It’s an old accusation, but one that shows no signs of disappearing anytime soon: the Motion Picture Association of America is disproportionately stricter about profanity and sex than it is about violence. Relatively gruesome studio films like The Hunger Games or The Dark Knight Rises frequently win PG-13 ratings; relatively gentle films like Philomena, by contrast, are slammed with a much more restrictive R rating — initially, at least — simply for dropping one too many F-bombs.
And then there’s the MPAA’s historically fraught relationship with gay and lesbian content, which often seems to be treated more harshly than heterosexual relations. The latest apparent victim of this unspoken rule: G.B.F., a new teen comedy about the hottest girl in school (Sasha Pieterse) and her gay best friend (Michael J. Willett).
“I always thought of G.B.F. as a PG-13 movie,” the film’s director, Darren Stein, wrote in a Facebook post Tuesday. Unfortunately, he continued, “we were given an R ‘For Sexual References’ while not having a single F-bomb, hint of nudity or violence in the film. Perhaps the ratings box should more accurately read ‘For Homosexual References’ or ‘Too Many Scenes of Gay Teens Kissing.’
“I look forward to a world where queer teens can express their humor and desire in a sweet, fun teen film that doesn’t get tagged with a cautionary R,” Stein concluded.
Clearly, G.B.F.‘s team is very disappointed with the MPAA’s decision. “I watch the shows Awkward and Glee and you can find pretty much around the same level of references, and those are TV-14,” screenwriter George Northy told Gawker Wednesday. “It’s so silly when you really think about the MPAA in terms of how every 13-year-old in the country has seen hardcore pornography in this age of the Internet, and yet they can’t go to a movie theater and see a movie like G.B.F. It would be funny if it weren’t so sad.”
G.B.F. premiered in April at the Tribeca Film Festival. It hits theaters nationwide Jan. 17.