The body tasked with rating films for screening in the United States has given a film about an aging gay couple and their extended families an R-rating in a sign that the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) may itself have fallen behind community standards.
The MPAA gave Love Is Strange, starring John Lithgow and Alfred Molina as a couple who have been together for four decades but who are forced to move in with their families, the rating supposedly for ‘language’ used in the film – though many are saying the decision is just plain homophobic.
There are no nude scenes in Love Is Strange, no drug use, and no sex scenes. The raciest the film gets is two scenes where Molina and Lithgow are asleep in the same bed while fully clothed.
The MPAA has been called out over the issue by New Jersey Star-Ledger film reviewer Stephen Whitty who noted two other films released this month that got the same rating.
‘On Friday, “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For” will be released in a wide number of theaters. It features nudity, sexual situations and substance abuse,’ Whitty wrote in a column posted online yesterday.
‘Every woman in it is a stripper, a prostitute or a murderer. There is violence and graphic gore, including one scene of a man having his eye plucked out and another of a man having his fingers broken with a pliers. It is rated R.
‘That day, “Jersey Shore Massacre” also reaches theaters. It features nudity, sexual situations, substance abuse and ethnic and racial slurs. There is violence and graphic gore, including one scene of a woman being disemboweled, another of a naked woman getting her breasts sliced open and one of a man having his hands fed into a wood chipper. It is rated R.’
‘If there’s an equivalence among these three films, and their equal unsuitability for anyone under 17, it’s lost on me — and, I suspect, on anyone but the censors at the MPAA.’
Whitty said it would be unthinkable that the film would have been given an R-rating had it starred veteran actors Robert Duval and Jane Fonda as an aging straight couple in the same situation.
‘This is a gentle, if often heartbreaking story about two loving men in a long-time committed relationship,’ Whitty wrote, ‘What on earth is in it that so horrifies the MPAA? I’m sorry. I think I just answered my own question.’
Under the MPAA rating system an R-rating implies that a film ‘contains some adult material [and] parents are urged to learn more about the film before taking their young children with them.