The MPAA recently slapped an NC-17 on the Michael Fassbender vehicle “Shame,” a film where Fassbender apparently wanders around obtaining carnal knowledge of a variety of people. Anyone familiar with Fassbender might justly regard this as something of a public service, but the MPAA disagreed, because the only thing the MPAA thinks capable of denting the fragile ids of the moviegoing public is male nudity. “You remember what happened to John Wilkes Booth,” they say, nodding sagely. “He saw one male nude too many, and then we all know what happened.”
“I am pretty sure that no part of that is accurate,” we mutter, but the MPAA has already skulked away to rewatch a film they recently deemed Far Too Awful For Theaters.
They say obscenity is in the groin of the beholder. This probably explains why the MPAA keeps requesting that the projectionist slow down the movie so that they may more fully object to it. “Shh,” they keep murmuring. “Slower. I feel some indignation coming on.”
As a consequence, people are more restricted in seeing this than, say, “Saw.” See someone’s hand melt off in a jar of acid? Totally fine. Male frontal nudity? I don’t think so, Carl. Might damage you. This makes a lot of sense. People routinely see hands melting off in jars of acid or people being hung from hooks and dismembered. It’s a natural part of growing up. But nudity has mercifully faded out of most lives, back to its barbaric origins.
I am not one of those wild-eyed youths who wander around celebrating the human body. I think if God intended us to walk around without clothes, we would have been born that way, not clad in tiny crocheted sweaters like all the MPAA members.
Perhaps our definition of art has simply changed. It used to be that art was a painting or sculpture of a man with a name like David who was not wearing pants. Every so often the MPAA of the time period would go through and tack fig leaves on. But now art seeks new frontiers. “Michelangelo said all that there was to say about that,” it mutters. “Now we need to explore acid and jars.”
Or it could be that the rating system is broken.
There is so much to be warned about in movies beyond mere sex and violence. Some movies have protagonists who turn out not to exist. Other movies are the “Human Centipede,” and the MPAA didn’t even rate that.
Maybe we need an entirely new system.
NWP – (Not With Parents) You can see this. Your parents can see this. But don't watch it with them, or you will have to have a Conversation. Examples: Y Tu Mama Tambien.
SS (Spoiled Spoiler) – This movie revolves around a very famous spoiler, and you already know what the ending is – Rosebud is a sled. Soylent Green is people. The Crying Game is the Crying Game.
MNS — This film was directed by M. Night Shyamalan and is not the Sixth Sense.
WTF – This movie includes graphic scenes of vampire childbirth.
DD – (The Dog Dies) There's a dog in the movie, and it dies. Examples: Marley and Me, Old Yeller, actually any movie revolving around dogs.
AR — This movie is a classic, but at times without warning it’s Awkwardly Racist.
LTF (Losing the Future): Old movie is set in the future. Movie expects future will be a lot more exciting than it turns out to be, sets up unreasonable expectations for flying cars, opening/shutting pod bay doors. Examples: 2001: A Space Odyssey.
OY — At some point, a character sleeps with a blue alien half-cat thing. Call me crazy, but I feel like there ought to be some sort of warning on that.
MT — (Misleading Title) This movie’s title leads you to think it revolves around something other than what it is actually about. Examples: Black Swan, Blade Runner, The Devil Wears Prada.
NO – Mel Gibson uses a beaver puppet to talk in this movie.
BF — (Bechdel Fail) This movie does not contain two women who talk to each other about something other than a man.
BWB (Book Was Better) You think the movie’s good, but on your way in and out you will have to fight through great seas of people insisting that the book was better.
HI — (Historically Inaccurate) This is based on a book or historical event, but that is not how it happened at all. Examples: Troy, Essentially, any Mel Gibson film.
MHTYE – This movie is More Homoerotic Than You'd Expect, which is fine, but may be more bonding for the hockey team than you intended. Examples: Top Gun, Predator.
OBP — (Ostentatious Best Picture) This is one of a dozen movies that views itself as a best picture contender, and it has sumptuous costumes and lavish cinematography (or is that the other way around?) and at one point Jeff Bridges appears and mutters something about redemption, even though the title implied it could be an action movie.
HC – This movie contains Hayden Christensen.
TTF — The people in this movie Talk Too Fast or are British. Examples: Gosford Park, Pride and Prejudice.
EMNS — Ending Makes No Sense.
SSOAD — Without warning and for no apparent reason, Someone Sits On a Dog. Examples: Easy Virtue.