Before I start describing the MPAA with language they would consider inappropriate, I’ll just hand the microphone over to Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams, whose film Blue Valentine was just rated NC-17.
Why was it given that rating?
It might have been the film’s raw love scene, or it might have been that a character almost chooses to have an abortion but then changes her mind. (Go to Movieline to see the whole article.)
You have to question a cinematic culture which preaches artistic expression, and yet would support a decision that is clearly a product of a patriarchy-dominant society, which tries to control how women are depicted on screen. The MPAA is okay supporting scenes that portray women in scenarios of sexual torture and violence for entertainment purposes, but they are trying to force us to look away from a scene that shows a woman in a sexual scenario, which is both complicit and complex. It’s misogynistic in nature to try and control a woman’s sexual presentation of self. I consider this an issue that is bigger than this film.
The MPAA’s decision on Blue Valentine unmasks a taboo in our culture, that an honest portrayal of a relationship is more threatening than a sensationalized one. Mainstream films often depict sex and violence in a manner that is disturbing and very far from reality. Yet, the MPAA regularly awards these films with a more audience friendly rating, enabling our culture’s desensitization to violence, rape, torture and brutality. Our film does not depict any of these attributes. It’s simply a candid look at the difficulties couples face in sustaining their relationships over time. Blue Valentine opens a door for couples to have a dialogue about the everyday realities of many relationships. This film was made in the spirit of love, honesty and intimacy. I hope that the MPAA will hear our pleas and reconsider their decision.
It’s also worth noting that, while hyperviolent movies sometimes get a PG-13 rating, The King’s Speech has been rated R for “one scene in which King George VI (Colin Firth) repeatedly deploys the F-word in a nonsexual context while receiving speech therapy. ‘This was a technique that David Seidler, the writer, encountered as a boy in the 1940s — discovering he didn’t stammer on curse words was hugely helpful to him overcoming his speech problems,’ said director Tom Hooper.”
Good grief. Is the MPAA giving films an R-rating to protect kids from hearing someone use the F-word? Do they really think American children can get through a typical week without hearing it in schools, on the streets, on Cable TV, etc., etc., etc.?
What is the MPAA accomplishing? They’re employing standards that will ensure a lot of people who might be exposed to some thought-provoking art will assume, wrongly, that those works are excessive and corrupting.
Mediocrity and the shoddy entertainment that passes for family far at the multiplex are, in my opinion, more damaging than these reportedly well-crafted films that show people behaving like… well… human beings.