Yesterday WENN reported that Ryan Gosling accused the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) of rampant sexism when it comes to assigning films their ratings, and today Deadline New York revealed that the MPAA's response is: "Um, yeah, he's probably right." The film has won its R-rating in a unanimous decision upon appeal.
Gosling's ire stems from the fact that his latest film -- Derek Cianfrance's Sundance smash 'Blue Valentine' -- has been caught square in the middle of the MPAA's crosshairs. The movie tells the tender and unflinching saga of a broken romance (Michelle Williams plays the girl, natch), and it sustains itself on blunt authenticity in lieu of a clean three-act structure. If the audience doubted the credibility of the film's core relationship for even a second, the whole thing would fall apart -- it's one of those flicks where a carefully placed, nipple-covering bed sheet would feel phonier than an acoustic Milli Vanilli album (take that, Milli Vanillii!). So when the MPAA slapped 'Blue Valentine' with the deathly NC-17 rating, Cianfrance and The Weinstein Company -- the film's distributor -- were stuck between a rock and a hard place.
The MPAA is a venerable American institution that operates with all the value and rationality of the Taliban, but their initial decision to taint 'Blue Valentine' with an NC-17 seemed particularly egregious and backwards, even for them. The film's violence is almost purely emotional, and its sex is limited to a candid shot of Michelle Williams's and a brief and non-nude scene in which Gosling performs oral sex on her. Gosling felt as if the rating was symptomatic of a double standard, and complained that: "There's plenty of oral sex scenes in a lot of movies, where it's a man receiving it from a woman - and they're R-rated. Ours is reversed and somehow it's perceived as pornographic." He added: "How is it possible that these movies that torture women in a sexual context can have an R rating but a husband and wife making love is inappropriate?"
The Weinstein Company made their appeal to the MPAA an exceptionally public affair, hoping to embarrass the board into reversing their decision. This afternoon it was announced that their efforts were vindicated: The verdict was rescinded and 'Blue Valentine' was granted its infinitely more appropriate "R" rating. In yesterday's rant, Gosling explained why the distinction between the two ratings is so important to a film, saying: "A lot of people think, 'What's the big deal if it's NC-17, the kids under 17 can't see it,' but that's not true. What it really means is it can't play in a major theatre chain and you can't have ads for the film on television. It stigmatises the movie in a big way. What we're really saying is not that our kids can't see this movie but nobody can see this movie unless you live in a big city and there's an arthouse theatre."
This is a great teaching moment for the MPAA, and they should be ashamed that the issue was even allowed to get this far. One would hope that the 'Blue Valentine' incident will force them to more carefully and equivalently consider their ratings in the future, but it