The September 22 release of the NC-17-rated Showgirls introduced what some call “legitimate” pornography to local malls and the Internet. Donald Wildmon, president of the Tupelo, Mississippi—based American Family Association (AFA), is urging Christians to boycott for one year cinemas that show the movie. “The widespread distribution of a film like Showgirls is going to change all society.”

Starring actress Elizabeth Berkley, best known for her tame role on the TV sitcom Saved by the Bell, the movie opened on 1,380 U.S. screens, making it by far the largest premiere for an NC-17 movie since the rating replaced the X designation five years ago.

While MGM/UA, the film’s distributors, and the Motion Picture Association of America, which rated the film, stress Showgirls is not for younger teens, writer Joe Eszterhas, who also teamed with producer/director Paul Verhoeven for the shocker Basic Instinct, urged young people under 17 to use fake identification to gain entrance to theaters. Showgirls follows Berkley’s character from a job that involves dancing and simulated sex acts with customers in a strip club to a premier spot in a “legitimate” hotel showroom.

According to Movieguide publisher Ted Baehr, Showgirls is essentially a porn flick with a bit more gloss. “There isn’t one ounce of real love, compassion, tenderness, or joy in the movie,” Baehr told CT. “The rating itself attracts teenagers to the material.”

So will its availability in bright suburban malls and multiplexes.

“When it’s in the red-light district, that’s one thing,” says Baehr of Atlanta. “When it’s in the next theater over from Disney’s The Big Green, that’s something else.” Baehr says releasing a “mainstream” NC-17 movie adds “fuel to the flame of culture wars.” ...

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