Thursday, 27 October 2011

"Shame, Shame on You-S-A"

Once again the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) have shown their stupidity and ignorance when classifying certain features and Steve McQueen's masterpiece 'Shame' is the latest picture to have been slapped with the dreaded 'NC-17' rating.

The US classification agency have given the film this certificate due to "some explicit sexual content" - emphasis on the 'some'. The BBFC (British Board of Film Classification) however have granted the picture it's rightful and deserved 18 rating. 

 One can hardly say it's shocking the Yanks have done this, but it just seems ridiculous. 'Shame' is a depiction of self-harm and addiction; it presents audiences with a honest and moving account of someone suffering in silence. If it was about drugs, it would have been rated 'R', if it was about alcohol, it would have been rated 'R' but because it's about sex, the Americans cannot comprehend and thus run a mile. 

 The film does feature reasonably graphic sex (it's hardly pornographic but it's noticeable enough) and the film does feature nudity but who really in this day-and-age is that fazed or offended by the sight of genitalia? Every single human being will be naked pretty much every day but most human beings do not indulge in heroin and absinthe on a daily basis, so why do the censors have such difficultly with naturalism? It's beyond me.

 Granted sex addition is a risqué subject but 'Shame' is much more about character development and emotions than about some bloke obsessed with prostitutes and online porn. McQueen spoke frankly about sexual imagery at the film's press conference earlier this month and also questioned why so many are bothered by depictions of sex and nudity. Personally, it seems so contradictory - America produces some of the most obscene sexual content and most of it is screened all day long; advertisements, music videos, television shows, plus they are the country who agreed with Britney Spears that her track 'If You Seek Amy' was not about sex. Jesus Christ.

 The only good thing in all this cinematic hoo-hah is that US distributors Fox Searchlight are not willing to liaise with McQueen about cutting the film for a 'R' rating. The film is perfect the way it is and certainly does not need Hollywood mittens tampering with it just so it fits Christian sensibilities or the young mothers who have no filmic knowledge at all yet they select what certificate a feature gets. The MPAA really need to wake up and smell the coffee - follow us Brits and you will have many more happy movie-going experiences.

 'Shame' is one of the year's best films and if you haven't seen it already, check out the trailer below and prepare to feel the wrath of that score - I still can't shake it from my mind and I saw it a month ago.

 And yes, if you too though my title was witty, I cannot stop singing that darn song now so here's the video for that too. I may watch 'The Killer Inside Me' ...


  1. You should probably stop generalizing Americans by saying "the US really need to wake up and smell the coffee" considering you also pointed out that US company Fox Searchlight isn't pushing to edit the film for an R rating.

    It's not the Americans that need to be more open minded, it's the MPAA.

  2. Very good points which have been noted. The article meant to be aimed towards the MPAA but after re-reading I understand and appreciate that it reads a little differently. I apologise for that and will change it.