Sexy Cinema: Showgirls (1995)

Neglected Virtues Film Review

Author: Robert Cettl
Pages: 5
Language: English
Publication date: 01/12/2018
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'Leave your inhibitions at the door.'
'A sleazefest like 'Showgirls' promises the inside dope on Las Vegas, stripping, hooking and all that stuff.' (Roger Ebert)

Some films are controversial because of their sexual content, some for their violence and some even for their sleazy, contemptuous attitude. In the case of the film Showgirls, the second collaboration between director Paul Verhoeven and screenwriter Joe Eszterhas (following their hit thriller Basic Instinct), the film was a talking point well before it was ever released, thanks to its provocative attitude to the American film rating system. The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), moralistic regulatory watchdogs for the American film industry, had in 1990 introduced an NC-17 rating for films too strong for an R-rating but not quite the hardcore pornography associated with an X-rating. As many newspapers and other advertisers refuse to carry ads for X or NC-17 films, an NC-17 rating is equated with box-office death. Showgirls is unique in that it is the first big-budget, big-studio film deliberately intended to be classified NC-17 and to make that a major marketing strategy. In the process, Verhoeven became the first director contractually obligated to deliver an NC-17 rating. The final film was considered so sexy that it not only got its desired controversial rating, but soon caused a moral uproar. It became one of the most critically lambasted of all contemporary American films and flopped at the box-office although was reportedly a big video hit. Since its initial release, it has became almost obligatory to bad mouth the film.
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Robert Cettl is a former SAR Research Fellow at Australia’s National Film & Sound Archive [NFSA] and certified foreign expert living and working in Shanghai, China.

A freelance author, ethnographic filmmaker, University English-as-a-Foreign-Language [EFL] lecturer, private teacher and independent digital publisher, his professionally published non-fiction books have been collected by such as the BFI, the US Library of Congress and the National Libraries of Australia and China.

He self-publishes experimental multi-media auto-ethnographic ebooks (non-fiction, fiction, poetry) and also publishes third-party selections of avant-garde literary and artistic works by other authors.

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