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Today in Depressing

The MPAA Rates A Movie More Severely If Women Appear To Enjoy Having Sex


This news is not particularly surprising, either as a whole, or that the movie that brought it to our attention is Sucker Punch, the dubiously characterized “female empowerment” action flick which most reviewers agree is a hot mess of stunning visuals but completely flat characters and a muddy plot.

But according to Emily Browning, there’s a sex scene cut out of Sucker Punch because in order for it to be included and still get a PG-13 rating, the sex had to appear less mutually enjoyable.

Says Browning:

I had a very tame and mild love scene with Jon Hamm. It was like heavy breathing and making out. It was hardly a sex scene… So essentially, [the MPAA] got Zach [Snyder] to edit the scene and make it look less like she’s into it. And Zack said he edited it down to the point where it looked like he was taking advantage of her. That’s the only way he could get a PG-13 (rating) and he said, ‘I don’t want to send that message.’ So they cut the scene!

There’s some kind of snarky connection here to Watchmen‘s toying with the theme of a woman falling in love with her rapist… but I’m so exhausted by trying to explain that there is something wrong with they way we’re doing things if a female action hero only gets a movie if she either appeals directly to the male gaze or is infantilized or both that I just don’t have the energy right now.

To be fair, this quote from Browning is hearsay, but it sounds far, far too much like business at usual for the MPAA, an organization for whom two men or two women kissing once is a guaranteed R rating; but a man cutting off all of another guy’s remaining natural limbs, setting him on fire, and leaving him to burn to death is PG-13.

(via The Hathor Legacy.)

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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kristin-Munson/14307439 Kristin Munson

    In the documentary “This Film is Not Yet Rated” the director of “Love and Basketball” confirmed this. She was allowed to show the female lead’s pain at losing her virginity but had to cut the scene right as she began enjoying the act or the MPAA was going to slap the movie with an R.

  • http://twitter.com/bugempress Krystal

    Dislike. :|

  • http://tinypinkrobots.smackjeeves.com Rori

    Every fan of movies should absolutely see “This Film is Not Yet Rated” to see how arbitrary the rating system really is. This doesn’t surprise me at all. :(

  • http://twitter.com/KivrinEngle Kivrin Engle

    The same thing apparently happened with that Michelle Williams/Ryan Gosling movie “Blue Valentine.” MPAA wanted it to be NC-17 because she appeared to be enjoying herself too much. I know that the producers pushed back and eventually got an R rating, but I can’t remember if they had to cut anything out…

  • Erincb87

    *sigh* This sort of thing will happen until we quit calling women who happen to enjoy sexual activity sluts, whores, etc. The stud/slut double standard is alive and well. Huzah.

  • http://revolvingdoorcommune.wordpress.com Teresa Jusino

    I’m no big fan of the rating system. At the same time, I really wish this site would actually SEE this movie so that they could put all of this news in context. A sex scene between Jon Hamm’s character and Emily Browning’s wouldn’t have made sense in the context of the film, certainly not if she was enjoying it. It was probably less about the MPAA being “from the Stone Age” as Browning puts it, and more about the fact that if that scene was included in this film, it would’ve looked like she was suffering from Stockholm Syndrome. I’m glad the scene was cut!

    Feel free to read more about what I have to say about the gender issues this film takes on here:
    http://www.tor.com/blogs/2011/03/sucker-punch-part-2-women-weapons-and-self-sacrifice

    Since, you know, you’re not actually going to SEE the movie you’re badmouthing in an uninformed fashion…

  • Inverse

    From a creative standpoint, you’re totally right Teresa~ but it doesn’t really change the fact that the best way to dodge a ratings hike in this context was to make the woman emotionally distant/hurt by the sexual act being done to her.

  • http://wideaperture.net/blog/ Josh Braun

    +1 to all the folks recommending This Film is Not Yet Rated. It’s a pretty comprehensive and damning critique of the double-standard the MPAA applies to sexuality in films.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ammie-Hisaka/100001798512605 Ammie Hisaka

    The girl in the film is what, fourteen? Yeah, she’s TOTALLY ready physically and mentally to enjoy sex with a man (more than?) twice her age!

    ((Hint: this is called molestation and many people don’t want to see it.))

  • Ajillo

    The girl in that movie is actually 20, it says so in the start. They also mention that she is no innocent.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Chemise-Rogers/39609427 Chemise Rogers

    That mention of her “not being innocent” was more about petty gossip than fact. (Yes I did see the movie it is total shit)

    And it felt like they needed to mention that she was 20 to cover for the fact that her makeup was done in a way to infantilize her.

    I do feel like more was needed to round out this movie. Who knows there may have been more scenes cut out other than this sex scene that would have given the film more context. From what I understood of this movie this particular scene isn’t that important. What Hamm’s character says at the end pretty much covers it.It would just be extra smut at the end. It’s not like it would give us a real look at the life and character of Babydoll.

  • Anonymous

    Well I actually SAW the movie and could imagine a story line in which she meets the High Roller and actually enjoys making out with him. He’s John frigging Hamm! She seems to enjoy the dance scenes even thought they’re a product of her desperate attempts at escape, so why not gettin’ a little Hamm while trying to escape, too?

  • Anonymous

    Her sister was fourteen, she was (as Ajillo mentions) twenty.

  • Arakiba

    So a woman not enjoying sex or being forced into sex is considered ok for most audiences, but a woman enjoying sex is too much for most audiences to take? What an eff’d up society we live in.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Chemise-Rogers/39609427 Chemise Rogers

    Didn’t you know? Women only enjoy sex in pornography and even then they are faking it. :P

  • Anonymous

    John Lennon has a very pertinent quote about this very topic: “We live in a world where we hide to make love! While violence is committed in broad daylight.”

    The quote really explains a lot about what’s wrong with society in so few words, especially when taken in the context of media. We hear about people getting murdered regularly on the news, but anything to do with sex is strictly reserved for 18+ audiences.

    Just a little despressing. :(

  • Erincb87

    “no innocent?” So are you saying she’s “at fault,” or that she’s just capable of enjoying sexual activity if she wants to?

  • http://darktouch.net DarkTouch

    I’m commenting because I want to show my dislike for this standard. I always try to see both sides so I at least know where the other side is coming from but this makes so little sense to me.

  • Nicole Hazen

    That documentary was good. It also showed how homophobic the MPAA is. But I guess you gotta be when you have designated religious “reviewers” determining what is “morally” acceptable.

    Yes, they have heads of different religions to tell them what should and shouldn’t be in a movie.

  • http://twitter.com/CatLovrSebby SebastianMichaelis

    Sometimes they get away with an R rating when it should’ve been more because the sex seems too over-the-top to be genuine. I’m talking about both ridiculously raunchy, like some of the scenes in “Shriek if You Know What I Did Last Friday the 13th”, and the exaggeratedly erotic scenes in “Black Swan”, (My sister rented it and it was very awkward to watch with her and her husband.) Both movies are very good in their respective genre despite this, which only goes to prove that the majority of the storyline is either funny enough (“Shriek”) or intense enough (“Swan”) to make the sex scenes work well, despite their being over the top.

  • http://profiles.google.com/holly.slavic Aitch Slavic

    So did the director of Boys Don’t Cry (confirmed it in the DIC)

  • Sheusedtoski

    In that documentary, the female director of But I’m a Cheerleader said that if she showed the female character enjoying masturbating OVER her clothes the movie would get an NC-17 rating. She compared it to the scene in American Pie where a guy has sex with a pie…which was deemed R-worthy.