When the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) slaps a movie with an NC-17 rating, the financial implications are immense. It classifies your work as just a minor step away from hardcore pornography and thus unacceptable for theatrical release.
The below 9 movies, most of which you've probably watched, were deemed too sexually explicit in their original state. So before their release, each film was edited and their more controversial scenes deleted in order to win that much needed R rating.
Here are the films the censors almost stopped you from seeing:
1. Eyes Wide Shut
Stanley Kubrick's last movie Eyes Wide Shut was under contractual obligations to deliver an R-rating, which is why after production ended Warner Bros. digitally inserted cloaked figures into the now infamous secret orgy scene, hiding the naked characters behind them. This act of censorship angered many a Kubrick fan, including critic Roger Ebert, who fumed in his review:
"It's symbolic of the moral hypocrisy of the rating system that it would force a great director to compromise his vision, while by the same process making his adult film more accessible to young viewers."
2. Blue Valentine
When the MPAA slapped Blue Valentine with an NC-17 rating due to the scene depicting oral sex, Ryan Gosling accused the board of sexism and misogyny:
"There's plenty of oral sex scenes in a lot of movies, where it's a man receiving it from a woman - and they're R-rated. Ours is reversed and somehow it's perceived as pornographic."
There appeal was successful and the film was later released with an R-rating.
3. Afternoon Delight
Director Jill Soloway had to make extensive cuts she did not like in order to achieve her R-rating. Namely, scenes which depicted women appearing to 'enjoy' sex.
"I think it's about the sexual agency of female characters. The scene portrays two women in a sexual situation connecting emotionally with one another. That might be what was 'uncomfortable' for the MPAA. It's infuriating, to encounter this editing-down after pushing through the many doors to get this movie made. I even won the Directing Award at Sundance, but that kind of lauding didn't protect me from this organization's opinion that sex from a woman's perspective is somehow too dangerous."
4. Boys Don't Cry
The MPAA initially slapped Kimberly Peirce's Academy Award-winning depiction of the inspiring and brutal life and death of transgender boy Brandon Teena with an NC-17 rating, which meant that Fox Productions refused to distribute the movie.
The NC-17 classification was in part due to the brutal rape scene in the film, but also due to a tender love scene between Brandon and his girlfriend, Lana. The MPAA deemed it was problematic in that Brandon wiped his mouth after performing oral sex on Lana and that Lana's orgasm was "too long."
Peirce then had to make severe cuts in order to gain that R-rating. In an interview with Flavour Wire she commented,
"I think female pleasure is scary, in the narrative setting. I think unfamiliarity is what breeds these NC-17s."
5. Charlie Countryman
When actress Evan Rachel Wood first saw the updated cut of R-rated Charlie Countryman, in which she stars opposite Shia LeBeouf, she was furious to see that one of the sex scenes had been deleted. More specifically, the scene in which LeBeouf's character performs oral sex on hers. Seeing a pattern here?
Wood took to Twitter to voice her opinion on the matter:
6. South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut
Creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker had to battle the MPAA to reduce South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut rating down from NC-17 to R. In the outtakes, the comedy geniuses released some of the funnier fax exchanges they'd had with the board. The highlights are:
"The intent now is that you never see Saddam's real penis, he in fact is using dildos both times."
"We took out the only reference to 'cum-sucking ass' in the film."
Paradoxically, the movie's song 'Blame Canada' focuses on censorship issues between the United States and Canada and went on to be nominated for a 'Best Original Song' Academy Award.
7. American Pie
The MPAA initially gave the cringeworthy teen movie American Pie an NC-17 rating due to its
“strong sexuality, crude sexual dialogue, language and drinking, all involving teens.”
According to EW! the main issue surrounded that now infamous apple pie scene, the one where Jason Biggs has that special moment with a home-baked good. Apparently the ratings board were satisfied once the editors cut down the number of thrusts.
Now thats a memo I'd like to read.
8. Basic Instinct
'90s classic Basic Instinct was primarily rated NC-17 because of its inclusion of "strong violence and sensuality, drug use and (strong) language." Thankfully director Paul Verhoeven only had to cut 40 seconds of footage to get the ratings down, which meant that generations can and should be thankful Sharon Stone's vag flash remaining pure and uncut.
“Actually, I didn’t have to cut many things, but I replaced things from different angles, made it a little more elliptical, a bit less direct.”
9. Team America: World Police
Five years after their censorship battle with the MPAA over South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, Matt Stone and Trey Parker aimed to push the boundaries again with their post 9/11 satire Team America: World Police. And, although testing the limits was kind of the point, they were outraged when the movie was returned with an NC-17 rating. Apparently the board was not so enthralled by the then minute and a half, now 50 second long marionette sex scene, which featured the puppets urinating and defecating on one another. Go figure.
"Meanwhile, we're taking other puppets and, you know, blowing their heads off, they're covered with blood and stuff, and the MPAA didn't have a word to say about that."
Again, go figure.