The Weinstein Co. is appealing the MPAA ratings for two of its top Oscar contenders — “Blue Valentine” and “The King’s Speech.” “Blue Valentine” has received the restrictive rating of NC-17, which gravely compromises its commerical prospects. The MPAA cited a graphic sex scene as the rationale for this rating. “The King’s Speech” earned an R-rating due to one humorous sequence where King George VI (Colin Firth) repeatedly stammers over one curse word.
In making this announcement, TWC co-chair Harvey Weinstein said, “While we respect the MPAA, I think we can all agree that we are living with an outdated ratings system that gives torture porn, horror, and ultraviolent films the same ratings as films with so-called inappropriate language.” To that end, his company has, “assembled a team of top attorneys including David Boies, who serves as legal advisor on both films, Bert Fields, who is overseeing the appeal for ‘The King’s Speech’ and Alan R. Friedman, the lead attorney for ‘Blue Valentine.'”
In a comprehensive statement from TWC on the issues, “The King’s Speech” director Tom Hooper said, “I hope that language can be judged by its context just as violence is currently judged in context. The f-word in ‘The King’s Speech’ is not being used in its sexual sense, or in its aggressive sense, but as a release mechanism to help a man overcome a stammer in the context of speech therapy, in a scene that is also very funny. 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. Fortunately in the UK we have been granted a 12A, and the on screen certificate will explain that there is some bad language ‘used in the context of speech therapy.’ I hope that in the light of this context the R rating for the movie can be reconsidered.”
The two stars of “Blue Valentine” weighed in as well. Said Ryan Gosling, “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.”
And for Michelle Williams, “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.”
Image: Motion Picture Association of America ratings (MPAA)