Evan Rachel Wood rants against the MPAA for ‘shaming women for enjoying sex’

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Back in 2010, Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams were being praised by critics as early Oscar frontrunners for their performances in Blue Valentine, a film about a couple getting together and breaking up and all of the mess that comes with it. The film included a few sex scenes, including one scene in which Ryan’s character was going down on Michelle’s character. The MPAA threatened to slap the film with an NC-17 rating if the director didn’t cut or re-edit the scene. Ryan ended up defending the director’s original vision (and the whole idea of a lady getting hers) in a well-spoken argument that garnered so much attention, the MPAA had to eat their words and they ended up giving Blue Valentine an R-rating.

Well, funny thing. Charlie Countryman, the new film starring Shia LaBeouf and Evan Rachel Wood, is going through an almost identical controversy. Apparently, there is a scene in the film where Shia’s character is going down on Evan’s character. And wouldn’t you know, the MPAA is all pearl-clutchy about it again and they’re threatening Charlie Countryman with an NC-17 rating if the scene isn’t cut or re-edited. I guess the director already tried to please the ratings board by editing the scene and Evan recently saw the re-cut film. She was not amused. She went HAM via Twitter:

“After seeing the new cut of #CharlieCountryman I would like 2 share my disappointment with the MPAA, who thought it was necessary to censor a woman’s sexuality once again. The scene where the two main characters make “love” was altered because someone felt that seeing a man give a woman oral sex made people “uncomfortable” but the scenes in which people are murdered by having their heads blown off remained intact and unaltered.”

“This is a symptom of a society that wants to shame women and put them down for enjoying sex, especially when (gasp) the man isn’t getting off as well! It’s hard for me to believe that had the roles been reversed it still would have been cut OR had the female character been raped it would have been cut.

“It’s time for people to GROW UP. Accept that women are sexual. Accept that some men like pleasuring women. Accept that women don’t have to just be f–ked and say thank you…We are allowed and entitled to enjoy ourselves. It’s time we put our foot down…Thanks for listening.”

[From Evan Rachel Wood’s Twitter]

Yeah… I’m feeling Evan here. I think her points are completely and utterly valid, and she’s absolutely right. If the character was being raped or abused, I doubt the MPAA would have cared. If the genders had been reversed (if Shia was on the receiving end), the MPAA wouldn’t care. Here’s the question I still have about the MPAA: just how old are these censors? Are they, like, in their 80s? Are they all old men who get upset with the idea of a lady getting hers? Apparently, they’re equally squeamish about Michael Fassbender’s Fassdong too, because Shame ended up with the same NC-17 rating as well. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I think Harvey Weinstein has the right idea – Harvey’s been engaged in a near holy war against the MPAA for years now. Keep on, Harvey.

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Photos courtesy of WENN.

 

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103 Responses to “Evan Rachel Wood rants against the MPAA for ‘shaming women for enjoying sex’”

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  1. Happyhat says:

    Totally with Evan on this: when you consider all the kinds of stuff the MPAA deem more acceptable than scenes of pleasuring a woman (rape, violence etc…) then the MPAA are sick sick people.

    • Anna says:

      GO GIRL!
      (You and ERW. Also I want her shoes.)

    • LadySlippers says:

      Anything sexually violent (i.e. rape) should get an X rating and ‘normal’ vanilla sex should get an R rating. Oral sex (for most people) is pretty damn vanilla. Three cheers for both Ryan Gosling and Evan Rachel Wood for standing up and doing the right thing.

      • Sloane Wyatt says:

        ITA, Ms. Slipper. I’m sick of violence and want more sex in films, please.

        For a great oral sex scene, see Dennis Quaid pleasure a very happy Ellen in ‘The Big Easy’. When Dennis Quaid informs Barkin’s character that her bad luck in bed was about to change, it was just a girl and her orgasm. This famously hot sex scene had no intercourse, no nudity, and frankly, didn’t need it! So STEAMY! (I can’t find the clip anywhere, Boo.)

        Anyone else care to share their favorite ‘women gettin’ theirs’ oral scenes? I’m always looking for a great ‘Date Night’ movie. ;-)

      • jj says:

        Y Tu Mama Tambien is a great sexy movie, caused an outrage from renowned critics at the time who were protesting the MPAA decision to release it with a NC-17 rating. IIRC it finally was released without a rating.
        Interesting movie also because one can see what intelligent and daring stories Alfonso Cuaron was telling back then with his movies. Nowadays he just makes Oscar baits with lame actors (Gravity)

      • Sloane Wyatt says:

        Ooooh, I loved Y Tu Mama Tambien! The leads were so dewy and beautiful. Thanks, jj. I’m going to check out Alfonso Cuaron’s other movies!

      • jj says:

        Yeah it’s such a great movie, just watched it again a few days ago.
        Cuaron recently participated in the annual Hollywood Reporter round-table discussion, where he also talks about Y Tu Mama Tambien and how this movie was such a artistically satisfying come back for him.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=12NgGhFPiik

        Along with Cuaron, David O’Russell, Ben Stiller, Steve MC Queen, Paul Greengrass and Lee Daniels are also participating in the round table. Well worth watching.

  2. Micha says:

    Kaiser, so glad you guys are covering stuff like this. It’s one of the many reasons I enjoy coming to this site. Also: totally agree with Evan.

  3. Madame Who says:

    Check out the 2006 documentary This Film Is Not Yet Rated. They try to track down the identities of the MPAA board and look at the way they’ve essentially had license to censor films for decades.

  4. Anna says:

    I’m totally on Evan’s side for this and for the first time in my life I’m going to have to say I agree with Harvey

  5. livinglavitalola says:

    Agree 100% with her

  6. lisa2 says:

    I have seen films with oral on women and they were rated R.. so not sure what they show in this film that will be different.

    I don’t understand the rating thing anyway.. it is always too subjective.

    Regarding what she said about women yes true. but here is the kicker.. other women will later call those women that are vocal, honest and upfront.. sluts or wh@res..

  7. Maureen says:

    First-world problems. And that’s all I have for this.

    • F says:

      It’s a problem about art, expression and censorship. It matters to a lot of people, apparently to you too. Even if it was “just” a “first-world problem”, would it be less of a problem? Yes there are people who are starving and dying in thirld world countries, those are major issues we all agree about that. But what’s your point exactly?

    • Erinn says:

      Really? If the censorship was completely equal, maybe I’d agree with you. But this is a continued act of sexism that is still very prevalent in many countries. Evan’s points were completely valid – there’s something wrong when it’s okay for a man to receive the same kind of sexual treatment that a woman cannot in a film.

    • Side-Eye says:

      That was also my thought, Maureen.

    • T.C. says:

      No this is not just a first-world problem. It’s a global problem. In developing countries it’s even worse. Women enjoying any type of sex is taboo. Women are seen as either non-sexual mothers or whores. How many sex scenes do you ever see in a Bollywood film? I’m so sick of the world run by men shaming women for being sexual beings. That’s behind most of the abortion debate in America.

      • Tapioca says:

        There’s no sex in Bollywood films, but there is equality – the guys don’t get any either!

        Amusing of Harvey to be so vocal about the issue, especially given the widespread rumours about what women have to do to get a part, that probably doesn’t involve that much personal pleasure, yikes…

      • TraceMik says:

        I don’t think excluding sex scenes from a movie is “oppressing women”. That is a huge stretch. Some cultures simply do not wish to portray sex or nudity in their movies. It is considered indecent, and they have a right to their standards regarding that. If you really crave sex in movies, then go rent some porn flicks. Nobody is stopping you.

    • Irishae says:

      Censorship is an issue everywhere. Especially regarding women’s sexuality. And that’s all I have for this ignorant comment.

      • Payton says:

        The MPAA doesn’t censor anybody. The makers of Charlie Countryman didn’t have to change their film, nor did they even have to submit it to the MPAA in the first place (they could have just released the film without a rating). It’s the people recklessly throwing around the C-word who are making the ignorant comments, with all due respect.

      • TheCountess says:

        Payton, if the filmmakers *don’t* edit out what the MPAA finds objectionable, they face having to release the film without a rating or slapped with NC-17, severely minimizing the potential box office (as many theatres shy away from showing such movies).

        It is, make no mistake, de facto censorship.

    • Becky says:

      Are you claiming that somehow invalidates the problem? I think you need to investigate Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

      • Maureen says:

        I’m not interested in Maslow, but I’ll repeat to you what I wrote elsewhere (in reference to my “first-world problems” comment): I don’t know a single woman who would compare the injustice of female genital mutilation or stoning with the “injustice” of a rich, famous H’wood actress’s cunnilingus scene in a movie not getting the stamp of approval that she would like.

    • lucy2 says:

      Life or death situation? No. But censorship and sexism are real problems, worthy of discussion and action.

      • Sloane Wyatt says:

        IMO, lucy2, showing a women enjoying sexual pleasure IS a “life and death situation” because it portrays a game changing way of viewing women as equals deserving of loving care and respect. Every finely nuanced, romantically charged male to female oral pleasuring scene works directly against rape culture. Around the world, patriarchal mindsets are being changed by memes transmitting from one mind to another through writings, conversations, and film the idea of women being lovingly serviced by men!

        Nothing can be a more life affirming way of contradicting the tacit acceptance of violence and death of women through sexual abuse than women being sexually satisfied and cherished.

    • LAK says:

      In the area of films or art or entertainment, this is indeed a first world problem. The rest of the world refuse to allow any sort of sexuality on screen. be it a kiss or body parts. Anybody who breaks that taboo is slut shamed whether they be male or female. problem solved.

      • Sloane Wyatt says:

        I respectfully disagree with your assertion that this is “a first world problem.”

        Lak, they may not allow it, but in the privacy of their own living rooms, citizens of the most repressed nations the world over are breaking taboos against any sort of sexuality on screen, even taboos against the most innocent of love scenes. Just about anyone in the rest of the conservative world with a satellite dish has access to a wide spectrum of channels, and just about everyone has a satellite dish. Although technically a lot of these channels are banned, even in the least developed countries guys are selling “special” cards for your satellite decoder in the back alleys around the major shopping districts.

        The view of the majority of the world as erotically stifled and the West as the land of sexual expression and freedom is a myth, really. Both cultures have far more in common: both live under rulers, who under different pretexts and with varying degrees of severity, try to curb unruly sex urges as a way of maintaining social control.

        So, yes, while the rest of the conservative world may be refusing “to allow any sort of sexuality on screen”, they are fighting a losing battle when it comes to the proliferation of sex scenes, much as evangelicals are in America.

    • Jeneric says:

      Really, you needed to say that? This entire site is based on celebrities’ drama, did you expect something different when you clicked your way here? This is actually one of the more legitimate issues that concern more than just Hollywood. Ugh.

    • May Cage says:

      Absolutely disagree. If we were more open about sex and more strict on the violence we show our children on tv, we wouldn’t have near as many problems with things such as school shootings. That’s my argument in a teeny tiny sentence.

  8. Miss M says:

    I agree with Evan on this one.

  9. MorticiansDoItDeader says:

    All valid points. That being said, I’m glad they cut the scene because I never want to see Shia going down on anyone 😝

  10. umyeah says:

    100% agree with her. We’re so prude when it comes to sexuality in America, but so readily accept violence in movies like its nothing. Lame.

  11. Tig says:

    A bit confused- so the scenes have already been cut/altered? I assume so bec it’s available On Demand here. Unless it’s a very close shot( and agree with poster above- wouldn’t want to see Shia L there!)- what’s the issue? There have been plenty of R movies where it’s plenty clear what’s happening. Good grief- check out that Jane Fonda/Jon Voigt sex scene from way back when!! Think this is for a bit of publicity. Totally agree tho that there’s way too much graphic violence that gets a “pass”.

    • jaye says:

      What movie are you referring to? I think Charlie Countryman was just released this month.

    • Sloane Wyatt says:

      Tig, you raise some great points! Media of all kinds is now more conservative. We are going backwards.

      There are so many bullshit theories floating around on why movies like Nashville, Shampoo, Basic Instinct, Blue Lagoon, Body Heat, The Big Easy, Coming Home, 9 1/2 Weeks, Bull Durham, The Hunger, Risky Business, and Boogie Nights no longer are made. Theories run the gamut of The Big Hollywood Studios target immature teen boys, studios claim women are uncomfortable with explicit sex scenes, to audiences abroad (China) are too conservative to allow any physicality. Of course, we also have patriarchy more entrenched then ever now the flowering of the 60′s and 70′s has been billed as naively passé and our political will cynically & systematically sapped. IMO, our present day Corporate Cinema deliberately and consciously avoids provocative, intelligent, stylish, alternative, or sex positive fare like the plague, and instead spews out pabulum to dumb down the population and make us easier to control.

  12. Skye says:

    Can I co-sign her statement? Based on this and other ratings decisions over the years, pretty clear the MPAA is firmly in the “nice girls aren’t supposed to LIKE it” camp: men screw because it feels good, and women – DECENT women, anyway – find the whole business a little icky and distasteful but do it to please/attract/keep their men (or because they have no choice, so overpowered are they – figuratively or literally – by the sheer manliness of the man).

    It’s a nice, comforting thought because a good girl who only has sex to please you isn’t going to have sex with anyone ELSE… not so long as you give her enough babies and dishes and approving pats on the behind to keep her happy. And somehow, this view outlasts feminism, progress, etc.: men who screw to enjoy it are men. Women who do this are nymphos, sluts and deviants. If a woman getting served in bed makes your uncomfortable but a women being thrown around the room and forced onto her knees DOESN’T, you don’t need to see a movie, you need to see a doctor.

  13. Suzy from Ontario says:

    She’s completely right! Sexual violence against women…no problem, but a man pleasuring a woman? They freak! What is wrong with this picture!?!

    Glad stars are speaking out against this kind of censorship.

  14. rtms says:

    Hmm Black Swan had this same sort of scene yet there was no problem with the movie or rating. Definite double standard.

    • Jane says:

      So did 1981 version of The Postman Always Rings Twice with Jessica Lange and Jack Nicholson. I didn’t see Blue Valentine, so can’t compare the movies, but there was no doubt about what just happened in the Postman movie.

    • JWQ says:

      “Black Swan” had a similar scene but it was between two women! Two women who have sex is fine, because it is something that can still titillate men! If the movie was the same but instead of Mila Kunis and Natalie Portman you had Ryan Gosling and Chris Hemsworth, do you really think they would’ ve kept the same rating? As for “The Postman” I haven’ t seen that… is that the only exception, though? Are there other movies with a lower rating for a scene like that? It could be the proverbial exception!

    • MarilynGray says:

      I recently saw The Counselor which had Fassbender going down on Penelope Cruz. It was a perfectly sweet scene. I don’t remember what rating The Counselor ended up with, but if it was rather high then it would have been because of Cameron Diaz sexing up the car, not the Fasstongue and Cruz.

  15. Kate says:

    Yup. Absolutely agree with this post and with Evan Rachel Wood on this, 100%. Sexism, pure and simple. Violence has had a much worse effect on American society than sexuality, and yet gratuitous violence is allowed. Women being portrayed as enjoying sex rather than being victimized, however, is a big no-no. And such is the dysfunction of our violence-and-gun-loving, yet Puritanical “Chrischun” society.

  16. mina wurst says:

    An excellent documentary that investigates WHO exactly are the people in MPAA.
    Spoiler: they are NOT 80…
    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0493459/

  17. Lunchcoma says:

    Evan is right and makes her point well. The way we censor sex as compared to violence (including sexual violence) and the way censor women’s p,erasure compared to men’s is completely hypocritical. An NC-17 rating drastically limits the number of theaters that will carry a film, making it hard both for movies to make a profit and audience members to see those films. The result is a very skewed portrayal of what Alex looks like, and I’m glad actors and directors have started talking about it.

  18. Veggie says:

    Everything is supposed to be neutral and there is no sexism anymore.

    But then you dig a little deeper and you’ll find that many organizations still have things in place that encourage the suppression of women in subtler ways.

    Good on her for speaking out and good for this website and its commenters for the intelligent commentary.

  19. Zombie Shortcake says:

    Check out the documentary ‘This Film Has Not Been Rated.’ I guess not much has changed since then.

  20. judyjudy says:

    My thoughts echo most of those already expressed. I just want to add that I think ERW is so gorgeous.

  21. bettyrose says:

    I’ve walked out of movies that depicted rape with almost no warning or value to the plot. But for some reason the MPAA thinks I need to be warned about depictions of adults having age appropriate fun?!

    • LadySlippers says:

      Oh I know! That sh*t pisses me off because most of those scenes make me want to vomit. YUCK. But obviously it means there is something wrong with me and not them.

    • Danskins says:

      Your comment reminded of two films that came to mind that both feature very disturbing rape scenes that were considered crucial to the storyline (but were still excessively long scenes IMO), were both Oscar-nominated (due to the strong performances of the actresses who portrayed the rape victims) and were both rated R despite their difficult-to-watch assault scenes: The Accused and Precious.

      It seems the MPAA had no problem slapping R ratings on both films since they both featured women getting full-on assaulted onscreen but a women receiving pleasure deserves a harsher film rating. It’s just ridiculous. The MPAA is too subjective and becoming more irrelevant in offering any real value to film audiences.

  22. bettyrose says:

    Ha! You mean “the tuna” avoids you.

  23. Leila In Wunderland says:

    I agree with her. Society really needs to abandon all of its’ patriarchy- and religious dogma-based hang-ups about the human body and sexuality- especially when it comes to us.

  24. Blackbetty says:

    I really hate the double standards +1

  25. M79 says:

    Bravo. I have never understood the pseudo-puritanical nonsense this country has had with respect to nudity and sex while allowing for excessive violence. Clearly, our cultural priorities are amiss, and the MPAA is a reflection of this.

  26. Moi says:

    That was such an impressive response. Thank you girlie.

  27. Norman says:

    Totally got Evan. Who know the MPAA was in the puritanical business huh. Fortuitous violence, houses exploding, tons of guns, Jesus being beaten to a bloody pulp, slap an “R” or perhaps a “PG-13″ but sex on the screen, good heavens no, slap an “NC-17″. Give people some credit.

  28. Sloane Wyatt says:

    Now, THIS is feminism! ERW shows us what patriarchy and feminism looks like in one easily digestible lesson! *pun intended*

    I’m surprised though that no one else objected to the word choice of ‘rants’. Why not Evan Rachel Wood blasts the MPAA for ‘shaming women for enjoying sex’?

  29. TraceMik says:

    Seeing a man doing oral on a woman is quite common in films these days. It is not unusual at all, but I do think it is getting really old. Personally, if I wanted to see that I would watch a pr0n film. I don’t want to see it an R or PG rated film. I also don’t like being attacked as a “prude” because I don’t want to see sex in mainstream movies. It doesn’t matter if its the man getting oral, or the woman getting it, or whatever.

  30. Daniel says:

    I think all violent horror movies that show people’s entrails being splattered around should get a “X” or at least an NC-17 rating. Movies that show a loving couple having sex shouldn’t be anything more than a “R” rating unless it shows actual penetration then it should be “X”. Common sense. ugh!