6B - The Michigan Daily - Weac4 4e. - Thursday, September 21, 1995
NC-17 debate rages on over 'Showgirls'
By Joshua Rich
Daily Film Editor
The trailers are startling,
ing. A woman is shown dancing around,
licking a pole and flaunting her overflow-
ing sexuality all in the company of hun-
dreds of drooling, gawking male onlook-
ers. The voice-over tells us that the film is
so racy that we can't see most of what
actually goes on in the film.
Nevertheless, we get the idea: this
movie is about sex. And besides that, we
are told again and again that it is "rated
'NC-17' - no children admitted under
the age of 17."
But what does all this mean?
By now we all have experienced some
part of the gross media blitz that has led
the new, highly anticipated sex flick
"Showgirls" to a movie theater near you.
This film is graced with both thebeauty of
star Elizabeth Berkley - famous as the
cantankerous Jessie Spano on the idiotic
cult TV fave "Saved By the Bell" - and
a racy storyline scripted by Joe Eszterhas
and directed by Paul Verhoeven (not sur-
prisingly, the same team that brought us
1992's controversial hit"Basic Instinct").
Most important, however, is the mys-
It is not the familiar "PG" or "R"ratings
that we usually see attached to movies. It
isn't even a "G" or a "PG-13" which we
notice somewhat less frequently. And if
this picture is so explicit and racy, how
come it does not get an"X"--prohibiting
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anyone under the age of 18 from viewing
the film in a movie theater altogether?
"NC-17," was, as one will find, the
brainchild of members of the Motion
Picture Association ofAmerica (MPAA)
who are responsible for rating every movie
released by a member production com-
pany (including all those in Hollywood
and more). For fear that films exception-
ally sexual or violent in content wouldbe
ignored at the box office if they received
an "X" rating, "NC-17" was created as a
middle ground between "X" and "R."
With an"NC-17," the ratings board hoped
films would not be shunned simply be-
cause they received the same tag as, say a
pornographic feature does.
It all started, of course, with director
Peter Greenaway's 1989 black comedy
"The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her
Lover," which contained graphic scenes
of torture and murder. Recognizing that
this film was too severe to receive an "R"
rating, yet not bad enough to warrant an
"X," the MPAA was unable to decide
how the film should be presented. In the
end, it was released without a rating -
allowing age limitations to be left to the
discretion of theaters playing the film.
Around came Philip Kaufman's"Henry
and June" in 1990, however, and "NC-
17" was born with the hopes of actually
being able to market a film that contains
somecontroversial and, inthiscase, overt
sex scenes. Yet ever since, few films have
actually garnered this dreaded label; suf-
fice it to say, those released with an "NC-
17" have not lived up to the hopes oftheir
distributors or of the MPAA.
This year, "Showgirls" is not the first
film to receive an "NC-17." Earlier, Larry
also was handed an "NC-17," but it too
was ultimately released with no rating.
(Interestingly, this movie earnsthe unim-
pressive distinction of being the first
Disney movie - it was also released
along with Miramax out of their child
company, Excalibur - to be rated "NC-
In the case of "Kids," the film is being
marketed as a controversial look at teen-
age life on the streets that most people,
regardless of age, may appreciate. Come
on ... like anyone younger than about 16
will really like seeing other youths beat
and rape each other! The distributors of
"Showgirls," on the other hand, make no
false claims about their picture - it has
an "NC-17," and they are proud of it.
Indeed, "Showgirls" has the potential
to earn more money - and certainly get
more publicity - than any other picture
with as high a rating. Besides the hordes
ofviewers intent ofgetting a glimpse ofa
former child actor in the buff- and you
know who you are, guys - many will
amazingly show up in search of a fine
motion picture. While previews don't
denythe film'srating,"Showgirls"is also
being marketed as an interesting and en-
tertaining movie worthy of our time and
our money. This publicity line may be
Growing up in an age of censorship,
political correctness and general conser-
vatism, we children of the 1980s and
1990s are quite unaware of a time when
films were judged on their artistic and
entertainment merits. Such a time did, in
fact, exist. And perhaps it will take a film
like "Showgirls" to remind us how a film
can still be of reasonably good quality
even afterreceiving such a controversial
In the past, this did not stop other
questionable movies from making
money or gaining great acclaim. Shortly
after the MPAA ratings system was
introduced in the 1960s, two films, John
Schlesinger's "Midnight Cowboy"
(1969) - the only "X"-rated movie
ever to win a Best Picture Academy
Award - and Stanley Kubrick's "A
Clockwork Orange" (1971) both re-
ceived "X" ratings. But people contin-
ued to watch and critics and peers still
lauded these motion pictures.
Furthermore, following the 1984 re-
lease of Joe Dante's "Gremlins," a hor-
ror movie disguised as a childrens' fan-
tasy flick, many films have made sub-
stantial profits and cinematic statements
despite their "PG-13" warnings. Un-
doubtedly most famous in the bunch is
Steven Spielberg's "Jurassic Park"
(1993), the highest worldwide-gross-
ing movie ever.
Nowadays, with more and more mov-
ies earning "PG-13" or "R" ratings, and
"PG" and most certainly "G" becoming
phenomena of the past, an "NC-17"
label poses less of a threat to film pro-
ducers as it might have before. We, as
the collective American consumers, are
getting more used to the fact that mov-
ies are violent and explicit in their lan-
guage and sexual content.
It is for this reason that 1995 is the
right time for a film like "Showgirls"
to be released out of a mainstream
Hollywood studio with an "NC-17"
... and potentially survive. While the
film's impending success may further
trivialize the complicated MPAA rat-
ing system, it should lead us to re-
member that, above all, movies are
forms of art. They continually require
our complete attention and always
deserve our open minds.
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Daily Staff Reporter zly Peak unique is the house-brewed
Here's the second installment of the beers you can't find anywhere else.
brewery pub series. What's with the "We have two brewers: Greg Burke
trend in brewing companies in Ann and Ron Jeffries. They both had brew-
Arbor? The Grizzly Peak answers this ing experience," explained Kucera. The
question. restaurant currently serves ale beers
Owner Jon Carlson began his en- because they can be brewed in10 to 14
deavor to open the Grizzly Peak more days.
than two years ago. "I basically fell in "We don't carry lagers yet because
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went to California and experienced my brew," Burke said. "But we will
first microbrewery. (I) definitely change some of the beers for different
thought there was a market (in Ann seasons. We will have an Oktoberfest
Arbor)." ale and an end of the year holiday-
With the passage of a Michigan law style beer."
permitting microbreweries and brew The Grizzly Peak pays homage to the
pubs, Carlson, then a24-year-old gradu- University with their Victors' Golden
ate student, set to work renovating the Ale, a lightly roasted barley beer. The
Washington Street site. Grizzly Peak Pale Ale is a full-hopped
"(Brewing companies) have been beer that resembles Sierra Nevada Pale
popular for a while. They offer a prod- Ale, forthose ofyouwhoneed alabelin
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zly Peak manager Dan Kucera stated. The Grizzly Peak delivers its own
There's amajor downsidetofrequent- version of a County Cork Irish Stout,
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serve the beer in half yards, which gives So what makes this brewing pub stand
a different twist to it." out from other Ann Arbor restaurants
Carlson maintains that the Grizzly and breweries?
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a place with a bar but I also wanted added Macdonald.
great food," he explained. The Grizzly Peak Brewing Company
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