Black Swan and Blue Valentine: Two films, one sex act, two different ratings, many pissed off viewers, and a partridge in a pear tree!
For those of you keeping score at home, Blue Valentine was slapped with an NC-17 rating for featuring a side-shot sex scene wherein Ryan Gosling's character performs oral sex on Michelle Williams's character. Apparently, she seems really into it, and apparently, as a result it's too racy for regular audiences. An NC-17 rating is just about the kiss of death for a film's hopes for Oscars and for box office receipts, as the highest grossing NC-17 movie of all time has been Elizabeth Berkeley's camp tour de force Showgirls, which brought in shy of $30 million domestically. Meanwhile, Black Swan, which features a scene wherein Mila Kunis's character performs oral sex on Natalie Portman's character received an R rating (and probably dozens of horny 15 year old boys lining up for tickets). Cue mass freak out!
The production company behind Blue Valentine is appealing the rating, even going so far as to publicly call the move "censorship" and "a travesty." They've even claimed that the film is being penalized for good performances by the actors, because perhaps if Michelle Williams weren't so adept at pretending to get off, the film could have garnered a rating that would have allowed a real audience to access it.
The consensus seems to be that the MPAA's view on sex, language, and drug use is still inconsistent, confusing, and arbitrary while their view on violence is much more permissive. Interestingly enough, that's sort of how I've noticed that a lot of American culture is. Things that make you go hm.
Image via AP