December 19, 2013

The MPAA In Another Ratings Controversy With G.B.F.

This week a friend of mine's feature film G.B.F., a new high school comedy by Darren Stein, was given an R rating by the MPAA despite the fact that there are no F-bombs in the film and no nudity. The rating was for "sexual references", most of which you can catch on any TV-14 shows on a given night of television. However, the real reason behind this ratings is the MPAA's long-standing unofficial policy of "Instant R" for any film that has leading characters who happen to be gay. I know this from many industry meetings about feature projects of my own that have struggled with financing due to this situation that has unfortunately been around for decades.

Darren took to Facebook to protest the rating and the MPAA's bias against gay stories and characters. Many people were shocked to hear about it and it started a lively discussion in the comments which has now transferred to Gawker, which picked up the story yesterday with a more detailed dissection of exactly what is and isn't in Darren's film. When compared to most PG-13 high school comedies, G.B.F. seems to warrant that level of rating. Its absurd that a film about teens and meant for teens is not able to be watched by the majority of teens simply because there are gay characters. A similar situation happened with the doc BULLY last year .

Darren has been encouraged to appeal the rating but such an appeal is expensive for an indie film and is also no guarantee of a rating change with the incredibly secretive MPAA. But it would at least send a message that as filmmakers, we are not going to take this sort of discrimination anymore when it comes to the restrictive rating simply because characters are gay or lesbian.

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