The MPAA Distinguishes Between “Male Nudity” And Just “Nudity”

We may have discovered why “Blue Valentine” got its mysterious NC-17 rating. Could it be because of the very scary factor of “male nudity”? Jezebel’s Brian Patrick Thornton noticed that “Jackass 3D” was rated R because of “male nudity,” among a host of other film sins. After doing some research, he found the distinction of “male nudity”—over, I suppose, just plain old “nudity”—only started this year. He contacted the MPAA for answers.A representative explained that after the release of “Bruno,” the association received multiple complaints from parents that the film featured naked men, and that it needed a specific label warning of that. Not wanting to ruffle feathers and upset moms, the MPAA created the “male nudity” tag and added it to the list of offenses that can raise a film’s rating.

As Thornton points out, this distinction is biased, designating male nakedness as wrong and different from the desirable nudity of women. Plus, wouldn’t this be an easy way of marginalizing movies with gay themes? Overall, the relationship between gender, nudity, and rating here is a weird one. As Thornton points out, men appear shirtless in rated G films, but for a woman to bare her chest, it requires at least a PG-13 rating. But never before has a gender description been necessary when dealing with nudity in film. Leading Thornton to wonder if this is just the first of many steps in ratings classification that leaves homosexuality appearing as an alien element from the norm.

Do you think the introduction of the “male nudity” label is a form of prejudice? Or that movies featuring male full-frontal should get a special tag? Or are you just distracted by the idea of maybe seeing Ryan Gosling nakey in “Blue Valentine”? [Distracted is one way to put it. Overwhelmingly excited and amorous is another. — Editor Amelia]