There are no scenes depicting graphic violence, nudity, or drug use in "3 Generations," a film starring Elle Fanning, Namoi Watts, and Susan Sarandon.
Yet, incredibly, it has an R rating. Why?
Actors Elle Fanning (left), Naomi Watts (middle), and Susan Sarandon (right). Photo by George Nicholis/The Weinstein Company.
LGBTQ rights advocates have an idea.
The film follows the story of Ray, a transgender teen — and his gender likely explains its restrictive rating, if you ask Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO of GLAAD.
Ellis penned an open letter to executives at the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) — the organization responsible for rating films in the U.S. — slamming the group for what GLAAD considers an unreasonable assessment of who should be able to watch "3 Generations."
An R rating means, without adult supervision, no one under 17 years old will be allowed to see the film in theaters.
"The Motion Picture Association of America should represent all Americans, including transgender youth," Ellis wrote. "Your decision to give 3 Generations a restrictive ‘R’ rating sends a dangerous message to this already marginalized community."
Although the film has been under fire for not casting a trans actor to portray Ray — trans actors are too often overlooked for complex, consequential roles, and casting cisgender actors to play trans parts can actually be harmful — most LGBTQ advocates say "3 Generations" still brings much needed representation to the big screen.
"A parent’s unconditional love for their child is not a story that should be restricted," Ellis continued. "In fact, it is a story that could help parents and young people across this country and around the world."
"3 Generations" receiving an R rating is disappointing. But — considering the MPAA’s past blunders — it’s not all that surprising.
The MPAA has been criticized before for discriminating against LGBTQ-themed films by deeming their content as less appropriate for children and teens — just because of characters’ sexual orientation or gender identity.
Many called foul, for instance, when 2014’s "Love Is Strange," starring John Lithgow and Alfred Molina as the loving lead couple, was given an R rating. The sole contributing factor? Scenes with two men kissing, some argued.
This discrimination has also bled into more modern entertainment mediums like YouTube. The social media giant drew fire in March for unfairly categorizing much of its LGBTQ content as "restricted" — even though the videos lacked anything that should be considered inappropriate for children.
YouTube since apologized for the "confusion" and said it’s looking into the issue after many vocal influencers in its LGBTQ community spoke up.
Similarly, the executives and stars behind "3 Generations" are hoping their own outspokenness will spark some change as well.
Elle Fanning in "3 Generations." Photo by George Nicholis/The Weinstein Company.
Harvey Weinstein, whose Weinstein Company is behind "3 Generations," publicly slammed the film’s R rating earlier this month, claiming it needlessly bars many people who should see the film from being able to: “The fact that an R rating would prevent high school students from seeing this film would truly be a travesty,” he said, Variety reported.
The film’s leading ladies have also made public statements decrying the MPAA’s decision. Watts claimed the film "doesn’t have a bad bone in its body," while Sarandon noted "3 Generations" is an "important movie for everyone to see" and that its R rating is "ridiculous."
At a pivotal moment for transgender rights in the U.S., more young people need to be seeing films like "3 Generations" — not told its content is for adults only. The rest of the country is evolving on LGBTQ rights, and it’s crucial the film industry helps lead the way.
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