Date of Award


Degree Type

Closed Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Jack Boozer - Committee Chair

Second Advisor

Angelo Restivo - Committee Member

Third Advisor

Edward Friedman - Committee Member


While the MPAA’s Classification and Ratings Administration – or CARA – has generally expanded the freedoms of filmmakers since its 1968 inception, the economic failure of the NC-17 rating has led to substantial inconsistencies in the rating system. Because of the CARA model, filmmakers have been able to probe the extremes of violence under the R rating while they have been unable to do the same for screen sexuality. Through the NC-17 rating, CARA has been able to repress non-pornographic sexual portrayals by rating a given film NC-17, thus forcing contractually obligated directors to make edits that are sometimes inconsistent and arbitrary. Though cinema used to have significant thematic and visual freedoms over television, NC-17 level paid cable programming has surpassed what is allowed under CARA’s R-rating, allowing for more complex and mature viewpoints on sexuality than is currently allowed to regularly reach film audiences.