The MPAA Thinks Real-Life Gay Love Isn’t Suitable For Minors

LOVE-IS-STRANGEThe all-powerful Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), the organization that gives films their ratings, has granted the upcoming Love Is Strange starring John Lithgow and Alfred Molina an ‘R’ rating, despite it containing no sex, violence or drug use. The film follows the story of an elderly gay couple of 40 years as their relationship is put to the test while they are forced to move in with family after losing their home.

The MPAA doesn’t have the greatest track record when it comes to progressive social themes in the films it rates. In fact they’re well known for being much harsher on films with gay content. Kirby Dick’s documentary This Film Is Not Yet Rated looks in depth at the board’s bias, noting that an MPAA spokesperson confirmed the tilt in an interview with The USA Today when he said, “We don’t create the standards; we just follow them.”

But whose standards are they following?

The ‘R’ rating means the board feels the film is not appropriate for people under 17 unless accompanied by a guardian. And what’s their justification? Adult language.

Let’s just put that into perspective.

Stephen Whitty of the Star-Ledger points out two other films set to release around the same time as Love Is Strange which received the same ‘R’ rating in his article Why the MPAA thinks all gay people should be rated ‘R’.

First there’s Sin City: A Dame To Kill For. It features, “nudity, sexual situations and substance abuse. 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.”

And the wholesome Jersey Shore Massacre, with, “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.”

Then there’s Love Is Strange — the honest, human portrayal of love and devotion that seems to have the MPAA shaking in their boots. Here’s the trailer:

Excuse me, the honest, human portrayal of gay love and devotion.

Just think of the children.

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  • Cam

    They will give a PG 13 rating to a movie where somebody is beaten with their own arm after it is torn off. But the thought of a gay couple is horrifying to them.

    It is long past the point where Hollywood needs to be taken to task for supporting this bigoted organization.

  • galphamax

    What about bad language? The article says nothing about the movie’s use of expletives. Using F*** once in a sexual manner always gets an auto R rating from the MPAA. This is prudish, but not homophobic.

  • tdh1980

    After seeing “The Film Is Not Yet Rated” a while back any respect I may have had for the MPAA and its process — which was minimal at best with the limited knowledge I had at the time – was completely obliterated. It’s just a random group of people making arbitrary decisions of what’s appropriate for whom based on their own personal biases. Meanwhile any of us can turn on the TV to any combination of letters that make up titles of BROADCAST NETWORK cops shows and see bullets ripping through flesh. GTFO.

  • Cam


    Actually the original article points out multiple films with cursing that get PG 13 ratings.

    Why so eager to fabricate a defense for this homophobia?

  • AtticusBennett

    the MPAA wants kids to hold GUNS, not men’s hands!

  • pressuredrop


    They also received “R” ratings according to the article, not “PG-13”.

    galphamax is correct in that the specific type and usage of the expletives supposedly also matters. A “PG-13” film may use the f-bomb if it isn’t used to refer to sex in context.

    And, ultimately, tdh1980 is correct also, because even though the MPAA has rules, it rarely seems to follow them in a set logical pattern. This may or may not be applied in homophobic strokes as they see fit. Money from studio or marketing entities might help.

    The main problem I see here is that vulgar language is considered more offensive than gratuitous violence, which negatively affects everyone.

  • Sansacro

    Just watched the Outsiders, a young adult S.E. Hinton novel turned into a “family” flick (in fact, it won some “best family feature film” award); I was surprised how incredibly violent it was. God forbid any of the boys kissed; would have trumped the stabbings, shootings, murders, and earned an R rating.

  • michael mellor

    The MPAA is run by Hollywood. Liberal Hollywood hates gay men. Just look at the shocking lack of movies with gay male content that come out of Hollywood. The people who run Hollywood hate us.

  • Paul Nadolski

    Just be glad that we CAN watch movies with gay-themed content. If the “Hollywood Production Code” from the classic era (1940s-1950s) were still in effect, we would not have any realistic content AT ALL, and especially nothing GLBT-related.

  • Cam

    @Paul Nadolski:

    No, I’m sorry, I don’t think we should accept blatant bigotry by saying “Well at least it isn’t as bad as it used to be.”

    It is FAR past time that the MPAA needs to explain themselves.

  • galphamax

    @Cam: I’m not “eager to fabricate a defense for this homophobia.” I just think it’s stupid to cry wolf without all the facts. There may be homophobia here, or there may not be. If the movie contains only mild language, the MPAA has a problem. If the movie contains several instances of F***, they don’t.

    I agree with pressuredrop that the real problems here are the MPAA’s inconsistent application of its standards and its insistence that language and nudity is much worse than violence. These are wider issues, though, and do not rest on the LGBT content of a movie.

  • SteveDenver

    The MPAA was never useful or valid. It was originally headed by a retired postmaster. Its ratings have always been arbitrary. They tell nothing about the level of violence, number of incidents, quality of sexual interaction (rape, consensual), nudity (male frontal nudity most often earns an R, while female nudity gets a PG if the character is dead).

  • scace

    It is time to make an issue out of the MPAA!([email protected]) There is no doubt that the MPAA is truly homophobic and needs to be abolished. It has NEVER been a friend to the Gay Community, and giving “Love is Strange” an R rating is the last straw! In today’s age the MPAA is harmful. There are too many vagaries, and propensities to approve violence over love or nudity. The MPAA has become intolerable with its biases and lack of transparency. The MPAA even violates much of what it’s “Issues and Positions” statements are: “Protecting Creativity” and “Preserving Free Speech”. I have to laugh when I think that Edward Albee’s “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” had to have the label “No one under the age of 18 will be admitted unless accompanied by a parent or guardian.” “Midnight Cowboy” received an X rating primarily because of it’s gay nuance. Enough is just enough. I urge Queerty to make the abolition of the MPAA a major issue. It’s ‘guidance’ is no longer helpful but quite harmful to the creative community.

  • frenchjr25

    I’m surprised the LGBTQ community and liberals haven’t come together and taken over the MPAA. But then we allow gossip magazines to continue to publish garbage even though there is more than enough money to buy their parent companies and shut them down.

    The people of the US have known for years that the MPAA is irrelevant and out of control. They do not have any real standards and make decisions on an arbitrary basis. It’s time for the replacement of the MPAA. If the studios created it why can’t the studios replace it?

  • Cam

    @galphamax: said ” I’m not “eager to fabricate a defense for this homophobia.” I just think it’s stupid to cry wolf without all the facts. There may be homophobia here, or there may not be. If the movie contains only mild language, the MPAA has a problem. If the movie contains several instances of F***, they don’t.”

    It isn’t crying wolf when comparable movies are scoring lower MPAA ratings with the only difference being that one has a gay theme and one doesn’t.

    That means that at the MPAA, which is staffed by more than one religious leader, they feel that people under 18 shouldn’t be allowed to see a movie with a gay couple in it as the leads.

  • DuchessOfMilton

    @galphamax: In this case, they clearly do. “Inconsistent application” means they can give R ratings to LGBT movies because of homosexuality, and not give them to other movies that arguably violate their own standards, but deal with mainstream subjects.

  • enlightenone

    @galphamax: Jeez, I knew a few commenting would lack the intellectual capacity to understand the substance of this article as simple as the point is, but wasn’t expecting it out the gate. I hope you don’t see yourself as one of those proud, “out,” mature, intelligent, gay/bi man or women. Clean your mirrors!

  • enlightenone

    This is just the type of movie a 14 year old gay boy should see along with his parent(s)/caregiver just in case he may a a question or two. And this outing will provide his parents an opportunity to conceive of the possibilities of love and companionship for their child’s future.

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