Above is the trailer for the movie Shame, starring Carey Mulligan and Michael Fassbender.
The movie is about a man with a sexual addiction whose world falls apart when his sister moves in with him.
The buzz, however, is that the film is rated NC-17. That’s one notch above R.
Way back when, Blockbuster refused to carry any movies with a rating above R, insisting that they would remain a family friendly movie store. Thus, the stigma of NC-17 was born.
Can you think of the last time you saw an NC-17 movie? AMC Theatres rarely screens NC-17.
The above trailer doesn’t exactly depict a porno. But those unfamiliar with the NC-17 rating would immediately assume that because of the whole Blockbuster debacle.
But according to the MPAA, the association that assigns these ratings, NC-17 is NOT pornography (X is pornography). See the definition of NC-17 below:
NC-17 — No One 17 and Under Admitted. An NC-17 rated motion picture is one that, in the view of the Rating Board, most parents would consider patently too adult for their children 17 and under. No children will be admitted. NC-17 does not mean “obscene” or “pornographic” in the common or legal meaning of those words, and should not be construed as a negative judgment in any sense. The rating simply signals that the content is appropriate only for an adult audience. An NC-17 rating can be based on violence, sex, aberrational behavior, drug abuse or any other element that most parents would consider too strong and therefore off-limits for viewing by their children
Shame is a British-produced film (the same producers as The King’s Speech), and British media in general is very different from the US market. However, Fox Searchlight, the distributer of this film, has no plans to edit down the film to get an R rating in the US release. Steve Gilula, president of Fox Searchlight, said, “I think NC-17 is a badge of honor, not a scarlet letter. We believe it is time for the rating to become usable in a serious manner.”
The movie won many awards in various film festivals, has been getting fantastic reviews, and who would want to make content cuts after such praise? I don’t blame them. It’s a shame, though, that in our sexually prude society that it might not get seen by a very large audience.