“Imagine Me & You” is rated R. Which means here in the United States no child under the age of 17 could see it in a theater without an accompanying parent or guardian. In essence, that means that the Motion Picture Association of America thought there was something so objectionable about this movie that children must be shielded from its potentially harmful effects. Its official MPPA rating says it earned that R for “for some language and sexual material.” Now, normally R is reserved for movies with explicit sex scenes, sexualized nudity, extreme foul language and/or graphic violence. All the “Saw” movies (including the upcoming third “Saw” in 3-D no less), which feature murder, torture and dismemberment of every imaginable variety, are rated R. “Boogie Nights,” a movie about the porn industry and a man who uses his enormous penis to become a star in it, is rated R. The first two “Scary Movie” films, which were all about supposedly satirizing sexy flasher films by showing excessive sex and slashing, were rated R (the last two only were rated PG-13).
Does “Imagine Me & You” have nudity? No, because I sure as hell know I would have remembered seeing Lena Headey naked, or Piper Perabo or even
Giles Anthony Stewart Head. Does “Imagine Me & You” have murder, torture, dismemberment, blood, guts or any of those in any combination in 3-D? No, though the awful stock broker boss does make me feel momentarily stabby for being such an ass. Does “Imagine Me & You” have extreme foul language? Well, No. 9 might argue this but I really don’t think there’s too much past a “fuck” here or there.
But what it does have is two women kissing and falling in love. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, HIDE THE CHILDREN!
Now, if you’ve seen “This Film Is Not Yet Rated,” this is not news to you. Gay-themed movies are often rated much more harshly than straight movies. “But I’m a Cheerleader” was given an NC-17 (No children under 17, period, even with an adult) at first, then downgraded to an R after cuts. “Boys Don’t Cry” was initially given an NC-17, then trimmed to get an R. “American Psycho” was initially given an NC-17 rating, but then when they cut not the axe murder or the chainsaw dismemberment or the serial killing in general but the one three-way sex scene it was graced with an R. Message: As long as there’s no sex in your violence, you’re A-OK. Also, if there happens to be gay sex in your violence you’re totally screwed – and not in even a remotely kind of fun way.
While the ratings are “voluntary,” they mean everything to both the film’s exposure and eventual bottom line. Many theaters won’t play a NC-17 movie. Many distributors won’t stock a NC-17 DVD. A R rating, in turn, will limit a movie’s potential box office because a whole segment of the population is excluded. But money and audience aside, what this is really still saying is that gay relationships are so different, so frightening, so unacceptable, so deviant that we have to protect the young impressionable minds from seeing them.
The only scary thing about these two women together is that someone would look at them and think, “Shit, they’re scary.” And the only way this movie could ever really be rated R is if the “R” actually stood for “Repeat Viewing.” Which I think I’ll do now. On my iPhone. Just to prove a point. And that point is: “You’re a wanker, MPAA!”