If your workplace is anything like mine, no one’s lapping up anything other than caffeine, but a few weeks back, my boss, Elsbeth, colleague, Ling, sidekick, Greg, and I engaged in a discussion about the film Blue Valentine before any of us had seen it. We were familiar with the notoriety surrounding Blue Valentine and that it had narrowly escaped an NC-17 rating due to a scene where one character performs oral sex on another.
Elsbeth (baffled): Why would that cause it to get an NC-17 rating?
Greg (Mr. Explanation): It’s because the guy goes down on the woman and she has an orgasm.
Elsbeth and Ling (attacking Greg in unison): So?
Elsbeth (accusatory tone): What’s wrong with that?
Lone male Greg sees a pay cut and possibly unemployment heading his way.
Greg (defensive): I’m not saying it’s wrong! I’m just saying what I heard!
Me (via the peanut gallery): But if he raped and killed her that would probably get an R.
My boss and buddies agree with this assessment. Greg narrowly escapes his own evisceration, and he hightails to his workshop to build more tile samples.
Albee and I have since seen Blue Valentine. Had I been asked what film with an intense oral sex scene narrowly had an NC-17 rating overturned, Blue Valentine or Black Swan, I would have assumed it was Black Swan. The oral sex scene in Black Swan is kinky erotic fun, and oh yeah, it’s between two hot women. I’d buy that DVD. I’d put it in my collection next to Bound.
The oral sex scene in Blue Valentine between Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams is poignant. Although it did not reduce me to tears, the way the film is edited, the voyeuristic viewer is aware of much more than the characters at that point in time and feels wistful. It’s a very beautiful scene in a very painful story. If the jug heads on the ratings board forced director Derek Cianfrance to cut or edit that scene that would have so detracted from the emotional weight of this film, and it’s not a film with subject matter — a crumbling marriage — that horny teenage boys would want to see. I am very glad that Cianfrance won his appeal. I would be even happier if whoever sits on the ratings board would read a sex manual since these romance loathing violence-lovers must suck out loud in bed.