Monday, August 25, 2014

Being gay is rated "R"

There's a charming movie coming out called Love is Strange, where John Lithgow and Alfred Molina are partners of 40 years.  Upon marrying, Molina's character is fired from his job as a music teacher for a Catholic school and they lose their home.  They have to split, temporarily, and couch surf with family and friends.

It's by all accounts very charming, with no sex or nudity.  (See the trailer on Video Sunday on this blog, on Sunday 31st.)

But it's rated "R".

The MPAA movie ratings are supposed to provide information on a movie's content, so parents can decide whether or not it's suitable for their children. 
But what kind of information are they really providing? And what are they assuming we want to protect our children from? 
On Friday, "Sin City: A Dame to Kill For" will be released in a wide number of theaters. It features nudity, sexual situations and substance abuse. Every woman in it is a stripper, a prostitute or a murderer. There is violence and graphic gore,...It is rated R. 
That day, "Jersey Shore Massacre" also reaches theaters. It features nudity, sexual situations, substance abuse and ethnic and racial slurs. There is violence and graphic gore....It is rated R. 
Also opening is "Love Is Strange." There is no nudity. There are no sexual situations. The drug or alcohol material mostly consists of adults having wine with dinner, or cocktails at a bar. There is no violence or gore. There are several scenes of men kissing, and two scenes of a gay couple sleeping together, fully clothed, in bed. It is rated R. 
If there's an equivalence among these three films, and their equal unsuitability for anyone under 17, it's lost on me — and, I suspect, on anyone but the censors at the MPAA. 
Not only is there nothing violent in "Love Is Strange," there's not even anything explicit. It is about as mild and mainstream a portrayal of gay life as you can imagine. Ben, played by John Lithgow, is a 71-year-old retiree. George, played by Alfred Molina, is a music teacher at a Catholic school. In the film, they have been together for nearly 40 years (until, in a unfair and sudden reversal of fortune, they lose their apartment).

It's a simple human story. And it is very hard to imagine that — if it starred, say, Robert Duvall and Jane Fonda as a similar long-time couple suddenly facing homelessness — it would be lumped in with movies crammed full of queasily stylish sexism and sickening torture porn.
This is a gentle, if often heartbreaking story about two loving men in a long-time committed relationship. What on earth is in it that so horrifies the MPAA?
I'm sorry. I think I just answered my own question.


JCF said...


PseudoPiskie said...


Barry Fernelius said...

I agree that the movie rating system is broken. For what it's worth, films can receive an R rating for multiple uses of the F-word alone. 'Once,' a film by John Carney, received an R rating. There's no nudity and no violence. But because the action takes place in Dublin, there are a lot of F-ing F-words.