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The MPAA's 'ludicrous' rating system
The contested NC-17 rating for "Blue Valentine" is just the latest sign that film ratings are in desperate need of reform, says Mary Elizabeth Williams at Salon
Is "Blue Valentine" unusually explicit or just a random casualty of the movie ratings system?
Is "Blue Valentine" unusually explicit or just a random casualty of the movie ratings system?
Davi Russo/ The Weinstein Company
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t's a big day for Blue Valentine, a once-obscure indie movie about a turbulent marriage starring Oscar-nominated actors Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling. Last month, the movie received an NC-17 rating from the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), a controversial ruling that's been called "misogynistic" and "hypocritical." Harvey Weinstein, the head of the company releasing the film, has made a highly publicized, "bleeding heart" plea that the MPAA reconsider, and they're expected to rule on the matter today. But, Blue Valentine is far from alone in its MPAA troubles. It's simply the "latest drama to face an MPAA death sentence," says Mary Elizabeth Williams at Salon. Although the film rating system has somehow endured for 20 years, it's "ludicrous" and "worthless." Here an excerpt:

The NC-17 — or really, threat of it — exists mainly to spook filmmakers into trimming a blurred glimpse of penis so that the studios won't lose those lucrative teen dollars and shut themselves out of contention for major awards. Its latest hapless would-be victim is Blue Valentine, the Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams romantic drama that's been generating breathless buzz since it debuted at Sundance last winter. Two Oscar-nominated stars, promising young writer director Derek Cianfrance, an angsty-sexy tale of marital discord — it all seemed like art-house money in the bank. Then the MPAA slapped it with its scarlet letters, supposedly based on a few moments of Gosling's character performing some anguished cunnilingus on his wife, a scene that doesn't even depict nudity. Unclean!

Read the whole story at Salon.

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