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Recently, actress Evan Rachel Wood went on a twitter rant about her movie Charlie Countryman being censored by the Motion Picture Association of America. Their objection: SEX! When is this puritanical censorship going to end? I'm Katherine Curtis, and this is a Naked News Commentary.
Charlie Countryman contains some pretty sensual scenes. But the one that was objected to by the MPAA involved Wood being pleasured by a co-star. This scene apparently made them, quote, uncomfortable. The studio could have left the scene in, but that would have resulted in an NC17 rating, or they could have released it unrated. Either scenario would prevent newspapers from advertising the movie, and kept it out of the vast majority of US theaters, essentially ensuring that almost nobody will see it. And all because of a consensual, pleasurable sexual act.
Wood further points out that all scenes of graphic violence including people, quote, having their heads blown off, were left intact. So, when it comes to the MPAA: brutal violence good, woman enjoying sex bad. Interesting. This isn't new though. When it comes to sex or nudity, the MPAA has a reputation for being prudish.
The excellent documentary This Film Is Not Yet Rated is full of stories about the censorship of not just sex, but language as well. One astonishing example - our friend Kevin Smith's debut film Clerks was initially given an NC17 based on language only. He had to appeal the ruling. That same year , 1994, saw the release of the R-rated Natural Born Killers, which contains some of the most graphic violence in movie history.
Also worth noting? 1999's Boys Don't Cry and 1988's The Accused both included brutal rape scenes. Both got R ratings. Apparently nonconsensual sex is less "uncomfortable" for the MPAA than consensual. Think about that for a minute.
Maybe it's time for a rampant overhauling of our ratings system, because the current one certainly doesn't reflect the values of anybody that I know. You have to ask what's more offensive: a few seconds of a woman enjoying sex, or 90 minutes of people being shot, stabbed, raped, or blown to pieces? Because if Leatherface hacking people to pieces is more palatable than sensuality, our society's got some serious problems.
Now I want to know what you think. Feedback@nakednews.com is where to reach me. We'll also be posting this commentary on our Facebook fan page, so come join the conversation there at facebook.com/nakednews! For Naked News, I'm Katherine Curtis.
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