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The MPAA makes good on 'Blue Valentine,' but the board's subjective rating system still baffles

December 8, 2010 |  4:42 pm

Blue Valentine

The Weinstein Co. received good news Wednesday when the MPAA agreed to downgrade its rating for "Blue Valentine" from NC-17 to R, reports Steve Zeitchik on 24 Frames. Why the MPAA originally gave "Blue Valentine" an NC-17 rating when it gave "Black Swan" an R rating for a similar sex scene demonstrates the subjective nature of the board. But, is there a better solution?

From an editorial on the topic in Wednesday's pages:

"For all the complaints about the MPAA's process, we're hard-pressed to come up with a better way. The ratings board is made up not of experts or filmmakers or members of the Moral Majority but of eight to 13 parents, who must move to L.A. but are recruited from across the country. That's a pretty good way of assessing parental opinion for a voluntary rating intended not to measure the artistic quality of a film but to give guidance to parents based on contemporary values. The board does make bad calls -- sometimes egregiously so -- and we think it could stand to stop counting curse words, overreacting to depictions of casual drug use and treating sex more harshly than violence. But there will never be universal agreement about something as subjective as onscreen offensiveness, and the system works far more often than it doesn't."

The Weinstein Co. didn't have the same luck with its appeal to downgrade the R rating given to "The King's Speech" for a totally benign scene that includes repetitive use of the F word within the context of helping King George VI overcome a speech impediment so that he can communicate with the community via radio during World War II. You'd think parents would want their children to see an easy-to-digest historical drama. In some cases, such as with "The King's Speech," protecting our children from so-called offensive material could do more harm than good, especially among children who could find inspiration from a film about overcoming adversity.

 -- Alexandra Le Tellier


A too-blue 'Blue Valentine?"

Photo: Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling in ''Blue Valentine." Credit: The Weinstein Co.

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