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They don't make R-rated movies like they did in the '80s


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#1 of 20 Chuck Anstey

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Posted June 22 2011 - 06:45 AM

I have been rewatching a bunch of '80s R-rated movies I had seen in my youth at the theater or on HBO and they really don't make them like they used to.  Specifically profanity and naked/nude shots.


Profanity was in constant use during most '80s action movies and comedies but it seems like most of today's movies rarely swear and it seems like there is more profanity in PG-13 movies trying to be edgier than in an R-rated movie where they could use it with abandon.  Examples would be any Arnie action movie, Die Hard, and Used Cars.  There are some movies made recently that come close to '80s level profanity like 40 Year Old Virgin and South Park: BLU made fun of it but they are pretty rare.  Now as a parent I am concerned with profanity in PG and PG-13 movies, especially when it is gratuitous because it is easily repeated by my children as opposed to some crazy action scene but if it is R-rated then you know what you are in for.  I'm curious if people (adults) in general prefer less swearing in movies or there is some other reason.

However, the biggest change has been in nude frontal shots, especially of women since even in the '80s a full frontal male was a no-no.  Take "classics" like Porky's, Cat People, and the ultimate, Life Force.  Hell, even the PG Clash of the Titans has two lingering front shots.  Today there is usually only a super brief frontal shot or simply side shots.  Basically if The Breakup was made in the '80s, it would have been rated R and we would have seen all of Jennifer Aniston for the entire walk.  In the past, people actually made love with no clothes on and you could clearly see they didn't have any.  The only time you see people naked in today's movies is right before they are about to be torture-porned to death.  So we have upped the violence and cut back on the nudity.  I was thinking why this change might have occurred and I came up with 3 potential reasons.


1. People don't want really want to see it or have easily accessed internet porn for the "real" stuff.

2. External groups rally/boycott against it.

3. Actresses don't want to do it any longer for various reasons, one of which might be because with today's internet their image will be everywhere forever.


I'm curious what anyone else thinks of the changes of R-rated of the past and present.  I know that PG-13 has really changed the face of R-ratings but it seems like it is in the opposite direction than expected.  Since PG-13 has become what used to be considered a light R-rated movie, you would think that actual R-rated movies would have moved up to pretty hardcore.  Other than a few torture porn or extreme violence movies, R-rated movies seem tamer today than in the past although maybe that is nostalgia talking and not really the case.


Another thing is that in the '80s an R-rated movies made just as much money, if not more in some instances (like action movies) than a PG movie.  The slasher-comedy movie Student Bodies made fun of that fact.  Now an R-rating pretty much guarantees a loss of revenue compared to hacking up the movie to get a PG-13 (light R) rating.  When I was growing up in the '80s, once you were 14+ you could get into nearly any R-rated movie without parent/guardian and there wasn't a backlash against it by parent / external groups like what happened about 10 years ago.  I wonder if that has something to do with it but again that would seem to imply that if you are going to get an R-rating anyway then there is no reason to tone it down because there is no notion of a "light R" any longer.  The was some rock n roll movie a few years ago that got hurt by the lack of that notion but I cannot remember the name of it.




#2 of 20 TravisR

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Posted June 22 2011 - 07:33 AM

I guess, overall, movies have less nudity today but they also go to more extremes today (examples: Seeing a baby crown in Knocked Up or The Hangover Part II where you can see a
Spoiler
Like you alluded to, any kid with an internet connection can see anything from a boob to the most depraved sex act imaginable so I don't think sex and nudity is as big of a deal as it was when I was younger when movies were your only source. As for profanity, I think there's way more profanity in today's R rated movies than in ones from the 1980's. Some of Judd Apatow's productions or Rob Zombie's or Kevin Smith's movies say "fuck" and its variations more than almost any movie from the 1980's. All that being said, PG-13 rated movies are the reason why, you don't see many expensive R rated movies. If they can make something that teens can get into then they make more money and that's what they're most worried about.

#3 of 20 SilverWook

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Posted June 22 2011 - 07:18 PM

I watched Monty Python's The Meaning of Life for the first time in years last week, and was stunned at what they got away with back in 1983! I was squirming a bit during the "organ donor card" scene.


I thought the recent "Your Highness" took full advantage of it's R rating. (Some of the funniest gags would have been cut for a PG-13.) Plenty of boobs, profanity, and even full frontal monster nudity! If Natalie Portman had been totally naked, I think more people would have gone to see it. Posted Image


I can't even imagine what the unrated home video version is going to have in it!



#4 of 20 Michael Elliott

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Posted June 23 2011 - 02:32 AM

LOVE AND OTHER DRUGS certainly was a throwback to the 80s with non-stop nudity from its two stars.

Nudity isn't as strong as it use to be anywhere.  Horror films use to be known for the T&A (among other things) but it's hard to find many today with it.  Even these direct-to-DVD titles don't feature it but I guess it's just a different world today when you can find it and much more on the internet.  The nudity in a movie use to be a drawing point.



#5 of 20 Malcolm R

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Posted June 23 2011 - 05:10 AM

Most of this has now moved to cable. Nearly all HBO/Cinemax/Starz series are heavy on nudity and profanity (such as True Blood, Spartacus, etc.).


And Hollywood has a common perception that films have to be PG-13 to gain a large audience. It allows younger audiences to buy tickets and still think they're seeing something "edgy." I notice many of the PG-13 films this summer all include the one instance of "F**k" that they're allowed and still get the PG-13 rating. It's unnecessary, but I guess it gets the kiddies to giggle.


The R-rated blockbuster is still relatively rare, though it's probably more because of the above than any actual audience reaction to R-rated films.


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#6 of 20 TravisR

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Posted June 23 2011 - 05:36 AM

I notice many of the PG-13 films this summer all include the one instance of "F**k" that they're allowed and still get the PG-13 rating. It's unnecessary, but I guess it gets the kiddies to giggle.

Without getting into spoilers, the use of the word 'fuck' in the new X-Men movie is really funny.

#7 of 20 Aaron Silverman

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Posted June 24 2011 - 06:59 AM

In the '80s, if you saw an R-rated movie, there was a 99% chance of boobies, and it was often very casual (gratuitous?). On the other hand, male nudity was practically taboo. There was a Bruce Willis movie in the '90s where he got nekkid and it was a Big Deal at the time. Now it seems like there's less female nudity and more male nudity. I don't think I could point to one or two specific reasons; it's just shifting tastes in Hollywood, I think. Also, in American culture in general, there was a much wider gender gap back then, which might have had something to do with it.


As for PG-13 freeing up R-rated films to be more "hardcore," maybe NC-17 ended up having the opposite effect. It was originally intended to allow films to exceed an R without getting an X (because the X had become associated with porn), but when theaters, renters and retailers started treating NC-17 as porn anyway, it backfired.


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#8 of 20 Mikael Soderholm

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Posted June 24 2011 - 07:17 AM


Old Jack summed it up a long time ago:

If you suck on a tit the movie gets an R rating. If you hack the tit off with an axe it will be PG.
 



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#9 of 20 Aaron Silverman

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Posted June 24 2011 - 07:19 AM

Last night I watched Grown Ups, which pretty much invalidates that particular comment. :)



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#10 of 20 SilverWook

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Posted June 24 2011 - 06:41 PM

When was the last time an NC-17 movie came out anyway? I have vague memories of one in the early 90's, (Ken Russell's "Whore"?) and the local papers wouldn't carry listings for it. I was amazed the little three screen crackerbox at the mall actually played it. Wish I had snapped a photo of the marquee as proof for future generations or something.


Of course, we now live in a world where just the title of a film like "Kick Ass" is censored on the marquee.



#11 of 20 TravisR

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Posted June 24 2011 - 11:43 PM

When was the last time an NC-17 movie came out anyway?

I could be wrong but I think Showgirls (in 1994 or '95) was the first and last time that an NC-17 movie played at multiplexes. I'm sure some small movies played at art houses with an NC-17 over the years though. It's not hard to see that the MPAA did a terrible job spreading the word to audiences, theater chains and advertisers that NC-17 doesn't equal pornography and that it is as valid of a rating as PG-13.

#12 of 20 Chuck Anstey

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Posted June 25 2011 - 03:09 AM

Well Tie Me Up Tie Me Down and Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer were the first or nearly the first with NC-17 ratings and I think they were played in what would be considered commercial theaters and not art house theaters but I do not remember if it was a wide release or went into traditional multiplexes.  The BO take implies they were limited release.  I swear I remember Roger Ebert reviewing these two movies and it was part of the NC-17 explanation but maybe my memory is incorrect.


As far as NC-17 = porn, while the rating isn't directly intended to mean that, the level of violence allowed in a R rated movie pretty much meant that NC-17 meant very strong sexual content.  Also as I have mentioned above, nudty/sex is much lower now than in the '80s so movies that used to be R like the aforementioned Cat People would probably have been rated NC-17.   An "adults only" movie means sex because there is almost no amount of violence that is only for adults.  Just look at all the torture porn movies that have come out.



#13 of 20 SD_Brian

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Posted June 25 2011 - 04:22 AM

What I've always found ironic is that the Blockbusters and Walmarts of the world never carry NC-17 movies but they seem to have no problem whatsoever stocking the more explicit, uncut, unrated versions of movies that were edited prior to theatrical release so they could obtain an R-rating.

Apparently, NC-17 movies are okay just as long as they aren't actually rated NC-17.


#14 of 20 Chuck Anstey

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Posted June 25 2011 - 10:11 AM



Originally Posted by SD_Brian 

What I've always found ironic is that the Blockbusters and Walmarts of the world never carry NC-17 movies but they seem to have no problem whatsoever stocking the more explicit, uncut, unrated versions of movies that were edited prior to theatrical release so they could obtain an R-rating.

Apparently, NC-17 movies are okay just as long as they aren't actually rated NC-17.


I haven't really checked out a Blockbuster in forever except for super movie deals but I thought if it wasn't rated, the wouldn't carry it.  Maybe that policy just sort of went by the wayside and apparently no group is complaining.




#15 of 20 Josh Steinberg

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Posted June 25 2011 - 10:43 AM

It's a weird Blockbuster policy, but it's totally true -- call a movie "Rated X" or "Rated NC-17" and they absolutely refuse to stock it.  Call it "unrated" and it's not even an issue.  Baffles the mind...



#16 of 20 WillG

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Posted June 25 2011 - 03:27 PM


When was the last time an NC-17 movie came out anyway?

I think NC-17 movies do come out every so often, but they're not advertised and they don't play in multiplexes so most people never know these movies exist.


It's somewhat ironic that the NC-17 rating was supposed to be a way to distance films from the pornographic stigma, but the only thing that will push a movie into NC-17 territory is sexuality. So, the whole thing was just a massive failure.


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#17 of 20 Paul_Medenwaldt

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Posted July 10 2011 - 12:12 PM

Hatchet II was released unrated, but was quickly pulled after the first week. What was Antichrist rated when it was released? Its pretty violent plus it has full penetration sex. Paul
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#18 of 20 TravisR

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Posted July 11 2011 - 01:01 AM

What was Antichrist rated when it was released? Its pretty violent plus it has full penetration sex.

No, it was unrated. It just shows how badly the MPAA handled the NC-17 when movies that are made to be seen solely by adults (like Hatchet II or Antichrist) just go unrated over being branded as pornography with the misunderstood NC-17 rating.

#19 of 20 Rick Thompson

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Posted July 11 2011 - 10:59 AM

Let's not forget that Midnight Cowboy came out rated "X", and became the only X-rated film to win Best Picture. "X" got replaced with NC-17 except for pictures that are not rated at all. When Midnight Cowboy got re-released a few years ago, it got re-rated "R."

#20 of 20 Brandon Conway

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Posted July 11 2011 - 06:19 PM

Most of the notable Hollywood X-rated films in the early era of the MPAA (Midnight Cowboy, Clockwork Orange) were re-rated to R because the MPAA didn't copyright the X rating and that led to the porn industry using the rating in the 70s. The idea was that a studio could rate their film X on their own and bypass the process, but that quickly backfired.


Some more obscure films from the era that have yet to be resubmitted to the MPAA because they are out of circulation. For example, End of the Road (1970) has been unreleased for decades, but just got re-rated to R from X in 2010 - a hint that WB is prepping it for their Archive, by the way.


Some studios simply remove the rating and release them as "Not Rated" like pre-1967 films. Sony has gone this route with archive films that were rated X and M in the early MPAA era. Even though they can freely substitute the PG for the M rating without resubmission, they don't even bother to do that because PG from 1967-1980 means a totally different thing than PG in 2011.


Hell, the film Paper Lion (1968) is rated G but has football players swearin' under their breath clearly audible phrases such as "fuckin'-a" near the end of the film. Just a totally different world in the MPAA of that era. Planet of the Apes would easily be PG-13 today instead of G (violence, nudity). 2001 would be PG-13 for "thematic elements" instead of G. True Grit (1969) would go from G to at least PG "for language" ("Son of a Bitch!"). And Disney doesn't dare resubmit Pinocchio since by today's standard its G rating from it's re-release in 1970 would become PG-13 for "use of tobacco and alcohol by minors, and scary images".


Of course, the opposite is also true for pre-PG-13 era films that were rated R for violence. Does anyone really see Psycho (1960; rated M (PG) in 1968, rated R in 1984) or The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966; rated M (PG) in 1969, rated R in 1989) being anything but PG-13 by 2011 standards?


It's all very arbitrary.


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