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The MPAA Being a 'Bully': 10 Films That Appealed Their Ratings

By Aaron Bogert, Peter Knegt, Dana Harris, Bryce J. Renninger and Nigel M. Smith | Indiewire March 29, 2012 at 1:23PM

Anti-bullying documentary "Bully" has drummed up the type of controversy most indies only dream of, thanks to Harvey Weinstein's much-publicized efforts to fight the film's R-rating in favor of a more teen-friendly PG-13. Despite Weinstein's best efforts and the rallying cries of his celeb pals, the MPAA didn't change their tune, leaving Weinstein to release the film unrated this Friday.

"Blue Valentine" (2010)

Before losing to the MPAA with "Bully," Weinstein won in getting an R for "Blue Valentine," after appealing their NC-17 slap for an oral sex scene between the two leads, Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams. The best part? No changes had to be made to the film to secure the R. Of course, despite Weinstein's victory, he chose to highlight what the MPAA found so racy by releasing a provocative poster that shows Gosling and Williams locked in a steamy outdoors embrace. Hey, sex sells. [Nigel M. Smith]

"Boys Don't Cry" (1999)

Kimberly Peirce's Academy Award-winning depiction of the inspiring life and brutal death of transgendered boy Brandon Teena was indeed initially dealt an NC-17. In the MPAA-critical doc "This Film Is Not Yet Rated," Peirce recalls that she was initially rather amused by the rating as she's a big fan of many other films dealt the rating. But then when distributor Fox Searchlight said they wouldn't release it with that rating, Peirce was forced to make some cuts. The NC-17 classification was in part due to the brutal rape scene in the film, but also due to a tender love scene between Brandon and his girlfriend, Lana. The MPAA deemed it was problematic in that Brandon wiped his mouth after performing oral sex on Lana and that Lana's orgasm was "too long." In "Not Yet Rated," Peirce said that when she asked the MPAA what the issue was within this particular scene, they said, “well, we don’t really know but that’s offensive." Peirce went on to explain that she felt the problem for the MPAA was the idea of sexual pleasure without a male experience. “I think female pleasure is scary, in the narrative setting," she said.  "I think unfamiliarity is what breeds these NC-17s.”  In the end, Peirce's "Boys" was rated 'R' for "an intense brutal rape scene, sexuality, language and drug use." It also continues to stand as an example of the sexism and homophobia that is clearly present in MPAA decisions. [Peter Knegt]

This article is related to: The Weinstein Company, Bully, MPAA

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