Was 'G.B.F.' Given An R Rating Simply For Being Gay?
G.B.F., the hilarious coming-of-gay-age story from director Darren Stein, despite being a film that contains nothing more risque than your average PG-13 flick (like the similar insta-classic high school bitch-fest, Mean Girls). With an absence of f-bombs, nudity or violence, one's lead to believe the innocuous, fun and warmhearted G.B.F. was given the more mature rating that bars minors from seeing it without their parents simply due to a plot surrounding gay high school students.
I've seen the movie (it's riotously entertaining) and cannot wrap my brain around the hoops the Motion Picture Association of America had to jump through to justify the R.
Stein can't either.
"I always thought of G.B.F. as a PG-13 movie, but we were given an R "For Sexual References" while not having a single F-bomb, hint of nudity or violence in the film," the director wrote in a Facebook post. "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."
"When I was writing the film, I was thinking of it as writing the movie that I would want to see as a 15-year-old," G.B.F. writer George Northy told me when I reached him and director Darren Stein by phone earlier today. "I had it in my mind that it would be PG-13 and took care to not have any F-bombs, to make all the sexual references innuendo or abbreviations. I was shocked when it came down. I knew it was a possibility, but I really didn't expect it. It's hard to look through and find the five references that would have done it. The term 'B.J.', I guess? It's pretty tame stuff."
Stein says that the R-rating is like a "danger post" for parents, and Northy laments that with the classification, the movie is less likely to be shown to people for whom the movie may be most useful, students in high schools' gay-straight alliances, for example. Stein says that he can't afford to appeal the rating (like the Weinstein Company did recently for Philomena). It's just not in his budget.
"I watch the shows Awkward and Glee and you can find pretty much around the same level of references, and those are TV-14," added Northy. "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."