the cinema

Why The MPAA Is Suddenly Handling Out ‘Male Nudity’ Warnings

For the first time in the history of the Motion Picture Association of America’s history of rating theatrical films, warnings of “male nudity” are being placed on movies. The three films of 2010 — and the only to ever receive such notation — are Jackass 3D, Eat Pray Love, and Grown Ups. Since 2006, meanwhile, the MPAA has flagged 786 for containing “nudity,” but that was just an umbrella term for “lady parts.” Indeed, zero films have been marked with warnings of “female nudity.” Why the change up? Bruno.

“Parents requested specifically after the movie Brüno that we provide such information,” says MPAA spokesman Craig Hoffman. This could turn ugly, warns Spangle.

With the possibility of federal standards, the industry adopted a voluntary system, which has evolved into the labels you see today. How it works: A board of everyday parents reviews hundreds of films per year, assigning each with a G, PG, PG-13, R or NC-17 rating. Since 1990, the group also has added a description of why the rating was given (say, “violence” or “disturbing images”).

Because the system is for parents and by parents, it’s at the whim of parents — especially the vocal ones. When they start an uproar, that’s when calls emerge for the government to step in with its own ratings. And so the MPAA is required to respond or put its independence at risk.

Some vocal parents now want scarlet letters for whenever naughty male nudity is caught on celluloid, and the MPAA has caved. I asked spokesman Hoffman just how such a change is implemented. Could, say, one very loud parent force the organization’s hand?

Just be glad the MPAA isn’t rating gay pride parades.