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Wednesday
Oct262011

"Shame" on the Ratings System?

Anyone familiar with the basic history of the MPAA ratings board could have predicted it before seeing the movie. Anyone familiar with the concept and players of Shame, Steve McQueen's NYC-based drama about a sex addict (Michael Fassbender) and his self-destructive sister (Carey Mulligan) could have predicted its eventual NC-17 rating without seeing it. It's official now. I predicted this was coming the moment I first heard they were making the movie -- McQueen's previous picture Hunger didn't pull any punches so why would he, uh, pull any thrusting? -- but this shot of Michael Fassbender, naked, haunted and corpselike in his own bed -- I believe it is the film's first shot though perhaps my memory is tricking me? - confirmed it for me.

You see, it's always about the power of the images and what they suggest. Sexually, I mean. Show the ratings board any brutality and they won't flinch... or at least they haven't much at all since Natural Born Killers (1994) which initally received an NC-17 for its violent content. (If I recall correctly, Oliver Stone only had to edit out a comic point-of-view shot through a gaping gun shot wound to get the R)

The MPAA, those watchdogs of American consumerism will always allow you the freedom to be a bad parent and take your kids to see nightmarish violence. How many beheadings have we seen in recent R rated films? Every week on The Walking Dead (basic cable, no parental supervision required) you can see multiple face stabbings, beheadings, shootings, and limbs torn asunder. How many torture porn movies have bad parents been allowed to haul their young'uns too? But show the ratings board any "strong" sexuality and America's ancient puritanic DNA will start their blood boiling.

Which is not to say that I don't approve of Shame's official NC-17 rating. I think it's an appropriate rating. There's no reason why someone under 17, unless they were unusually mature for their age or suffering from their own addiction (the Oscar kind. We've all been there: "i must see all films with Oscar buzz!") would have an intense desire to see it or would get much out of it.  The problem lies not in the NC-17 rating itself; it's perfectly acceptable, even worthwhile, to have an "adult's only" rating. The problem is in the MPAA's puritanism about the rating, the way they wield it, and in American puritanism surrounding sexuality in general.

Here, from the MPAA's own site are the official descriptions of what constitutes R and NC-17 ratings.

Note that the NC-17...

does not mean "obscene or pornographic".... and should not be construed as a negative judgment."

and that it says that the rating...

can be based on violence, sex, abberational behavior or drug abuse"

When was the last time a movie was ever given an NC-17 rating for anything other than sex?

Abberational behavior, as the documentary This Film Is Not Yet Rated made clear, is a catch-all phrase that basically also means "sex" but particularly of the homosexual persuasion or of that other grotesque affront to patriarchal cultural values: a woman's pleasure. That must see documentary made a very compelling case that for a film to win an R rating, a woman must NOT be seen enjoying herself too much. Closeups of a woman's face in an orgasmic state (no nudity possible in those shots unless she's got really strange anatomy) have often led to NC-17 ratings. This is especially true if the man is in a subservient position (note the frequency of NC-17 decisions where cunninlingus is involved  -- hi Blue Valentine!. Edit out a woman's face -- or, better yet, chop off her head in the first place-- and you'll never have to worry about an NC-17. 

Enter Shame. It's an interesting case because even if Steve McQueen were willing to edit down to an "R" there is no pleasure that could be edited out. The film is about sexual addiction and most movies about addiction skimp on the pleasure principle. I suppose you'd have to remove the "aberrational" behavior from Shame for an R. And given how loosely the MPAA defines that, it would become a short film... or at the very least a much shorter film since you'd have to edit out the entire darkly operatic sexual abandonment finale and probably all shots of Michael Fassbender's ginormous wang.

When NC-17s were first given filmmakers complained that it meant that there film wouldn't be seen. Many newspapers refused to run ads (punitive) and many theater chains refused to exhibit them (punitive) which is a shame considering the rating...

should not be construed as a negative judgment."

But again... the problem is not the rating, which is a perfectly valid one in this movies case. It's that that other ratings mean so little and this rating means only sex.

Each week I'm alarmed to see on TV what you could only see in R rated movies in the 80s. The Walking Dead and just about every procedural would have (easily) been rated R for violence just 30 years ago. Now we ingest violence like oxygen. If the R means nothing... why does the NC-17 still have such stigma? Why is American culture still so mortified by things it sees in the mirror every day and enjoys using regularly (I've never seen you naked but I'm guessing you have either a penis or a vagina, and that you've occasionally used / enjoyed it) and still so wildly accepting of something that most of us would never ever want anyone we love to encounter in real life (beheadings, massacres, shootings)? Even more troubling, why are we so flippant about bombarding young children with violence and so terrified that they might catch a glimpse of the sexuality that awaits them when they themselves become adults? 

You can ask these questions until you turn blue and there are never any suitable answers... or at least no forthcoming solutions. Perhaps we're just self-destructive as a species, in love with things that only harm us and afraid of things that can actually bring us joy.

I think we owe it to Steve McQueen and future filmmakers to pay for Shame in the theaters. And I hope the Academy voters realize they owe it to future filmmakers to give NC-17 a real fighting chance. Artists need to have the option of creating art for other adults and adults need art that is specifically for them. Man cannot live on Disney alone. And contrary to the handwringing doomsday scenarios of all articles on the NC-17 rating, it isn't actually the kiss of death financially. Several films released with NC-17 or as "unrated" have done fairly well for themselves given the narrow arthouse margins they were already going to be working within.

Some stats to send you on your violence-loving, sex-hating way. (sorry to confuse you with the MPAA and John Q Public.)

Top Grossing NC-17 Films in US Release
1. Showgirls (1995) $20 million
2. Henry & June (1990) $11 million 
3. The Cook The Thief His Wife and Her Lover (1990) $7.7
4. Bad Education (2004) $5.2 million  
5. Lust Caution (2007) $4.6  

Oscar Nominations For NC-17 Films
Henry & June (1990) best cinematography

and yes... I believe that's it. Just one nomination for all NC-17 films. Does Oscar disrespect the rating even more than the MPAA? Can Shame be the game changer the industry and the Oscars need when it comes to filmmaking for adults?

 

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Reader Comments (42)

And wasn't Blue Valentine given an NC-17 rating just because of the oral sex scene? And after they fought it, it was changed?

October 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPhilip

yep. the message is always MEN SHOULD NOT BE PLEASURING WOMEN. WOMEN ARE FOR THE PLEASURE OF MEN.

and the message is also often: please do not show us penises.

October 26, 2011 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

There are very few things in the world that piss me off more than the MPAA's completely irrational, puritan-values-based decisions. I know that if they had rated "Shame" R there would have been cries of "but who will think of the children!?!," even though there are very few children out there who would even be interested in the film, as you said.

Personally, I think it's healthier for a child to be exposed to sex, something that most of us have/will engage and, heaven forbid, enjoy one day than it is to be exposed to desensitizing violence. Think about how much sexual dysfunction and mental anguish could be resolved if we didn't treat sex like it was the worst possible act we could commit, only to be discussed in shadows.

Not to mention I would much rather see Fassbinder naked than full of bullet holes, thanks ;)

October 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJason H.

This is hardly news. The film has its problem and it's hardly an Oscar friendly film to begin with. I don't think it will get any traction outside of the performances anyway, NC17 or not.

October 26, 2011 | Unregistered Commenternic

Which is not to say that I don't approve of Shame's official NC-17 rating. . . . The problem lies not in the NC-17 rating itself; it's perfectly acceptable, even worthwhile, to have an "adult's only" rating. The problem is in the MPAA's puritanism about the rating, the way they wield it, and in American puritanism surrounding sexuality in general.

This is exactly how I feel, and I actually think it's a viewpoint that doesn't get expressed as often as it should. I think that the NC-17 rating itself is a perfectly fine concept. There's nothing wrong with saying that some movies aren't meant for younger viewers. I know it's not the "cool" opinion, but I think some people who get outraged over the mere existence and use of the rating are taking it too far in the other direction, as though it's a black mark on society that certain people are restricted from seeing a movie. I do not believe that at all, and by going to such an extreme, I think that they're only contributing to the idea of the rating as a badge of shame (no pun intended).

The problem with the rating is entirely the application. Those myriad issues have been discussed, so I won't go there. But if there could be some kind of grown-up discussion between filmmakers, studios, theater owners, and even those shady MPAA members, then we could really get somewhere.

So yes, I will absolutely be seeing "Shame" in the theater, going to the next state if necessary. I will also be contacting my local art house theaters and lobbying for a space for this movie. And on a final note, when I do see the movie, I will be very glad that there won't be any thirteen-year-old girls in the theater screeching, "Oh my god, I just saw his thingy!"

October 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLiz N.

the general points about the prudishness of the MPAA and the wild disparity between sexual and violent content are spot on.

meanwhile, the hullabaloo about Shame receiving the NC-17 from certain quarters is hilarious. As if the movie would be a breakout hit with an R-rating. When I look at the NC-17 box office list... honestly, even with an R Shame would be hard pressed to beat Bad Education's $5+ million. it is an aggressively, unpleasantly sexual movie that is, for all its exposed flesh, almost completely unerotic and alienating - which makes it an uncompromising artistic venture and a complete nonstarter from a commercial perspective. by design. frankly, the bigger surprise is not that the MPAA slapped it with an NC-17, but that a subsidiary of News Corp is releasing this thing at all. before it got picked up i figured this was an inevitable IFC or Magnolia Pictures release.

October 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRoark

Shame on them!

October 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

About "Fassbender's ginormous wang"... is it real or is it a prosthetic?

October 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

I've seen Shame and it's simply amazing. In Europe it will get a 18. Meaning under 18 not allowed. It's worse than NC-17, but it's hardly a scarlet letter here. There are movies for grown ups and movies for kids. Shame is for grown ups, I find it unbeliavable that the media wouldn't run ads because it's NC-17, makes me scratch my head. Anyway, for the Venice Film Festival audience, Shame was a tame film :) we've seen worse!

October 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTara

Gotta love the American contradictions. If it's about universal health care people will claim their individuality (selfishness) to defend being against it, but then is there no problem in accepting what a board of people decides for the whole country?
Fight it back, I mean, I'm not calling for a Occupy... your movie theatre movement or something, but if movie theaters have the power not to show certain movies (just like pharmacies that won't sell condoms) don't go to those movie theatres, boycott them. Sure, one person boycott means nothing, but if all your readers (and their firiends) decide to boycott a specific theatre, they'll see the difference.

The system to rate movies here is more lax. They're recommendations only and movies can sometimes open in theatres still waiting to be rated. X is the only rating that will prevent movie theatres from showing a movie. An X is given to real porn or to Saw. 2 years ago one of the Saw movies was rated X for its violence and as there're only a handful of porn movie theatres in the whole country, they had to reedit it to release it in an average number of theatres. I guess it was more making a statement than anything. I don't see why that Saw movie (don't even know which one it was) might be more violent than the others. But it was nice... somehow.

On a less vindicative note, won't screeners sent to voters overcome the barrier of the NC-17? Probably they don't like to be seen entering an NC-17 movie, but at home? I guess for some, the NC-17 on the DVD cover will be almost irresistible.

October 26, 2011 | Unregistered Commenteriggy

Wasn't Midnight Cowboy rated "X"? Would that have been an equivalent to the NC-17 had that existed at the time?

October 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJames

James -- You are correct. I wasn't around back then, but from what I understand, the X rating at that point in time wasn't a big deal. It was just another rating. Then porn theaters had the brilliant idea of labeling movies that they showed "XXX." See, their movies are so hot that there's no existing rating good enough! That's really where the association with sexuality and the highest movie rating came from.

The MPAA, to their credit, tried to start over with the NC-17 rating. But the way they've applied it has basically given it the same stigma that X eventually got.

October 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLiz N.

I guess I should clarify that the X rating was only applied to films with strong violence or sexuality, so it's not like it was the equivalent of every other rating. But movies that got an X rating could and did play in mainstream theaters, stigma-free. They were just accepted to be for adults only.

October 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLiz N.

@ Peggy Sue: Fassbender Jr. is REAL.

Great write up Nathaniel! I'm confident that the debate that Shame is starting up because of its rating, fair or unfair, will be good for the film industry. I strongly believe that Michael will still be able to garner a much deserved Oscar nomination.

October 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSimone

I know it's somewhat compromising in terms of the cinema experience, but Video on Demand has become an option, and it's especially great for people not in big cities that don't have a prayer of getting to see smaller films, much less NC-17 rated ones, in theaters.

October 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDean

Well from the very first moment the closing credits started rolling, I knew they could have started engraving Michael's name of that goblet, the best actor cup at the Venice Film Festival. The audience went crazy, 10 mins standing ovation.
Michael deserves a nomination, it's his best performance to date and that's a lot to say. Maybe the NC-17 will keep the nomination from arriving, yet I'm pretty sure he'll win that statuette before he hits 40, he's just too good.

October 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTara

I think we must take into account X-rated features (before the X was re-branded NC-17). It's ironic that in the late 1960s - early 1970s, we had two X-rated films garnering Oscar noms and one win for best picture. The NC-17 was only created in order to differentiate itself from XXX film, ie pornographic films. I realize this sounds and is written in a way that sounds a little pedantic and dry, but if you take into account the history of the rating itself, it seems as if the movie industry and American public has always -- at least in modern history ( we ought to discount the brief period in the 1930s when censorship ceased) -- was apprehensive towards depicted sexuality; and more specifically, female pleasure.

Anyway, my main point is: this isn't new. But when taking into account the 1970s, we must ask ourselves, what was different in the popular, artistic, and corporate culture of America and the Academy that enabled 'X'-rated films to prosper?

Also, I think we're just beginning to reach a turning point again, but let's see if Fassbender has enough star-power to propel Shame to box-office success. Because with Fox Searchlight behind it, you know there's going to be a serious push.

October 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSam

simone -- thanks! wow!

I'm old enough to remember the Átame controversy, the one with Henry & June and all the rest... seems like nothing ever changes with this matter!

Puritanism is dangerous. Gets people sick and pregnant.

October 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

I agree with almost all of your thoughts here Nathaniel, except perhaps your closing line. I'm not sure that all NC-17 movies that have been passed over by the Academy has been particularly because of the ratings. (I.e. it's not like Showgirls should have been nominated for Best Picture haha)

October 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLuke

I love that Showgirls is the most successful [NC-17] -- albeit a very soft film for that rating. Verhoeven could've went so much further.

October 26, 2011 | Unregistered Commenter/3rtfull

Ah, the MPAA. One of the most pathetic organizations in America.

October 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew R.

America's love/hate relationship with sex is so fascinating isn't it? It's totally forbidden because it's so enjoyable and it's more enjoyable because it's forbidden. Tt's the snake eating its tale.

I never understood why the NC-17 was needed in the first place. R is "Under 17 requires parent or Guardian" why do we need a "No one under 17 even if they have a parent." If I felt like my 15 or 16 year old could handle an NC-17 movie who is the MPAA to tell me I'm wrong? The R rating should be sufficient.

Also, thanks for mentioning the shocking amount of violence on prime time TV as a contrast (here's where I feel like an old fart). I recently say some procedural shows after ignoring them for a while. The amount of murder, mutilation and rape on those shows played for shock value really made me uncomfortable. If I were a parent I'd be less worried with my child seeing a part of the natural human anatomy than being exposed to Law & Order: Rape of the Week.

October 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRobert

No one under seventeen wants to see it anyway. Neither do I. It's not such a big deal. Damn.

October 26, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterc

I watched Drive in the theater a few weeks ago and some family brought their kids - 8 to 13 to watch it. *facepalm* And so yeah, you said it much better than I could - the rating board is more concerned with sex than violence and in general, I think that is true of the American public too.

Also, Lust Caution was such a great film, I'm glad Ang Lee didn't cut the sex from it, since he could have and still have had a plot, but the sex scenes are really integral to the story and the tension.

October 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAmber

Am I right in thinking that there are many theatres that refuse to show NC-17 movies? The MPAA deservedly gets a lot of flak but surely this is what restricts audiences most.

October 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSVG

Exactly right SVG. it's not so much the rating itself, it's the lack of theater owners willing to show NC-17 films or anything too controversial or too arty. I lived 25 years in a mid-size town in the American south. Paul Greengrass' United 93 was pulled after less than a week over complaints. Forget about seeing something like Steven Shainberg's Fur in the theater. Drive, however, has multiple screens at the local mall cineplex. I'm certain of it.

October 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCity_Of_Lights

"Last Tango in Paris" was rated X when it first came out. When it was re-rated, it's NC-17 and that got Best Director and Best Actor nominations. "Requiem for a Dream" was rated NC-17 but released unrated and that got Ellen Burstyn a Best Actress nom.

October 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterIrvin

Great piece. Aberrational is such a morally charged word and indicative of the specifically puritanical morality the MPAA tries to naturalize and forces on the film industry. As long as the MPAA bestows a NC-17 disproportionately more on certain types of sexual scenes than on, say, machine gun shooting or skull crushing scenes, the kind of stigma attached to sexuality that accompanies the rating won't go away anytime soon, or ever. I mean, the ratings themselves are fine by me. But really, it's the dubious criteria or guidelines or whatever they use in deciding ratings that are problematic and, I think, play a role in perpetuating the notion of what the MPAA or those puritanical, sanctimonious parents think is acceptable or not (i.e., R-rated heterosexual vs. NC-17 homosexual sex scenes (given similar/same positions), or R male pleasure vs. NC-17 female pleasure).
Hell, I'm pretty damn sure I won't flinch as much during a screening of SHAME as I did while watching DRIVE. Again, nothing's wrong with SHAME getting NC-17, it's just the criteria the board uses that puzzle me. Of course, a rating itself doesn't determine a film's artistic merit, and we all knew SHAME would get NC-17, but the application of ratings is still worth taking a critical look at, IMO.
Anyways, kudos to Fox Searchlight for trying to making the NC-17 a selling point. :D Fassbender FTW

October 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterChristine J

The best article I've seen on the subject. Great job Nathaniel.
Here's hoping Fassbender and Mulligan get actings nods. Hey - even McQueen a lone director nod would be sweet.

October 27, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterpopcornpopsblog

City of Lights -- that is crazy. UNITED 93 was pulled? whatever for?

Irvin -- i'm talking about the NC-17 rating though... unrated and re-rated being a different topic. But it is an interesting note. I had forgotten about the "unrated" business with Requiem. It was obviously the double dildo scene and not the "aberrational drug use" that got that film it's hand slapping!

October 27, 2011 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I have no idea. We went to the theater during the first week it was out and told it was pulled due to complaints. They didn't tell us anything more. I guess I could think it was objection to the handheld cameras but I doubt it.

October 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCity_Of_Lights

To be honest, I don't agree with the rating system in America. In other countries such as the UK, its no big deal for a film to be slapped with an 18 rating so why should be such a big deal in America. To be honest, I personally believe that most films being awarded an R-rating should be given an NC-17 rating, for the simple reason that certain films are just not suited for those under 17. Let's face it, no person under 17 should be admitted to watching 'Shame' at the cinema, even if accompanied, just as they shouldn't be allowed something such as "Blue Valentine" or even gore movies such as 'Hostel'. Likewise a 1-year old shouldn't be allowed to watch 'Black Swan', accompanied or not. The answer is simple to me: the rating system should be scrapped and a more restrictive approach should be implemented.

October 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKurt

"why are we so flippant about bombarding young children with violence and so terrified that they might catch a glimpse of the sexuality that awaits them when they themselves become adults?"

I was thinking about this a lot with all the discussion of Shame, and how very few ultraviolent films get rated NC-17, and I think it all boils down to what I like to call the "it's only a movie" syndrome. We can see someone get shot or mauled or cut open and we know that they're really fine, because it's only a movie. With sex, however, it's completely different. It's near-impossible to tell if people in a (non-pornographic) movie are actually having sex or not, especially if there aren't sheets to cover them up. Because it's more realistic, people get touchier about it.

The other thought that crossed my mind regarding the NC-17 being mostly sex-oriented is that kids are able to process violence at a younger age than sex - think of all the Looney Tunes that involve someone getting shot, crushed, or blown up. Yes, it may be cartoon violence, but it enables us to process violence at a very young age and understand it in a way that isn't harmful. People become aware of sex in their own time, and it's far more confusing than violence - it's how you make babies, so it's biological, but it's also pleasurable, and painful, and all sorts of other things. It means different things to different people. So I can understand why sex is a harder line for the MPAA to cross than violence. I don't always agree with it, and someone above made a good point that the difference between "only allowed with a parent or guardian" and "not allowed at all" is kind of ridiculous.

A sociologist could probably speak to all this better - it could make a fascinating thesis topic.

October 27, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterdenny

There is a scenario in which minor box office success is possible, but that would involve major Oscar attention. Most Oscar films would never get any box office traction without those precious nominations to tote on advertisements. That's what gets people's attentions. They don't want to sit through "serious" movies unless they're told that it's an award-worthy serious movie. Do you really think The King's Speech would have made as much as it did in America had it not been for the enormous amount of Oscar attention it received? My point: the Oscars ARE the ad campaigns for many of these movies.

I think two factors will decide Shame's Oscar fate. First and foremost, how hard is Fox Searchlight going to push it? Are we just talking Fassbender, or are they going to go all-out with campaigns for Picture, Director, Actor, Supporting Actress, and Original Screenplay? Secondly, the critics need to elevate this movie into the stratosphere with their awards. I often feel like the critic circles use their awards to make statements, and if they want to make the statement that an NC-17 film should have a place in the mainstream discussion, then what better way to do that than for, say, the LAFCA to name Shame Best Picture (or at least McQueen Best Director)? The critics' awards are important in propelling the discussion about smaller films, and once the buzz gets too big, the Academy is sometimes forced to take notice. I'm not sure Sideways would have gotten as many nominations as it did had it not been for the near-sweep of critics' prizes it received. If the critics want to get behind this film, they're going to have to show their support in big ways. That's the only way they'll get the attention of the "big" organizations (the Academy, BAFTA, the guilds).

Oh, and by the way, I'm calling it right now: Shame will score BAFTA nods for McQueen, Fassbender, and Mulligan, and it may even get in for Best Film.

October 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJohn-Paul

@C-Wrong.

October 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew R.

"Oh, and by the way, I'm calling it right now: Shame will score BAFTA nods for McQueen, Fassbender, and Mulligan, and it may even get in for Best Film."

Absolutely agreed, and on your point about critics' organizations as well. I hope Fox Searchlight floods them with DVD screeners.

October 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMark

One of the fascinating things about all this, IMO (and a great article, Nat - I could not agree with you more) is that now an "NC-17" or "unrated" version is being released on DVD of more and more films. Granted, they are often raunchy ones ("Bad Santa", for instance), but again it's usually films where something of a sexual (not violent) nature was cut; the studios have learned however that releasing the uncut versions is a great marketing tool for the home video market. Yet those are the same studios that bow to the MPAA and cut the films for theatrical release.

And you're absolutely right Nat about the point of sex v. violence. (And I did see "This Film is Not Yet Rated", btw. Eye-opening.) A friend of mine saw both the R-rated version of "Young Adam" in the theaters and the NC-17 version on DVD and the ONLY difference between the two she could discern was...yes, a shot featuring a female character enjoying an orgasm.

October 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJanice

I actually didn't notice any difference between the theatrical and unrated versions of Bad Santa, but maybe I just wasn't paying close enough attention. I'm guessing it's something silly like 4 more seconds of the very non-graphic sex scenes in the movie, or something like that. That movie just doesn't strike me as even coming close to an NC-17, but I rarely understand their reasoning anyway.

October 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJohn-Paul

Wasn't Blue Valentine NC-17, and wasn't Michelle Williams nominated for it just last year? That should count as an oscar nomination.

Or was there a change in that rating at some point?

October 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAdam Keller

Blue Valentine was changed to an R rating without any cut scenes.

October 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMeghan

Despite the NC-17, I feel that Shame got the chance for some kind of nomination more like for Mulligan supporting actress.

1992 Damage landed Miranda Richardson a supporting nom. She gives a standout performance at the end of the movie. That didn't stop Oscar attention. Anything is possible.

October 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterChand

The MPAA ratings system may suck but I'll take it over the alternative that most other Western countries have (including the UK and Canada): a censor board that makes it illegal to posess/screen certain films that the government finds objectionable.

The MPAA may have a chilling effect on fillmmakers as well as their revenue sources (cinemas) but at least they won't throw you in jail if you watch A Clockwork Orange.

October 31, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJeff C
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