Sweden's 'Magic Mike XXL' Rating Just Nailed What's Wrong With How Americans Treat Nudity


The Motion Picture Association of America may not want kids to see Magic Mike XXL, but Sweden doesn't care. 

According to an article posted to the the Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet's website, children of all ages are permitted to see Channing Tatum's hit stripper sequel. This stands in stark contrast to the United States, where Magic Mike XXL received an R rating "for strong sexual content, pervasive language, some nudity and drug use."

For his part, Tatum is thrilled with the decision. "Absolutely incredible, but also just right," the star reportedly said (though note his quotes have been translated from the original Swedish). "Sex is of course something that is natural, unlike violence, and therefore it should be easier to see films dealing with sexuality than movies with scenes of violence."

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The MPAA's fear of nudity is a well-documented problem. The documentary This Film Is Not Yet Rated offers a particularly damning look at the movie-rating organization's puritanical nature. Movies that deal with characters' sexuality and other sexual themes, like Brokeback Mountain and Boys Don't Cry, fare far worse than violent movies. But the MPAA's squeamishness around bare male flesh is organic to the U.S. 

It's a sad fact, but the U.S. has consistent problems with many kinds of female nudity, much less male nudity and sexuality. The MPAA may have stodgy views of sexuality, but so do Americans. To wit: Magic Mike XXL drew a shockingly female-heavy domestic audience this past weekend. It set the record for largest percentage of women among moviegoers during an opening weekend at 96%. Men didn't turn out to see other men naked.

The MPAA's squeamishness around bare male flesh is organic to the U.S. 

That said, there is plenty of non-sex-related content that should have earned the film at least as strong a rating as, say, Frozen, which Tatum pointed out is more restricted in Sweden than Magic Mike XXL. Star Joe Manganiello was more moderate than his brother-in-bare-arms regarding the Swedish rating. 

"Well, not for small children," he said of the movie, according to Svenska Dagbladet. "From 11 years is perhaps more appropriate."

Still, to see Sweden school the U.S. on how to treat nudity is a huge victory. A film featuring nearly naked men does not make it more explicit than some of the incredibly violent films to receive PG-13 ratings. After all, which is more appropriate: the chest stabbing in Taken, or Tatum's chest baring in Magic Mike XXL?