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New Marilyn Monroe ‘Blonde’ starring Ana de Armas movie rated NC-17: What does that mean?

Coming this fall, the Netflix biopic of Marilyn Monroe ‘Blonde’ starring Ana de Armas received the rarely awarded American NC-17 rating. What’s that mean?

Cuban actor Ana de Armas and director Andrew Dominik attend a screening of the Marilyn Monroe biopic 'Blonde', at the San Sebastian Film Festival in Spain.

A new biopic of Marilyn Monroe ‘Blonde’ starring Ana de Armas that is released on September 28 on Netflix. In a first for the streaming service it has earned a NC-17 rating.

The Motion Picture Association (MPAA) has been rating American movies since 1968 to “help parents make informed viewing choices for their children.” The body that is tasked with determining what rating a movie should get is “a board comprised of an independent group of parents” called the Classification and Ratings Administration (CARA).

The ratings system is broken down into five categories from ‘G’ for general audiences which means the movie contains “nothing that would offend parents for viewing by children” to NC-17, “Clearly adult. Children are not admitted.”

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Some sexual content

The movie ‘Blonde’ is based on the bestselling novel written by Joyce Carol Oates of the same name. The film delves into the life of the Hollywood icon that the public didn’t see by fictionalizing real elements of the late star who was “watched by all, seen by none.”

One of the hang-ups that Netflix had was a rape scene in Oates’ book that appears in the film. The movie’s Kiwi director, Andrew Dominik, explained to Screen Daily that there was back and forth about how far the director could go with the scene and what was acceptable to include.

“It wouldn’t have got done without the [#MeToo] social movement, because nobody was interested in that sort of [explicative] — what it’s like to be an unloved girl, or what it’s like to go through the Hollywood meat-grinder,” said Dominik.

The film got slapped with an NC-17 rating for that sexual content, but the filmmaker dispelled the rumor that there was a bloody menstrual oral sex scene calling it “hilarious”. As for the opinions of the movie he said, “It is what it is, it says what it says. And if the audience doesn’t like it, that’s the [explicative] audience’s problem. It’s not running for public office.”

The NC-17 rating replaces the X rating

When the MPAA began giving movies ratings in 1968 it failed to copyright the X rating which was previously used to indicate that a movie was unsuitable for children to watch. This led to pornographers self-applying the X rating as advertising, even using multiple X’s to indicate more hardcore material.

Many theater chains refused to book X-rated films, while at the same time many newspapers and television stations wouldn’t accept advertising for such movies. In an attempt to destigmatize the “adult only rating” from harming the theatrical success of “serious” films the MPAA in 1990 implemented the NC-17 designation which only a movie copyrighted by the MPAA could use.

“It’s an NC-17 movie about Marilyn Monroe, it’s kind of what you want, right?” Dominik told Screen Daily. “I want to go and see the NC-17 version of the Marilyn Monroe story.”


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