While a media watchdog group is upset, the Web-crawlers are coming out of the woodwork to catch a glimpse of MGM/UA’s steamy “Showgirls,” the NC-17-rated film that arrives in theaters today.
Earlier this month, a “Showgirls” promotion was put on the Internet’s World Wide Web and recently has drawn an estimated 1 million curious users daily, causing the system to jam and overload.
rVision, which created the promotion for MGM/UA, said computers have been unable to handle the volume of traffic and that DirectNet, which oversees the Web sites, has “mirrored” or copied the program onto different systems to accommodate the demand.
“The number of responses we have gotten on that site has just been enormous,” said Michael F. Siegel, president of Santa Monica, Calif.based rVision. “No studio has ever received that kind of response. We were burning up machines, getting over a million hits a day. We’ve brought in the hardware manufacturer to reconfigure the service properly to handle the load.”
The “Showgirls” Web site, which offers logged-on users “introductions” to the movie’s characters, complete with nude photos, is linked to the Playboy Web site, which also has helped to fuel the interest.
Although the Web site carries a warning that the material is off-limits to anyone under 17, it can be accessed by anyone who has the skills and equipment to explore the Internet.
“The appeal of the prurient interest to the Net user seems to have exploded,” Siegel said.
This is part of an elaborate marketing plan staged by MGM/UA officials for the racy film, which explores the world of Las Vegas “lap dancers.”
But not everyone is lapping it up.
The studio has drawn protests from Morality in Media, a New York-based media watchdog group, which denounced the film’s appeal to prurient interests.
“Great drama often deals with life’s ‘underside,’ but it is a truly great story, producer and performers that make for great drama, not wall-to-wall nudity, vulgarity and hard-core sex,” said Robert Peters, president of Morality in Media. “No one is accusing ‘Showgirls’ of being great drama. What is creating the stir about this film is both the amount of nudity and sex and MGM/UA’s brazen promotion of the most sexually provocative parts of the film in marketing it. Citizens have every right to protest this crass effort to thrust the sleaze and pornography of Las Vegas strip bars into local communities via neighborhood theaters and video stores.”