This year marks the 20th anniversary of the MPAA's notorious NC-17 rating, a designation whose checkered history continues. It all began when, for some reason, the MPAA failed to copyright its "X" rating, which recommended that no children under the age of 17 be admitted. Regular, even prestigious movies could earn an X rating, like Midnight Cowboy and A Clockwork Orange, and no one would blink an eye. But then the porn industry (legally) stole the X and started using it as a marketing ploy, even going so far as to invent the "XXX" rating, for (presumably) extra-naughty movies. Years later film critics like Siskel & Ebert, recommended an "A" rating for "Adult," which would come somewhere between the "R" and the "X," but the MPAA -- in their infinite wisdom -- came up with the NC-17 (no children under 17), which was the equivalent of the "X."
Predictably, the NC-17 rating was therefore equated with porn; many newspapers refused to run ads for NC-17 movies, and some video chains refused to carry NC-17 movies. And, subsequently, almost every NC-17 movie has flopped, no matter how good. Slapping a movie with an NC-17 rating meant certain death. Filmmakers were often contractually obligated to deliver an "R" rated movie, and were forced to edit if the MPAA deemed their movie too sexy or violent. Frankly, it became a form of censorship.