of the “pornographic” content. I really applaud your statements in the comment section too. You obviously have a very open, honest relationship with your daughter. It’s great to hear that!

    By the way, I TOTALLY listen to Savage Love. Every week.

  73. I remember when Roger Ebert suggested a new rating. Do away with NC-17 and add an “A” rating. It would stand for Adult, but it wouldn’t have a restriction like the NC-17 does.

  74. I remember when Roger Ebert suggested a new rating. Do away with NC-17 and add an “A” rating. It would stand for Adult, but it wouldn’t have a restriction like the NC-17 does.

  75. Roger Ebert suggested a new rating. Do away with NC-17 and add an “A” rating.

    There’s a classic idea. The letter “A” ..in scarlet.

  76. Roger Ebert suggested a new rating. Do away with NC-17 and add an “A” rating.

    There’s a classic idea. The letter “A” ..in scarlet.

  77. Why don’t they do with Shame the same thing that The King’s Speech did? They edited out anything objectionable that didn’t really take away from the story and re-release an essentially cleaner version?

  78. Why don’t they do with Shame the same thing that The King’s Speech did? They edited out anything objectionable that didn’t really take away from the story and re-release an essentially cleaner version?

  79. Christiane

    Yes! I love this passionate discourse and there needs to be a frank conversation going about the implications of the MPAA’s conservative ways of handling out ratings AS WELL as theaters, newspapers and other media’s shun-out in the case of an NC-17 stigmatized film.

    This movie has everything going for it: great buzz and acclaim, the tackling of a very serious issue, and undeniable talent from all fronts. I don’t want to see its momentum die as a consequence of its extremely limited exposure in theaters. At the very least (other than the studio and the talent involved in Shame), I hope that the few who have seen the movie and appreciated it be quite vocal and this is also a great opportunity for filmmakers to chime in since the overall issues go beyond Shame. Apathy or indifference is about the only reaction that annoys me right now.

  80. Christiane

    Yes! I love this passionate discourse and there needs to be a frank conversation going about the implications of the MPAA’s conservative ways of handling out ratings AS WELL as theaters, newspapers and other media’s shun-out in the case of an NC-17 stigmatized film.

    This movie has everything going for it: great buzz and acclaim, the tackling of a very serious issue, and undeniable talent from all fronts. I don’t want to see its momentum die as a consequence of its extremely limited exposure in theaters. At the very least (other than the studio and the talent involved in Shame), I hope that the few who have seen the movie and appreciated it be quite vocal and this is also a great opportunity for filmmakers to chime in since the overall issues go beyond Shame. Apathy or indifference is about the only reaction that annoys me right now.

  81. wisconsinkel

    If Michelle Williams can get nominated for a film originally nominated for NC-17 (and if Jon Voight/Dustin Hoffman/Sylvia Miles could get nominated for the X-Rated Midnight Cowboy, which won Best Picture), then Fassbender can certainly get nominated if he keeps a high-profile and campaigns appropriately.

  82. wisconsinkel

    If Michelle Williams can get nominated for a film originally nominated for NC-17 (and if Jon Voight/Dustin Hoffman/Sylvia Miles could get nominated for the X-Rated Midnight Cowboy, which won Best Picture), then Fassbender can certainly get nominated if he keeps a high-profile and campaigns appropriately.

  83. if the film is really that good and important than it won’t be inhibited by the nc-17 rating. and that is what Fox Searchlight is going to try to prove.

  84. if the film is really that good and important than it won’t be inhibited by the nc-17 rating. and that is what Fox Searchlight is going to try to prove.

  85. “They edited out anything objectionable that didn’t really take away from the story and re-release an essentially cleaner version”

    Who makes the call on both “objectionable” and “cleaner”? From what I understand about Shame, what you see is integral to the story and the performance, as opposed to some of the extreme violence that’s thrown at us in more leniently-rated fare on a regular basis.

    Without being crude or trite, if a film is about a pianist, you see their fingers; in a sports film, you see some of the game. NC17 is not aimed at porn or snuff, it is aimed directly at mainstream product by artists that are trying to illustrate their points of view as effectively as they see fit for a mature and thinking audience. I can’t think of any reason why any NC17-rated film should be edited.

  86. “They edited out anything objectionable that didn’t really take away from the story and re-release an essentially cleaner version”

    Who makes the call on both “objectionable” and “cleaner”? From what I understand about Shame, what you see is integral to the story and the performance, as opposed to some of the extreme violence that’s thrown at us in more leniently-rated fare on a regular basis.

    Without being crude or trite, if a film is about a pianist, you see their fingers; in a sports film, you see some of the game. NC17 is not aimed at porn or snuff, it is aimed directly at mainstream product by artists that are trying to illustrate their points of view as effectively as they see fit for a mature and thinking audience. I can’t think of any reason why any NC17-rated film should be edited.

  87. therealmike

    Can somebody tell me why Hangover Part 2 didn´t get the NC-17 rating? I´m pretty sure I´ve seen a couple of penises in there. Speaking of Hangover Part 2. Here in Germany Twelve-year-old Kids were allowed to see it. Which I thought was actually wrong. Here in Europe we have no problem with nudity but the Hangover Part 2 was definitely too much.

    You have to give kudos to Fox Searchlight. Fox Searchlight knows how to campaign a movie and I wouldn´t be surprised if the rating is part of the marketing.

  88. therealmike

    Can somebody tell me why Hangover Part 2 didn´t get the NC-17 rating? I´m pretty sure I´ve seen a couple of penises in there. Speaking of Hangover Part 2. Here in Germany Twelve-year-old Kids were allowed to see it. Which I thought was actually wrong. Here in Europe we have no problem with nudity but the Hangover Part 2 was definitely too much.

    You have to give kudos to Fox Searchlight. Fox Searchlight knows how to campaign a movie and I wouldn´t be surprised if the rating is part of the marketing.

  89. Not that it was an example of brilliant television, but it reminds me of the cancellation of The Playboy Club by NBC and how the Parents Groups complained it was salacious, which it was far from . In fact I think ratings were so low because it wasn’t as salacious as people wanted it to be. Glee is extremely salacious compared to it.

  90. Not that it was an example of brilliant television, but it reminds me of the cancellation of The Playboy Club by NBC and how the Parents Groups complained it was salacious, which it was far from . In fact I think ratings were so low because it wasn’t as salacious as people wanted it to be. Glee is extremely salacious compared to it.

  91. I found it very odd that Blue Valentine would get an NC-17, yet The Kids Are All Right was given an R. Can someone please replace the MPAA?

    Also, I agree with you on Black Swan, Sasha. I wouldn’t let thirteen year-olds watch it, either. Fifteen year-olds, probably. Then again, I’m not a parent, so I don’t know.

  92. I found it very odd that Blue Valentine would get an NC-17, yet The Kids Are All Right was given an R. Can someone please replace the MPAA?

    Also, I agree with you on Black Swan, Sasha. I wouldn’t let thirteen year-olds watch it, either. Fifteen year-olds, probably. Then again, I’m not a parent, so I don’t know.

  93. @ therealmike

    It’s not the image of a penis alone which can earn a film an NC-17 rating. Nudity is permitted at R.

    The problem is not with the fact that Shame has been rated NC-17, but that so few other films have been and, thus, there is a ridiculous, insular-minded stigma attached to it. Remember the brouhaha over Zack and Miri Make a Porno? Even after the Weinsteins succeeded in changing its initial NC-17 to an R, its posters had to be re-designed, and many local authorities refused to allow the film to be promoted due to the fact that the film’s title contained the word ‘porno’.

    Here in the UK, we have an 18 rating. It’s almost identical to the NC-17 – no-one under the age of 18 is admitted. But it’s not a taboo over here. Many films receive 18 ratings which are rated R in the US. They’re mostly the ‘hard R’-rated films – recently, Drive, Straw Dogs, The Devil’s Double, Tyrannosaur and Red State were all rated 18. They’re still advertised on TV, in newspapers, on billboards, and sold extensively in stores, shown extensively in cinemas. And it’s far more common for a film to be rated 18 for violent or drug-related content than for sexual content. And while most NC-17 rated films are also rated 18, some are rated 15, which is like a softer R; the bbfc is one of the most liberal, forward-thinking film classification institutions in the world.

  94. @ therealmike

    It’s not the image of a penis alone which can earn a film an NC-17 rating. Nudity is permitted at R.

    The problem is not with the fact that Shame has been rated NC-17, but that so few other films have been and, thus, there is a ridiculous, insular-minded stigma attached to it. Remember the brouhaha over Zack and Miri Make a Porno? Even after the Weinsteins succeeded in changing its initial NC-17 to an R, its posters had to be re-designed, and many local authorities refused to allow the film to be promoted due to the fact that the film’s title contained the word ‘porno’.

    Here in the UK, we have an 18 rating. It’s almost identical to the NC-17 – no-one under the age of 18 is admitted. But it’s not a taboo over here. Many films receive 18 ratings which are rated R in the US. They’re mostly the ‘hard R’-rated films – recently, Drive, Straw Dogs, The Devil’s Double, Tyrannosaur and Red State were all rated 18. They’re still advertised on TV, in newspapers, on billboards, and sold extensively in stores, shown extensively in cinemas. And it’s far more common for a film to be rated 18 for violent or drug-related content than for sexual content. And while most NC-17 rated films are also rated 18, some are rated 15, which is like a softer R; the bbfc is one of the most liberal, forward-thinking film classification institutions in the world.

  95. Tero Heikkinen

    The article Sasha wrote seems quite liberal on the outside, but…

    When talking about Black Swan – the girl-on-girl is mentioned when Winona Ryder/face or mirror blade goes unnoticed. The theme of the movie is quite adult, cause it deals with mental issues – its main these. That gave it a 15 rating here, not some sensual scene with two women.

    Same with The Exorcist – a HORROR film with grotesque (also demonic) images – out of which only the crucifix scene is mentioned.

    I’d like to know what violent films with nothing sexual have you shown for your daughter? 127 Hours (oh, but there’s an attempted masturbation scene)? How about The Town (any sex in that one, can’t remember)? I know you have a problem with abuse of any kind, and Precious was that – both violent (mental and physical) and sexual. It’s understandable if you don’t want to see that, cause you just can’t blink and it’s gone. The whole movie is about that. I try to avoid films with realistic looking spiders (not ROTK). I can’t stand them.

    And… Drive is one recent title that should’ve been NC-17. No contest. Of course, it’s R, cause there’s no sex. What hypocrites the MPAA are. Fuck them.

  96. Tero Heikkinen

    The article Sasha wrote seems quite liberal on the outside, but…

    When talking about Black Swan – the girl-on-girl is mentioned when Winona Ryder/face or mirror blade goes unnoticed. The theme of the movie is quite adult, cause it deals with mental issues – its main these. That gave it a 15 rating here, not some sensual scene with two women.

    Same with The Exorcist – a HORROR film with grotesque (also demonic) images – out of which only the crucifix scene is mentioned.

    I’d like to know what violent films with nothing sexual have you shown for your daughter? 127 Hours (oh, but there’s an attempted masturbation scene)? How about The Town (any sex in that one, can’t remember)? I know you have a problem with abuse of any kind, and Precious was that – both violent (mental and physical) and sexual. It’s understandable if you don’t want to see that, cause you just can’t blink and it’s gone. The whole movie is about that. I try to avoid films with realistic looking spiders (not ROTK). I can’t stand them.

    And… Drive is one recent title that should’ve been NC-17. No contest. Of course, it’s R, cause there’s no sex. What hypocrites the MPAA are. Fuck them.

  97. It’s not the image of a penis alone which can earn a film an NC-17 rating.

    At the risk of sounding like I’m obsessed about bashing Piranha 3-D (it was on HBO this weekend! I saw it by accident!). there was a huge 3-D penis that rose up to fill half the screen in Piranha 3-D.

    Of course, it was a severed penis, and it got chewed up by a fish, and spit back out at the camera. So that’s a lot healthier for kids to see than a threatening penis that’s intact and fully functional.

  98. It’s not the image of a penis alone which can earn a film an NC-17 rating.

    At the risk of sounding like I’m obsessed about bashing Piranha 3-D (it was on HBO this weekend! I saw it by accident!). there was a huge 3-D penis that rose up to fill half the screen in Piranha 3-D.

    Of course, it was a severed penis, and it got chewed up by a fish, and spit back out at the camera. So that’s a lot healthier for kids to see than a threatening penis that’s intact and fully functional.

  99. Tero, will all respect: You can be curious about anything you choose, but the comprehensive details of Sasha’s parenting boundaries are not on trial here for public inspection.

    I figure Sasha tells us what she wants us to know, and anything else is touchy territory for interrogation, ok?

    If you don’t know by now that Sasha is liberal inside and out, head to toe, through and through, then you haven’t been paying attention the past 10 years.

  100. Tero, will all respect: You can be curious about anything you choose, but the comprehensive details of Sasha’s parenting boundaries are not on trial here for public inspection.

    I figure Sasha tells us what she wants us to know, and anything else is touchy territory for interrogation, ok?

    If you don’t know by now that Sasha is liberal inside and out, head to toe, through and through, then you haven’t been paying attention the past 10 years.

  101. Tero Heikkinen

    And the reason why you find people giggling/feel uncomfortable on penises is simple. USA has made a taboo over something that is so common. I just counted that there are approximately 7 billion testicles and 7 billion boobs on this planet. The day we have as many guns is the day we all die.

    This Finnish Christmas adventure-horror-comedy called Rare Exports (advertisement: just released in USA on DVD/BD) was rated 13 for violence here. USA rated it R for nudity and language. The film shows about 100 penises (many of them quite close), and only American critics mentioned it – ALL of them, except Roger Ebert maybe. No critic in Finland even talked about that. I know you are tired of hearing the differences of our cultures. Still, MPAA will never change.

    Anyone interested? Here’s the trailer for Rare Exports: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9RQlikX4vvw (a sort of origin story of the Finnish version of Santa Claus; when “he” was a full-on pagan monster).

  102. Tero Heikkinen

    And the reason why you find people giggling/feel uncomfortable on penises is simple. USA has made a taboo over something that is so common. I just counted that there are approximately 7 billion testicles and 7 billion boobs on this planet. The day we have as many guns is the day we all die.

    This Finnish Christmas adventure-horror-comedy called Rare Exports (advertisement: just released in USA on DVD/BD) was rated 13 for violence here. USA rated it R for nudity and language. The film shows about 100 penises (many of them quite close), and only American critics mentioned it – ALL of them, except Roger Ebert maybe. No critic in Finland even talked about that. I know you are tired of hearing the differences of our cultures. Still, MPAA will never change.

    Anyone interested? Here’s the trailer for Rare Exports: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9RQlikX4vvw (a sort of origin story of the Finnish version of Santa Claus; when “he” was a full-on pagan monster).

  103. Tero Heikkinen

    I didn’t mean that Sasha really has to name any violent films, or talk about parenting skills (these were my thoughts aloud). I AGREE that Black Swan and particularly The Exorcist are NOT OK for 13-year olds. And I explained why.

  104. Tero Heikkinen

    I didn’t mean that Sasha really has to name any violent films, or talk about parenting skills (these were my thoughts aloud). I AGREE that Black Swan and particularly The Exorcist are NOT OK for 13-year olds. And I explained why.

  105. Your a good loyal friend of the site, Tero, and valuable asset in discussions here every day. I know you meant no harm, and I didn’t mean to scold,

    I think perhaps the reason the sexual aspects of Black Swan and The Excorcist were spotlighted over any other mature content is because we’re talking about Shame, and Shame got its NC-17 for being sexually explicit. Not for violence.

  106. Your a good loyal friend of the site, Tero, and valuable asset in discussions here every day. I know you meant no harm, and I didn’t mean to scold,

    I think perhaps the reason the sexual aspects of Black Swan and The Excorcist were spotlighted over any other mature content is because we’re talking about Shame, and Shame got its NC-17 for being sexually explicit. Not for violence.

  107. Tero Heikkinen

    Drive is not OK for anyone under 15, for sure. Yet, R allows parents to take their kids in. You read about this on IMDb all the time. All age restrictions are absolute here. Drive is 18 here, btw – for extreme violence. 17-year olds will have to wait for DVD/BD – they are not getting in unless they look really old for their age.

  108. Tero Heikkinen

    Drive is not OK for anyone under 15, for sure. Yet, R allows parents to take their kids in. You read about this on IMDb all the time. All age restrictions are absolute here. Drive is 18 here, btw – for extreme violence. 17-year olds will have to wait for DVD/BD – they are not getting in unless they look really old for their age.

  109. Tero Heikkinen

    Oh, that’s right. Sorry about it. The ACTUAL theme of the article was sex, not violence.

  110. Tero Heikkinen

    Oh, that’s right. Sorry about it. The ACTUAL theme of the article was sex, not violence.

  111. No, but you’re right too, Tero.

    Part of the problem so many of us see is the MPAA’s screwed up double standard about what level of hideous violence is acceptable for kids to see and what level of sex* is forbidden.

    — *(whether the sex is sensual, kinky, hot, lovely, freaky, messy, warped, warm-n-cuddly or all of the above.)

  112. No, but you’re right too, Tero.

    Part of the problem so many of us see is the MPAA’s screwed up double standard about what level of hideous violence is acceptable for kids to see and what level of sex* is forbidden.

    — *(whether the sex is sensual, kinky, hot, lovely, freaky, messy, warped, warm-n-cuddly or all of the above.)

  113. “kinky, hot, lovely, freaky, messy, warped, warm-n-cuddly”

    reminds me of this:
    http://twitter.com/#!/search?q=%23rejecteddwarfs

  114. “kinky, hot, lovely, freaky, messy, warped, warm-n-cuddly”

    reminds me of this:
    http://twitter.com/#!/search?q=%23rejecteddwarfs

  115. Tero Heikkinen

    Somebody watch the trailer for Rare Exports. For me. I’d like to know what you think. It’s weird and surprising, but also a lot of fun, and available just in time for Halloween. US home release was original slated for early November – same as Finland. It was released earlier in America for Halloween, although it’s a Christmas movie. A cult Christmas movie in the making.

    Ebert gave it 3,5 stars: http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20101222/REVIEWS/101229991

    No, I have not invested a dime in the movie. I just think it’s cooler than almost all other “bad Santa” -flicks.

  116. Tero Heikkinen

    Somebody watch the trailer for Rare Exports. For me. I’d like to know what you think. It’s weird and surprising, but also a lot of fun, and available just in time for Halloween. US home release was original slated for early November – same as Finland. It was released earlier in America for Halloween, although it’s a Christmas movie. A cult Christmas movie in the making.

    Ebert gave it 3,5 stars: http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20101222/REVIEWS/101229991

    No, I have not invested a dime in the movie. I just think it’s cooler than almost all other “bad Santa” -flicks.

  117. Tero, last December, Pierre de Plume was telling us about Rare Exports — and gave it his esteemed seal of approval:

    I saw Rare Exports this afternoon and liked it — maybe 3 out of 4 stars, mostly because the ending sequences weren’t quite satisfying enough. That said, I do recommend the film for many reasons.

    First, the story is novel. A pair of curious young boys live in the Finnish arctic (Lapland) where their fathers are employed in the business of slaughtering reindeer. On a nearby small mountain, a foreign expedition — ostensibly there for seismic research — uncovers the stuff of folkloric legend: deep in the mountain, Santa Claus is found frozen and packed in sawdust. The 2 boys, who have sneaked onto the excavation site through a chainlink fence and apparently across an international border, secretly observe the secret discovery.

    Soon after, when the men discover several hundred reindeer found dead, wolves are suspected as the culprit. But one of the boys, who has been reading book on folklore, realize that Santa is responsible. As it turns out, the Santa of legend is much more ornery. Things take off from there.

    The production values are very good, with wonderful scenery, beautiful camera work, and effective musical orchestrations. The acting, as well, is very good, including the young boy. The writing is fresh, interesting, and reveals a wry and humorous sensibility. There are even some poignant but not sappy scenes involving the boy and his dad.

    All things considered, however, the film is quite enjoyable and provides a sort of “anti-Christmas” alternative to all the sappiness that’s peddled to the masses this time of year. And because the film isn’t really “Christmasy,” its appeal doesn’t really depend on a holiday-time release.

  118. Older I get, the less I want to see sex scenes in movies at all. It all comes off so pointless and unnecessary. Watching others pretend to have sex isn’t an escape, it’s tedious.

  119. Tero, last December, Pierre de Plume was telling us about Rare Exports — and gave it his esteemed seal of approval:

    I saw Rare Exports this afternoon and liked it — maybe 3 out of 4 stars, mostly because the ending sequences weren’t quite satisfying enough. That said, I do recommend the film for many reasons.

    First, the story is novel. A pair of curious young boys live in the Finnish arctic (Lapland) where their fathers are employed in the business of slaughtering reindeer. On a nearby small mountain, a foreign expedition — ostensibly there for seismic research — uncovers the stuff of folkloric legend: deep in the mountain, Santa Claus is found frozen and packed in sawdust. The 2 boys, who have sneaked onto the excavation site through a chainlink fence and apparently across an international border, secretly observe the secret discovery.

    Soon after, when the men discover several hundred reindeer found dead, wolves are suspected as the culprit. But one of the boys, who has been reading book on folklore, realize that Santa is responsible. As it turns out, the Santa of legend is much more ornery. Things take off from there.

    The production values are very good, with wonderful scenery, beautiful camera work, and effective musical orchestrations. The acting, as well, is very good, including the young boy. The writing is fresh, interesting, and reveals a wry and humorous sensibility. There are even some poignant but not sappy scenes involving the boy and his dad.

    All things considered, however, the film is quite enjoyable and provides a sort of “anti-Christmas” alternative to all the sappiness that’s peddled to the masses this time of year. And because the film isn’t really “Christmasy,” its appeal doesn’t really depend on a holiday-time release.

  120. Older I get, the less I want to see sex scenes in movies at all. It all comes off so pointless and unnecessary. Watching others pretend to have sex isn’t an escape, it’s tedious.

  121. Tero Heikkinen

    Rashad: I mostly agree with you. Nothing is more boring than watching people faking sex in the story that doesn’t even require it. They often feel like added scenes by producers. “We need to have more sex in this movie”. This happens in R-rated films all the time, in between two action scenes.

    “Well, we already have the R-level violence, so let’s have the couple having an intimate scene – still avoiding NC-17. NOOOO, don’t show the male’s bare ass, but boobs will bring us money. You know how to set the covers while they’re on bed”.

    In the case of Shame – this is the main issue. You HAVE to have that in this one.

  122. Tero Heikkinen

    Rashad: I mostly agree with you. Nothing is more boring than watching people faking sex in the story that doesn’t even require it. They often feel like added scenes by producers. “We need to have more sex in this movie”. This happens in R-rated films all the time, in between two action scenes.

    “Well, we already have the R-level violence, so let’s have the couple having an intimate scene – still avoiding NC-17. NOOOO, don’t show the male’s bare ass, but boobs will bring us money. You know how to set the covers while they’re on bed”.

    In the case of Shame – this is the main issue. You HAVE to have that in this one.

  123. tclawren

    So basically the movie got a NC-17 not because of what it shows but what it’s about and it’s mood?

    Are we really going to ostracize any movie that tries to frankly deal with issues of sexuality?

  124. tclawren

    So basically the movie got a NC-17 not because of what it shows but what it’s about and it’s mood?

    Are we really going to ostracize any movie that tries to frankly deal with issues of sexuality?

  125. After reading a description of the film, it sounds pretty NC-17 to me. Don’t see why anyone would be surprised.

  126. After reading a description of the film, it sounds pretty NC-17 to me. Don’t see why anyone would be surprised.

  127. I think the point is that someone being disemboweled or decapitated or turned to hamburger meat should also earn a similar rating.

  128. I think the point is that someone being disemboweled or decapitated or turned to hamburger meat should also earn a similar rating.

  129. “Older I get, the less I want to see sex scenes in movies at all. It all comes off so pointless and unnecessary. Watching others pretend to have sex isn’t an escape, it’s tedious.”

    Funny, that’s exactly how I feel about fetishized or gratuitous violence. Where is the appeal?

  130. “Older I get, the less I want to see sex scenes in movies at all. It all comes off so pointless and unnecessary. Watching others pretend to have sex isn’t an escape, it’s tedious.”

    Funny, that’s exactly how I feel about fetishized or gratuitous violence. Where is the appeal?

  131. Tero Heikkinen

    The cartoonish “fun violence” was explained in This Film Is Not Yet Rated. The government connection to MPAA is evident, and they want to recruit new soldiers. US military force wouldn’t be so powerful if they only made films like Platoon, Apocalypse Now or Full Metal Jacket – which happened to be the #1 film to watch while I spent 8 months in the Army. No, the Army is “mandatory” here – I wouldn’t have gone otherwise. I am a pacifist.

    There’s no room for sex in the Army, but we did it anyway. Not telling what :)

  132. Tero Heikkinen

    The cartoonish “fun violence” was explained in This Film Is Not Yet Rated. The government connection to MPAA is evident, and they want to recruit new soldiers. US military force wouldn’t be so powerful if they only made films like Platoon, Apocalypse Now or Full Metal Jacket – which happened to be the #1 film to watch while I spent 8 months in the Army. No, the Army is “mandatory” here – I wouldn’t have gone otherwise. I am a pacifist.

    There’s no room for sex in the Army, but we did it anyway. Not telling what :)

  133. Great article Sasha!

    The ‘NastyCinema17′ (I like that) rating will ONLY provide publicity fodder for Fox Searchlight to market the hell out of Shame. AMPAS’ credibility will be ruined if they use the NC17 rating against Shame and not nominate Michael Fassbender. It would be a complete travesty! Therefore, I strongly believe that this rating is nonsense and it will not have an affect on Fassbender being nominated. The man killed it in the role of Brandon and he will be rewarded with a nomination, and a hopeful win.

    I can’t see Clooney winning another Oscar so close after winning his first, and it could be a real surprise evening if Fassbender takes it all. But, first things first… he needs to be nominated and Fox Searchlight need to promote him like crazy!

  134. Great article Sasha!

    The ‘NastyCinema17′ (I like that) rating will ONLY provide publicity fodder for Fox Searchlight to market the hell out of Shame. AMPAS’ credibility will be ruined if they use the NC17 rating against Shame and not nominate Michael Fassbender. It would be a complete travesty! Therefore, I strongly believe that this rating is nonsense and it will not have an affect on Fassbender being nominated. The man killed it in the role of Brandon and he will be rewarded with a nomination, and a hopeful win.

    I can’t see Clooney winning another Oscar so close after winning his first, and it could be a real surprise evening if Fassbender takes it all. But, first things first… he needs to be nominated and Fox Searchlight need to promote him like crazy!

  135. Sasha, in all sincerity, probably the best post I have ever read from you on this site. The MPAA is a joke. It is irrelevant to me. I think this issue could be resolved by doing away with R and NC-17, combine the two, and just have an MA rating. It really does amaze me how bothersome the act of sex makes individuals on the MPAA feel. Oh well, I’m an adult so I’ll see the film regardless.

    “But the decision is mine because I’m the parent. I am certainly not going to go through the trouble to have a kid and then allow the MPAA or the school district or the government to do the job I should be doing: parent my kid, pass values onto my kid, teach morality to my kid. Frankly, I don’t trust government to be collectively smart enough to raise the kind of kid I want to raise — someone who is intelligent and can think for herself.”
    – AMEN.

  136. Sasha, in all sincerity, probably the best post I have ever read from you on this site. The MPAA is a joke. It is irrelevant to me. I think this issue could be resolved by doing away with R and NC-17, combine the two, and just have an MA rating. It really does amaze me how bothersome the act of sex makes individuals on the MPAA feel. Oh well, I’m an adult so I’ll see the film regardless.

    “But the decision is mine because I’m the parent. I am certainly not going to go through the trouble to have a kid and then allow the MPAA or the school district or the government to do the job I should be doing: parent my kid, pass values onto my kid, teach morality to my kid. Frankly, I don’t trust government to be collectively smart enough to raise the kind of kid I want to raise — someone who is intelligent and can think for herself.”
    – AMEN.

  137. Anyone who thinks “Shame” should be given the same rating as “The King’s Speech” or “Air Force One” needs to get their head examined. Yet more leftist liberals hyperventilating because the MPAA didn’t validate their “anything goes” mentality. Yeah, maybe “Saw (insert random number)” was rated too LOW, but that’s a completely different argument.

  138. Anyone who thinks “Shame” should be given the same rating as “The King’s Speech” or “Air Force One” needs to get their head examined. Yet more leftist liberals hyperventilating because the MPAA didn’t validate their “anything goes” mentality. Yeah, maybe “Saw (insert random number)” was rated too LOW, but that’s a completely different argument.

  139. “Anyone who thinks “Shame” should be given the same rating as “The King’s Speech” or “Air Force One” needs to get their head examined.”

    Who the fuck said this? LMAO.

  140. “Anyone who thinks “Shame” should be given the same rating as “The King’s Speech” or “Air Force One” needs to get their head examined.”

    Who the fuck said this? LMAO.

  141. Tero Heikkinen

    Yes, you are right. The same The King’s Speech that should’ve been PG-13 tops. Shame shouldn’t be PG-13, ever. My head is fine.

  142. Tero Heikkinen

    Yes, you are right. The same The King’s Speech that should’ve been PG-13 tops. Shame shouldn’t be PG-13, ever. My head is fine.

  143. I am sure Mr. McQueen is well aware of the rating system. If he wanted to make a more accessible film to the general movie goers he wouldn’t have made Shame. I am glad he did.

  144. I am sure Mr. McQueen is well aware of the rating system. If he wanted to make a more accessible film to the general movie goers he wouldn’t have made Shame. I am glad he did.

  145. “Yet more leftist liberals hyperventilating because the MPAA didn’t validate their “anything goes” mentality.”
    – As a full blown political Conservative, I will and continue to defend the First Amendment and Leftist Liberals, concerning the MPAA issue. I’m sorry, but one of the most arbitrary nonsense that I here amongst some (not all) Conservatives and several “it takes a village” Leftists are issues concerning what kinds of material children could get exposed to. My reply is the same: you are the parent, you need to monitor the material your children see. We don’t need a board to “protect” the children from seeing events displayed that may cause some sort of trauma. If you actually sit down and talk to your kids about these topics (sex and otherwise), then it wouldn’t be such a taboo subject.

  146. “Yet more leftist liberals hyperventilating because the MPAA didn’t validate their “anything goes” mentality.”
    – As a full blown political Conservative, I will and continue to defend the First Amendment and Leftist Liberals, concerning the MPAA issue. I’m sorry, but one of the most arbitrary nonsense that I here amongst some (not all) Conservatives and several “it takes a village” Leftists are issues concerning what kinds of material children could get exposed to. My reply is the same: you are the parent, you need to monitor the material your children see. We don’t need a board to “protect” the children from seeing events displayed that may cause some sort of trauma. If you actually sit down and talk to your kids about these topics (sex and otherwise), then it wouldn’t be such a taboo subject.

  147. “Yeah, maybe “Saw (insert random number)” was rated too LOW, but that’s a completely different argument.”

    And that’s the issue – WHY is that a different argument? The ratings system, supposedly, is to protect the innocent and tender-hearted, whoever the hell they are. From what, exactly – the sight of a human appendage, but not from violence and eviceration?

    If it’s not the same argument, there’s more at work here than just protection.

  148. “Yeah, maybe “Saw (insert random number)” was rated too LOW, but that’s a completely different argument.”

    And that’s the issue – WHY is that a different argument? The ratings system, supposedly, is to protect the innocent and tender-hearted, whoever the hell they are. From what, exactly – the sight of a human appendage, but not from violence and eviceration?

    If it’s not the same argument, there’s more at work here than just protection.

  149. Sam – we posted almost simultaneously, but I’m glad. Now everyone can see that a lefty like me and a conservative such as yourself both agree that raising children is the job of parents, not a board. That makes it a non-political issue. Since it is impossible to legislate morality, the idea of a ratings board is ridiculous.

  150. Sam – we posted almost simultaneously, but I’m glad. Now everyone can see that a lefty like me and a conservative such as yourself both agree that raising children is the job of parents, not a board. That makes it a non-political issue. Since it is impossible to legislate morality, the idea of a ratings board is ridiculous.

  151. @ Dexter

    Are you implying that the problem is with the people or with the MPAA? Those who are complaining that Shame should not have been saddled with an NC-17 are, I am sure, not arguing that the relevant content within the film is of a standard likely to result in an R rating. The complaints are directed more towards the fact that the MPAA’s system is biased, antiquated, irrelevant and broken. I doubt there are any who believe that both The King’s Speech and Shame ought to carry the same age restriction. Ask any of us here who are appalled at the MPAA’s decision to rate Shame NC-17 about The King’s Speech’s R rating, and we’ll likely denounce that decision too.

  152. @ Dexter

    Are you implying that the problem is with the people or with the MPAA? Those who are complaining that Shame should not have been saddled with an NC-17 are, I am sure, not arguing that the relevant content within the film is of a standard likely to result in an R rating. The complaints are directed more towards the fact that the MPAA’s system is biased, antiquated, irrelevant and broken. I doubt there are any who believe that both The King’s Speech and Shame ought to carry the same age restriction. Ask any of us here who are appalled at the MPAA’s decision to rate Shame NC-17 about The King’s Speech’s R rating, and we’ll likely denounce that decision too.

  153. Throwing Air Force One into the argument just made me imagine Harrison Ford yelling “Get off my c*ck!”.

    I don’t think it really matters about whether or not the producers of Shame decide to embrace the rating. It’s the control the MPAA has over how many people will see the movie that is the problem. For example, in my case, if Shame was rated R and nominated it would probably show up in one of the two multiplexes within 10 minutes of my house probably the week of the Oscars. If it gets an NC-17 and I want to see it, I would either have to drive to an arthouse theater 30-40 minutes away (which I personally can’t do because I don’t have a car) or I’d have to travel to Boston (1:15) and then take the T (:20) and then walk (:15) to Kendall Square Cinemas in Cambridge. People in my area are not going to do the second option anyway. That’s just crazy stuff for people like me. But the second option? Not likely. Even if gas was 25 cents a gallon. It’s too much hassle. But if it was playing on one of the 24 screens right here, the normal older good movie crowd would definitely see it. And on Oscar weekend? The theaters would be as full as they get. The other option is that it’s released on DVD in time for the ceremony, but then it will probably get lost in everyone’s queue. And if it doesn’t win, it might just stay stuck at the bottom of the list forever.

    It’s really about controlling what kind of content gets into the minds of the average American. Some of those people want the censorship. Most probably don’t even realize it’s happening.

  154. Throwing Air Force One into the argument just made me imagine Harrison Ford yelling “Get off my c*ck!”.

    I don’t think it really matters about whether or not the producers of Shame decide to embrace the rating. It’s the control the MPAA has over how many people will see the movie that is the problem. For example, in my case, if Shame was rated R and nominated it would probably show up in one of the two multiplexes within 10 minutes of my house probably the week of the Oscars. If it gets an NC-17 and I want to see it, I would either have to drive to an arthouse theater 30-40 minutes away (which I personally can’t do because I don’t have a car) or I’d have to travel to Boston (1:15) and then take the T (:20) and then walk (:15) to Kendall Square Cinemas in Cambridge. People in my area are not going to do the second option anyway. That’s just crazy stuff for people like me. But the second option? Not likely. Even if gas was 25 cents a gallon. It’s too much hassle. But if it was playing on one of the 24 screens right here, the normal older good movie crowd would definitely see it. And on Oscar weekend? The theaters would be as full as they get. The other option is that it’s released on DVD in time for the ceremony, but then it will probably get lost in everyone’s queue. And if it doesn’t win, it might just stay stuck at the bottom of the list forever.

    It’s really about controlling what kind of content gets into the minds of the average American. Some of those people want the censorship. Most probably don’t even realize it’s happening.

  155. Tero Heikkinen

    Also, I am not so much against NC-17 (if ratings on art must exist at all). I just wish it was more equal, and we’d see Saw (add number) seeing at least a similar rating to Shame, but preferably even a higher one. Not the other way around.

    I don’t like it that a 7-year old can be seen crying at a movie theater with a parent who is irresponsible. Do this at home if you like. I prefer NC-17 over R, cause then you won’t have this problem.

    And you must admit that something is wrong here:

    Drive (Rated R in USA / 18 in Finland)
    Working Girl (Rated R in USA / For All Ages in Finland)

    Times change, sure. Would Jaws be PG now that PG-13 exists? Surely not.

    I am also a supporter of the possibility that we would leave parents to teach their kids, and let them decide (WITH certain guidelines that are not forced). They are the ones that know their kids better. A 10-year old could handle Halloween easily while a 15-year old could be scared to death of LOTR. People are different, and these are numbers.

    Still, I would refuse to see The Silence of the Lambs with a 10-year old in a movie theater. Not only would that be weird (mainly cause I don’t have kids, haha), but also cause as a (once) paying costumer, there has to be some sense in that. Do whatever you want at home. Let movie theaters make their business without problems.

    I saw Halloween when I was 6 and many many horror flicks before the age of 12 (I was never “sheltered”, so to speak). I’d like to say I turned out just fine, but I can’t be sure. 12-year olds today have seen beheading videos and stuff online, but “fuck” is still an evil word.

    It’s a tough case, this. Should art be rated or not? I don’t seem to mind seeing violent video games rated high. That’s powerful interaction.

  156. Tero Heikkinen

    Also, I am not so much against NC-17 (if ratings on art must exist at all). I just wish it was more equal, and we’d see Saw (add number) seeing at least a similar rating to Shame, but preferably even a higher one. Not the other way around.

    I don’t like it that a 7-year old can be seen crying at a movie theater with a parent who is irresponsible. Do this at home if you like. I prefer NC-17 over R, cause then you won’t have this problem.

    And you must admit that something is wrong here:

    Drive (Rated R in USA / 18 in Finland)
    Working Girl (Rated R in USA / For All Ages in Finland)

    Times change, sure. Would Jaws be PG now that PG-13 exists? Surely not.

    I am also a supporter of the possibility that we would leave parents to teach their kids, and let them decide (WITH certain guidelines that are not forced). They are the ones that know their kids better. A 10-year old could handle Halloween easily while a 15-year old could be scared to death of LOTR. People are different, and these are numbers.

    Still, I would refuse to see The Silence of the Lambs with a 10-year old in a movie theater. Not only would that be weird (mainly cause I don’t have kids, haha), but also cause as a (once) paying costumer, there has to be some sense in that. Do whatever you want at home. Let movie theaters make their business without problems.

    I saw Halloween when I was 6 and many many horror flicks before the age of 12 (I was never “sheltered”, so to speak). I’d like to say I turned out just fine, but I can’t be sure. 12-year olds today have seen beheading videos and stuff online, but “fuck” is still an evil word.

    It’s a tough case, this. Should art be rated or not? I don’t seem to mind seeing violent video games rated high. That’s powerful interaction.

  157. A couple of general thoughts.

    Firstly, as others have pointed out, the uproar over ratings seems to be an exclusively American phenomenon. I happen to think the Australian system is quite good. It tops out at R 18+ which stands for ‘restricted’ and it means no one under 18 is allowed to be admitted to it in a cinema or buy it in shops. There isn’t really much stigma associated with it and, to be honest, I actually appreciate knowing a film is R18+ so that I know what I’m in for.

    The next step down is the MA15+ and M15+. MA15 is restricted to people over 15, M15 is recommended for people over 15 (technically someone under 15 cannot buy a ticket to either, but cinemas usually only police MA15; if a parent is there, someone under 15 can be admitted to M15). From what I understand of the American system, these two ratings fall somewhere between R & PG13. MA15 is slightly less strict than American R and M15 is slightly more strict than PG13. We also have a PG and G.

    All this is a way of explaining that the extra step in the system makes it a lot easier to know what you’re going to be watching and to be able to control what your kids are watching. The other point is that there just isn’t the stigma around it. If a film is rated R18, well, that’s what it’s rated and people get over it.

    Moving on.

    I also don’t think it’s as simple as ‘it’s a parent’s responsibility to raise their kids’. Of course, it is a parent’s responsibility, but if our society wants healthy, well-adjusted kids, we should make sure we do whatever we can to help. Providing ratings for films as a guide for parents seems to me like a pretty reasonable thing to do. How that is initiated and policed is a different question, but I don’t buy the ‘no ratings’ argument at all. There’s nothing wrong with an adult who doesn’t want to be exposed to particular things on screen, it’s not imposing on anyone’s freedom to make sure people are given fair warning about the content of a film.

    I think it’s important to be clear on that issue as separate to the specific issue of NC17 and how cinemas ban films automatically based on that rating.

    Lastly, the one thing that irritates me no end is when people say that violence and sex in films are somehow equivalent. They’re not. Perhaps there’s an issue with violence being underrated in the system; I’d probably agree with that. But that is a different issue to the classifications around sex and nudity. There’s a reason there’s a massive porn industry – sex affects people in a particularly powerful way. I’m not advocating for censorship or draconian ratings systems. I’m just saying they are different and it’s a logical and philosophical mistake to conflate violence and sex in this discussion.

  158. A couple of general thoughts.

    Firstly, as others have pointed out, the uproar over ratings seems to be an exclusively American phenomenon. I happen to think the Australian system is quite good. It tops out at R 18+ which stands for ‘restricted’ and it means no one under 18 is allowed to be admitted to it in a cinema or buy it in shops. There isn’t really much stigma associated with it and, to be honest, I actually appreciate knowing a film is R18+ so that I know what I’m in for.

    The next step down is the MA15+ and M15+. MA15 is restricted to people over 15, M15 is recommended for people over 15 (technically someone under 15 cannot buy a ticket to either, but cinemas usually only police MA15; if a parent is there, someone under 15 can be admitted to M15). From what I understand of the American system, these two ratings fall somewhere between R & PG13. MA15 is slightly less strict than American R and M15 is slightly more strict than PG13. We also have a PG and G.

    All this is a way of explaining that the extra step in the system makes it a lot easier to know what you’re going to be watching and to be able to control what your kids are watching. The other point is that there just isn’t the stigma around it. If a film is rated R18, well, that’s what it’s rated and people get over it.

    Moving on.

    I also don’t think it’s as simple as ‘it’s a parent’s responsibility to raise their kids’. Of course, it is a parent’s responsibility, but if our society wants healthy, well-adjusted kids, we should make sure we do whatever we can to help. Providing ratings for films as a guide for parents seems to me like a pretty reasonable thing to do. How that is initiated and policed is a different question, but I don’t buy the ‘no ratings’ argument at all. There’s nothing wrong with an adult who doesn’t want to be exposed to particular things on screen, it’s not imposing on anyone’s freedom to make sure people are given fair warning about the content of a film.

    I think it’s important to be clear on that issue as separate to the specific issue of NC17 and how cinemas ban films automatically based on that rating.

    Lastly, the one thing that irritates me no end is when people say that violence and sex in films are somehow equivalent. They’re not. Perhaps there’s an issue with violence being underrated in the system; I’d probably agree with that. But that is a different issue to the classifications around sex and nudity. There’s a reason there’s a massive porn industry – sex affects people in a particularly powerful way. I’m not advocating for censorship or draconian ratings systems. I’m just saying they are different and it’s a logical and philosophical mistake to conflate violence and sex in this discussion.

  159. When I was a child I was far more disturbed the first time I saw a graphic depiction of violence than I was when I saw two naked people simulating sexual intercourse together.

  160. When I was a child I was far more disturbed the first time I saw a graphic depiction of violence than I was when I saw two naked people simulating sexual intercourse together.

  161. Houstonrufus

    I feel bad saying this, but I guess I sort of fall into the not surprised, moving on camp. Maybe it’s just the day I’m having. Maybe I’m getting old and have seen too much of this kind of thing already. I feel like most of the people who were going to see the film will seek it out and still see it. I’m certainly in that group. And people who aren’t going to see the film weren’t going to anyway. This is an art house film and that audience will keep it on their must see list. The film is also helped tremendously by its great reviews and success on the festival circuit. Its pedigree is outstanding. Most NC-17 films aren’t lucky to have all that going for them. I understand there is a stigma to the NC-17 rating that makes Shame a challenge to market, distribute and then “sell” once awards season comes. But as some have pointed out, that seems more a problem with how the rating is perceived than with the rating itself. Perhaps Shame can be the film to change that perception? If it does well come awards time, maybe it will help add some “legitimacy” to films that receive the rating. We can all argue forever about how violence is less offensive to the prudish sensibilities of Americans. That’s the truth and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. Frankly, I’m weary of that discussion and it’s a bit of a distraction anyway.

    I guess my bottom line is the rating system doesn’t bother me. It’s not perfect and it’s never going to be perfect as long as some committee arbitrarily decides such matters. But it’s not going away either. So in my eyes, the solution lies with studios making QUALITY NC-17 films and then marketing those film shrewdly. Beat the system. Change the perception of the rating. Again, I think Shame is the sort of film that can help do that.

  162. Houstonrufus

    I feel bad saying this, but I guess I sort of fall into the not surprised, moving on camp. Maybe it’s just the day I’m having. Maybe I’m getting old and have seen too much of this kind of thing already. I feel like most of the people who were going to see the film will seek it out and still see it. I’m certainly in that group. And people who aren’t going to see the film weren’t going to anyway. This is an art house film and that audience will keep it on their must see list. The film is also helped tremendously by its great reviews and success on the festival circuit. Its pedigree is outstanding. Most NC-17 films aren’t lucky to have all that going for them. I understand there is a stigma to the NC-17 rating that makes Shame a challenge to market, distribute and then “sell” once awards season comes. But as some have pointed out, that seems more a problem with how the rating is perceived than with the rating itself. Perhaps Shame can be the film to change that perception? If it does well come awards time, maybe it will help add some “legitimacy” to films that receive the rating. We can all argue forever about how violence is less offensive to the prudish sensibilities of Americans. That’s the truth and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. Frankly, I’m weary of that discussion and it’s a bit of a distraction anyway.

    I guess my bottom line is the rating system doesn’t bother me. It’s not perfect and it’s never going to be perfect as long as some committee arbitrarily decides such matters. But it’s not going away either. So in my eyes, the solution lies with studios making QUALITY NC-17 films and then marketing those film shrewdly. Beat the system. Change the perception of the rating. Again, I think Shame is the sort of film that can help do that.

  163. I honestly think the rating does not hurt its chance for Oscar, as long as the distributor know how to campaign it. I’m still hurt that Another Year was not nominated for BP and Best Actress last year, mostly because how poorly they promoted the movie for Oscar consideration. (1 of the few Oscar snubbed that I can’t blame the Academy members themselves). The best example of how blatant campaigning can get the critical failure picture an BP nomination is Doctor Doolittle in 1967 (nominated along those big names: In the Heat of the Night, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, acclaimed Bonnie and Clyde; and Graduate).

    As for the rating system, I don’t think it means anything, especially for cinema-lovers. As for kids, we (as an adult) will decide which films are appropriate for our kids and which not. I mean if I had 10-year-old kid I would not mind to show him Kill Bill or even Drive, but for Human Centipede, hell NO.

  164. I honestly think the rating does not hurt its chance for Oscar, as long as the distributor know how to campaign it. I’m still hurt that Another Year was not nominated for BP and Best Actress last year, mostly because how poorly they promoted the movie for Oscar consideration. (1 of the few Oscar snubbed that I can’t blame the Academy members themselves). The best example of how blatant campaigning can get the critical failure picture an BP nomination is Doctor Doolittle in 1967 (nominated along those big names: In the Heat of the Night, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, acclaimed Bonnie and Clyde; and Graduate).

    As for the rating system, I don’t think it means anything, especially for cinema-lovers. As for kids, we (as an adult) will decide which films are appropriate for our kids and which not. I mean if I had 10-year-old kid I would not mind to show him Kill Bill or even Drive, but for Human Centipede, hell NO.

  165. If you ask me:

    1-George Clooney(lock)
    2-Jean DuJardin(lock)
    3-Brad Pitt(supporting-Tree Of Life?)
    4-Leonardo DiCaprio

    And then:
    Michael Fassbender
    Gary Oldman
    Ryan Gosling(Drive)

  166. If you ask me:

    1-George Clooney(lock)
    2-Jean DuJardin(lock)
    3-Brad Pitt(supporting-Tree Of Life?)
    4-Leonardo DiCaprio

    And then:
    Michael Fassbender
    Gary Oldman
    Ryan Gosling(Drive)

  167. Squirrelman

    On a brighter note, this can go to either a really low extreme (no nominations/press attention, total ignorance in America) or a really high extreme (publicity breakthrough by Fox Searchlight, nomination for Fassbender–maybe even McQueen–and loads of attention). Either way, this is more than enough intrigue to keep me attentative until December 2nd.

    Also, to any international posters:

    Is overindulgence in violence considered as taboo in your native countries as the MPAA and the USA consider sex to be? If not, then what is?

  168. Squirrelman

    On a brighter note, this can go to either a really low extreme (no nominations/press attention, total ignorance in America) or a really high extreme (publicity breakthrough by Fox Searchlight, nomination for Fassbender–maybe even McQueen–and loads of attention). Either way, this is more than enough intrigue to keep me attentative until December 2nd.

    Also, to any international posters:

    Is overindulgence in violence considered as taboo in your native countries as the MPAA and the USA consider sex to be? If not, then what is?

  169. Well Sasha, you know, it’s all about (graphic) sex. Period. That’s the real and definitive key of a NC-17 rating.

  170. Well Sasha, you know, it’s all about (graphic) sex. Period. That’s the real and definitive key of a NC-17 rating.

  171. I for one don’t have a huge problem with the MPAA. You can argue about the criteria they use but they seem to be (mostly) consistent with how they apply it. I also don’t find anything particularly offensive about the existence of an adults only rating and I don’t really think it’s the MPAA’s fault that the NC-17 rating is considered “box office poison.”

    The people we SHOULD be getting angry at are the newspapers that choose not to advertise these movies and the theaters that refuse to show the movies, these are the people who are really to blame whenever a movie like Shame has to bear a stigma.

    But really the problem goes deeper than that, it lies in unadventurous minds of people who just don’t want to see a movie that’s more challenging than what they are used to. That’s the bigger problem here, not an easy scapegoat like the MPAA.

  172. I for one don’t have a huge problem with the MPAA. You can argue about the criteria they use but they seem to be (mostly) consistent with how they apply it. I also don’t find anything particularly offensive about the existence of an adults only rating and I don’t really think it’s the MPAA’s fault that the NC-17 rating is considered “box office poison.”

    The people we SHOULD be getting angry at are the newspapers that choose not to advertise these movies and the theaters that refuse to show the movies, these are the people who are really to blame whenever a movie like Shame has to bear a stigma.

    But really the problem goes deeper than that, it lies in unadventurous minds of people who just don’t want to see a movie that’s more challenging than what they are used to. That’s the bigger problem here, not an easy scapegoat like the MPAA.

  173. PS Do you remember HBO’s Tell Me You Love Me? Penis erection, full frontal nudity, graphic sex, handjob, you have it all in that episodes. In television!!!!!

  174. PS Do you remember HBO’s Tell Me You Love Me? Penis erection, full frontal nudity, graphic sex, handjob, you have it all in that episodes. In television!!!!!

  175. I have not had the time to read 90 blogs on this website.

    But can I add just one thing, in case anybody else has not?

    Midnight Cowboy reeived an X (yes, an X rating ! ! ! ) and received the Best Picture in 1969.

    So, let’s just get over all this crap about ratings and concentrate on the QUALITY of the film, regardless of the damned stupid rating.

    Hell, if something receives a “better not watch this” rating, I’m the first in line to do so.

    It works in reverse, folks.

  176. I have not had the time to read 90 blogs on this website.

    But can I add just one thing, in case anybody else has not?

    Midnight Cowboy reeived an X (yes, an X rating ! ! ! ) and received the Best Picture in 1969.

    So, let’s just get over all this crap about ratings and concentrate on the QUALITY of the film, regardless of the damned stupid rating.

    Hell, if something receives a “better not watch this” rating, I’m the first in line to do so.

    It works in reverse, folks.

  177. Pierre de Plume

    Sasha, thank you for your totally engaging, intimate and thought-provoking piece! The MPAA is just silly, and I can understand why you’d consider images in films like Black Swan and The Exorcist to be too disturbing for a 13-year-old.

    Because AMPAS seems to make precedents pretty regularly, this year the sexuality thing could take hold. I’d expect Shame to get some form of recognition — the question is, how much? Last year, Blue Valentine was the film of the “MPAA moment,” culminating in a nod for Michelle Williams. Academy voters are more likely, because of demographics and American views on sexuality, to be drawn to its expression by a female rather than a male. But Fassbender, with the help of a good campaign, could overcome that and get nominated. You’re right, it’s still anyone’s guess as to who’d get bumped. Pitt and DiCaprio seem vulnerable, but then so do others.

  178. Pierre de Plume

    Sasha, thank you for your totally engaging, intimate and thought-provoking piece! The MPAA is just silly, and I can understand why you’d consider images in films like Black Swan and The Exorcist to be too disturbing for a 13-year-old.

    Because AMPAS seems to make precedents pretty regularly, this year the sexuality thing could take hold. I’d expect Shame to get some form of recognition — the question is, how much? Last year, Blue Valentine was the film of the “MPAA moment,” culminating in a nod for Michelle Williams. Academy voters are more likely, because of demographics and American views on sexuality, to be drawn to its expression by a female rather than a male. But Fassbender, with the help of a good campaign, could overcome that and get nominated. You’re right, it’s still anyone’s guess as to who’d get bumped. Pitt and DiCaprio seem vulnerable, but then so do others.

  179. Pierre de Plume

    Ryan, thanks for quoting my comments on Rare Exports. It’s definitely worth a look.

  180. Pierre de Plume

    Ryan, thanks for quoting my comments on Rare Exports. It’s definitely worth a look.

  181. A Clockwork Orange also managed to get nominations besides Midnight Cowboy. i don’t give a damn about NC-17 rating all i care is that Academy shall grow up and let Shame get its fair share of nominations and wins if it really deserves. Michael Fassbender truly deserves to win so far from the trailer. NC-17 has nothing to be shy about.

  182. A Clockwork Orange also managed to get nominations besides Midnight Cowboy. i don’t give a damn about NC-17 rating all i care is that Academy shall grow up and let Shame get its fair share of nominations and wins if it really deserves. Michael Fassbender truly deserves to win so far from the trailer. NC-17 has nothing to be shy about.

  183. Dear FOX Searchlight: this blog entry has almost 100 replies since yesterday. Please make the rating a topic of social conversation. It’s ripe for the picking…

  184. Dear FOX Searchlight: this blog entry has almost 100 replies since yesterday. Please make the rating a topic of social conversation. It’s ripe for the picking…

  185. @squirrelman: “Is overindulgence in violence considered as taboo in your native countries as the MPAA and the USA consider sex to be?”

    Yes. I wouldn’t even call it overindulgence. Both The Thing and Drive are rated “18”, which is the same rating that Shame will receive when it opens in Canada. The most common ratings here are PG(Real Steel) and 14A (Moneyball), measured by the amount/intensity of violence/language/nudity and/or simple adult-oriented content. We have a G rating, also, but it is given to fare such as Dolphin’s Tale.

    This is for theatre chains, only. Buying online, such as Amazon.ca, there is no rating imposed or even listed.

  186. @squirrelman: “Is overindulgence in violence considered as taboo in your native countries as the MPAA and the USA consider sex to be?”

    Yes. I wouldn’t even call it overindulgence. Both The Thing and Drive are rated “18”, which is the same rating that Shame will receive when it opens in Canada. The most common ratings here are PG(Real Steel) and 14A (Moneyball), measured by the amount/intensity of violence/language/nudity and/or simple adult-oriented content. We have a G rating, also, but it is given to fare such as Dolphin’s Tale.

    This is for theatre chains, only. Buying online, such as Amazon.ca, there is no rating imposed or even listed.

  187. The Academy of “Midnight Cowboy” time and the Academy of today is not one and the same thing. If anything they’ve gotten MORE conservative. Esp. in areas regarding full frontal male nudity. Sadly. Yes, it’s a double standard for sure, wherein the AMPAS members will gladly stumble and rush to put a screener of “Marcy Marly MM” in their DVD players to watch Elizabeth Olsen get nude over and over again. And she does.

    Just as they will plunk the “My Weekend with Marilyn” disc right into their DVD players to see Michelle Williams’ luscious Marilyn hop naked in and out of beds and also pools of water..

    And AMPAS is NOT the MPAA…I realize this. But the ratings do effect what the busy (or not so busy) AMPAS members choose to watch. And if its’ something like TONS of full frontal male nudity, they may not watch it. At ALL.

    And yes, the MPAA is pretty predictable and I’m sure Fox Searchlight knew this was coming.

    I know critically at both film festivals I’ve just attended “Shame” was so packed with press I couldn’t get in! So I STILL haven’t seen it.

    I adore Michael Fassbender. And his time will come. And probably soon. They can’t ignore him much longer. But they can and probably WILL ignore him for SHAME, which is a shame…

    Meanwhile, there’s plenty of use of the “f” word in “My Weekend with Marilyn” which means it’s clearly on its’ way to an “R” ratings battle, just like “The King’s Speech” was. But that was only one scene. In “Marilyn” it’s used by Sir Laurence Olivier and other distinguished personages allllll the way through the film. Don’t know how Harvey is going to deal with that.

    But it’s not like he hasn’t been through this before.

    I wonder if Leo is going to live up to the hype of “J. Edgar”…hmmm…and land a nod…hmmm…and George and Brad, IMHO, are the only two locks…

    And “Descendants” is sooo depressing…at least I found it so…I’d nominate it. It’s very well done. But BP? I wonder…

  188. The Academy of “Midnight Cowboy” time and the Academy of today is not one and the same thing. If anything they’ve gotten MORE conservative. Esp. in areas regarding full frontal male nudity. Sadly. Yes, it’s a double standard for sure, wherein the AMPAS members will gladly stumble and rush to put a screener of “Marcy Marly MM” in their DVD players to watch Elizabeth Olsen get nude over and over again. And she does.

    Just as they will plunk the “My Weekend with Marilyn” disc right into their DVD players to see Michelle Williams’ luscious Marilyn hop naked in and out of beds and also pools of water..

    And AMPAS is NOT the MPAA…I realize this. But the ratings do effect what the busy (or not so busy) AMPAS members choose to watch. And if its’ something like TONS of full frontal male nudity, they may not watch it. At ALL.

    And yes, the MPAA is pretty predictable and I’m sure Fox Searchlight knew this was coming.

    I know critically at both film festivals I’ve just attended “Shame” was so packed with press I couldn’t get in! So I STILL haven’t seen it.

    I adore Michael Fassbender. And his time will come. And probably soon. They can’t ignore him much longer. But they can and probably WILL ignore him for SHAME, which is a shame…

    Meanwhile, there’s plenty of use of the “f” word in “My Weekend with Marilyn” which means it’s clearly on its’ way to an “R” ratings battle, just like “The King’s Speech” was. But that was only one scene. In “Marilyn” it’s used by Sir Laurence Olivier and other distinguished personages allllll the way through the film. Don’t know how Harvey is going to deal with that.

    But it’s not like he hasn’t been through this before.

    I wonder if Leo is going to live up to the hype of “J. Edgar”…hmmm…and land a nod…hmmm…and George and Brad, IMHO, are the only two locks…

    And “Descendants” is sooo depressing…at least I found it so…I’d nominate it. It’s very well done. But BP? I wonder…

  189. We maybe need to stop thinking that the Academy in 1969 hung out and got stoned together and all the voters were grooving on the junkies and male prostitutes.

    What easily might have happened
    the semi-cool voters went for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid — 23% of the ballots
    the old school high-brow voters all fell for Anne of a Thousand Days — 22% of the ballots
    the really traditional voters cast their ballots for Hello Dolly! — 22%
    maybe a fraction of high-brow eccentrics voted for Z — 8%

    Midnight Cowboy didn’t win Best Picture by a landslide. There wasn’t a sea-change in 1970. No suddenly transformed open-minded Academy. Midnight Cowboy won with the same percentage of sophisticated voters the Academy had then, has always had. The same percentage of sophisticated voters it has today: Around 25%

    Did 1000 Academy members who gave the Best Picture Oscar to Oliver! in 1969 die before 1970? Did they drop acid? Nope, they just broke off into slightly less silly groups.

    If Anne of a Thousand Days had not been around to attract a large slice of traditional voters — Oscar history might look like this:

    1969 — BP goes to Oliver!
    1970 — BP goes to Hello Dolly!

    There will always be those clashing factions warring for supremacy in the ranks, right? That’s how some years The Sound of Music and Gigi prevail. Other years The Godfather just barely beats Cabaret.

  190. We maybe need to stop thinking that the Academy in 1969 hung out and got stoned together and all the voters were grooving on the junkies and male prostitutes.

    What easily might have happened
    the semi-cool voters went for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid — 23% of the ballots
    the old school high-brow voters all fell for Anne of a Thousand Days — 22% of the ballots
    the really traditional voters cast their ballots for Hello Dolly! — 22%
    maybe a fraction of high-brow eccentrics voted for Z — 8%

    Midnight Cowboy didn’t win Best Picture by a landslide. There wasn’t a sea-change in 1970. No suddenly transformed open-minded Academy. Midnight Cowboy won with the same percentage of sophisticated voters the Academy had then, has always had. The same percentage of sophisticated voters it has today: Around 25%

    Did 1000 Academy members who gave the Best Picture Oscar to Oliver! in 1969 die before 1970? Did they drop acid? Nope, they just broke off into slightly less silly groups.

    If Anne of a Thousand Days had not been around to attract a large slice of traditional voters — Oscar history might look like this:

    1969 — BP goes to Oliver!
    1970 — BP goes to Hello Dolly!

    There will always be those clashing factions warring for supremacy in the ranks, right? That’s how some years The Sound of Music and Gigi prevail. Other years The Godfather just barely beats Cabaret.

  191. ^
    footnote:

    There’s another nascent theory I have to help explain how the Oscar taste can seem to veer around so wildly from year to year. We have reliable reports that as many as 1000 Academy voters don’t cast their ballots at all each year, right?

    Maybe in 1969, a lot of the cooler Academy members couldn’t be bothered to focus on the Oscar race in the fall and winter of 1968 . (Maybe they were too busy worrying about Nixon. Who knows?) But then the younger cooler contingent of the Academy was aghast when Oliver! won Best Picture. It maybe made a lot of the new generation feel embarrassed, ashamed. Made them regret that their lack of participation could have let such a thing happen. So all the cooler voters were sure to fill out their ballots the following year. 300 votes, 300 ballots left unmailed in 1968, but determined to be counted the next year — that’s a 5% bump, a big injection of coolness. Enough to propel Midnight Cowboy to the win.

    Likewise in 1971 — you know there had to have been hundreds, thousands of older Academy members who felt the Oscar had been dragged into the gutter with a Best Picture winner like Midnight Cowboy. A lot of the older members who never voted would be determined to take back the reins from these young rapscallions who dared besmirch Oscar history with such a nasty film. So all the traditional voters are sure to cast their ballots the following year — to reassert traditional dominance. Another 300 ballots, but this time it’s a 5% extra injection of traditional Oscar taste. And Patton beats M*A*S*H for Best Picture.

    Not saying Patton didn’t deserve the win. But you know there were avid supporters of M*A*S*H and Five Easy Pieces who felt dejected that the Academy returned so quickly to predictability. Just when the hipsters thought the Oscars were finally making some daring bold choices — it reverts back to the same old standard template.

    Sound familiar?

    How many of the more traditional members of the Academy (who neglected to vote in 2008, 2009) finally got fed up with movies like The Departed and No Country for Old Men? Finally decided they wouldn’t forget to fill out their ballots last year and remind us they were still around.

    200 or 300 extra ballots like that can swing the pendulum in unpredictable directions. It’s important to weigh the backlash factor in our predictions.

  192. ^
    footnote:

    There’s another nascent theory I have to help explain how the Oscar taste can seem to veer around so wildly from year to year. We have reliable reports that as many as 1000 Academy voters don’t cast their ballots at all each year, right?

    Maybe in 1969, a lot of the cooler Academy members couldn’t be bothered to focus on the Oscar race in the fall and winter of 1968 . (Maybe they were too busy worrying about Nixon. Who knows?) But then the younger cooler contingent of the Academy was aghast when Oliver! won Best Picture. It maybe made a lot of the new generation feel embarrassed, ashamed. Made them regret that their lack of participation could have let such a thing happen. So all the cooler voters were sure to fill out their ballots the following year. 300 votes, 300 ballots left unmailed in 1968, but determined to be counted the next year — that’s a 5% bump, a big injection of coolness. Enough to propel Midnight Cowboy to the win.

    Likewise in 1971 — you know there had to have been hundreds, thousands of older Academy members who felt the Oscar had been dragged into the gutter with a Best Picture winner like Midnight Cowboy. A lot of the older members who never voted would be determined to take back the reins from these young rapscallions who dared besmirch Oscar history with such a nasty film. So all the traditional voters are sure to cast their ballots the following year — to reassert traditional dominance. Another 300 ballots, but this time it’s a 5% extra injection of traditional Oscar taste. And Patton beats M*A*S*H for Best Picture.

    Not saying Patton didn’t deserve the win. But you know there were avid supporters of M*A*S*H and Five Easy Pieces who felt dejected that the Academy returned so quickly to predictability. Just when the hipsters thought the Oscars were finally making some daring bold choices — it reverts back to the same old standard template.

    Sound familiar?

    How many of the more traditional members of the Academy (who neglected to vote in 2008, 2009) finally got fed up with movies like The Departed and No Country for Old Men? Finally decided they wouldn’t forget to fill out their ballots last year and remind us they were still around.

    200 or 300 extra ballots like that can swing the pendulum in unpredictable directions. It’s important to weigh the backlash factor in our predictions.

  193. That’s a very good point, Ryan. We do occasionally mention the fact that many AMPAS members don’t fill out their ballots personally, or even hand them in, but we rarely discuss just who they are and what that could mean for the race.

    Also, @ Stephen Holt

    Do you know if the Weinsteins are planning a ratings appeal for My Week with Marilyn? The MPAA rating is for ‘some language’, which would indicate that it might not be an impossible task to reduce the rating to a PG-13. But you make it seem as though there’s more than just some. And would the MPAA let Harvey have his way for two Michelle Williams films in a row, if not two biopics lol…

  194. That’s a very good point, Ryan. We do occasionally mention the fact that many AMPAS members don’t fill out their ballots personally, or even hand them in, but we rarely discuss just who they are and what that could mean for the race.

    Also, @ Stephen Holt

    Do you know if the Weinsteins are planning a ratings appeal for My Week with Marilyn? The MPAA rating is for ‘some language’, which would indicate that it might not be an impossible task to reduce the rating to a PG-13. But you make it seem as though there’s more than just some. And would the MPAA let Harvey have his way for two Michelle Williams films in a row, if not two biopics lol…

  195. I can even imagine two or three hundred of the most progressive and even radical Academy members saying to themselves in December 1968 —

    “Maybe we couldn’t stop Nixon from getting into the White House, but I’ll be damned sure if I let another thing like Oliver! winning BP happen this year. Where’s my bong and my Oscar ballot?!”

    “Midnight Cowboy! yeah, suck on that, Establishment!”

  196. I can even imagine two or three hundred of the most progressive and even radical Academy members saying to themselves in December 1968 —

    “Maybe we couldn’t stop Nixon from getting into the White House, but I’ll be damned sure if I let another thing like Oliver! winning BP happen this year. Where’s my bong and my Oscar ballot?!”

    “Midnight Cowboy! yeah, suck on that, Establishment!”

  197. Bill_the_Bear

    @steve50…it depends on where you are in Canada. Here in Québec, ratings tend to be a bit more liberal than those in Ontario.

    Québec’s rating system gives the following ratings: G, 13, 16 & 18. 18 is reserved for real porno films; 16 goes to slasher-type films usually, though some with lots of raw sexuality might get it as well; G and 13 are the most common.

    To take a couple of current examples, “Drive” is 13 in Québec, but 18A in Ontario. “The Ides of March” is G in Québec but 14A in Ontario. Last year, “The King’s Speech” was G here in Québec…though maybe they handled the repetitions of the F-word differently in the French-dubbed version. (Still, the original English version was also G.)

    “Shame” hasn’t yet been classified here in Québec, so I can’t say what rating it will eventually get.

  198. Bill_the_Bear

    @steve50…it depends on where you are in Canada. Here in Québec, ratings tend to be a bit more liberal than those in Ontario.

    Québec’s rating system gives the following ratings: G, 13, 16 & 18. 18 is reserved for real porno films; 16 goes to slasher-type films usually, though some with lots of raw sexuality might get it as well; G and 13 are the most common.

    To take a couple of current examples, “Drive” is 13 in Québec, but 18A in Ontario. “The Ides of March” is G in Québec but 14A in Ontario. Last year, “The King’s Speech” was G here in Québec…though maybe they handled the repetitions of the F-word differently in the French-dubbed version. (Still, the original English version was also G.)

    “Shame” hasn’t yet been classified here in Québec, so I can’t say what rating it will eventually get.

  199. @Bill_the_bear

    Yeah, I realized after I posted that it is provincial laws that cover ratings in Canada, not a national system. I live in BC, which falls somehwere between Quebec and Ontario in leniency. I remember when living in Ontario in the 70’s they would outright ban films (Pretty Baby), and we’d go to Montreal to see them. I had my ID checked before being sold a ticket to Clockwork Orange or The Devils or Last Tango. Luckily that has changed; otherwise, TIFF would start with a letter other than “T”!.

    Overall, in each Canadian province they are guidelines here that don’t, I think, impact a movie’s ability to advertise. They advise, then let parents do the parenting. And they treat violence pretty much on the same level as sex.

  200. @Bill_the_bear

    Yeah, I realized after I posted that it is provincial laws that cover ratings in Canada, not a national system. I live in BC, which falls somehwere between Quebec and Ontario in leniency. I remember when living in Ontario in the 70’s they would outright ban films (Pretty Baby), and we’d go to Montreal to see them. I had my ID checked before being sold a ticket to Clockwork Orange or The Devils or Last Tango. Luckily that has changed; otherwise, TIFF would start with a letter other than “T”!.

    Overall, in each Canadian province they are guidelines here that don’t, I think, impact a movie’s ability to advertise. They advise, then let parents do the parenting. And they treat violence pretty much on the same level as sex.

  201. Leo is going for the Oscar with J Edgar. Leo will not win though, Jean DuJardin will win handily.

  202. Leo is going for the Oscar with J Edgar. Leo will not win though, Jean DuJardin will win handily.

  203. Squirrelman

    @Mark: That. Sounds. Like an awesome idea waiting to happen.

    So awesome, in fact, that I’ll draft an open letter to help get them started (or if they’ve already started, a small bolster)

    P.S. If anyone wants to like this/copy and paste this somewhere, feel free (as long as credit’s given where credit is due :D)

    Dear Fox Searchlight Co-Presidents Stephen Gilula & Nancy Utley,

    Like most of the admirers of film who have been following the Oscar world on the Internet, I was both outraged when I learned that Steve McQueen’s “Shame”–a film that, despite people objecting to its content, is (in the humble opinion of this writer) a brilliant, psychologically raw character study on one man and the very personal demons that he faces–was handed down with the so-called “scarlet letter” of ratings–an NC-17.

    And yet, the ruling did not surprise me. In any given film released in this country, you can show an army of extras being thrown off of a cliff or destroyed by alien robots or killed off by massive CGI natural disasters and get off relatively scott-free, but one cannot show two people engaged in the most basic of human acts without cries of “censorship” and “protecting our youth” left and right.

    And yet, it is the very aspect of this dillema–the near-total opposition of on-screen sexual acts as opposed to the near desensitization of violence–that you and Fox Searchlight can help to change with “Shame”.

    With a good marketing strategy–which I’m fairly confident that Fox Searchlight’s publicity team is working on as I type–and the hope that you and your studio commit to the ideal of an excellent film–regardless of the obstacles that stand in its way. You can change the perception of NC-17 films as scarlet letters and show the country–and in turn, the rest of the world–that, in respect to ratings and public perception, violence and sex carry equal cultural weight, with neither one being more taboo than the other.

    I applaud your decision to embrace this rating. It is my sincere hope that one day, somewhere in the (hopefully) not too distant future, when moviegoers in this country are not as utterly mystified by how human beings procreate as opposed to how humans beings destroy one another, we can have a raw character study to look back upon and credit with pride.

    Best regards,

    Squirrelman

  204. Squirrelman

    @Mark: That. Sounds. Like an awesome idea waiting to happen.

    So awesome, in fact, that I’ll draft an open letter to help get them started (or if they’ve already started, a small bolster)

    P.S. If anyone wants to like this/copy and paste this somewhere, feel free (as long as credit’s given where credit is due :D)

    Dear Fox Searchlight Co-Presidents Stephen Gilula & Nancy Utley,

    Like most of the admirers of film who have been following the Oscar world on the Internet, I was both outraged when I learned that Steve McQueen’s “Shame”–a film that, despite people objecting to its content, is (in the humble opinion of this writer) a brilliant, psychologically raw character study on one man and the very personal demons that he faces–was handed down with the so-called “scarlet letter” of ratings–an NC-17.

    And yet, the ruling did not surprise me. In any given film released in this country, you can show an army of extras being thrown off of a cliff or destroyed by alien robots or killed off by massive CGI natural disasters and get off relatively scott-free, but one cannot show two people engaged in the most basic of human acts without cries of “censorship” and “protecting our youth” left and right.

    And yet, it is the very aspect of this dillema–the near-total opposition of on-screen sexual acts as opposed to the near desensitization of violence–that you and Fox Searchlight can help to change with “Shame”.

    With a good marketing strategy–which I’m fairly confident that Fox Searchlight’s publicity team is working on as I type–and the hope that you and your studio commit to the ideal of an excellent film–regardless of the obstacles that stand in its way. You can change the perception of NC-17 films as scarlet letters and show the country–and in turn, the rest of the world–that, in respect to ratings and public perception, violence and sex carry equal cultural weight, with neither one being more taboo than the other.

    I applaud your decision to embrace this rating. It is my sincere hope that one day, somewhere in the (hopefully) not too distant future, when moviegoers in this country are not as utterly mystified by how human beings procreate as opposed to how humans beings destroy one another, we can have a raw character study to look back upon and credit with pride.

    Best regards,

    Squirrelman

  205. Fassbender and Mulligan are, IMO, all but guaranteed nominations. The film’s Box Office will certainly be affected though as many theaters won’t show an NC-17 film, which is ridiculous. I’d love if the demand for this film was so strong that it caused many theaters to re-think their ridiculous policy on NC-17 films. I’m hoping many theaters will cave and show it. It will certainly do gangbusters in the big cities.

    You can bet they’d be able to release it in Unrated form on DVD and it will be sold at places like Wal-Mart, which doesn’t make sense. When did theaters get so prudish? Back in 1995 Showgirls was released NC-17 in over 1,300 theaters, and it grossed over 20 Million.

  206. Fassbender and Mulligan are, IMO, all but guaranteed nominations. The film’s Box Office will certainly be affected though as many theaters won’t show an NC-17 film, which is ridiculous. I’d love if the demand for this film was so strong that it caused many theaters to re-think their ridiculous policy on NC-17 films. I’m hoping many theaters will cave and show it. It will certainly do gangbusters in the big cities.

    You can bet they’d be able to release it in Unrated form on DVD and it will be sold at places like Wal-Mart, which doesn’t make sense. When did theaters get so prudish? Back in 1995 Showgirls was released NC-17 in over 1,300 theaters, and it grossed over 20 Million.

  207. Just saw the Gurus o’ Gold predictions for best actor nominations. Sasha, it’s too bad that you don’t believe that Fassbender can secure that fifth spot, you were pretty passionate about his chances beforehand. Is it more related to the NC-17 rating situation, or rather that between Fassbender and Harrelson, the latter left a more searing impression in your mind?

  208. Just saw the Gurus o’ Gold predictions for best actor nominations. Sasha, it’s too bad that you don’t believe that Fassbender can secure that fifth spot, you were pretty passionate about his chances beforehand. Is it more related to the NC-17 rating situation, or rather that between Fassbender and Harrelson, the latter left a more searing impression in your mind?

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