While jungle reflected on the life and achievements of the late George Carlin in recent days, the subject of censorship was brought up. One of Carlin’s most memorable stand-up comedy routines—Dirty Words—challenged American society’s (and the FCC’s) puritanical censorship practices. The controversial bit (by early 70’s standards) illuminated the often hypocritical and contradictory practices of TV and radio censorship. Our gripe focuses on one, specific double standard exhibited by whoever rates the movies these days—Why do films with excessive male full-frontal nudity get the passing R rating, and why, on the other hand, do films with even minor female full frontal nudity get the infamous NC-17 rating? George Carlin would agree, it’s nuts!!!! (no pun intended)
Lately, the movies have been a full blown penis fest—Walk Hard, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Art School Confidential, and 28 Days Later, to name a few. Where’s all the vagina? Art School Confidential’s scene in question seemed to satire this very subject. In the scene, an art student takes a portrait-drawing class so he can peep at nude women rather than study. His excitement turns to disgust as a naked man walks out instead of a pretty young lady exposing her goods. The man’s junk is exposed for several seconds, and even waved in the poor art student’s face. Depending on the film audience’s sensibilities and sexual orientation, they may have felt like the art student—downtrodden and deflated.
What is the message being sent by the MPAA? Are they essentially saying vaginas are more obscene than penises? Or, perhaps they are assigning a value system to sexual stimulation, asserting that hetero male sexual arousal is more harmful and obscene than hetero female or homosexual male arousal.
Interestingly, the films of the late 70’s and early 80’s seemed to embody the reverse of these values—lots of bush on the screen in those days. And no, “bush” is not a bad word. Ask George Carlin.
Amazingly, graphic images of violence that have an exponentially higher capacity to traumatize the audience are commonplace in R and even PG-13 rated American films. This contradiction has been brought up ad nauseum in press and popular culture. If the MPAA is worried about the film audience acting out what they see on film, and rating films accordingly, they are sending an astoundingly deranged message to the world.
A couple years ago, IFC released a revealing documentary called “This Film is Not Yet Rated” which investigates the MPAA’s backward film rating tactics in depth. It’s an interesting watch, for sure.
George Carlin would surely agree with jungle’s consensus—the MPAA needs to re-evaluate their film rating practices and, at the very least, show us one vagina for every penis displayed in R- rated films. Balance it out a little for pete’s sake.
BTW: George, you’ll be sorely missed!