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Two Films, Two Oral Sex Scenes, Two Different Ratings

Steven Zeitchik has a comparison between Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan and Derek Cianfrance’s Blue Valentine. Both films feature oral sex scenes that are comparable in explicitness, but whereas Swan was rated R, Valentine has been given the dreaded NC-17 rating.

The “Blue Valentine” rating is the latest in a string of controversial decisions by the MPAA and its Classification and Ratings Administration board that have raised the anger of filmmakers and moviegoers. Critics of the system say that the raters take a much harsher line on sex, language and drug use than they do on violence and that the panel’s standards are murky and inconsistent.

“I don’t have an answer for why that movie [“Black Swan”] would be OK and ours wouldn’t,” said “Blue Valentine” director Derek Cianfrance, who called the NC-17 rating “a form of censorship.” “There’s not an ounce of skin, and it’s not gratuitous in any way. I’m confused and baffled.”

The Weinstein Company are gearing up for a potential legal battle over the rating, but my hope is that their forthcoming appeal is approved. Blue Valentine is a great film that deserves to be seen.

For more on this subject, see my editorial about why the MPAA should be ashamed of itself.