Thursday, December 9, 2010

Blue Valentine's NC-17 is reversed

In a rare victory for the underdogs of filmmaking, Blue Valentine, the much-ballyhooed film starring Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams, directed by Derek Cianfrance, got it's initial NC-17 rating reversed in appeals by the MPAA.  The now R-rated feature will open in limited engagement at the end of the month.  The appeals had an appearance by the one and only Harvey Weinstein in protest of the stigmatic rating, in what's been a long standing argument against the fundamentally flawed structuring of the ratings board.  Blue Valentine, deemed NC-17 at first for it's strong sexual content (and rumored oral sex scene) calls to attention the vast number of films that have been there before, especially given most cases where films featuring extreme violence typically gets the less prohibitive R rating.  Mostly this is good news to cinephiles everywhere who can possibly enjoy the film the way it was intended.  The limited NC-17 rating carries with it the stigma of not being shown in many theater chains, and no advertising in certain publications; sometimes the system works.

However the greater question that should more regularly pointed at the Motion Picture Association of America is what really is your criteria in determining ratings for films.  Films with more than one "fuck" get a R rating; films with sexual content typically get R or NC-17 ratings, however violent content in films seems to be one hurdle the MPAA allows wiggle room.  To be subjective on terms of violence (which call me crazy, is probably more harmful to children, no?) and not with sexuality or language, that's not only inane, but irresponsible, and the group at large, a supposed watchdog group for parents should realize the problem here.

For example, a film like The King's Speech (like Blue Valentine, a film distributed by The Weinstein Company) get an R rating because the main character, King George VI, has a stammer, and his therapist trains him by repeating various curse words in rapid succession.  The strong language, used as a therapeutic are muttered in such a vacuous context, not suggestive or aggressive, and less abrasive than most language commonly heard on a schoolyard (it's been a while for me, but I remember my teenage years spent with many a foul-mouthed boy and girl), and yet it's deemed inappropriate for children under the age of 17 without parent or guardian-- that's ridiculous.  On the other hand, various films over and over again get the NC-17 kiss of death on terms of sex-- Ang Lee's Lust, Caution likely being the most high profile before Blue Valentine, and again I must ask that art films delving into the world of sensuality should be seen as more harmful to youngsters than gory, bloody, torture porn films like the Saw franchise, or Hostel, or "fill in the name the horror flick of the last decade?"  Again that's backwards logic, and parents should be more outraged by it.

On another matter, I dare that most kids probably have more interest in seeing the Saw films, than art-house films like Blue Valentine and Lust, Caution, anyway?  Shouldn't there be more prohibitions on extreme, and often very graphic violent imagery as opposed to the possible sighting of a coupling on screen, or heaven forbid a male private part not belonging to one of the Jackass crowd.  Just saying...

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