The 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.