December 15, 2010

Hey Girl, Bet You Didn’t Know I’m A Feminist

Filed under: Media — Tags: , , , , , , , , — Rachel @ 7:00 pm

The above image/title is reference to a very popular Ryan Gosling meme.  For more on that, see here or here.

Appeals for film ratings are not uncommon.  Filmmakers frequently protest when the MPAA dishes out a verdict they feel is undeserved.  So when Blue Valentine was rated NC-17, it wasn’t surprising when the producers filed for an appeal.  (An NC-17 rated film won’t be carried at most major theater chains, can not be attended by anyone 17 and under, and television networks and newspapers won’t run ads.)

As part of the appeal, the films stars, Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams each composed letters defending the film, which ended up receiving a lot of press on a variety of blogs.  In his letter, Gosling stated:

“You have to question a cinematic culture which preaches artistic expression, and yet would support a decision that is clearly a product of a patriarchy-dominant society, which tries to control how women are depicted on screen. The MPAA is okay supporting scenes that portray women in scenarios of sexual torture and violence for entertainment purposes, but they are trying to force us to look away from a scene that shows a woman in a sexual scenario, which is both complicit and complex. It’s misogynistic in nature to try and control a woman’s sexual presentation of self. I consider this an issue that is bigger than this film.”

He also stated in an interview with E!

“The MPAA really needs to…There is something very distorted about this reality that they’ve created, which is that it is OK to torture women on screen…Any kind of violence towards women in a sexual scenario is fine. But give a woman pleasure, no way. Not a chance. That’s pornography.”

It’s surprising to hear anyone in Hollywood discussing the patriarchy and repression of women, even more so to hear a male movie star do so. The Notebook may be bad for you, but Ryan Gosling is good for feminism.  The filmmakers won their appeal, and Blue Valentine was issued an R-rating.  The film will open in limited release in the U.S. on December 31st, 2010.


  1. Uh, so you’re whining that “Blue Valentine” got an NC-17 rating because a woman was having consensual sex? Where are all these other movies you’re talking about, where women are “sexually tortured” that get any kind of PG rating?

    Can you even name one? I’m curious.

    Comment by Wade Long — December 15, 2010 @ 7:45 pm

  2. @Wade

    Ryan Gosling never claimed that any of the movies that show non-consenual sex or violence/torture against women were rated “PG”, and I never said that in my post. The filmmakers of Blue Valentine were trying to get an “R” rating, and Gosling is saying there are movies out there that got the “R” rating, and depict violence (both domestic and sexual) against women.

    If you would like some examples, here’s a list of films that depict sexual violence against women that didn’t receive an NC-17

    The Duchess – PG-13
    The Killer Inside Me – R
    Redacted – R
    The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo – R
    Blue Velvet – R

    Comment by Rachel — December 16, 2010 @ 7:55 am

  3. Go Ryan Gosling! I was just going to blog about something similar when I read this article in Ad Age (, but then finals and graduation got the best of me. Still, I thought some feminist-minded people might be interested to see what else is getting progressive out there. It’s about time!

    Comment by McLicious — December 16, 2010 @ 3:16 pm

  4. @Wade, Rachel
    here’s some more to add to this list:
    Last House on the Left-2009-R

    Comment by Cassie — December 17, 2010 @ 7:40 am

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