I watched This Film Is Not Rated,
by Ziks511 - 12/20/12 4:33 AM
a documentary about the MPAA's secretive and peculiar ratings board. Independent producers have a hard time, while the studios don't,. But they asserted, with good reason, in my experience, that in Europe films are censored for violence, while in America they are censored for sex. The only thing they wanted to censor in American Psycho was the sex. Axe murders Chainsaw murder, murders by any means you want were fine, but have 3 people in bed together and you've got to cut the scene very short and tone down the nudity and remove the sex from behind.
A clearer demonstration of this is The Dreamers which is about the 1968 Paris Student uprising, as seen through the eyes of three people, "A young American studying in Paris in 1968 strikes up a friendship with a French brother and sister. Set against the background of the '68 Paris student riots." (IFDb). The only violence is on the television, but the three become involved in a menage a trois, with both incest and bi-sexual male sex depicted by the actors reasonably discretely filmed. In Europe it excited no comment, in the United States it was rated NC17 which is the kiss of death for commercial release. Bertolucci declined to re-cut it.
It was a common experience for American students travelling in Europe in the late 60's to experiment with sexual roles they would have been too frightened to enact back in the USSA (the United States of Sexual Approbrium). It was a common experience for all the Youth Hostellers of virtually all countries in Europe and of kids in American dorms too.
It was the spirit of the time, and crops up in the 70's film about Harvard A Small Circle of Friends, though far more clumsily.
The point here being that the United States is far more comfortable on some level with violence than it is with sex, and that we are surrounded by graphic depictions of it everywhere with out a second thought.
There is an old Lenny Bruce routine about this from the 50's which pointed out this strange disjunction, and whatever else he may have been, he was an early practicioner of "observational humour'. Finding fun in the peculiarities of American society and its sometimes odd rules.
Better three in a bed than anyone dead.