• Wed, Oct 26 2011

Michael Fassbender’s Full-Frontal Nudity (But Not Carey Mulligan’s) Gets Shame The NC-17 Rating

It’s official: Shame, the buzzed-about drama starring Michael Fassbender as a sex addict, has been branded with the NC-17 rating by the MPAA. Although we already know that the movie features a very naked Michael having his way with multiple women, it turns out it’s just one detail that led to the heightened warning: Michael has a full-frontal nude scene where his junk is on display. Because they didn’t find a way to hide it behind a sock or piece of furniture, the movie joined the “for adults, but not porn” club.

What’s odd, however, is that the ruling made no mention of Michael’s co-star Carey Mulligan, who also has a naked scene. She plays his sister, so rest assured that these two are not baring all at the same time (we hope!), but obviously the producers figured that her character would have the same kind of raw sexual encounters that Michael does. Yet for some reason a woman’s full-frontal nudity is still the equivalent of an R.

When Fox Searchlight first acquired the movie in September and rumors of the dreaded rating began to circulate, director Steven McQueen firmly said that he would not change a frame. Judging from these photos taken during shooting in New York, this is what we can expect from the movie’s sex scenes:

(Except with a clearer view of Michael, of course.)

For the most part, films that have historically received the NC-17 rating — or its predecessor, the X — are due to sexual content. (Something like Requiem for a Dream probably earned its stars more for the graphic drug use, though Jennifer Connelly starred in at least one scarring sex scene.) The most recent controversy was over Blue Valentine, though eventually it was edited down to an R. Though for the record, we didn’t think the Ryan Gosling/Michelle Williams scenes were that bad.

Adding fuel to the fire is this banned Shame poster, which Hungary declared a no-no. It’s pretty clear why, though the decision still seems prudish.

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