PTC: MPAA Downgrading 'Blue Valentine' to an R Reveals 'Absurdity of Self-Regulated Movie Rating System'

"Blue Valentine"
"Blue Valentine"
 

The Parents Television Council has issued a harsh statement in response to the MPAA downgrading Blue Valentine to a more friendly R on Wednesday.

"The inherent flaws of the MPAA ratings system were put on full-frontal display this week with Blue Valentine. Ostensibly because the producers of the film would not earn as much money at the box office with an accurate rating, the MPAA buckled under intense pressure and lowered the age rating of the film," the PTC said.

The statement continues: “The new rating may be correct or it may be incorrect.  We don’t know because we haven’t screened the film.  What we do know is this:  the entire integrity and legitimacy of the MPAA ratings system has been compromised.  There is no transparency; there is no consistency; and there is no accountability – unless you are a wealthy producer who can afford to hire the biggest legal guns in the nation and wage a massive PR campaign.

"As parents, how can we appeal a movie rating if it is inaccurately lower than it should be?  The answer is that we can’t.

"Weinstein Co.’s assertion that graphic violence unfairly receives a lower age rating than sex or profanity can be easily – and properly – rectified by placing a higher rating for films with graphic violence. Instead the reverse has happened, and the lowering of this film’s rating throws the baby out with the bathwater.

"The entire point of the film ratings system is to protect children and guide parents as they make informed choices for their families. Clearly, the motion picture industry’s system has failed at that task.”

Blue Valentine, which stars Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams, was originally given an NC-17 rating by the MPAA.

The Classification and Rating Administration appeals board upheld an appeal by the Weinstein Co. and switched the film's rating to an R without any changes to the film being made, which director Derek Cianfrance, Gosling and Williams said they wanted to do. Now, instead of being described as having "explicit sexual content," Blue Valentine will now be described as having "strong graphic sexual content."

In the film, Gosling is seen performing oral sex on Williams in a hotel room.

An NC-17 rating limits which theaters and how many play the movie as well as which newspapers will accept advertising for it. An R-rated film is more accessible, potentially helping its box-office take and during awards season.

Wednesday's reversal is seen as a major win for Harvey Weinstein and his studio. David Glasser, a TWC senior executive, told THR on Wednesday that the company didn't have a back-up plan should the decision not be in their favor.

"Most people have another cut of the movie ready just in case, but there was no other cut of the movie," Glasser said.

The Weinstein Co. was also hoping to have the rating for The King's Speech downgraded from an R to PG-13, but didn't have enough time before the movie opened.

Blue Valentine will be in theaters Dec. 31.

Alex Ben Block contributed to this report.

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