‘Blue Valentine’ and the battle over movie ratings

Dec 10, 2010

In a rare reversal, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) changed its rating of the new film Blue Valentine, directed by Derek Cianfrance, from NC-17 to R after a fierce challenge from The Weinstein Company. In another debatable move, the MPAA gave the King’s Speech an R rating because of its main character’s repeated use of the F-word. This isn’t a severe rating, but it’s arguably surprising for this otherwise polite period piece. Ratings can make or break a film by limiting who can see it and where it plays. Critics often argue that the MPAA’s rating process is overly strict, not strict enough, or annoyingly arbitrary. But how exactly are these decisions made? Do ratings serve the purpose for which they are meant?

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