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A new teen comedy called G.B.F. is hitting theaters in January after premiering at the Tribeca Film Festival back in April. There’s no use of the f-word, but it’s still been rated R for what the Motion Picture Association of America calls ‘sexual references.’ The film’s director, Darren Stein, says it is really because there’s too many "homosexual references."
Stein slammed the MPAA in a Facebook post, lighting up another debate over the MPAA’s rating system, which allows PG-13 movies to be as violent as possible, as long as there’s no f-bombs. But there aren’t any f-bombs in G.B.F., a film about a high school girl and her gay friend. There isn’t even any nudity or violence.
“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,” Stein wrote, notes Entertainment Weekly. He suggested that the movie’s ratings box really should read For Homosexual References" or "Too Many Scenes of Gay Teens Kissing." He continued, “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.”
Gawker listed several elements of the movie that the MPAA might have picked up as ‘sexual references’ that warranted an R rating, but there’s really nothing that offensive. The site notes that the MPAA has always had a tough time dealing with homosexual references in films, frequently giving movies with them harsher ratings than others.
“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,” writer George Northy told Gawker. He said he specifically made sure to avoid explicit sexual references and was shocked when he heard the rating. “I knew it was a possibility, but I really didn't expect it,” he continued. “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.”
Northy called the film the softest R-rated movie ever and noted that nothing he wrote is as bad as what’s on Glee or Awkward. Those shows are both rated TV-14 and air during prime time.
G.B.F. opens on Jan. 17.