Last year my girlfriends and I went out to watch Fifty Shades Darker. Trash movie that it is, it was still a guilty pleasure and a source of endless laughter amongst my friends. I often take simple things for granted here in the United States, but being surrounded by a great plethora of both domestic and international friends, in a truly international school, has opened my eyes to the sort of little American experiences that can pop out unexpectedly.
Being able to go out at 10:30 at night to watch Fifty Shades Darker and then binge on Fake New York- style pizza is a most American experience. First and foremost our freedom to watch a movie that many other countries have completely banned or deeply censored. While the U.S. does impose some sort of rating system, these are warnings and can be bypassed with guardian consent to their discretion. One of my friends from Vietnam shared her own experience however. In Vietnam, while the movie was not banned completely, as in Malaysia, they carried out an interesting brand of censoring that cut all scenes of intimate touching. What is supposed to be a two-hour movie give or take turned into 45 minutes of rather confusing footage.
We all laughed at this, but it reminds me that these little things, like just being able to see a full movie are not the same experience elsewhere. This example does not in any way say that the U.S. is also the most liberal of countries. On the other side of the spectrum to Vietnam is France. My roommate who is French and from Paris was kind enough to enlighten me on the French perspective to this “provocative movie.” France has a rating system, but it is very evident that the standards are much more liberal. It is currently marked as a 12 and up film with many critics saying that it is the type of film that would surprise no one.
Despite progress, it seems that in terms of media, the U.S. cannot yet claim the same liberal stance as countries like France. While better than countries like Malaysia, there is still much room for growth. However, one must ponder if such growth will come. After all, American historical values and just continued stigma over sex and bodies may stop what could be natural progress elsewhere.