First of all… this is not a breaking story. It’s not a bent story, its not even a slightly askew story… instead its a straight as an arrow and old as dirt story.
(that’s funny cause… ya know… “bend don’t break…” or at least it would be if I were funnier and cleverer than I actually am… but now you know the kind of goofy joke that goes through my mind as I write ).
“Old” being a relative term in the movie industry, the story is from last fall/winter, when the movie Blue Valentine was purchased and its NC17 rating was disputed (successfully… but that’s unimportant for the purposes of this conversation) drawing attention to the scene in the movie that was the primary cause of the rating. Specifically, oral sex performed upon a women by her husband.
This is not about the MPAA and its rating system, I was actually pretty chill with the original NC17 rating, and am also just fine with the revised R rating as well (although I think I prefer the NC17 for that movie as well as… say… the Hangover; elevator scene during the credits, I’m looking at you! Except… I’m not… cause… ewwwww).
But again… I digress…
Here’s my question*, why would you give an NC17 rating (read: additional “protection” for our kids) to this movie – and that action – while routinely giving R ratings to movies with violent, often graphic, rape scenes? How is an intimate encounter between to consenting (and married) adults conceivably worse than a physically abusive intrusion upon a persons… well.. person?
I guess can hear one argument forming, something to the effect of:
In movies where a rape is depicted, it is always clearly indicated that it is wrong, the person committing the act is properly villianized and in the vast majority of the cases, is punished (usually in the form of a grisly death). In other words, the lesson is that if you do bad things, you will be recognized as doing so and treated accordingly. In short it is a little dash of “don’t do it.” Whereas, for those who find oral sex (or at least the depicting of it) morally objectionable, the scene in question does no such thing. In fact, if anything it is an endorsement of the behavior and perhaps a “gateway scene” to more pornographic dalliances in our movies. Children watching a movie with a rape scene will be admonished by the consequences to not do such a thing, children watching this movie could very well be encouraged to go out and have oral sex. Etc…
Having carefully considered this position… I have come up with the following prepared response:
(No rights reserved… you may quote me on that if you like… no charge.)
That is a lovely way of excusing and empowering the grist mill of crap that the general public eats up (and even demands) as part of their cinematic experience today; but really… what is the value in seeing the 4th rape scene in the last 8 action movies you have watched?
Researching this topic I found this list today. Let me tell you a little story about the first movie on that list (thereby skipping the obvious point about there even being such a list). When I was (a freshman or sophomore) in college, for some reason completely foreign to me now, I rented that movie. I sat down to watch it with my poor unsuspecting uncle… he made it about 5 minutes; I, possibly 10. It was horrible, violent, and lacking an any discernible value. Every person I have ever met who has seen it has the same thing to say about it – “worst, most disgusting, movie I ever saw.”
Scan down the list to number 14 (scan quickly… you are not going to miss anything of particular value)… same movie, 2010 remake. Seriously… this movie needed to be remade? (as an aside… several of the ’70′s genre movies were remade in ’09 and ’10… really? really???) The 2010 version of the movie’s MPAA rating – R (same rating it got in 1978). “An aspiring writer is repeatedly gang-raped, humiliated, and left for dead by four men” is okay for an R rating, but the scene in Blue Valentine required an appeal to get its rating reduced from NC17?
Maybe I am missing something, maybe there is some logical path to this rating and the society that seems to silently accept it. Any ideas? Please… I need someone to help me understand how this makes sense and how as a society we can find this acceptable…
Because if not, perhaps our society and its “norms” and levels of acceptability is really what should be getting the NC17 rating… I don’t really want my kids watching and learning from a society that is okay with that kind of moral disparity… do you?
* note – this is not actually my question, it was actually brought up to me in conversation… and resonated enough for all of this blather to happen!