By Mike Pomranz
Updated March 10, 2015
Credit: © iStockphoto

The Idaho state legislature probably had the best intentions in mind: In 1999, they enacted a statute that bans sellers of alcohol from showing sexually explicit films. But now a many of the state’s movie theaters have found themselves on the wrong side of the law while showing the recent hit Hollywood movie Fifty Shades of Grey.

Following a strict interpretation of Idaho Code 23-614, Idaho’s Alcohol Beverage Control has contacted theaters in the state that both serve alcohol and are showing Fifty Shades of Grey, informing them that they are not allowed to sell the liquid intoxicant during screenings of the erotic romance film. According to the Associated Press, “Business owners that violate the law could face up to a $300 fine, a six-month jail sentence and a suspended liquor license.”

As Eater points out, the wording of the law is pretty clear. The booze ban applies to films showing such things as “acts or simulated acts of sexual intercourse, masturbation, sodomy, bestiality, oral copulation, flagellation or any sexual acts which are prohibited by law” or “any person being touched, caressed or fondled on the breast, buttocks, anus or genitals.” Fifty Shades of Grey clearly fits into this category, but as opponents of the law point out, so do lots of movies.

It’s not the first time the statute has received controversy. In 2013, a Boise theater made headline when they decided to avoid showing the award-winning film Blue Is the Warmest Color to stay in compliance with the law. That film which dealt with lesbian sexuality won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival.

But what about lighter fare? Writer Michael Deeds reached out to the Idaho Attorney General’s Office to ask why Christian Grey was ban worthy but something like seeing Bart Simpson naked in The Simpsons Movie was perfect fine for alcohol consumption.

“Sorry, I'm not going to go there,” was spokesman Todd Dvorak’s reply. Ah, the law at its finest.