...Not the kind of wheel you fall asleep at...


Having just finished reading Talk Dirty to Me: An Intimate Philosophy of Sex (which you should check out when you have some time to spare--it pokes wonderfully at all our ingrained and repressed assumptions about sex in all its forms--prostitution, porn, fetishes, S&M, and, well, just plain old doing-it) and having seen commercials for the *UNRATED UNRATED UNRATED* version of The Dukes of Hazzard plastered all over the television for perhaps the 1500th time, I've gotten to thinking about this whole "Unrated" phenomenon.

I first ran into the "unrated" movie when going to see the fantastic Requiem for a Dream which received the rating mainly because of the fact that the movie was about some serious serious drug usage. Oh, and for the major chick-on-chick anal dildo-fucking scene towards the end.

It is easy to see why this was released as "unrated" rather than NC-17--the MPAA thought the anti-drug message was a good one and wanted to avoid the stigma involved with a NC-17 film, instead allowing it to come out as "Unrated" so that teenagers might actually be able to see it and learn something from this "anti-drug" message.

But now the "Unrated" thing has just gotten twisted by the marketing whores of Hollywood, becoming a means of getting folks to buy shitty dvd comedies in the hopes of seeing titties and crotch. Why would marketers boast an "Unrated" rating if this meant that there was simply just more violence or drug usage in the film than allowable? There'd be no reason to--few people are going to flock to the video store or Best Buy because a dvd now has a few additional scenes of someone getting their head blown off (or if they WERE to, they would never admit it). Clearly when the dvds for The Dukes of Hazzard or American Pie are screaming at us that they're Unrated, this doesn't mean that we're in for the treat of seeing a whole helluva lot of glorious extra violence or the joy of seeing even *more* people shooting up on-screen. Clearly this is not what this magical word represents.

"Unrated" means "see naked chicks gyrating and giggling for your pleasure." It means, "Go to your video store because now you can nab a dvd that has some really sweet T&A in it and you won't have to lurk around in that dark and curtained backroom to do so! You can pretend that you actually just really wanna SEE the movie (and all its shitty acting) and not just Jessica Simpson raising her skirt in your face multiple times!"

Marketers are smart folks: "Sometimes these versions would have earned an NC-17 if submitted for rating, but often their unrated status is merely for marketing purposes, with the **implication** that the added unrated material is racier than an R rating would permit."*

So these "Unrated" videos have basically just become a socially acceptable way of getting your hands on some serious T & A, without having to feel like Pervy McPerverson going to the adult store or that fancy little perv-room at the back of your local video store. No longer do you need to hide your head in shame because (as with Playboy) now you can get your titty-fix under the guise of "watching it for the plot."

And yet we're completely freakish and prudish when it comes to porn. Granted, there is a difference obviously. The unrated version of American Pie is not gonna be filled with hard-core fucking. But essentially the attraction is the same--the taboo of seeing naked sexuality on a screen where you can enjoy it, um, "intimately" and whenever you'd like. And the acknowledgment that it is a turn on to see naked people and sex.

"Unrated" dvds are a more palatable and socially acceptable way of "appreciating and enjoying sex/sexuality on video." But bring up the topic of porn as though it ain't no thang and see the same people's face flush red and there voices become all aghast with disdain.

Unrated=Ok! Good fun!

Porn=Dirty old perverts!

Porn is reserved for back rooms with curtains shielding them from the general public. It's reserved for unassuming brown paper-bag mailers, for "dirty men" in trenchcoats and slumped shoulders, eyes darting around nervously so as not to get caught. Porn is "on the fringe," though lots and lots of people watch it. It is something to joke about, something that lots of people indulge in, and yet it still maintains the taboo of the "dirty old man" or the uncomfortable jock guy quickly scanning the shelves so as not to be seen renting such filth.

In this respect, "unrated" movies have become like a weird boy-band, teeny-bopper, candy-sucking door, opening people "civilly" into the land of sex, when essentially the attraction, the desire to own, the hunger for sexuality is the same as with porn.

We're more than happy to advertise the nekkidness and herd in customers who'll pay a good penny to own a copy of some Jessica Simpson T & A, but shhhhhh about the fact that people film themselves doing it (and that some of us like watching it).

Americans are so bizarrely prudish.



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