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TV Ratings Group Chief: Teens Shouldn't See Movie's Graphic Sex Scenes

By Bill Hoffmann   |   Friday, 08 Nov 2013 08:37 PM

The decision by a New York City theater to allow young teens into an acclaimed French film with graphic lesbian sex scenes is a desperate move to cash in at the expense of children, according to Tim Winter, president of the Parents Television Council.

"All of this smacks of desperation," Winter told "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV.

"The movie has, apparently, a 15-minute-long sex scene. One of the actresses in the film actually said that she felt like a prostitute the way she was treated and the way she made the movie."

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The movie, "Blue is the Warmest Color," is rated NC-17 for "explicit sexual content" and theaters are asked by the Motion Picture Association of America to sell tickets to only those who are 17 and older.

But the IFC Center in Greenwich Village called the film, winner of the Palme d’Or prize at the Cannes Film Festival, "one of the most profound coming-of-age stories ever put on film."

"This is not a movie for young children, but it is our judgment that it is appropriate for mature, inquiring teenagers who are looking ahead to the emotional challenges and opportunities that adulthood holds," the theater said in a statement.

"The MPAA rating is a voluntary guideline that we as a theater are not obligated to enforce. In this case we feel it is unnecessarily restrictive and we will indeed admit high school-age patrons to screenings of this perceptive and moving film at the IFC Center."

That explanation doesn't satisfy Winter, whose group describes itself as "a nonpartisan education organization advocating responsible entertainment."

"[They are] declaring themselves to be the better arbiter of who should or should not see the film," he said.

"The whole premise is that if there is content that most parents or many parents would find objectionable for their children to see, what is their remedy?

"The remedy is a system that is a rating that is supposedly accurate, consistent, and transparent. But there has to be enforcement at the theater or else the rating is of absolutely no value."

The film stars Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux as two young students who fall in love. The actresses were required to perform in hard-core love scenes, which earned the film its adults-only designation.

Among those gushing with praise about the film was Cannes jury president Steven Spielberg, the Oscar-winning director of such hits as "Schindler's List" and "Saving Private Ryan."

"We just all felt [this] was a profound love story … I think actually this film carries a very strong message, a very positive message," Spielberg said after the film was lauded at Cannes.

"There's a lot of things that are critically acclaimed. Is that the metric by which now we say you don't have to follow the rules?" Winter said.

"It just comes back to a principle."

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