BLUE VALENTINE’S NC-17 RATING: A TALE OF HYPOCRISY



This article is written by DR. LOGAN LEVKOFF at THE HUFFINGTON POST

I have not seen BLUE VALENTINE. It hasn’t opened where I currently reside.

But I’m putting up DR. LEVKOFF’S post with immense pleasure and a great deal of pride. She’s right. It would be exceptionally tragic to have such a beautiful insightful film railroaded by the MPAA.

RYAN GOSLING and MICHELLE WILLIAMS worked for years to perfect their characterizations. By all accounts that I’ve heard, their performances are extraordinary.

The MPAA shouldn’t stand in the way of great art – especially when its content isn’t prurient, evil or destructive on an emotional level. Let’s hope this travesty doesn’t stick to the wall.

There’s nothing I hate more than hypocrisy, except maybe our culture’s willingness to tolerate violence but condemn sex. So luckily for me, I came home from a screening of BLUE VALENTINE last night and got the opportunity to rant about both.

As a sexologist, I couldn’t wait to see DEREK CIANFRANCE’S BLUE VALENTINE.

For weeks I had heard that RYAN GOSLING and MICHELLE WILLIAMS engage in one of the hottest sex scenes in film – so scorchingly hot that the MPAA gave the movie an NC-17 rating. (In layperson’s terms: No one under the age of seventeen may be admitted – even with an adult.)

This rating has huge implications for ticket sales, marketing and general recognition, so you would think that BLUE VALENTINE had to be…well, pretty damn blue.

There is no question that I had a physical response to BLUE VALENTINE, but it wasn’t sexual arousal.

I watched an excruciatingly painful demise of a marriage. I watched a tormented husband trying to connect with his wife physically and emotionally, failing miserably each time. I watched a tormented wife shut herself off from any sexual or emotional connection. So sure, I had a reaction. BLUE VALENTINE made me uncomfortable. I was a voyeur in ways that didn’t turn me on, but rather, made me anxious.

BLUE VALENTINE forces us to consider our own relationships and the roles we play in them. Mr. Cianfrance – and the brilliant performances by RYAN GOSLING and MICHELLE WILLIAMS – makes us recognize our own flaws. They show us what it’s like to fall passionately and blindly in love and fall just as tragically out of it, all the while grasping for some life line back to what it once was.

You’re probably wondering: What about the sex? I know. I was wondering the same thing. What scene could have been so salacious that it warranted an NC-17?

There is sex, including a scene where RYAN is performing oral sex on MICHELLE at the beginning of their relationship. Was it consensual? Yes. Was it a glimpse of an incredibly intimate and vulnerable moment for them? Yes. But while it’s a scene (man performing on woman) that doesn’t get portrayed on film very often, and though it’s certainly sexual, it is by no means exploitative or gratuitous. And in the most provocative scene the two of them don’t even have sex, because RYAN’S character doesn’t want the woman he loves to just lay there “like a body.”

Don’t get me wrong: it’s an emotionally brutal scene. But does it warrant the NC-17? No way.

The lowdown? The MPAA’s decision has no merit. And if the hypocrisy doesn’t convince you, here’s something else.

SAW 3D: chock full of decapitations, torture and murder in the most grotesque ways was rated R.

FOR COLORED GIRLS…, an R rated film (for some disturbing violence) that I sat and actually paid money to watch, showed a brutal rape, a back alley abortion and a drunken father murder his children by dropping them out of his apartment window. All of these brutalities (done primarily to women) are apparently fine for children to see with an adult in tow, but sex (or as it appears to be, oral sex) within the context of a burgeoning (or failing) relationship is not.

This seems like pure misogyny from the MPAA. It’s detestable.

And in the end, what’s wrong with sex? We are all sexual beings, from birth on. We should want our children to know that sex is a wonderful and pleasurable part of a mature relationship. (That’s how I was taught; it’s also the same philosophy I use to teach others.)

So while THE WEINSTEIN COMPANY petitions the MPAA this week to change their rating, please consider making your voice heard as well.

Sign the petition here

2 Responses to “BLUE VALENTINE’S NC-17 RATING: A TALE OF HYPOCRISY”

  1. cool words there and speaking of words…

    if it wasn’t for the reposted from huffington thing, i could have sworn you wrote that. 😉

    anyway…

    with no angelika in rock out town (arrrgh!) i’m sure i won’t have any chance to see blue valentine until more theatres are added.

    hell maybe not even then. i don’t think the chain cinema can show a film that’s rated NC-17. (i guess it depends on the terms of the lease???)

    the houston landmark maybe could chance it. but valentine doesn’t sound like something they’d be too high on…

    hmm. oh well. as long as we have football that’s what really counts around here.

    oh yeah…

  2. if it wasn’t for the reposted from huffington thing, i could have sworn you wrote that.

    Ha ha. Let’s just say that great minds think alike, baby. When I come across someone that’s intelligent, writes well and has a similar point of view that I feel is important to express, it goes up. No question.

    I haven’t seen the film so I don’t have that particular frame of reference. DR. LEMKOFF is definitely ahead of me on that point. But we certainly do agree on everything else.

    I have heard an incredible amount about how much time and care Mr. Cianfrance (not to mention RYAN and MICHELLE) put into this project. It would be a wicked shame for this lovely film to end up with an NC-17. I don’t have the specifics handy, glim. But that harsh rating does greatly limit advertising and the theatres that can book it.

    Don’t you worry, my lil southern honey bear. I’m going to do everything I can to turn this situation around. I want you to be able to see this movie in Houston.

    There are a ton of us out there that feel exactly the same way. So hold on to your computer lounging clothes, my darling boy.

    It’s starting to heat up…right about now.

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