Broken English NC-17 Controversy

[Nina and Eddie]

Writer/Director Gregor Nicholas on appealing the film's NC-17 rating

On September 20, 1996, Broken English received an NC-17 rating from the Motion Picture Association of America. This rating prohibits anyone the age of seventeen years old or younger from seeing the movie. On September 24, Sony Pictures Classics, on behalf of Gregor Nicholas, submitted an appeal to the rating. Nicholas describes his experience with the MPAA Appeals Board below:

My encounter with the MPAA Appeals Board made it very clear to me that there is a perception in this country that a depiction of an intimate expression of love--or in this case "buttock thrusting," as it was described by one board member--is more dangerous to the youth of America than graphic scenes of violence, torture, rape and murder which they can see in any number of mainstream movies.

To me, there is something wrong with the system which tells us that exposure to acts of violence will leave young audiences untainted while exposure to acts of love will somehow corrupt them.

At the appeal, I sat in a kind of incredulous daze as I heard apparently educated people comment soberly that I "could have shot it another way, like from the waist up" and that "we've got to draw the line somewhere." I looked around the room and realized I was seriously outnumbered. Then came the clincher: "We can't expose the youth of America to buttock thrusting of this type." Clutching at straws I quickly speculated to myself as to what other kinds of buttock thrusting there were and whether or not they might be more acceptable. Was it the speed that was a problem? Was the thrusting too slow, too fast? I looked around again and it dawned on me: the thrusting was too real! These people were used to watching love scenes in which the actors looked like they were pretending to make love whereas we, in striving for realism, had created a scene in which two people appeared to be actually making love.

Whether they were or not will remain our secret...

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