This is a feminist issue because...This Film is Not Yet Rated


This documentary is, at first glance, just about the movie business. Before I watched it, I assumed it was a documentary on how they decide what gets rated what. Instead, it talked about why movies get rated NC-17 and also talked about how secretive this board that determines what gets produced (basically, an NC-17 ends up meaning that no one will stand behind the movie, because it's not marketable) and who's allowed to watch it, is completely secretive. The members of this group are not allowed to talk about who they are and what they do, and even after they leave, they still are not allowed to talk about how the board rates movies, or they are sued by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA). That's not so much the feminist issue (I just found it rather interesting), as the reasons why movies are rated R or NC-17. The movies they discuss about getting rated NC-17 specifically get rated as such because of how the romance in the movie is shown. They continually talk about the denial of female pleasure. A few of the movies they talk about were given NC-17 ratings because the orgasm of the female was too long, it's not even that there was nudity, but that when the camera was focused on the woman's face during intercourse, she looked like she was having an orgasm for longer than the MPAA preferred. Another one of the more ridiculous reasons that the MPAA gave an NC-17 to one of the movies the documentary discusses is due to the fact that during a sexual scene in the movie, for a split second, a woman's pubic hair could be seen. The movies that the MPAA gives out NC-17 ratings for are movies that are only portraying what we all know to be true. By the time almost any kid is 15 or 16, they already know all about sex, not just biologically, but also the actual act, the different positions available, etc... The fact that the MPAA is denying those ideas in movies just seems unnecessary. They are much lighter on violence in a film than sex, and I would hope, that most people have seen more sex than violence first-hand. I'm not sure if changing the rating system would change anything, but I think it would be incredibly beneficial to the film industry( and those watching the movies) that violence be seen in a darker light than sex.


  1. I think this post is very interesting and reminds me of a conversation I had with an exchange student from Germany who was staying with my next door neighbors a few years back. We were discussing movies, and he noted that the rating system in America was completely different than those in Europe, particularly Germany. He mentioned that American movies that contain violence are rated much more leniently here, and that portrayal of violence is taken very seriously in Germany (the nation actually has a law that states that movies that promote the "glorification of violence" are illegal), garnering much stricter ratings. However, he was surprised by how sex scenes or sexual innuendos in movies here are rated strictly. It made me curious--why does our society accept, and in some cases even promote, violence in the cinema, yet an act of passion between two people is something to be so ashamed of? You make a very good point--most kids are knowledgeable about sex. Why should the MPAA restrict them from seeing what they already know, yet (as you stated, you would hope that most people have seen more sex than violence) would rather allow them to witness something more harmful to society that they are unfamiliar with? Very interesting post. Definitely makes me think about society's priorities and what is deemed acceptable and what is deemed taboo.

  2. This is so interesting! It's amazing to me that the NCAA would allow more violence than sexual content in the movie. Especially when there are hundreds of clinical studies indicating that exposure to violent videogames and TV is makes an individual more likely to grow up and be a perpetrator of violence. I've never heard of a single study that said people who were exposed to sexual images at a young age (and really... is 15 that young?) grew up to be dangerous people. It's so ironic to me that a movie was given a bad rating because a woman's pleasure lasted too long, but there is no time limit on the violence and suffering that can be depicted in movies. I think its a huge problem that the MPAA is shrouded in so much secrecy. This isn't the CIA - there is no information that MPAA board members could have that would endanger the physical safety of people, so why is there so much vagueness surrounding the organization? It makes it impossible to critique the rating system. Are there women on the rating panel? Are there sex-positive feminists? I would be really interested to know the political makeup of the movie raters. All in all, I think this factoid relates to class in an important way. Changes in society happen because people are curious about why things happen a certain way. The MPAA is making it impossible for people to question the rating mechanisms, and they are acting as a censoring entity on America's cultural production.

  3. The actual background of the movie was that the man making the movie hires a private detective and found out who the movie raters were. It wasn't a problem as far as race was concerned, the variance on race would be better, but it's not just all white people, and there are women on the board. (I don't know if they got to keep their jobs after this guy found out who they all were and released their names.) The problem with the raters is that most of them don't have children under 17, from what I remember, I think only one of them had a 17 year old, and none of them had any younger children. It seems a bit odd to be on the board rating movies based on what parents would be ok with showing their children, when they don't even have younger children. Most of them had children but they were in their 20s, 30s+, and when they were kids, things would have been way different as far what parents would be ok with their kids seeing goes.

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This page contains a single entry by Danielle published on May 2, 2010 1:48 AM.

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