Well, well, well.
After engaging in what amounted to a sympathy campaign in which 3 Generation’s stars, director, and producer Harvey Weinstein, as well as GLAAD, decried the MPAA for slapping the trans dramedy with an R rating, it appears that The Weinstein Company has caved and will make cuts to secure a PG-13. The Hollywood Reporter notes:
...On Thursday, TWC said it has reached an agreement with MPAA after tweaking the Gaby Dellal-helmed film that will ensure a PG-13 rating for “mature thematic content, some sexual references and language.” A source says the cuts made were mainly for language.
The tone of the crusade against the MPAA suggested the mild movie was unfairly targeted for its trans storyline. GLAAD chief communications officer Rich Ferraro went one more and made this explicit: “It appears that the film’s focus on a trans teen played into the restricted R rating.” The MPAA does seem to police queer storylines more strictly than hetero ones, so this argument was plausible... but for the fact that the word “fuck” was said five times in the version TWC was attempting to release to the public. That’s three or four fucks too many for PG-13, which anyone with a cursory involvement in these things (like big stars and big producers) already knows. Curious! And now, presumably the fucks have been excised while the trans storyline (really, nothing in this movie isn’t about Elle Fanning’s character being trans) is left intact. Less curious!
The weirdest thing was, said fucks are fairly superfluous and it was always clear that the plot would lose nothing if they were omitted. If the concern was over how the lip-dubbing might come off in the edits, well there’s quite a bit of obvious dubbing in this movie, as it had been altered noticeably from the version that was prepped for release in 2015 and then mysteriously yanked. What’s another sync issue or five?
Another interesting thing is how much negative controversy this movie garnered in 2015, back when it was called About Ray, over an interview in which Dellal misgendered her trans protagonist and the fact that this was yet another example of pop culture in which a cisgender actor was playing trans. With the MPAA controversy, it seemed that the movie, now 3 Generations, was made out to be an underdog, unfairly persecuted for its trans themes. It was a trans writer/activist whose Change.org petition GLAAD rallied around. Very interesting indeed. I’m just saying.
Change did come, it seems, in the most obvious form: Taking out the offending language. On this very matter and before such a decision was public, in an op-ed for Deadline that ran earlier this week, Weinstein wrote:
Along with our director Gaby Dellal and our producer Peter Saraf, I have been in active talks with Sarah Kate Ellis of GLAAD and the MPAA in determining the movie’s future. There’s a list of cuts and guidelines that need to be followed, but I find the company in a difficult spot sometimes. On the one hand, you want to do what’s right for the movie, but also what’s right for the community that needs films and projects like this one. In these situations, by working through Sarah and my friend Chad Griffin at the Human Rights Campaign, we are able to educate ourselves while, at the same time, help others. If we cut the movie, does it look like we gave in? This movie is intended for people 13+, which is why it deserves the PG-13 rating. Especially these days, it’s important to use our power as filmmakers, directors, executives and studios to give a platform to those who have really lived the stories we’re trying to tell; it is the joy of doing what we do.
Does it look like they gave in? Or just came to their senses?
In THR’s piece on the cuts, it is noted that “it is unclear if TWC ever filed an appeal” to the MPAA. Last week, the MPAA told me in a statement that TWC hadn’t. Lots of interesting things here!